(Songs of the Soul)
O Living Flame of Love
O living flame of love!
how soothingly you wound
my soul in its profundity—
you once made havoc of.
O finish! Take me soon!
Tearing the veil away in
For Mezzo‐Soprano, Harp and Chamber Orchestra
Three poems by Spain’s most famous mystic poet, St. John of the Cross
Gay Bastian - Vocalist
Lysa Ryting - Harp
William Call - Conducting the City Chamber Players
St. John of the Cross was born near Avila in 1542 into a Jewish family converted to Christianity. He grew up in poverty, his father having died when he was young. He professed as a Carmelite in 1564 and moved to Salamanca where he studied theology and philosophy. He was ordained a priest in 1567.
He joined with Teresa of Avila (1515-1582) in a reformation of the Carmelite Order. Still a young man, he worked as Teresa’s associate until 1577, founding monasteries around Spain and taking active part in their government. These foundations and the reformation process were resisted by a great number of Carmelite friars.
n the night of 3 to 4 December 1577, in defiance of his superiors’ orders, he refused to relocate. As a consequence he was taken prisoner and jailed in Toledo. He was kept under a brutal confinement that included public lashing before the community at least weekly and severe isolation in a tiny cell barely large enough for his body. He managed to escape nine months later by prying the cell door off its hinges. He composed a great part of his writings while imprisoned. Paper was passed to him by one of the friars guarding his cell.