By the waters of Babylon (2018)

for SATB choir, and organ

Commissioned by the First United Methodist Church of Melrose

Text adapted from 'Super Flumina Babylonis' by Algernon Charles Swinburne

Duration: ca. 11'

Premiere: First United Methodist Church of Melrose ::: April 2018 ::: Boston, MA

                  Choir of First United Methodist Church of Melrose

                  Andrew Mattfeld, organ

Performance History:

  • King’s Chapel Choir @ King’s Chapel ::: September 2018 ::: Boston, MA

Note

By the waters of Babylon portrays the somber masses processing and retelling their experiences of the death and resurrection of Jesus. The choir interprets these mixed emotions through a variety of textures and contrapuntal

maneuvers while still adhering to the clarity of the text. Whether in a hushed moment of unified solidarity or a weeping hoard of mourners blurring their words, the choir is still able to return to their main truth: that the Lord has risen and will live again through all people.

Text

By the waters of Babylon we sat down and wept,

Remembering thee,

That for ages of agony hast endured, and slept,

And wouldst not see.

By the waters of Babylon we stood up and sang,

Considering thee,

That a blast of deliverance in the darkness rang,

To set thee free.

In thy grief had we followed thee, in thy passion loved,

Loved in thy loss;

In thy shame we stood fast to thee, with thy pangs were moved,

Clung to thy cross.

And with trumpets and thunderings and with morning song

Came up the light;

And thy spirit uplifted thee to forget thy wrong

As day doth night.

"On the mountains of memory, by the world's wellsprings,

In all men's eyes,

Where the light of the life of him is on all past things,

Death only dies.

"Not the light that was quenched for us, nor the deeds that were,

Nor the ancient days,

Nor the sorrows not sorrowful, nor the face most fair

Of perfect praise.

So the son of her suffering, that from breasts nigh dead

Drew life, not death.

By the stone of the sepulchre we returned to weep,

From far, from prison;

And the guards by it keeping it we beheld asleep,

But thou wast risen.

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