Only a Voice

SATB | Duration c. 4'30"

Coming soon from Hewitt Hill Music

 
 

Only a Voice was commissioned by the Chancel Choir of the Presbyterian Church in Morristown, NJ, conducted by Dr. Matthew Webb, in celebration of the rededication of the sanctuary in 2019. This piece sets a profound passage from the book of Deuteronomy – chapter four, verses eleven and twelve. To me, the juxtaposition of fire and darkness in this passage is partially an illumination of the belief that God speaks at the darkest of times. The music mirrors this discovery in two parts, the first of which swirls in darkness and awe – the literal image of being at the foot of the mountain with eyes raised to the fire and clouds above. A second section, warmer and more homophonic than the first, begins with the statement that “the Lord spoke to you out of the fire,” bringing to light the belief that order and love – the word of God – can emerge out of such seeming chaos.

 

You came near and stood at the foot of the mountain
   while it blazed with fire to the very heavens,
      with black clouds and deep darkness;
        there was only a voice.

Then the Lord spoke to you out of the fire.
   You heard the sound of words but saw no form.
      There was only a voice.  

             - Deuteronomy 4:11-12, adapted by Thomas LaVoy