"The choral music of David Brunner resonates with imagination, lyricism and vitality.  He is America's next Ned Rorem."

Doreen Rao
Director of Choral Programmes
University of Toronto 


Words and the images, associations, feelings and emotions they conjure are the impulse for my creative work.  I’m attracted to gestures, rhythm, rhyme, turns of phrase and evocative words.   Something in one poem distinguishes it from another and separates those that are best read from others that have a certain music in them.  It’s not always definable for me.  Some poems just sing.

I am drawn to a wide variety of texts that express our shared human experience and emotive life.  Some are challenging, some tender and comforting, some quirky.  They often have a spiritual or sacred quality, though usually not specific to one religious tradition.  Above all, they have a certain resonance for me and, hopefully, for those that sing and hear them.

Classic Poets

William Blake (1757-1827): A Song For Every Child; Laughing Song

Lewis Carroll (1832-1898):  Jabberwocky

John Clare (1793-1864:) Song’s Eternity

Joseph Freiherr von Eichendrorff (1788-1857): A Living Song

George Herbert (1593-1633):  Shall I Silent Be

Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809-1894):  Sweet Are the Lips Of All That Sing; Grace

John Newton (1725-1807): Amazing Grace

Arthur O'Shaugnessy (1844-1881):  We Are the Music Makers

Bessie Rayner Parkes (1829-1925):  Sweet Melody

James Gates Percival (1795-1856):  Earthsongs

Christina Rossetti (1830-1894): In the Bleak Midwinter

Percy Bysshe Shelly (1792-1822):  Radiant Sister of the Day

Christopher Smart (1722 - 1771): Spiritual Musick; Hallelujah from the heart of God

Walt Whitman (1819-1892): Song of the Open Road; Grand is the Seen

William Butler Yeats (1865-1939): The Lake Isle of Innisfree; Blest By Everything


Early Poets

Anonymous: The Shepherd’s Carol

Anonymous c. 1500: Sir Christemas

William Austin (1587-1634): Chauntecleere

John Davies (1569-1626): Psalm 150

John Donne (1572-1631): Three Sonnets of John Donne (Batter My Heart, Three-Personed God; A Hymn to God the Father; At the Round Earth’s Imagined Corners)

Guillaume de Machaut (c. 1300 - 1377):  The Music Sings in Them

Andrew Marvel (1621-1679):  Musicks Empire

Thomas Traherne (1637-1674): Welcome All Wonders

Traditional Latin:  Cantate DominoO Aula Nobilis 


20th Century and Contemporary Poets

Edward Abbey (1927-1989):  Benedicto

Margaret Atwood (b. 1939):  You Begin

Stacy Barton:  Music Came and Startled Me

Wendell Berry (b. 1934): The Circles of Our Lives; The Wheel; We Clasp the Hands; A Timbered Choir; The Peace of Wild Things, A Music in the Air

Elizabeth Bishop (1911-1979): I Am In Need Of Music

James Broughton (1913-1999): This Magicker; Brothers of the Singing Void; This is It!

Sandra Chapman:  After the Fire

e .e. cummings (1894-1962): sun, moon, stars rain; i carry your heart; i thank you god for most this amazing

Louise Driscoll (1875-1957): Hold Fast Your Dreams

Mike Harding (b. 1944):  Cloth of Glory, Green Man

Langston Hughes (1902-1967): I Dream a World

Janet Lewis (1899-1998): Christmastide

Scott P. Lounsbury:  Voice of Our Song; Well Sung Song; E Pluribus Cantus; Brainstorm, Future Dream; Phoenix Song; HandSpeak; Miraculous; Chanton, mes AMIS

John Gillespie Magee, Jr. (1922 - 1941):  High Flight

John Masefield (1878-1967):  Sea-Fever

David McCord (1897-1997):  To Be Young

Bob McCormick:  Then, Now, Forever

Pablo Neruda (1904-1973): Ode to the Present and Future Days

Jack Prelutsky: Toucans Two

Laura Richards (1850-1943): Eletelephony; Mrs. Snipkin and Mrs. Wobblechin

Elisavietta Ritchie:  For A Certain Artist

Siegfried Sassoon (1886-1967):  The Singing Will Never Be Done

Ruth Sawyer (1880-1970):  On Christmas Morn

Heaney Seamus (b. 1939):  Rainstick

Stephen Spender (1909-1995): Born of the Sun

Macrina Wiederkehr:  Star Giver

Ann Ziety:  Daring to Be


Young Poets

Kenzie Duffie: Home

Emily Claire Forsythe: Winter Changes


Spiritual Texts from World Sacred Traditions

Bahai texts:  House Blessing

Biblical texts:  Psalm of Praise; The Lord is a Great God

Buddhist texts:  Simple Boat; Earthsongs

St. Francis of Assisi (1181/82-1226):  Sir Brother Sun

Kahlil Gibran (1883-1931): O Music

Hunger Fund Committee, Diocese of Huron:  All Thy Gifts of Love

Mirabai (c.1498-c.1547CE) (Krishna):  All I Was Doing Was Breathing; Don't Go!; Mira Has Finished With Waiting

Jewish Prayer:  A Divine Voice Sings Through All Creation

Daniel Ladinsky:  Isn’t That Something?

Sacred Latin texts:  Jubilate Deo; Cantate Domino

Rumi (1207 - 1273):  Blessed By Light, Everything is Music

Shaker Song:  Simple Gifts

Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941):  My Song; When Thou Commandest Me To Sing, Blessed By Light

Thomas H. Troeger:  Songs of Faith 

United National Environmental Sabbath Program:  Earthsongs

Charles Wesley (1708-1788):  The Music Sings in Them


The Words of Native Peoples

Chief Dan George:  My Heart Soars

High Eagle, Osage/Cherokee Tribes:  I See the Universe

Joy Harjo:  Eagle Poem

Stephen C. Jett: Song of the Earth Spirit

Northwest Canadian Coastal People:  A Living Song

Leo Platero (Navajo):  In the Beauty Way

Chief Seattle: This We Know

Sioux:  Grandfather, Great Spirit

Bill Worrell:  A Song to End All War; Painted Memories; If I Could Fly; Then, Now, Forever


Latin American Poets

late 15th c. after Nezahualcuyotl, Nahuatl, Texcoco:  The Painted Book

Amado Nervo (1870-1919): Solidaridad

Jackeline Rago:  Yo le Canto Todo el Dia


Traditional Carols and Spirituals

Alma Bazel Androzzo (b. 1912):  If I Can Help Somebody

Phillip Brooks (1835-1893):  O Little Town of Bethlehem

Adger M. Pace (1882-1959):  Beautiful Star of Bethlehem

Traditional Spiritual:  Who Built the Ark?

Traditional Spiritual:  Swing Low, Sweet Chariot

Bahamian Spiritual:  All My Trials

Traditional Spiritual:  The Friendly Beasts

Traditional Austrian:  Still, Still, Still


Folk Music

Southern GalsThe Homespun Dress; Prettiest Little Gal in the County, O; Sourwood Mountain; The Black Mustache; When I Was a Young Girl; The Paw Paw Patch

Patriotic Texts

Katherine Lee Bates (1859-1929):  For Spacious Skies

Francis Scott Key (1779-1843):  Star Spangled Banner

Samuel Francis Smith (1808-1895):  Of Thee I Sing