The Divine Image


Though perhaps his most well-known vocal works might be his operas, Four Saints in Three Acts and The Mother of Us All, American composer Virgil Thomson did write nearly seventy songs for voice and piano, including several important song cycles. One of these cycles, the Five Songs from William Blake, represents an impressive composition unifying the profound influence of Blake on Whitman and poets of the late 19th century.


The audio recording, provided in the audio player to the right, features Thomas Hampson, baritone, and Craig Rutenberg, piano. This song was recorded for Instant Encore as part of American Public Media's Performance Today series, presented by Classical Minnesota Public Radio. To listen, please click on the track name itself. You can download a recording of this entire recital for free through the Instant Encore website with the download code: THSOA2009.

"The Divine Image" is the first song in Virgil Thomson's Five Songs from William Blake.

The Divine Image
by William Blake

To Mercy, Pity, Peace and Love
\t All pray in their distress;
And to these virtues of delight
\t Return their thankfulness.

For Mercy, Pity, Peace and Love
\t Is God, our Father dear,
And Mercy, Pity, Peace and Love
\t Is man, His child and care.

For Mercy has a human heart,
\t Pity a human face,
And Love, the human form divine,
\t And Peace, the human dress.

Then every man, of every clime,
\t That prays in his distress,
Prays to the human form divine,
\t Love, Mercy, Pity, Peace.

And all must love the human form,
\t In heathen, Turk, or Jew;
When Mercy, Love and Pity dwell
\t There God is dwelling too.

Audio PLaylist