St. Ita's Vision

(1954)
"St. Ita's Vision" is the third song of Samuel Barber's song cycle Hermit Songs. The cycle was composed in 1953 and published in 1954. The premiere was sung by soprano Leontyne Price.

St. Ita (or Ida, Íte, or Ides) was an Irish nun who lived sometime during the 5th-6th century. She is also known as "Brigid of Munster."


The poem is a translation of a text possibly by St. Ita, but attributed to an anonymous Irish monk who lived sometime between the 8th and 13th centuries. The English translation used by Barber is by Chester Kallman.

St. Ita's Vision

"I will take nothing from my Lord," said she,
"unless He gives me His Son from Heaven
In the form of a Baby that I may nurse Him".
So that Christ came down to her
in the form of a Baby and then she said:
"Infant Jesus, at my breast,
Nothing in this world is true
Save, O tiny nursling, You.
Infant Jesus at my breast,
By my heart every night,
You I nurse are not a churl
But were begot on Mary the Jewess
By Heaven’s light.
Infant Jesus at my breast,
What King is there but You who could
Give everlasting good?
Wherefore I give my food.
Sing to Him, maidens, sing your best!
There is none that has such right
To your song as Heaven’s King
Who every night
Is Infant Jesus at my breast."

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