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In the Beginning was the Word

SATB choir, c. 7’ (2019)

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” This is one of the most iconic Bible verses of the Christmas season and it is read in millions of religious services around the world each year. As a reflection of this passage’s celebration of words and their power, this piece sets the text in translation in the current top five spoken languages in the world: Mandarin, Spanish, English, Arabic and Hindi. Each language has its own character and they all influence the work in their own way. The translations of “Word” in each language are repeated on fast notes passed between different voices throughout much of the piece, creating a kaleidoscope of sounds reminiscent of a proto-language, or even “baby-talk.” The English text is obscured at first, with only the vowels and voiced sounds being sung, gradually adding consonants and coming into focus over the course of the piece. The music brings together the different sounds and intonations from each language to create a joyous combination of melodies, rhythms and textures.

Commissioned by Harmonium Choral Society and Dr. Anne Matlack. Available after 8 December 2019.