Why the Caged Bird Sings


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The Story

This work sets a powerful poem by Paul Laurence Dunbar.

***A portion of the proceeds from this work will be donated to the NAACP Empowerment Programs to "to secure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights in order to eliminate race-based discrimination and ensure the health and well-being of all persons."

SATB with divisi & soprano solo




Craig Hella Johnson and the Cincinnati Vocal Arts Ensemble.



Sympathy by Paul Laurence Dunbar

I know what the caged bird feels, alas!
When the sun is bright on the upland slopes;
When the wind stirs soft through the springing grass,
And the river flows like a stream of glass;
When the first bird sings and the first bud opes,
And the faint perfume from its chalice steals —
I know what the caged bird feels!

I know why the caged bird beats his wing
Till its blood is red on the cruel bars;
For he must fly back to his perch and cling
When he fain would be on the bough a-swing;
And a pain still throbs in the old, old scars
And they pulse again with a keener sting —
I know why he beats his wing!

I know why the caged bird sings, ah me,
When his wing is bruised and his bosom sore,
When he beats his bars and he would be free;
It is not a carol of joy or glee,
But a prayer...
I know why the caged bird sings!

1 review for Why the Caged Bird Sings

  1. Jerome Bierschenk (verified owner)

    A most powerful work, full of emotion and expression.
    Jake Runestad has created the perfect combination of text and music, incorporating imaginative usage of harmonic and melodic elements. An important piece for our time.

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