SATB, piano, flute, clarinet, trumpet, one percussionist. 8.5 minutes.
An apocalyptic setting of an apocalyptic tex (Revelation 8). An intensley dramatic concert work (not a church anthem).
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A setting of the apocalyptic text found in Revelation 8: 1-6 which describes the breaking of the Seventh Seal on the Scroll. It is an effective piece, highly dramatic, which draws a strong, positive reaction from the audience and performers alike. The piece requires a chorus of accomplished singers.
The text for this piece comes from the book of Revelation, written by the Apostle John while living out his final years in exile. In it, John describes a vision he was given of the last days of the earth.
We are told in chapter 5 of a heavenly book sealed with seven seals, and that the only one found worthy to open this book is the "Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David" (Jesus). As each of the first six seals are broken (chapter 6), a series of last warnings are released one by one. The breaking of the first four seals unleashes the four horsemen of the apocalypse: Conquest, War, Economic Crisis, and Pestilence. The fifth seal brings a cry for justice from those martyred, and the sixth seal, a great earthquake, a blackened sun, and mountains shaken from their places (nuclear war?).
The present text begins with the breaking of the seventh seal which causes a dramatic silence in heaven. (This silence is in stark contrast to all other descriptions of heaven in Revelation, where constant praise is being shouted by numerous beings.) This seventh seal sets in motion the sounding of seven angelic trumpets, each trumpet unleashing a judgement upon the earth.
The musical basis of the piece is a scale (and a major scale at that!), but with a phrygian second, lydian fourth, and a mixolydian seventh: C-Db-E-F#-G-A-Bb-C. It is a sound that caught my ear a number of years ago, and I believe it is the only piece I've written thinking primarily in terms of scale. It is used fairly consistently throughout the piece, but not strictly.
Many thanks to Donald Neuen who premiered this work at the University of Tennessee around 1974.
Revelation 8:1-6 (KJV):
And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour. And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets. And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand. And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake. And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.
© Copyright 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 Jesse Ayers