chapter  8
21 Pages

“Those half creatures of Plato”

The Musical Inspiration behind Moore’s Sacred Songs and National Airs
WithMary Louise O’Donnell

The few fleeting references in his journals or letters provide little information about Moore's musical ability or formal training. He was an accomplished singer, often accompanied himself on pianoforte and supposedly played an Irish harp given to him by John Egan, a harp maker from Dublin. Although the Sacred Songs and National Airsnever attained the popularity of the Melodies during Moore's life or after his death, they were projects which allowed Moore a temporary escape from the pressures of being the 'Bard of Erin'. Although Moore engaged with the process of arrangement and composition, he relied heavily on the compositions of others for his musical inspiration. Moore's objective for the Sacred Songs was to present "a mixture of the Sacred & Profane". In the songs which are not based on passages from scripture, Moore was at liberty to choose airs and compose lyrics which were generally more lively in character and which could be presented in relatively complex vocal arrangements.