Prayer

  • Composer: Serouj Kradjian 
  • Publisher: https://www.serouj.com/
  • Canadian Composition: Yes
  • Duration: 11:30

Program Notes:

Prayer was commissioned with the generous support of Catherine and Roland Haebler and the Diane Loomer Commissioning Fund for Elektra Women’s Choir. The text is from Chapter 23 of Khalil Gibran’s “The Prophet”.

Conductor Notes:

With Isabel Bayrakdarian, soprano, as the guest artist for our 30th Anniversary concert, we decided to commission something new for us together. The obvious choice was composer Serouj Kradjian, a frequent collaborative pianist in her performances, and the father of her children. Both she and he wanted to use something from Khalil Gibran’s “The Prophet” which, fortunately, was in the public domain in Canada already. According to Wikipedia: “Gibran is the third best-selling poet of all time, behind Shakespeare and Laozi. “The Prophet” is a book of 26 poetic essays written in English in 1923 by the Lebanese artist, philosopher and writer Khalil Gibran. In the book, the prophet Almustafa, who has lived in the foreign city of Orphalese for 12 years, is about to board a ship which will carry him home. He is stopped by a group of people, with whom he discusses many issues of life and the human condition. The book is divided into chapters dealing with many aspects of human life and nature.”

Both Gibran and Kradjian were born in Lebanon (Kradjian of Armenian parents) and both emigrated to North America. The connection was strong. From the book, Serouj chose an excerpt from chapter 23.

The resulting, very dramatic composition for SSAA choir and piano is extremely challenging for soloist, singers, conductor, and especially for the pianist. Contact me if you’re thinking of programming it and I can share for your personal listening only the recording of the premiere performance.

References:

This lists any discs, concerts or collections where this piece is included.

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text from The Prophet by Gibran Khalil Gibran

Speak to us of Prayer.

You pray in your distress and in your need; would that you might pray also in the fullness of your joy and in your days of abundance.

When you pray you rise to meet in the air those who are praying at that very hour, and whom save in prayer you may not meet.

And if you cannot but weep when your soul summons you to prayer, she should spur you again and yet again, though weeping, until you shall come laughing.

I cannot teach you how to pray in words.

God listens not to your words save when He Himself utters them through your lips.)

I cannot teach you the prayer of the seas and the forests and the mountains.

But you who are born of the mountains and the forests and the seas shall find their prayer in your heart.

And, if you listen, in the stillness  of the night you shall hear them saying in silence,

“Our God, who art our winged self, it is thy will in us that willeth.

It is thy desire in us that desireth.

It is thy urge in us that would turn our nights, which are thine, into days which are thine also.

We cannot ask thee for aught, for thou knowest our needs before they are born in us:

Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all.”