The Gathering (“Come In”)

SATB soli, SATB choir (div), audience, piano, and optional percussion
played by singers (hand drum, triangle, tambourine)

Recording credit: Premiere performance by Kirkland Choral Society, conducted by Dr. Glenn R. Gregg

The Gathering-perusal

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TEXT

Alto solo
Come in, you sisters and brothers,
Bass solo
Come in, you cousins and daughters,
Soprano + Tenor soli
Come in, you seekers and doubters,
SATB soli
Let the music fill your soul.

Full Choir
Come in, you heroes and artists,
Come in, you scholars and rebels,
Come in, you singers and lovers,
Let the music fill your soul.

Close your eyes and breathe together,
(Sit beside a perfect stranger)
Open to the Life around you,
Let the music make you whole.

Come in, you doers and dreamers,
Come in, you over-achievers,
Come in, you afternoon nappers,
Let the music fill your soul.

Come in!

Come in, you runners and hikers,
Come in, you swimmers and strollers,
Come in, you dancers and climbers,
Let the music fill your soul.

Close your eyes and breathe together,
(Sit beside a perfect stranger)
Open to the Life around you,
Let the music make you whole.

Come in, you prophets and planners,
Come in, you deep meditators,
Come in, you bold innovators,
Let the music fill your soul.

Come in!

Audience + Choir (see musical insert in program)
Come in, you sisters and brothers,
Come in, you cousins and daughters,
Come in, you seekers and doubters,
Let the music fill your soul.

Close your eyes and breathe together,
(Sit beside a perfect stranger)
Open to the Life around you,
Let the music make you whole.

Choir only
Come in!

Let the music fill your soul.
Let the music make you whole.
Open to the Life around you,
Let the music fill your soul.

Come in!
– Robert Bode: Come In (Sept. 2019)

PROGRAM NOTES

When Dr. Glenn R. Gregg, Artistic Director of Kirkland Choral Society, approached me with a commission to compose a “secular hymn” for the group’s annual February concert on the theme of love, I was intrigued with the project and its intended message. Normally the theme of that annual concert  is focused on romantic love in celebration of Valentine’s Day, but for the 2020 concert, Glenn wanted to expand the theme to a broader sense of love within community; i.e. love for one’s fellow human beings, a philanthropic love in the most literal sense of the word (philo = love, anthropos = humanity). Not only would the text focus on this broader sense of community, it was intended to be both inclusive and invitational, to serve as something of an antidote to the current epidemic of divisiveness and enmity plaguing our society. As a symbol of community, Glenn had the vision of including a passage in which the audience would join with the choir at some point in the work to sing “a verse of the hymn” so that all present would raise their voices in celebration of community. To personalize the sense of invitation in the work, it opens with four solo singers who invite the audience into not only their own community of singers, but into the broader community in general.

As Glenn and I tried to think of a text that could capture the ethos of this piece, we agreed that the choice of text would be crucial to the message of the work and to its success; however, we struggled with bringing to mind an appropriate existing text. In response, I suggested that I contact one of my many poet friends to ask if the project resonated with any of them. As I considered who to approach, I immediately thought of my friend and longtime collaborator—the conductor and poet Robert Bode—who had himself commissioned two large oratorios from me during his tenure with Choral Arts Northwest in Seattle. In fact, Robert had written a central and critically important poem for the first of the two oratorios, Pietà, in which he captured perfectly what the work needed at that important turning point in the narrative. The more I thought about it, the more confidence I had that the theme of this work would resonate with him as well. I had already suggested a working title of The Gathering to Glenn and shared that with Robert as well, to which he responded with the poem, Come In. Robert’s poem brilliantly establishes an egalitarian ethos and a sense of lighthearted playfulness that eschews what could have been a more serious response to our current political and social divisions. Instead, the work invites us to “Come in…Sit beside a perfect stranger, Open to the Life around you,” and “Let the music fill your soul.” I hope my musical setting does justice to Robert’s beautiful invitation and to Glenn’s vision of love and community.

John Muehleisen, December 2019

PERFORMANCE NOTES

Optional Percussion Instruments. The following percussion instruments are optional. If used, they are to be played by members of the choir.

  • Tambourine
  • Triangle
  • Low Hand Drum

The instruments may be left out with no adverse impact on the piece; however, the inclusion of the percussion adds another dimension of color and rhythmic interest to the piece.

Audience Participation. The passage between mm. 70–100 is intended to be sung by both the choir and the audience. Please refer to the separate musical insert (PDF) for these measures to be used by the audience at that point in the work. The music can either be photocopied and placed as a loose sheet in the program or integrated into the program itself by merging the PDF files. The inclusion of the audience was conductor Glenn Gregg’s idea and is intended to amplify the notion of community at the heart of work and to be a response to the invitation in Robert Bode’s poem to “come in.”