For Mother's Day I am sharing Prayer For Mother. This is another song that will feature in my upcoming concert. I wrote this song in two parts, both more or less by accidental magic.
Firstly, I accidentally wrote the text.
It happened while I was writing a choral setting of Psalm 23.
As I sat with that text and the themes and emotions expressed in that beautiful prayer, I began to feel that the theme of tender nurturance is an expression of Mother.
To explore this I rewrote the text with the prayer being to The Mother aspect of God. This helped me understand the original text much more deeply.
I took this feeling back to psalm 23 and proceeded to set it for choir. Basically I wrote this text as part of a completely different creative project, and once it was done, let it sit.
Prayer For Mother
At dawn the last of her night stars steer my path.
through the trees I see the way.
I see the way.
When the sun is hot
I rest in her green grass,
I drink from her river.
I am restored.
And I am restored.
She lifts me high in her expectation.
She holds me close when I am hurt.
She talks me through my fears.
I have heard death’s low drum, but
She knows the smallness of death in the vast universe
and is not afraid.
She feeds me, she nurtures my body, she fortifies me.
Like a child I surrender
I rest my head against her.
She will bring sanctuary to my weary, weary soul.
For all of the days
for all of the days
all of the days
of my life.
The inspiration for the second half of this work - finding the music for the words - happened unexpectedly and for me personally with a sudden lightening bolt of emotion. Our little opera troupe (South Australia's touring opera company Co-Opera) was spending a few days in a grand house in the New South Wales highlands. Earlier in the tour, Sidonie Henbest - a stunning soprano and woman - and I had talked about poetry and mothers and spirituality, and I had found and shared this poem with her.
It was Easter, so the year was turning and the air had that crisp clarity of autumn. One evening at twilight, Sidonie walked out into the grounds and sang. (There is surprisingly little opportunity to practise on tour when you're not actually performing. So staying somewhere with large grounds was a welcome music making treat for many of us and over the weekend we found little corners of the gardens to make joyous noise.)
I can't remember what she sang. I just remember how the rare combination of richness, power and vulnerability in her voice hit me, deep inside. I climbed through a window to sit on the verandah and better hear. My body started shaking. For a while I was too overwhelmed to move. And then I came to my senses enough to scramble inside, find a pen and a paper and start setting the text, as quickly as I could, before she stopped singing and the spell was broken.
Can you imagine?
An autumn evening, slowly getting dark.
Sidonie's soprano voice floating over these grounds.
I sat on this verandah,
Sidonie will sing this at the concert/recording on the 13th of August.
Until then, a tiny taste of the piece via the virtual instruments on my wee computer.