Watch as Philip Brunelle gives you a sneak peek into “We Are the Saints”, a new commission by Gabriel Kahane that will be featured on the VocalEssence 2021-2022 season opener, Hope Lives Here.
The piece is in three movements, approximately ten minutes in length and will be sung by the VocalEssence Ensemble Singers. The first movement text is a Resolution from a town meeting in Milford, CT, from 1640. While the second and third movements feature the poetry of W.S. Merwin and William Stafford, both United States Poet Laureates. The lyrics are below. To learn more about Gabriel Kahane, visit https://gabrielkahane.tumblr.com/.
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We Are the Saints
Voted, that the earth is the Lord’s
and the fullness thereof;
voted, that the earth is given to the Saints
voted, that we are the Saints.
—Resolution from a town meeting in Milford, CT, 1640
On the last day of the world
I would want to plant a tree
not for the fruit
the tree that bears the fruit
is not the one that was planted
I want the tree that stands
in the earth for the first time
with the sun already
and the water
touching its roots
in the earth full of the dead
and the clouds passing
one by one
over its leaves
Grass that was moving found all shades of brown,
moved them along, flowed autumn away
galloping southward where summer had gone.
And that was the morning someone’s heart stopped
and all became still. A girl said, “Forever?”
And the grass: “Yes. Forever.” While the sky—
The sky—the sky—the sky.