PLAIN TRUTHS for baritone and string quartet (World Premiere)
Texts from Newburyport writers and thinkers
1. I Am Aware
Wm. Lloyd Garrison (1805–1879) from The Liberator
I am aware that many object to the severity of my language; but is there not cause for
severity? I do not wish to think, or to speak, or write, with moderation. No! No! Tell a
man whose house is on fire to give a moderate alarm; tell him to moderately rescue his
wife from the hands of the ravisher; tell the mother to gradually extricate her baby from
the fire— but urge me not to use moderation in a cause like the present.
AND I WILL BE HEARD.
2. Annie Lisle
Henry S. Thompson, 1857
Down where the waving willows
’Neath the sunbeams smile,
Shadow’d o’er the murm’ring waters
Dwelt sweet Annie Lisle;
Pure as the forest lily,
Never tho’t of guile
Had its home within the bosom
Of sweet Annie Lisle.
Wave willows, murmur waters,
Golden sunbeams, smile!
Earthly music cannot waken
Lovely Annie Lisle.
Sweet came the hallow’d chiming
Of the Sabbath bell,
Borne on the morning breezes
Down the woody dell.
On a bed of pain and anguish
Lay dear Annie Lisle,
Chang’d were the lovely features,
Gone the happy smile.
“Raise me in your arms, O Mother;
Let me once more look
On the green and waving willows
And the flowing brook.
Hark! the sound of angel music
From the choirs above!
Dearest mother, I am going;
Surely God is love.”
3. Plain Truths
Lord Timothy Dexter (1748–1806)
from A Pickle for the Knowing Ones; or Plain Truths in a Homespun Dress
I will tell the type of mankind, what is that 35 or 36 years gone by, about a town called
Newbury. Newbury people kept together quietly until the learned grew strong. The
Ignorant or the Knowing Ones says I ought to do as they do to keep up cheats or the
same thing, deceptions. Deceive so we may cheat and likewise have wars and plunder.
My wish is all liars may have their part of fire and brimstone in this world or else
the government is not good—it will want purging soon. If you can bear the truth, I will
tell the truth. I am a friend to all honest men.
Our ministers are imported. I would keep them. I wish the priests knew as much
as I think I do. I see God in all places: the God of Nature in all things. We live and move
in God. Take one element from us, take the fire or the water or air or earth, we are gone.
So we live in God. Now let us all be good children, do all things right. All in Love. I say,
keep together. Newbury people kept together until the learned grew strong. Like the
boxwood in my garden, never fade. Man is the best animal and the worst. If you can bear
the truth, I will tell the truth. I am a friend to all honest men.
4. Oh, Andrew
Harriet Prescott Spofford (1835–1921) from Louie
—“Oh, Andrew, it was so splendid of you!”
—“What was so splendid of me?”
—“Standing by him so, standing by the captain when the others left -
bringing home the ship!”
— “Well, is this all? Ain’t you going to shake hands with me? Ain’t you glad to see
—“Oh, Andrew! So glad!” and she turned and let him see the blushing, rosy face, the
large, dark, liquid eyes; and then overcome, as a sudden shower, the long- lashed eyelids
fell, and the face was hidden in storm of tears. And then, perhaps because he was a sailor,
perhaps because he was a man, his arms were round her and he was kissing off those
tears, and the little happy body was clinging to him and trembling with joy. As for
Andrew—he had not known that he cared for her so much until she turned that tearful,
rosy face upon him; now it seemed that he had been hers since time began: he said to
himself, and then repeated it to her, that he had loved her always.
5. Spirit of Freedom
Wm. Lloyd Garrison from “The Liberator “
Spirit of Freedom! on—
Oh! pause not in thy flight
Till every clime is won
To worship in thy light:
Speed on thy glorious way,
And wake the sleeping lands!
Millions are watching for the ray,
And lift to thee their hands.
Still Onward! be thy cry—
Thy banner on the blast;
And, like a tempest, as thou rushest by,
Despots shall shrink aghast.
On! till thy name is known
Throughout the peopled earth;
On! till thou reign’st alone,
Man’s heritage by birth;
On! till from every vale, and where the
The beacon lights of Liberty shall kindle
to the skies!