The Easter season includes the celebration of Earth Day, and this year, a return to a more open society, continuing cries for justice, and, regrettably, an increase of horrific mass shootings. The Easter message is about life in all its dimensions and the sanctity of every human being and of every living thing. There is a blessing from Hebrews 13 which encourages us to be Easter people of faith:
The God of peace–who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus Christ, the great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant–make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in his sight; through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen
Though we are surrounded by death, the resurrection encourages us to strive, to work for the value of every human life and for a renewal of the earth that will please the Risen Lord and is consonant with God’s character and will. I have set this cherished blessing for SATB or SATB/SSA and organ, but listen to an orchestration of The God of Peace by my former student, Michael Costello, performed in the Bach cantata series of Grace Lutheran Church, River Forest, IL. May it inspire you to be a strong proponent of God’s life!
In 2010 while in quarantine after undergoing a Stem Cell Transplant for multiple myeloma, I composed a setting of St. Patrick’s Breastplate for SATB, opt. SSA, opt. Brass, and Organ. The text which inspired me at the time to battle cancer is so appropriate as we face off against the ravages of the pandemic and mass violence. Listen to a Midi recording of the complete work. A solo baritone accompanied by piano renders the first paragraph below and an a cappella choir the second before a brass interlude and finale.
I summon today all these powers between me and evil, against every cruel merciless power that opposes my body and soul,… Christ shield me today against poison, against burning, against drowning, against wounding, so that reward may come to me in abundance…
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me, Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me, Christ in the eye that sees me. Christ in the ear that hears me…
I arise today through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity…
Our Father, based on a haunting Slovak chant of the Lord’s Prayer, memorializes all who have died from violence and tragedy, including those from COVID-19. This work encapsulates the pathos and poignancy of our time. If we are to heal as individuals and as a people, there is no better place to begin than with this prayer. The performance is by Yale vocal artists.
Here is my setting of the Beatitudes entitled, Blessed, available from MorningStar Music.
When You Pass through the Waters is based on a favorite biblical passage of comfort, Isaiah 43. There are versions for unison, two-part, and SATB ensembles at MorningStar Music.