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Even as the sailor | SATB Chorus a cappella | 5'

Even as the sailor (Pendant que le marin) sets a poem by Victor Hugo that describes what a sailor, a shepherd, an astronomer, and finally the poet-narrator himself see when they gaze up into the sky. The piece can be sung in either the original French or in contemporary poet Julie Kane's English translation. 


Originally commissioned by ACDA New Jersey, Even as the sailor was premiered by the Trinity University Chamber Singers (San Antonio, TX; Gary Seighman, conductor).


Want to perform this piece? Preview the score and purchase it here.






Pendant que le marin, qui calcule et qui doute, Demande son chemin aux constellations;

Pendant que le berger, l’oeil plein de visions,

Cherche au milieu des bois son étoile et sa route;

Pendant que l’astronome, inondé de rayons,

Pèse un globe à travers des millions de lieues,

Moi, je cherche autre chose en ce ciel vaste et pur.

Mais que ce saphir sombre est un abîme obscur!

On ne peut distinguer, la nuit, les robes bleues

Des anges frissonnants qui glissent dans l’azur.


— Victor Hugo, April 1847





Even as the sailor, who calculates and doubts,

Asks the constellations to steer him on his way;

Even as the shepherd, that visionary one,
Seeks in the midst of woods his polestar and his route; As the astronomer, inundated by rays,

Measures a planet’s mass across millions of leagues; Me, I seek something else in that vast and pure sky.

To me, that dark sapphire is a hidden abyss.
One can hardly make out, at night, the blue dresses

Of shivering angels, gliding in the azure.


—Translated by Julie Kane



Similar to Even as the sailor:

Light of Late November

Where Go the Boats

Anchor 1
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