My Lord, What a Mornin 1918


My Lord, What a Mornin 1918

As a part of "From Song Came Symphony" Chorus Master Courtney Carey, and The Concert Chorale of Courtney’s Stars of Tomorrow perform Harry T. Burleigh’s (1866-1949) “My Lord, What a Mornin’” (1918) and William Levi Dawson’s (1899-1990) “Ezekiel Saw de Wheel” (1942).

With the power his booming baritone voice, Harry T. Burleigh transformed western classical music in both vocal and instrumental genres. He was born in Erie, Pennsylvania where he trained as a singer and began his role as a professional church musician among Christian and Jewish congregations. As a student at the National Conservatory of Music of America, he introduced Dvorak to spirituals, encouraged fellow underrepresented students (including Will Marion Cook), and went on to enjoy a career as a singer, composer, mentor, and music editor at G. Ricordi. Burleigh’s arrangement of “My Lord, What a Mornin’” continues to be popular among choruses. Dr. Paul T. Kwami, current musical director of the critically acclaimed Fisk Jubilee Singers, wrote: “[As the song progresses,] The tenors have their chance to shine as they introduce this new melody that is set to the text, “Done quit all my worl’ly ways, jine dat hebbenly ban.” I love the movement of the soprano line that includes a downward leap of an octave, while the volume of the music reduces from loud to soft, slows down and returns gently to the first melody. The song grows in volume and intensity, reminding me of the appearance of the early morning golden sun. But this beautiful melody that is so wonderfully harmonized returns to quietness. The words of the final phrase read: “When de stars begin to fall. The chord on the final word is the softest. The stars that light up the sky at night don’t fall literally, but rather disappears as the sun rises.”

Born in Anniston, Alabama, William Dawson (1899-1990) spent the majority of his career at Professor of Music (1931-1955) at Tuskegee Institute where his compositions and his direction of the Institute choir received international acclaim. An alumnus of Tuskegee, Horner Institute of Fine Arts, and the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago, he also studied at Eastman School of Music. “Ezekiel” (1942) exemplifies Dawson’s gift for orchestration and the ties between singing and tonight’s orchestral music. Arranged to be sung by one-hundred voices or twenty, one can hear his contribution to late Romantic style (which he mastered in his 1932 “Negro Folk Symphony”) in expanded harmonies, tight yet buoyant rhythmic settings, and representation of the supernatural. At once, “Ezekiel” expresses the significance of the ring shout and the interconnection between earthly and heavenly life. 

The concert took place on Wednesday, May 8th, 2019 at 7:30pm in the Langston Hughes Auditorium of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. 

Performance Venue:  

Langston Hughes Auditorium of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.

Performing Artists:

Courtney Carey, Chorus Master

The Concert Chorale of Courtney’s Stars of Tomorrow

My Lord, What a Mornin’ 

Composer/Arranger:  Burleigh, Harry T.

Date of Composition: 


Ezekiel Saw de Wheel 

Composer/Arranger:  Dawson, William Levi

Date of Composition: