Words of Beginning

I am pleased with my collaboration with poet Kai Hoffmann Krull who wrote the words for my cantata "Words of Beginning" for the 175th anniversary of First Lutheran church of Boston. Kai text reflects the light and dark imagery in J. S. Bach’s great Reformation cantata BWV 79 “Gott, der Herr ist Sonn und Schild” and is expanded to a narrative on Genesis the star of Bethlehem and Luther’s enlightenment. I used almost the same orchestration as Bach in his Reformation Cantata in order to facilitate future side by side performances of the two works that are intimately connected.

Program November 14, 2013

1. Opening chorus
Yale NMNH Performance:


FLC 2013 Reformation Service

In the beginning was the Word 
and the Word was with Him and in Him and Him
What story does the sun tell of the Holy
as lumen spilled from pen to page of day
words capturing each crest of wave
each crease of current, each ripple, each fragile break
of water upon water
upon water upon water
as wind formed crescents on the surface 
the day when light was made

What of the stars that day when day was shaped
what of their questions as they were molded like clay
by hands of words and words of light
what did they think as their glow moved away
into darkness that was beginning before it began
what did they see when seeing became sight?

2. Aria (soprano)
Yale NMNH performance:

FLC Reformation service 2013:

Before he followed the star 
the shepherd followed whiteness,
woolen backs entering fields 
of long grass filled with the long sun, 
the moist dew of dawn. 
With wind from the east each blade 
bowed as though giving themselves 
to the unseen. Soon he too will bow 
in the words of light, 
for the sight of wings 
feathers of a whiteness more than white, 
a brightness more than bright. 

3. Aria (baritone) and Chorus
Yale NMNH Performance:


Not knowing what to say he prayed

as the feather lay still on the page
his thoughts a ripple in the candle light
a silent sound like the first day within night
and then the voice took his hand
took the feather, took the thought, took the man
and ink filled the grain
just as glow filled beginning as beginning began
and the words spoke back to him

4. Chorale: Now Thank We All Our God (3 verses)

FLC Reformation service 2013: