A cantata by Philip Munger
(Published: April 25, 2004) 1. Choral Prelude: Psalm 137 (King James Version)
By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when
we remembered Zion. We hanged our harps upon the willows in
the midst thereof.
For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song;
and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying, “Sing us
one of the songs of Zion.”
How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land? If I forget
thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do
not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my
mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy.
Remember, O Lord, the children of Edom in the day of
Jerusalem; who said, “Rase it, rase it, even to the foundation
O daughter of Babylon, who art to be destroyed; happy shall he
be, that rewardeth thee as thou hast served us. Happy shall he
be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.
2. Dance for Tom Hurndall (no lyrics)
3. Aria-Lament: Rachel
(For Rachel Corrie)
With the name Rachel,
she would be matriarch of the people,
those suffering a fearful life of drought,
loss of home and land,
history of ancestors
buried in heaps of disrespected earth,
she had no choice
but to follow her heart,
faith must have filled her soul,
that she could hold a child’s tears
in the cup of her hand,
that her small body
would take the form of her spirit,
large enough to protect those she felt connected to,
she risked her last breath
against the hardness of steel,
her arms became wings of resolve,
she was the laughter of wind,
offering joy to those in lament,
this is my song to you young sister,
you have touched this world
with your strong voice
crying for justice.
(Phil Goldvarg — March 18, 2003)
4. Song: God the Synecdoche in His Holy Land in memoriam Rachel Corrie
Around you the father gods war. This
Father. That father. The other father.
What more dangerous place could
A woman stand, upright, than on that sand, as if
She were still antiphon to that voice, the other
Mind of that power. The very idea!
Crush her back in to her mother!
Crush her. Crush her. Consensus. War.
— Linda McCarriston
5. Recitative: I had no mercy for anybody
I would erase anyone with the D-9, and I have demolished
plenty. I wanted to destroy everything. I begged the officers, over
the radio, to let me knock it all down; from top to bottom. To
level everything. When I was told to bring down a house, I took
the opportunity to bring down some more houses.
For three days, I just destroyed and destroyed. The whole area. I
wanted to get to the other houses. To get as many as possible. I
didn’t see, with my own eyes, people dying under the blade of the
D-9. But if there were any, I wouldn’t care at all. If you knocked
down a house, you buried 40 or 50 people. If I am sorry for
anything, it is for not tearing the whole camp down. I had lots of
satisfaction in Jenin, lots of satisfaction. No
one expressed any reservations against doing it. Who would dare
speak? If anyone would as much as open his mouth, I would have
buried him under the D-9.”
— from www.voicesofpalestine.org
6. Song: The Skies Are Weeping
The birds have flown away
With rain-sodden flowers in hand
I wait for you, Rachel.
The rain drops trickle
Washing the scent off the mourning tulips
Pounding the healing earth
The howling winds and trembling blades of grass
Calling for you, Rachel.
Dust dancing around my knees
Walling me in, and my grief
From the weeping heavens faintly at first
I hear you, Rachel.
You give strength to my tears
And resolve to my limbs
As I stand up with my broken tulips
The skies are clearing
The earth is sprouting fresh blades of grass
That whisper your name, Rachel.
The winds are gentle
Reassuring in their calmness
Heaven and earth rejoice today
As you’re with me again, Rachel.
— Thushara Wijeratna
7. Chorale with soprano solo; Rachel’s Words (edited by Philip Munger)
Feel sick to my stomach a lot
from being doted on all the time,
by people who are facing doom.
You can always hear the tanks and bulldozers
I have had bad nightmares about tanks and bulldozers
outside our house
and you and me inside.
Tanks and bulldozers destroyed 25 greenhouses
the livelihoods for 300 people.
Then the bulldozers come and take out
people’s vegetable farms and gardens.
This happens every day.
I think that I should at least mention that
I am also discovering a degree of strength
and of basic ability for humans to remain human
in the direst circumstances.
I think the word is dignity.
I wish you could meet these people.
Maybe, hopefully, someday