THE LAST WORDS OF COPERNICUS

Original Alabama Sacred Harp Singers version

Ye golden lamps of heaven farewell with all your feeble light
Farewell thou ever changing moon pale empress of the night
And thou refulgent orb of day in brighter flames array'd
And thou refulgent orb of day in brighter flames array'd
My soul which springs beyond thy sphere no more demands thy aid
And thou refulgent orb of day in brighter flames array'd
And thou refulgent orb of day in brighter flames array'd
My soul which springs beyond thy sphere no more demands thy aid


Page last updated: 21 Aug 2013

Info

THE LAST WORDS OF COPERNICUS is an old folk poem written by Philip Doddridge in 1755 and set to music by Sarah Lancaster in 1869. A performance by the Alabama Sacred Harp Singers was recorded by Alan Lomax on 12 Sep 1959 at the annual United Sacred Harp Musical Association Singing Convention in Fyffe, AL. It can now be found on Lomax's Southern Journey Volume 1: Voices From The American South and Southern Journey Volume 9: Harp Of A Thousand Strings collections, released on Rounder Records in 1997 and 1998 respectively.

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[Click thumbnail to enlarge/reduce artwork]

The above lyrics are transcribed from the original Alabama Sacred Harp Singers version of THE LAST WORDS OF COPERNICUS, as recorded by Alan Lomax in 1959. The song first starts with a practice round where the singers sing the names of the notes ("Sol sol fa fa sol sol sol...") before going into the actual song with words.

Alan Lomax was one of the great field collectors of folk music of the twentieth century, recording thousands of songs in the United States, Great Britain, Ireland, the Caribbean, Italy, and Spain. In 1959 and 1960, he embarked on field trips throughout the American South, recording over 80 hours of folk music. This was the most important of Lomax's efforts to promote traditional music. Much of these 1959-1960 recordings can now be found on the thirteen-volume set Southern Journey on Rounder Records.

Springsteen's Version

Bruce Springsteen has never performed or recorded THE LAST WORDS OF COPERNICUS, but he used excerpts from Alan Lomax's recording in DEATH TO MY HOMETOWN.

Credits

Thanks Liesl Gray and Sadhbh O'Flynn for the help.

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