SONGS OF HOPE IN STRANGE TIMES, a five-movement choral song cycle for SATB Choir & String Quartet, was originally written as a narrative of the COVID-19 pandemic that struck the world in 2020-present, but can also speak to other strange times in our lives when things do not seem to make sense or have a clear meaning. Each movement traces a different part of the pandemic, from the Descent (Mvmt. I) into chaos in the beginning days, the periods of Hibernation (Mvmt. II) retreating to safety and distance, the long period of Stasis (Mvmt. III) waiting for things to change, the slow but hopeful Re-Emergence (Mvmt. IV) as things started to improve, and the triumphant Rising (Mvmt. V) as we returned to life and joy. Each movement presents a way to find hope and meaning in these strange times of our lives, including other situations where normal life doesn’t always make sense.”
I: IN TIMES OF DESCENT (3:30) – commissioned by SACRA/PROFANA directed by Juan Carlos Acosta
II: IN TIMES OF HIBERNATION (3:30) – commissioned by SACRA/PROFANA directed by Juan Carlos Acosta
III: IN TIMES OF STASIS (6:00) – commissioned by Westminster High School directed by Kelly Ann Self
IV: IN TIMES OF RE-EMERGENCE (3:30) – commissioned by SACRA/PROFANA directed by Juan Carlos Acosta
V: IN TIMES OF RISING (5:30) – commissioned by Loyola Marymount University Consort Singers directed by T.J. Harper
I: IN TIMES OF DESCENT
We descend below the surface
To where no light breaks through.
Is it here in total darkness,
Where there is no sky or sea?
In this floorless ocean,
Is it here the answer finds us?
II: IN TIMES OF HIBERNATION
Half the world in slumber,
Half know neither night nor day.
The ticking of the clock stopped,
The rustle of pages silent.
Is it here, in this state of waiting,
We hold our breath with time?
III: IN TIMES OF STASIS
When you are suspended
In crystallized time,
Neither ebbing nor flowing
Caught mid-crosscurrent in the tide,
It is here you simply breathe,
Knowing that This.
It is enough.
IV: IN TIMES OF RE-EMERGENCE
When light long-darkened begins to
Sneak in, seep in, & sweep in again,
When birds long-silenced begin to start
Winging, mingling, & singing again,
Is it here you dream once more?
When voices long-distanced begin to
Reach out, seek out, & speak out again,
When hope long-dampened begins to start
Growing, floating, and flowing again,
Is it here you imagine the sun once more?
When souls long-downcast begin to start
Coping, hoping, & reopening again,
When you, long-discouraged, begin to start
Searching, preserving, & re-emerging again,
It is here you come alive once more.
V: IN TIMES OF RISING
We rise above the surface,
The light looks different now.
The cliffs and shores we knew before
Have shifted yet remain somehow.
The sky and sea,
An unknown brilliant blue,
The ocean’s floor,
A marker of the depth we fell,
Remind us that our stories
Are songs that only time can tell.
We rise above the surface,
We too are different now.
Like time-tossed stone now turned to sand,
We’ve changed yet remain somehow.