Light Out of Darkness for Women’s Choir and Piano, or Soprano and Piano

By Barbara Harbach
Published: 2011
Catalogue Number: MS 1256​

Helen Keller (1880-1968) wrote, “ I cannot remember how I felt when the light went out of my eyes. I suppose I felt it was always night and perhaps I wondered why the day did not come.” The extraordinary story of the life of Helen Keller resonates in all of us. After a childhood fever, Helen became blind and deaf at the age of nineteen months. Only through the patience and great empathy of Anne Sullivan did Helen begin to develop her potential as a creative, articulate and intelligent woman.

Light Out of Darkness is taken from Helen Keller’s own words from A Chant of Darkness and The World I Live In (1908). The voices float over the piano accompaniment and the words express a wise and wonderful blending of the senses. The song is in four short sections, each with a slightly different character. My Fingers are Wise has a descending lyrical melody that portrays some of the poignant realities of Keller’s world. My Fingers Split the Sand evokes the joy and playfulness of “the rippling music of the sea.” In the Realms of Wonder Where I Dwell recalls the mood of the opening, but also some of the strong soaring spirit of the poet. The final section reprises the first.

My fingers are wise.
They snatch light out of darkness.
They thrill to harmonies breathed in silence.