Earthsong

Earthsong is a secular cantata for SATB choir, SA children’s choir and standard symphony orchestra. In simple, childlike images it celebrates life on planet Earth – or Gaia in the terminology of scientist James Lovelock. The full text is below.

The Glema Mahr Center for the Arts in Madisonville, Kentucky commissioned Earthsong as a tribute to its patron and benefactor, Glema Mahr. It received an exciting and committed world premiere on December 3, 2005. Members of the MCC Singers, the Children’s Choir of Madisonville, the MNHHS Chamber Choir, the HCCHS Chamber Singers and the Murray State University Orchestra, were skilfully directed by Dennis Johnson. The performance received a prolonged standing ovation from the capacity audience in the Glema Mahr Center.

Earthsong was completely revised in 2010.

Christopher Marshall

Scoring:

SATB choir, SA children’s choir, symphony orchestra [1 Picc. 2 Fl.1 Ob. 1 C.A. 2 Bsn. 4 Hn. 2 Tpt. 3 Tbn. 1 Tba. 1 Timp. 1 Perc. 1 Hp. Str.]

Duration:

±15″

Difficulty:

easy/moderate

Perusal Score

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Earthsong

There was a stillness in the air,
And yet the earth was singing
A Gaia song of time and rhythm,
Of sun and seasons, moon and tides,
Of ages past and years to come;
The planet’s changeless harmony
Sustained from its beginning.

And I said to the lark soaring on high,
What do you see?
I see the curved earth and the fields of gold,
I see the pearled dew on the morning webs
And the rich ripe fruit and the insect swarms,
Yes, there’s still enough food and the air is still clear,
And life is still fine,
And there’s still time, there’s still time,
So let’s not throw it away.

And I said to the deer, deep in the woods,
What do you see?
I see the tender vines in a race for the sun,
I see the branches bent low with bright spring growth
And the warm forest floor with a bed of ferns,
Yes, there’s still enough food and the grass is still sweet,
And life is still fine,
And there’s still time, there’s still time,
So let’s not throw it away,
Let’s not throw it away.

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And I said to the dolphin, surfing the swells,
What do you see?
I see the dancing shoals that shimmer and dart,
I see the radiant reef-fish in coral plumes
And bright-eyed squid in the waving weed,
Yes, there’s still enough food and the water’s still clean,
And life is still fine,
And there’s still time, there’s still time,
So let’s not throw it away,
Let’s not throw it away,
It’s earth, it’s our home and it’s all that we know,
So let’s not throw it away.

Gaia, bright jewel,
Floating free in space,
Wondrous, precious place,
Sheltering, nurturing life in all its myriad forms,
Shielding us from the burning sun through the daylight hours,
Holding life sustaining warmth through the darkest night,
Spreading out before our eyes verdant forests, fertile plains,
Source of beauty, source of power,
From towering, mist-wreathed mountains to surging ocean swells,
Bright coral seas to wind-swept snows,
Oh Gaia, our miracle planet, our home.

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And I said to the earth, spinning in space,
What do you see?
And there was silence in the air….
And I said, Let’s not throw it away,
Let’s not throw it way,
It’s earth, it’s our home and it’s all that we know,
If we spoil it, destroy it we’ve nowhere to go,
So let’s not throw it away.

This glorious garden that Gaia supplies,
What do we do if it withers and dies?
It’s our refuge in space, it’s our whole life place,
Yet it does not belong to the human race,
We’ve a duty of care we should stand and face,
So let’s not throw it away.

Gaia, bright jewel,
Floating free in space,
Wondrous, precious place,
Sheltering, nurturing life in all its myriad forms,
Shielding us from the burning sun through the daylight hours,
Holding life sustaining warmth through the darkest night,
Spreading out before our eyes verdant forests, fertile plains,
See, though daunting depths of space
The desolate, soulless planets, their songs extinguished long ago,
This is our hope: we will survive,
And keep Gaia’s miracle alive.

Copyright © Christopher J. Marshall 2004
First 7 lines from ‘A Certain Stillness’ copyright © Jocelyn M. Marshall, 1990

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