Ministry through Music - Sunday, June 10, 2018 - Sanctuary Chorus; Festival Brass & Percussion; Wayne Slater, organist; Scott Dean, director
Music © copyright 2018 by Boosey & Hawkes Music Publishers Ltd
Words © copyright 2018 by Euan Tait
A Justice Call
Kim Andre Arnesen
The commission. Through generous gifts to the Soli Deo Gloria Project of BelPres Norwegian composer Kim Andre Arnesen and poet, librettist,and liturgist Euan Tait were commissioned to create a work based on Philippians 4.8 and Micah 6.8 for the Sanctuary Chorus.
Author's note. I responded to this remarkable, fierce commission, this passionate Bellevue Presbyterian call to an active justice, with a text that sings of the majesty and fire of a human life lived for fiery love, for hope, for true compassion, suffering with, responding to the loud cries for justice that fill the air around us. I saw the commission as a call to action, yet also joy, how this kind of love frees the spirit of the giver as well as welcoming the suffering exile.
Interpretive notes. The poem is an expression of the power of Christ's call for justice and mercy by loving God through loving others. The first line of each section of the poem (highlighted in quotes) reveals another message: God calls us with the passion of Christ (to do justice, love mercy, walk humbly) and our whole being transforms with those whom we serve.
shake the ground of the heart,
tear the veil, and heaven pours
its glory to God into the earth;
the human heart breaks, fills
is stripped and broken, becoming
Christ-mercy, a suffering with
as naked as Christ at his trial,
as vast as the beat of the wings
of the Spirit.
[Micah 6:8] "...and what does the Lord require of you but to do
justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God"
"Our whole being transforms,"
cries justice, justice, our life
grows in truth, heart-beats mercy
walks like Him, with wounded limbs,
"as they do,"
exiles who long for our singing
to turn to mercy, to become
a rejoicing in them again, again,
and all of us their welcoming. Amen.
© Euan Tait, 2018
The composition. The work opens with a fanfare using two different tonalities between heaven (brass) and earth (the chorus) that overlap—it is the tearing of the veil, the incarnation! This fanfare is a recurring motif that progresses from magnificent and solemn to exuberant joy as does the victorious message of the poem.
The women of the chorus sing of heaven being poured out and the men respond,representative of the earth, and the human heart. The brass gently returns to accompany the choir singing in unison to represent all of humanity as "the human heart breaks, fills with Christ-fire being stripped and broken". An immediate shift in tonality takes us to a new key. Something has changed! Two voice parts, in a downward spiraling melody signal we are "becoming Christ-mercy"!
"Suffering with as naked as Christ at his trial" the chorus begins very softly over a single pedal tone, the lowest of the organ, depicting humility, vulnerability, and helplessness. On the word "naked" a sign of purity, a halo seems to appear with the sounding of a bell motif. Growing louder and upon repeating the text, the essence of heaven (brass fanfare) suddenly breaks forth as "beating wings of the Spirit."
A gentle interlude leads us to the quote of Micah 6.8. This is set to an expressive melody and interrupted by the fanfare, now accompanied by the pealing of bells and leads to the climax: "Our whole being transforms cries of justice and truth, our life grows in truth, (our) heart beats mercy." The motif of Christ's suffering returns to accompany our walking in brokenness with the exiles in "Christ mercy"
This builds to an ecstatic celebration of rejoicing "again and again" in praise, welcoming all of God's children together in wholeness. The fanfare returns moving us forward through a triumphant "Amen". May it be so BelPres!
Soli Deo Gloria!
Commissioned through generous gifts to the Soli Deo Gloria Project of Bellevue Presbyterian Church.