Theodore Chanler was born in Newport, Rhode Island, in 1902 and died in Boston in 1961. He studied composition with Nadia Boulanger and is remembered today chiefly for his songs. I thought that Chanler’s The Children
, written in 1945, would be an apt metaphor. The children in Leonard Feeney’s fascinating text come and go, generation after generation… ‘Out of the darkness and into the dawn’. Songs, like children, are born—grow—and become part of society’s treasury of joy and musical feeling. Other songs follow…‘taking their places’. There is a difference, however. A beautiful song need never grow old and disappear, for upon each new hearing, a song is reborn.
Leonard Feeney has an interesting story. He was a Jesuit priest from Boston whose over-zealous interpretation and preaching of the Church’s doctrine on salvation led to his excommunication in 1953. He came back to the fold before his death in 1978. None of this theological strife need detract from the poem’s ineffable beauty.
from notes by Robert White © 1997