O Great River

The Fisherman’s Prayer

SATB | Duration c. 4'00"

Hewitt Hill Music


O Great River  was commissioned by Dr. Brian M. Stevens and the Nazareth College Chamber Singers in celebration of the inaugural season of the Beston Hall in the Glazer Music Performance Center. Brian and I share a mutual love of fishing, and so with his blessing I chose to compose a secular fisherman’s prayer for the occasion. In the summer of 2018, I was fishing near the Laughing Whitefish Falls in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan when I lost my footing and tumbled down into a ravine. If I had fallen just a little bit differently, it is likely that I would have been seriously injured and unable to pull myself out of the gorge that surrounds the Laughing Whitefish River. The poetry and music of O Great River  is largely based on the emotions that accompanied that experience; a sense of relief and a new-found respect for nature, one that can only grow out of a close call away from home.


O Great River of green –
   silent, your dream
      continues on into the sea,
         flows forward forever.

O Great River, be kind –
   your water is wide
      and I have only so much time;
         flow onward beyond me.

O Great River, abide –
   let life guide my line;
      when night has come and day makes an end,
         let me find my way home again.

                        - Thomas LaVoy,  January 2019

O Great River
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