DAY IS HERE!

For eight voices and strings

Traditional texts by Native Americans (Pawnee, Tohono O’odham, Navajo) and from the Swedish Hymnal

Duration ca 20 min

Movements

1. Day is here!

2. The morning star is up

3. I himmelen (In heaven’s hall)

4. In beauty may I walk

I write these words at the end of a hot, dry summer in Sweden and much of northern Europe. It has not rained for three months. Wildfires have raged; temperatures have topped 30ºC for weeks on end. The heat is new and frightening. Is this the climate change that scientists have been warning us about for so long? What can we do? What must we do? Right now.

I had no presentiment of the drought and heat in April, when I was writing the last movement of this piece. It is a prayer for rain, but when I read the traditional Navajo lines, it was beauty that captured my imagination:

In beauty may I dwell.
In beauty may I walk –
In beauty may it rain on us –

I envisioned a light, playful piece for eight voices—a double quartet—and string ensemble. I wanted trills and shimmering music as voices and fiddles meet. I took my texts in a book of poetry by indigenous peoples. I have always been interested in ways of life, present and past. What are the things most important to our survival? Many of these texts speak clearly and directly about precisely that. Life. Survival.

In the third movement I brought in a Swedish hymn text. It, too, is amazingly light and bright: both in its content and in the sounds of the words themselves.

Finally we arrive at the prayer for beauty and rain. The music settles into a lower register and darker timbre. The vocalists begin in quasi-unison, almost together. Each part has its own rhythm before all sing in concert: In beauty may I walk, in beauty may it rain on us –

May we all see the beauty around us, wherever we walk.

 

Day is here! was composed for Musica Vitae and Vokalharmonin, conducted by Fredrik Malmberg.

Financial support was provided by the Swedish Arts Council.
First performance on August 11, 2018 in Växjö, Sweden and Sveriges Radio P2.
Japan Tour in October.

My thanks to the Villa San Michele on Capri for giving me three wonderful weeks in April with a work room and a piano to compose at.


1. Day is here!

Day is here!

Arise, lift thine eyes!

Look up and see the day.

All creatures wake and see the light.

(Pawnee*)

2. The morning star is up

The morning star is up.

I cross the mountains

into the light of the sea.

(Tohono O’odham*)

*Lyrics for movements 1 and 2 are from: Vi kommer att leva igen; eskimå- och indiandikter interpreted by Gösta Friberg. English translation by Linda Schenck.

3. I himmelen

I himmelen, i himmelen,

där Herren Gud själv bor,

hur härlig bliver sällheten,

hur outsägligt stor!

Där ansikte mot ansikte

jag evigt, evigt Gud får se,

se Herren Sebaot

I himmelen, i himmelen,

vad sälla utan tal!

Av änglarna och helgonen,

vad glans i ärans sal!

Min själ skall bliva dessa lik,

av evighetens skatter rik,

hos Herren Sebaot

(Laurentius Laurinus 1622, from the Swedish Hymnal)

English translation:

In heaven’s hall, in heaven’s hall

where God the Lord resides

What utter joy what pleasure there

where happiness abides

And here are we, now face to face

where God eternal fills the space,

The Lord, the Lord of Hosts.

In heaven’s hall, in heaven’s hall

the blessed gather there.

And there the saints and angels wear

a sheen and haloed hair!

My soul, your soul shall ever be

Enriched for all eternity

By God, the Lord of Hosts

(English translation by Linda Schenck)

4. In beauty

In beauty may I dwell.

In beauty may I walk.

In beauty may all my brothers dwell.

In beauty may my all my sisters dwell.

In beauty may it rain on our children.

In beauty may it rain on us.

In the trail of pollen may it rain.

In beauty may it rain on the young.

In beauty may it rain on our elders.

In beauty before us may it rain.

In beauty behind us may it rain.

In beauty above us may it rain.

In beauty all around us may it rain.

In beauty may I walk.

(Navajo Prayer, Night Way, from Navajo Wildlands, ed. Philip Hyde & Stephen C. Jett, adapted by Robin Blanton and Karin Rehnqvist)