We Are Held
SATB Choir and Guitar
(minimal divisi)

$2.00 per score

 

About the Work 

We Are Held was commissioned by Choral Arts Northwest with Robert Bode as Artistic Director, and premiered at Trinity Episcopal Church in Seattle, Washington on December 11, 2021. 

Program Notes

As part of my role as the 2021-22 composer-in-residence, I was asked by Choral Arts Northwest to create a new work for Artistic Director Emeritus Robert Bode’s final concert, which just happened to be their annual Christmas concert. Robert suggested that I set his poem, We Are Held, which I received during the height of the pandemic, when it was still uncertain if choirs could safely sing together again. Because of that, one phrase in the poem struck me as particularly poignant—“and are bold to sing again”—which I decided to make the musical climax of the work. In addition, to honor the tradition of past Choral Arts Christmas concerts, I decided to compose this piece in a style similar to works sung in those concerts, consisting of a repeating refrain, verses, and guitar accompaniment while musically depicting the comfort and healing that Robert’s text provides.

The verses begin with a simple melody sung first by the upper voices, then by the lower voices, culminating in a refrain on the words “we are held,” with all voices finally singing together. At the end of the final verse, the voices join together again in the climax of the piece on the words “and are bold to sing again,” while the guitar responds with increasingly ecstatic scaler passages, signaling a joyful sound arising from the voices that were formerly silenced by the pandemic. As the piece winds down to a close, the choir slowly sings the words “so we rest in His own hand,” ending with a feeling of comfort and peace.

We Are Held

As the sunset by the sky,

And as all the birds that fly,

By His arms, both you and I,

We are held.

As the ship is by the sea,

And the nest upon the tree,

Ever cradled, ever free,

We are held.

As a tune rung clear and fair,

And the silence trailing there,

As this music by the air,
We are held.

As our life is by its span,

So we rest in His own hand,

And are bold to sing again:

We are held!

      – Robert Bode