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A Rainy Day

Posted by Lane Johnson on

In 2002, I discovered Longfellow's poem  Snowflakes, and was very taken by the poem. I knew I had to set it to music, which I did (see my post on Snowflakes). The experience of writing Snowflakes led me to seek out additional Longfellow poetry for possible lyrics, and it didn't take long before I ran across Longfellow's poem, The Rainy Day. Once again, I was taken by the poem's beauty and expression of one of life's simple, and at times, difficult truths. Similar to my experience with Snowflakes, I felt compelled to set The Rainy Day to music. I began to work on it a day or two before Thanksgiving, 2003.

I pretty much completed the first version of  Some Rain Must Fall (my setting of The Rainy Day poem) by the end of the Thanksgiving holiday. It's always fun when pieces flow out like that. My original idea was that it could be a companion to Snowflakes, since both texts use nature to convey a message about life. However, since Some Rain Must Fall turned out to be similar in tempo and style to Snowflakes, it really wasn't a good match. I spent a few more nights through the rest of the year polishing the piece up so that I could be ready to present it after the first of the year.

I submitted it to Dr. Ronald Staheli and Rosalind Hall at Brigham Young University. They both really liked the piece and Rosalind especially expressed a desire to perform it. However, she felt like I had done a bit too well at capturing the “dark and dreary” nature of the poem and that the piece would work much better in a concert program if it had a companion piece to follow it that would be lighter and more uplifting. She looked for other possibilities over the next couple of years, but came up empty handed. I also began looking for some lyrics, but after hours and hours of searching, I was unable to find a suitable text to match what I was looking to convey. For a time, I gave up and went on to other things.

In the fall of 2007, I was drawn back to Some Rain Must Fall. I really felt like it had something important to say and I knew if I didn’t come up with a suitable companion piece, it may never get performed. So, again I went searching for a fitting poem, but once more, was unsuccessful. At the time, I hadn't done much writing of my own words, but in this case, it seemed to be my only option. So, I decided to take on the task, and over a period of a few days, penned the words to the companion piece After the Rain. Once I had the words, the music seemed to come right out, as if it had just been sitting around waiting for the words. Within a few days, I was able to show it to Rosalind Hall and she agreed that it was a perfect match. Soon after, I also decided to rework Some Rain Must Fall to shorten it so that the length was a better match with After the Rain and so the set would not be too long. The BYU Concert Choir debuted the set, which I entitled A Rainy Day, in April of 2008 at the DeJong Concert Hall. Both pieces were very warmly received by the audience.

Here is an excerpt of each, performed by the BYU Concert Choir, Rosalind Hall conducting:

Text

Some Rain Must Fall

The day is cold, and dark, and dreary
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
The vine still clings to the mouldering wall,
But at every gust the dead leaves fall,
And the day is dark and dreary.

My life is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
My thoughts still cling to the mouldering past,
But the hopes of youth fall thick in the blast,
And the days are dark and dreary.

Be still, sad heart! and cease repining;
Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;
Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each life some rain must fall,
Some days must be dark and dreary.

After the Rain, by Lane Johnson

Darkness expelled by a Light though the clouds,
Heaven compelled to dissolve lightless shrouds,
Tears dried by Son-Light no longer remain
After the rain.

Storms overhead no more darken the way,
Shadows have ceased to bedim the noon-day,
Then brilliant beams of hope are born and brightness regained
After the rain.

Oh how the cloudburst and tempest refine
As we allow Light to encompass and shine.
Freely the soul sings for respite attained
After the blessed rain.