Among The Trees
- The Clearing Rests In Song and Shade
- I Go Among the Trees and Sit Still
- All the Earth Shall Sing (The dark around us, come)
Three Songs for SATB Choir & Piano
Words by Wendell Berry
These three songs are about finding peace and unity within nature. Balance comes to many of us by leaving the human world, experiencing the beauty of nature, and taking the time to reflect on our connection to all. It is a commonality found in the creative work of civilizations past and present as reflected in our stories, religious writings, poems, art, music and philosophy.
Wendell Berry is well known for his writings and poems that express the relationship between humans and nature. The three songs in this collection are settings of Sabbath poems he crafted slowly and published in a book titled, A Timbered Choir. They are all expressions of the true presence one finds when awareness of Creation’s unity supersedes the individual self. I chose these three poems to set to music for choir and piano because of their beauty, their meaning for me, and the inclusion of the singing as part of the wisdom of Berry’s expression. They are beautiful poems about finding unity with nature, invoking “light, leaf, foot, hand and wing” and reflecting the peace that comes when we mindfully surround ourselves within the natural world; that when we “go among the trees and sit still,” and “join our work to Heaven’s gift,” then “all the earth shall sing.”
The songs here may be used in any order, or taken out as individual pieces. The numerical order I chose moves ritually from the perspective of a group, to the individual, and then again out to everyone. The Clearing Rests In Song and Shade characterizes the places we create with God to find balance and unity. The main musical theme features the leap of an open fifth, descriptive perhaps of a clearing–an opening in the woods–made by human work and sustained by the natural cycles of the earth. I Go Among the Trees and Sit Still is a calm piece that I wrote as a lyrical chorale, or hymn. In it we remember the mutual fear of humans and nature to each other, so I included a melodic fragment inspired by a bird song I once heard. All the Earth Shall Sing (The dark around us, come) is an invocation of all of creation. It starts deceptively as a quiet chant that gradually opens up to a joyful chorus.