Behold, thou art fair, Thomas

SATB, div

A dramatic solo for mezzo soprano complements the sustained choral writing in this sensuous setting of love poetry from the Song of Songs.

Program Note

Behold, thou art fair was composed in 2010 for Margriet Tindemans and the Medieval Women’s Choir, in celebration of their 20th anniversary season. The text is from Canticle 4 of the Song of Songs (Song of Solomon) in this poetry, a young man describes the beauty of his beloved in dramatic imagery. In writing a 21st century piece for a choir that specializes in Medieval music, I decided to draw upon some sounds which are typical of much Medieval music – such as the use of a sustained drone pitch under a melodic line – and to incorporate those into a modern harmonic palate.

Notes on preparation and performance

The mezzo soprano solo may be sung with great freedom and expressivity.


Song of Songs, Canticle 4: 1 – 7

Behold, thou art fair, my love; thou hast doves’ eyes within thy locks: thy hair is as a flock of goats, that appear from mount Gilead.Thy teeth are like a flock of sheep that are even shorn, which came up from the washing; whereof every one bear twins, and none is barren among them.Thy lips are like a thread of scarlet, and thy speech is comely: thy temples are like a piece of a pomegranate within thy locks.

Thy neck is like the tower of David builded for an armoury, whereon there hang a thousand bucklers, all shields of mighty men.
Thy two breasts are like two young roes that are twins, which feed among the lilies.
Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, I will get me to the mountain of myrrh, and to the hill of frankincense.
Thou art all fair, my love.

Contact Karen P. Thomas to purchase this score.

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About Karen P. Thomas

Karen P. Thomas, composer and conductor, is the Artistic Director and Conductor of the Seattle Pro Musica. Her compositions are performed and broadcast throughout the world, by groups such as The Hilliard Ensemble and the Vocal Consort of Brussels. Her works are published by Lucis Music and Santa Barbara Music Publishing, and have been featured at numerous ACDA and AGO conferences. A prize-winning composer, she has received grants from the NEA, The American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, and Meet the Composer, among numerous others. As a conductor, Ms. Thomas has produced nine critically-acclaimed CDs, and received the Margaret Hillis Award for Choral Excellence and the ASCAP-Chorus America Award. She has appeared as guest conductor at international festivals in Europe and North America, and the NPR radio show Saint Paul Sunday. She received the 2012 Outstanding Choral Director Award for Washington State, and currently serves on the boards of the Pacific NW Chapter for the Recording Academy (Grammy), the American Choral Directors Association (NW Division), and the Greater Seattle Choral Consortium.