love letters from God, vol. 1


love letters from God vol. i


Composer’s Notes
love letters from God is a song cycle in three movements for solo soprano, piano, and violin. It was designed to be a musical refection on the different kinds of love that we feel from God and because of God. I wrote this piece for my dear friend Natalie Janke whom I met in university. We had often talked about collaborating in some way, and when her senior recital rolled around, I knew it would be the perfect time to work on something together. The recital that this would be premiered at was largely themed around love, and she knew that she wanted to have some biblical texts somewhere in the program. So, I suppose my work was largely cut out for me.

The first movement utilizes a short verse from Song of Solomon. It puts the reader in the position of someone who is to be admired, and in whom there is no flaw. The gentle lilt that takes places throughout this short movement is largely evocative of a slow rocking motion that one would do while soothing a baby. Despite the message being conveyed in the text, there exists a sort of dissonant undertone that is present throughout its duration. The text conveys the idea that we are flawless and created perfectly in God’s image, and the subtext (the harmonic textures) convey a different feeling, perhaps the internal struggle we all face as humans when we reflect on our self-image and our inherent imperfect nature. This movement aims to capture that sense of tension in a bitter-sweet way.

The second movement takes a longer passage from the book of Isaiah, including the famous line “I have called you by name, and you are mine.” This movement opens with a recitation, evocative of oratorio. This felt appropriate, as the initial passage Natalie had selected felt quite declamatory, and it felt as though a recitation was the proper way to exemplify that kind of emotional quality. The piece continues with a sort of dance-like quality as the reader “dances” with God, listening to all the things that they will be able to do because of the strength and love that God provides them with.

The final movement is a reflection on the wonders of our reality, as taken from the book of Psalms. The soprano sings words of admiration as she gazes upon the world that God so lovingly created for us. It is slower and more contemplative than the previous movements, but keeps the common theme of triple meter and rich harmony. The extended melisma that the soprano performs after the initial statement of the melody felt natural, just as if one were standing on the edge of eternity and exclaiming a mighty “ahhh!” at the sight of our world.  It is my hope that love letters from God brings you into a world of peace, love, and blessed assurance.