Three Gnostic Poems

Choral settings by Greg Bartholomew
of three poems by Fletcher LaVallee Bartholomew

for unaccompanied mixed choir

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The ending of And the Wind is stunning.     — American Prize Adjudicator Giselle Wyers
Choral Arts Ensemble's lower voices shone in the Oregon premiere of Cascadia Composer Greg Bartholomew's lush, calm And the Wind.     — Brett Campbell, Oregon Arts Watch, June 26, 2016

Fletcher LaVallee Bartholomew
(1918 - 2006)

An Open World, When I Land and And the Wind are three settings of poems from Fletcher LaVallee Bartholomew's collection entitled And the Wind: Gnostic Poems 1945 - 1979. Minneapolis native Fletcher Bartholomew spent most of his life in aviation, beginning with a childhood flight in a Curtis Robin in 1929. His work in aviation started with a job as an inspector in an aircraft factory. He went on to become a test pilot in World War II, serving at the South India Air Depot at Bangalore, India. He often spoke later of his experience on the ship to India and the people he met travelling around the subcontinent. He subsequently worked in aviation in Munich, Germany, and in Lima, Peru, before he concluded his career working in airport planning and management.


An Open World

There is a certain madness born of sailing
From port to distant port the world around.
There is a certain way it has, unveiling
Unused chambers of the mind so that the sound
Of many different voices can be heard.
- The range of human thoughts and views,
From which with joy can be inferred,
An open world, and paths to choose.



And the Wind

There is an awesome beauty found in sailing
Through black of night upon the open sea,
Your vessel mauled by unseen waves and trailing
Her phosphorescent wake, as steadily,
She plows into the darkness,
And the wind.

When I Land

I fly da Vinci's dream on wings of speed,
With effortless delight I cleave the air,
Free in the boundless realm of sky, I feed
My soul with wonder, questions seeming fair.

Why brought forth to wander on this earth?
Why given this brief breath of life,
To wonder at our enigmatic birth,
To reach for stars, want reason for the strife.
Yet, being here, why try to find a plan?
Why waste time in thought before we go?
Is not life enough for any man?
How many have, as theirs, my answer, “No.”

When I set foot again upon the land,
And darkness gains upon the setting of the sun,
I long to feel the welcome of your hand
In mine, to rest, let Time its silly cycles run,
Life's nights are all too few.
No other hand, no other's look, no other one,
Can bring that peace to mind or heart or soul,
No peace. Although I know there's always fun
In life, to reach that sublime goal,
I must return to you.

Purchase Sheet Music

Sheet music for Three Gnostic Poems is available from J. W. Pepper.

Performance History

Premiered May 11, 2008, by Coriolis, Gregg Skalinder conducting, Byron Colby Barn, Grayslake, Illinois

"Three Gnostic Poems," May 17, 2008, by Coriolis, St. Luke's Episcopal Church, Evanston, Illinois

"When I Land," March 14, 2009, by the Orlando Chorale, Gregory Ruffer conducting, First United Methodist Church, Orlando, Florida

"An Open World," February 25, 2012, by Portland Vocal Consort, Ryan Heller conducting, First Presbyterian Church, Portland, Oregon

"An Open World," February 26, 2012, by Portland Vocal Consort, Ryan Heller conducting, Taylor-Meade Performing Arts Center, Forest Grove, Oregon

"And the Wind," June 2, 2012, by the Cascadian Chorale, Gary D. Cannon conducting, St. Thomas Episcopal Church, Medina, Washington

"And the Wind," June 3, 2012, by the Cascadian Chorale, Gary D. Cannon conducting, Nordstrom Recital Hall, Harmony Hill Retreat Center, Union, Washington

"Three Gnostic Poems," March 16, 2013, by the Cascadian Chorale, Gary D. Cannon conducting, St. Thomas Episcopal Church, Medina, Washington

"Three Gnostic Poems," March 17, 2013, by the Cascadian Chorale, Gary D. Cannon conducting, Lake Union United Methodist Church, Kirkland, Washington

"An Open World," May 25, 2013, by Convivium, Eric Tuan conducting, Los Altos United Methodist Church, Los Altos, California.

"An Open World," May 26, 2013, by Convivium, Eric Tuan conducting, Campbell United Methodist Church, San Jose, California.

"An Open World," October 23, 2015, the Marietta College Concert Choir, Daniel Monek conducting, at the First Congregational Church, Marietta, Ohio.

"An Open World," October 24, 2015, by Euphony, Francis Vogt conducting, at the Society of Composers Region I Conference in Orono, Maine.

"And the Wind," April 23 & 24, 2016, by the Choral Arts Ensemble, David De Lyser conducting, at Old Church, 1422 SW 11th Ave, Portland, Oregon.

"An Open World," November 18, 2016, by The Ensemble of Oregon, under Patrick McDonough, at St Lucas Episcopal Church, Vancouver, Washington.

"An Open World," November 19, 2016, by The Ensemble of Oregon, under Patrick McDonough, at Central Lutheran Church, Eugene, Oregon.

"An Open World," November 20, 2016, by The Ensemble of Oregon, under Patrick McDonough, at Colonial Heights Presbyterian Church, Portland, Oregon.