Friday, June 05, 2009


Without thinking too much about it in advance, I recently set some small poems by the late Charles Chase, a hometown poet, radical, sculptor, teacher, instrument repairman, small businessperson, and a great friend.  One of them has gotten me into some trouble:

we're not so crowded / where we're going / but we got room for God / being he don't mind / sharing the work / except Sundays

My settings are for ATB voices, not too difficult technically, and are rather mild in musical character, even pretty.  But the reception from prospective singers has been cool.  I just hadn't reckoned with the fact that most choral groups are either attached to religious institutions, or peopled with church-goers so this modest bit of irreverence was just enough to place it in the not usable column.  

These little songs are not central to my work, so that this is is not a major issue for me or anyone else, but maybe it is a useful illustration of current religious sensitivities.      


1 comment:

Paul H. Muller said...

Well, our church choir had a big rhubarb a couple years ago over the word "man" in a piece when the actual text from the Bible was often translated as "people". Our congregation also went through a big debate on "inclusive language" in our liturgy and hymnody. So there are definitely sensitivities to be aware of.

Here in SoCal, the schools have pretty much given up on choirs so the church seems to have taken on a sort of guardianship of vocal music.

I can understand your experience in an American context, but Germany?