Last updated
Jan Kochanowski with his dead daughter in a painting by Jan Matejko inspired by the poet's Threnodies Treny normal.jpg
Jan Kochanowski with his dead daughter in a painting by Jan Matejko inspired by the poet's Threnodies

A threnody is a wailing ode, song, hymn or poem of mourning composed or performed as a memorial to a dead person. The term originates from the Greek word θρηνῳδία (threnoidia), from θρῆνος (threnos, "wailing") and ᾠδή (oide, "ode"), [1] [2] the latter ultimately from the Proto-Indo-European root *h₂weyd- ("to sing") that is also the precursor of such words as "ode", "tragedy", "comedy", "parody", "melody" and "rhapsody".


Similar terms include "dirge", "coronach", "lament" and "elegy". The Epitaphios Threnos is the lamentation chanted in the Eastern Orthodox Church on Holy Saturday. John Dryden commemorated the death of Charles II of England in the long poem Threnodia Augustalis , and Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote a "Threnody" in memory of his son. [3]


In written works:

In classical music:

In jazz:

In film and other music:

See also

Related Research Articles

The Book of Lamentations is a collection of poetic laments for the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BCE. In the Hebrew Bible it appears in the Ketuvim ("Writings") as one of the Five Megillot alongside the Song of Songs, Book of Ruth, Ecclesiastes and the Book of Esther although there is no set order. In the Christian Old Testament it follows the Book of Jeremiah, as the prophet Jeremiah is its traditional author. However, according to modern scholarship, while the destruction of Jerusalem by Babylon in 586/7 BCE forms the background to the poems, they were probably not written by Jeremiah. Most likely, each of the book's chapters was written by a different anonymous poet, and they were then joined to form the book.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ralph Waldo Emerson</span> American philosopher (1803–1882)

Ralph Waldo Emerson, who went by his middle name Waldo, was an American essayist, lecturer, philosopher, abolitionist, and poet who led the transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th century. He was seen as a champion of individualism and a prescient critic of the countervailing pressures of society. Friedrich Nietzsche considered him "the most gifted of the Americans" and Walt Whitman referred to him as his "master".

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Malcolm Williamson</span> Australian composer (1931–2003)

Malcolm Benjamin Graham Christopher Williamson, was an Australian composer. He was the Master of the Queen's Music from 1975 until his death.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">John McCrae</span> Canadian poet and physician (1872–1918)

Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae was a Canadian poet, physician, author, artist and soldier during World War I, and a surgeon during the Second Battle of Ypres, in Belgium. He is best known for writing the famous war memorial poem "In Flanders Fields". McCrae died of pneumonia near the end of the war. His famous poem is a threnody, a genre of lament.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lament</span> Literary genre

A lament or lamentation is a passionate expression of grief, often in music, poetry, or song form. The grief is most often born of regret, or mourning. Laments can also be expressed in a verbal manner in which participants lament about something that they regret or someone that they have lost, and they are usually accompanied by wailing, moaning and/or crying. Laments constitute some of the oldest forms of writing, and examples exist across human cultures.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Concord Hymn</span> Poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Concord Hymn" is a poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson written for the 1837 dedication of an obelisk monument in Concord, Massachusetts, commemorating the battles of Lexington and Concord, a series of battles and skirmishes on April 19, 1775 which sparked the American Revolutionary War.

John Andrew Howard Ogdon was an English pianist and composer.

<i>Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima</i> 1961 composition by Krzysztof Penderecki

Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima, also translated as Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima, is a musical composition for 52 string instruments composed in 1961 by Krzysztof Penderecki. Dedicated to the residents of Hiroshima killed and injured by the first-ever wartime usage of an atomic weapon, the composition won the Tribune Internationale des Compositeurs UNESCO prize that same year.

"I Remember Clifford" is an instrumental jazz threnody written by jazz tenor saxophonist Benny Golson in memory of Clifford Brown, the influential and highly regarded jazz trumpeter who died in an auto accident at the age of 25. Brown and Golson had done a stint in Lionel Hampton's band together. The original recording was by Donald Byrd in January 1957.

Bessie Anderson Stanley was an American writer, the author of the poem Success, which is often incorrectly attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson or Robert Louis Stevenson.

Nationality words link to articles with information on the nation's poetry or literature.

<i>Laments</i> (Kochanowski)

The Laments is a series of nineteen threnodies (elegies) written in Polish by Jan Kochanowski and published in 1580. They are a high point of Polish Renaissance literature, and one of Kochanowski's signal achievements.

<i>Howl and Other Poems</i> Book by Allen Ginsberg

Howl and Other Poems is a collection of poetry by Allen Ginsberg published November 1, 1956. It contains Ginsberg's most famous poem, "Howl", which is considered to be one of the principal works of the Beat Generation as well as "A Supermarket in California", "Transcription of Organ Music", "Sunflower Sutra", "America", "In the Baggage Room at Greyhound", and some of his earlier works. For printing the collection, the publisher Lawrence Ferlinghetti, another well-known poet, was arrested and charged with obscenity. On October 3, 1957, Judge Clayton W. Horn found Ferlinghetti not guilty of the obscenity charge, and 5,000 more copies of the text were printed to meet the public demand, which had risen in response to the publicity surrounding the trial. "Howl and Other Poems" contains two of the most well-known poems from the Beat Generation, "Howl" and "A Supermarket in California", which have been reprinted in other collections, including the Norton Anthology of American Literature.

Anthony Vincent Benedictus Collins was a British composer and conductor. He scored around 30 films in the US and the UK between 1937 and 1954, and composed the British light music classic Vanity Fair in 1952. His Decca recordings of the seven Sibelius symphonies was the second cycle by a single conductor and orchestra released.

"Brahma" is a poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson, written in 1856. However, the poem was published in the November 1857 issue of The Atlantic. It is named for Brahman, the universal principle of the Vedas.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">The Rhodora</span> Poem written by Ralph Waldo Emerson

"The Rhodora, On Being Asked, Whence Is the Flower", or simply "The Rhodora", is an 1834 poem by American writer Ralph Waldo Emerson, a 19th century philosopher. The poem is about the rhodora, a common flowering shrub, and the beauty of this shrub in its natural setting.

A lament is a song, poem, or piece of music expressing grief, regret, or mourning.

Poetry is a form of literature.

Threnody is a song, hymn or poem of mourning composed or performed as a memorial to a dead person.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Carlyle–Emerson correspondence</span>

The Carlyle–Emerson correspondence is a series of letters written between Thomas Carlyle (1795–1881) and Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882) from 14 May 1834 to 20 June 1873. It has been called "one of the classic documents of nineteenth-century literature."


  1. The Oxford Companion to Music (2010).
  2. "Threnody". Online Etymology Dictionary . Retrieved 13 October 2017.
  3. Grove Music Online (2010).
  4. Poetry Foundation (January 28, 2022). "Threnody for a Brown Girl by Countee Cullen". Poetry magazine.
  5. Pierce, Peter (2002). "Australian and American literature of the Vietnam War" in Australia's Vietnam War, p. 132. Texas A&M University Press. ISBN   1585441376.
  6. Emerson, Ralph Waldo, "Threnody". From Early Poems of Ralph Waldo Emerson, New York, Boston, Thomas Y. Crowell & Company, 1899.
  7. Peretz, Maya (1993). "In Search of the First Polish Woman Author". The Polish Review. 38 (4): 470.
  8. Rodda, Richard E. "Notes on the Program" (PDF). Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. Archived from the original (PDF) on 30 June 2011. Retrieved 6 June 2015.
  9. Rumson, Gordon (1991). Threnody for John Ogdon. Calgary, Canada: Sikesdi Press. OCLC   51874505.
  10. Sheng, Bright (2002). Orchestral Works. Naxos.
  11. Still: Summerland - Violin Suite - Pastoerla - American Suite (CD). Naxos. May 2022. Naxos Catalog No. 8.559867.
  12. Krikorian, Dave. "Morgan, Lee (Edward Lee)". Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians. Archived from the original on 14 October 2013. Retrieved 30 September 2013.
  13. "The Rock Peter and the Wolf: Jack Lancaster / Robin Lumley". AllMusic . Retrieved 10 May 2023.