‘I Call Your Name’

Seven Last Words from the Cross

Connor Koppin

Texts by Brian Newhouse

About This Work

Inspired by Christ’s Seven Last Words, I Call Your Name will be a seven-movement choral cycle, accompanied by string quartet, with brief solos for choir members. The score will be finished in August 2019 and make a moving addition to performance schedules at any time, but perhaps especially during the reflective season of Lent.

The text touches on Christ’s last words from the cross as recorded in the New Testament Gospels. The point of view, though, is that of a person in our own time experiencing the precious last breaths of life. Transcendent themes of forgiveness, need, fear, and our hope for peace are made intimate by the first-person text. This is a very human seven last words.

Koppin’s music is known for its sincerity and ability to illuminate text through its artistry. His music is frequently performed by collegiate, high school, and All-State ensembles. I Call Your Name seeks to meet the text with harmonic language that is both comforting and challenging. The vocal writing presents both beautiful, accessible writing and more challenging passages when appropriate. Some movements are dense, complex, and visceral, while others are presented simply and elegantly.

The work will be written for SATB (divisi) choir, with piano, and string quartet. Should groups choose to, they may or may not opt to use strings.

The seven-movement work will also be conducive to excerpting. If an ensemble is not able to program all seven movements, each piece can be successfully presented as a stand-alone work.

Texts

“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

In Your Darkness

Prologue:

The hour is late now,

come close.

With so little time

every word,

every breath

is precious

as life.

Come close…

(attaca)

You stumbled in your darkness,

stumbled and struck me

as you fell.

I struck back:

frightened and right

enraged and right

righteous and right

I struck back.

We swung our weapons blind.

Each blade sang how blameless we are.

But now…

but now…

in this late light

come close.

Show me your wound.

Here is mine.

Can we break what lies broken?

Can we burn the ash?

Can we forgive?

2. “Truly, I say to you, I will be with you in Paradise.”

Paradise

Paradise, paradise…

How far, how near?

Is it only beyond the frightening door?

I see paradise here

in a spring field

where silence and wind

are cathedral and choir.

I see torment, too:

crosses we plant

in this blessed soil

to hang our love in loneliness.

But I hear paradise

in every child’s laugh;

how it spreads the heavens

with new stars.

We walk in miracles.

Paradise, paradise…

How far, how near?

Paradise, here.

3. Woman, behold your son. Son, behold your mother

The Cord

Women: haben sheli

Men: Even before my first breath, I knew your voice

Women: haben sheli

Men: You held me naked,

your arm the only cradle

I craved.

Your name, my cry: Immah

Women: haben sheli

Men: Now wrapped in thorns

I cry for you everywhere: Immah

Women: haben sheli

Men: Lift me, oh lift me.

Pull hand over hand

our unbreakable cord.

Lift me, oh lift me!

Men: Immah!

Women: haben sheli!

4. I thirst

No end to thirst

No end to hunger

No end to striving

No end to need

These grains of sand

We taste everyday

On the tongue

In the soul

Even with so little time, there is…

No end to need

No end to striving

No end to hunger

No end to thirst.

5. My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

I Call Your Name

I call your name

all your names

but the wind

tears each one away.

My God, my God, why?

I call your name

all your names

but darkness soars

and swallows them all.

My God!

I call your name

all your names

and all I hear is

empty echo.

My God, my God, why?

6. It is finished

Yourself Beloved

Once I heard a voice, saying:

Take up the work of the world:

Bear the heavy gold of hope.

Carry it for another.

Above all, know yourself beloved

beyond imagining.

But I took up the knife

and spent this precious life

scratching, scratching,

scratching my name

in earth’s bright metal

for immortality.

Futility.

Now I lay it down,

it is finished,

lay it down,

it is finished,

lay it all down.

And listen for the voice again.

No. 7: Father, into your hands I commend my spirit

Unending Stars

Father, reach for me

Come close

Mother, sing me safe across

Come close

With this breath

I pray for all I ever loved:

Agnus Dei, pacem.

Peace,

the peace of dawn,

the peace of unending stars,

the peace of eternity.