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Obedience (2008)

Solo cantata for soprano, bass, and organ (also alternative version for soprano, bass, and string ensemble); premiered Tuesday, April 15, 2008, 12:15 P.M. at King's Chapel, Boston; commissioned and premiered by Kristi Vrooman, with Bradford Gleim, bass, and Heinrich Christensen, organ. 

Obedience is a twelve-minute solo cantata in eight movements. The work draws on biblical texts from Leviticus, Exodus, Proverbs, Deuteronomy, and the Psalms.

 

 

Texts 

I.  Prologue

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart; These, O God, You will not despise.

II.  Recitative: I am the Lord, your God

I am the Lord, your God.  Be holy for I am holy.  If you will listen to my voice and keep my covenant, I will make my dwelling among you, and my soul will not reject you.

III.   Aria: Your statutes are my songs

Your statutes are my songs in the house of my pilgrimage.  All that the Lord has spoken I will do, and I will be obedient.  How sweet are your words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey in my mouth!

IV.  Recitative: Let your heart hold fast my words

Let your heart hold fast my words; keep my commandments and live.   Bind them upon your heart forever.   When you walk, they will guide you; when you sleep, they will watch over you; when you awake, they will speak to you.

V.   Aria: The woman Folly is boisterous

The woman Folly is boisterous, she is naive, and knows nothing.   She sits at her doorway calling to those who pass by, who are making their paths straight.   “Whoever is naive, let him turn in here.   Stolen water is sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.”  But they that pass do not know that the dead are there, that her guests are in the depths of their graves.

VI.   Recitative: My commandments are not too difficult

My commandment is not too difficult for you, nor is it out of reach.  It is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may observe it.  Behold, I have set before you life and prosperity, and death and adversity.  Choose life.

VII.  Aria: Have mercy on me

Have mercy on me.  Have mercy on me.  Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; cleanse me from my sin.  Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

VIII.  Epilogue

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart; These, O God, You will not despise.