When Copland was studying with Nadia Boulanger in Paris in the early twenties, one of his assignments was to compose a piece for flute and clarinet. He came upon a poem by the 17th century English poet Richard Barnefield and decided to add a voice part to the Boulanger assignment. Copland explained: "The poem had the simplicity and tenderness that moved me to attempt to evoke that poignant expression musically." As It Fell. . . had its premiere in Paris in 1924.
-Vivian Perlis, 1998