Today’s topic, as Jim will tell you, is "musical/opera." This is pretty easy for me, as a lot of songs from musicals have become standards, songs that performers from many different genres will generally have in their repertoires, particularly jazz musicians.
One such standard is "Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise," from the musical The New Moon, which was written by Sigmund Romberg (composer) and Oscar Hammerstein II, Frank Mandel, and Laurence Schwab (lyrics and book). It was first presented on Christmas Eve 1927 in Philadelphia, and was the third and last of three musicals that Romberg wrote in the style of Viennese operetta, the previous two being 1924’s The Student Prince and 1926’s The Desert Song.
I’ve been interested in Romberg’s work since seeing the 1955 movie of his life, Deep In My Heart, which starred José Ferrer as the composer. The movie itself was a biopic with numerous scenes from Romberg’s musicals, including a scene from his show That Midnight Girl where Ferrer and his very pregnant wife, Rosemary Clooney, danced with each other. (Based on the timing, she was probably expecting their son Miguel, who was in at least one of the Hot Shots! movies, Crossing Jordan, and NCIS: Los Angeles.)
Anyway, I first heard this when George Benson covered it on his 2004 album Irreplaceable. That being an instrumental, I couldn’t use it here, but there is a veritable plethora of recordings by vocalists, including Frank Sinatra. But you know me, I had to go with the oldest recording I could find, a 1929 recording by Nat Shilkret and The Victor Orchestra, with the vocal provided by Franklyn Baur. The vocal itself doesn’t start until 1:20, so be patient…
The lyrics, from MetroLyrics:
The light of love comes stealing
Into a newborn day
Flaming with all the glow of sunrise
A burning kiss is sealing
A vow that all betray
For the passions that thrill love
And take you high to heaven
Are the passions that kill love
And let it fall to hell
So ends the story
Softly as in an evening sunset
The light that gave you glory
Will take it all away
And that’s Song Lyric Sunday, and Song of the Day, for September 6, 2020.