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Program Notes

Spirit, from Black Is King -  Beyonce, arr. Mac Huff

In 2019, the Walt Disney Corporation premiered a live-action remake of the beloved classic, The Lion King. As a companion album to the remake of this film, came Black Is King, a visual album curated by multi-grammy-award-winning artist, Beyonce. While the original animated film and broadway musical featured music by Elton John and Tim Rice, the attempt at creating a music that captures the geography of The Lion King accurately fell short. The languages included in the music of the original film are the languages of South Africa, when the geographical setting is more accurately portrayed as Kenya and Tanzania. Black Is King is a valiant attempt to include more artists from these parts of Africa along with featuring dark-skinned artists to combat colorism.



And the wind is talkin'

For the very first time

With a melody that pulls you towards it

Paintin' pictures of paradise


Sayin', rise up

To the light in the sky,

Watch the light lift your heart up

Burn your flame through the night


Oh Spirit

Watch the heavens open 

Spirit, Can you hear it callin'? 


And the water's crashin'

Trying to keep your head up high

While you're tremblin', that's when the magic happens

And the stars gather by, by your side


Sayin' rise up

To the light in the sky, yeah

Let the light lift your heart up

Burn your flame through the night


Oh spirit

Watch the heavens open 

Spirit, Can you hear it callin'? 


Your destiny is comin' close

Stand up and fight

So go into that far off land

And be one with the Great I Am



The Trumpet Shall Sound, from Messiah - George Frideric Handel

From Handel’s beloved oratorio, Messiah,”The Trumpet Shall Sound” takes place within the work’s Part III, which focuses on the letters from the Apostle Paul. After a long awaited tacet, the trumpet soloist is featured in this movement, complimenting the Bass soloist’s ever-changing melismatic passages.



The trumpet shall sound

And the dead shall be raised incorruptible

And we shall be changed


Gloria, from B Minor Mass - Johann Sebastian Bach

Bach’s B Minor Mass is known as a monumental piece for the Baroque era, compiling musical material from various parts of Bach’s life. The piece’s orchestration calls for five solo voices, five-part choir, two flutes, three oboes, two bassoons, horn, three trumpets, timpani, strings, and organ. Bach never intended for the three hour piece to be sung as one piece as part of liturgy. The official title was given after Bach’s death.


Text and Translation:

Gloria in excelsis deo - Glory to God in the highest


Serenade To Music - Ralph Vaughan Williams

A piece written during World War II, Serenade to Music was originally written for 16 soloists, and orchestra. With text drawn from Act V, scene 1 of Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice, it was commissioned by Sir Henry Wood, the founding conductor of Proms. At the premiere of Serenade to Music, Sergei Rachmaninoff was in the audience. Even though he was known to be quite stoic, Rachmaninoff was moved to tears saying he “had never been so moved by a piece of music.”


How sweet the moonlight sleeps upon this bank!

Here will we sit, and let the sounds of music

Creep in our ears: soft stillness and the night

Become the touches of sweet harmony.

Look, how the floor of heaven

Is thick inlaid with patines of bright gold:

There's not the smallest orb that thou behold'st

But in his motion like an angel sings

Still quiring to the young-eyed cherubins;

Such harmony is in immortal souls;

But, whilst this muddy vesture of decay

Doth grossly close it in, we cannot hear it.

Come, ho! and wake Diana with a hymn:

With sweetest touches pierce your mistress' ear,

And draw her home with music.

I am never merry when I hear sweet music.

The reason is, your spirits are attentive:

The man that hath no music in himself,

Nor is not mov'd with concord of sweet sounds,

Is fit for treasons, stratagems and spoils;

The motions of his spirit are dull as night,

And his affections dark as Erebus:

Let no such man be trusted... Music! hark!

It is your music of the house.

Methinks it sounds much sweeter than by day.

Silence bestows that virtue on it.

How many things by season season'd are.

To their right praise and true perfection!

Peace, ho! the moon sleeps with Endymion,

And would not be awak'd.

(Soft stillness and the night

Become the touches of sweet harmony.)

I am light - India.Arie

India.Arie is a multi-Grammy-Award-winning American songwriter whose mission is to spread healing through words and music. Among the several titles and charting songs she’s written. I am light is her personal favorite. As a victim of abuse, she said in a moving performance that it took her decades of therapy to convince herself of the power of the song’s affirming words.



I am light, I am light


I am not the things my family did

I am not the voices in my head

I am not the pieces of the brokenness inside


I am light, I am light


I'm not the mistakes that I have made

Or any of the things that caused me pain

I am not the pieces of the dream I left behind


I am light, I am light

Light of A Clear Blue Morning Dolly Parton, arr. Craig Hella Johnson

Light of a Clear Blue Morning was written by country superstar Dolly Parton  in 1977 in response to her split from her longtime music and business partner. This song was arranged for choir, recorder, and soloist by Craig Hella Johnson, beloved American choral luminary.



It's been a long dark night

And I've been a waitin' for the morning

It's been a long hard fight

But I see a brand new day a dawning

I've been looking for the sunshine

You know I ain't seen it in so long

But everything's gonna work out just fine

And everything's gonna be all right, it’s gonna be okay.


I can see the light of a clear blue morning

I can see the light of a brand new day

I can see the light of a clear blue morning

Oh, and everything's gonna be all right

It's gonna be okay

Come Home/Home - Sara Bareilles, Philip Phillips, arr. Darita Seth

Come Home is a song written and performed by Sara Bareilles and OneRepublic, and Home is a popular song written and performed by Philip Phillips. Together, it is arranged as a ballad mash-up for show choir.


Hello world, hope you’re listening.

Forgive me if I’m young, or speaking out of turn.

There’s someone I’ve been missing.

I think that they could be the better half of me.

They’re in the wrong place trying to make it right.

But I’m tired of justifying.

So I say to you: “come home.”

“Come home. I’ve been waiting for you for so long.”

Right now there’s a war between the vanities

And all I see is you and me

The fight for you is all I’ve ever known. 

So come home.


Settle down, it’ll all be clear.

Don’t pay no mind to the demons, they fill you with fear.

The trouble it might drag you down.

If you get lost you can always be found.

Just know you’re not alone.

I’m gonna make this place your home.

Everything I can’t be is everything you should be

That’s why I need you here.


So hear this now: “come home.”

“Come home. I’ve been waiting for you for so long.”

Right now there’s a war between the vanities

And all I see is you and me

The fight for you is all I’ve ever known. 

So come home.

Stand By Me - Ben E. King, arr. Mark De-Lisser

Written by Ben E. King and regarded as culturally, historically, and aesthetically significant, Stand By Me’s original chart was released in 1961. Its familiar “ice cream shop” progression and comforting melody has been recorded by many artists since its original release. Mark De-Lisser’s arrangement takes a slightly slower, and more choral approach to the tune. It was sung at the royal wedding of Meghan Markle to Prince Harry.


When the night has come and the land is dark

And the moon is the only light we see

No, I won’t be afraid

No, I won’t be afraid just as long as you stand by me.


So darling, darling, stand by me.


If the sky that we look upon should tumble and fall

And the mountains should tumble to the sea

I won’t cry, I won’t cry

No, I won’t shed a tear just as long as you stand by me.


So darling, darling, stand by me.

Whenever you’re in trouble, won’t you stand by me.

This Is My Song - Jean Sibelius, arr. Blake Morgan

This Is My Song is a poem by Lloyd Stone set to Sibelius’ tune, Finlandia. Finlandia is the hymn-style portion of Sibelius’ symphonic poem, and the hymn became a national tune that would be sung by the Finnish people particularly during the Soviet occupation. This lush and contemporary arrangement is written by Blake Morgan, an American tenor who is now singing with the London-based ensemble, VOCES8.


This is my song, O God, of all the nations,

A song of peace for lands afar and mine.

This is my home, the country where my heart is,

Here are my hopes, my dreams, my holy shrine.

But other hearts in other lands are beating,

With hopes and dreams as true and high as mine.


My country’s skies are bluer than the ocean,

And sunlight beams on cloverleaf and pine.

But other lands have sunlight too, and clover,

And skies are everywhere as blue as mine.

This is my song, O God of all the nations,

A song of peace for their land and for mine.


So let us raise this melody together,

Beneath the stars that guide us through the night;

If we choose love, each storm we’ll learn to weather,

Until true peace and harmony we find.

This is our song, an hymn we raise together;

A dream of peace, uniting humankind.

Gravity - Sara Bareilles

Sara Bareilles is a pop singer-songwriter most notable for this song, Gravity, her portrayal of Mary Magdalene in Jesus Christ Superstar, and writing and starring in the musical Waitress. Gravity is generally commended and speaks to the complexity of human relationships.


Something always brings me back to you

It never takes too long

No matter what I say or do

I'll still feel you here 'till the moment I'm gone

You hold me without touch

You keep me without chains

I never wanted anything so much than to drown in your love

And not feel your reign

Set me free, leave me be

I don't want to fall another moment into your gravity

Here I am, and I stand

So tall, just the way I'm supposed to be

But you're on to me and all over me

I live here on my knees as I try to make you see

That you're everything I think I need here on the ground

But you're neither friend nor foe though I can't seem to let you go

The one thing that I still know is that you're keeping me down

No Time - Traditional Camp Meeting Songs, arr. Susan Brumfield

No Time combines the tunes of two traditional camp meeting songs; “Rise, Oh Fathers” and “No Time.” In Susan Brumfield’s arrangement, these prayerful melodies are interwoven to create pure, simple harmonies that portray “angels singing,” while the dynamic arc of the piece mirrors the “journey home.” No Time asks listeners to be diligent and purposeful with their time on earth, and gives a hopeful look to what is destined for the future.


Rise, oh fathers, rise, let’s go meet ‘em in the skies, 

We will hear the angels singing in that morning. 

Oh I really do believe that just before the end of time, 

We will hear the angels singing in that morning. 

Rise, oh mothers, rise, let’s go meet ‘em in the skies, 

We will hear the angels singing in that morning. 

Oh I really do believe that just before the end of time, 

We will hear the angels singing in that morning. 

No time to tarry here, no time to wait for you, 

No time to tarry here, for I’m on my journey home. 

Brothers, oh fare ye well, 

Sisters, oh fare ye well, 

For I’m on my journey home.

I Love You /What A Wonderful World - arr. Craig Hella Johnson

In this masterful arrangement by Craig Johnson, one feels the bliss in recognizing that the beauty of the earth, “bright blessed day and dark sacred night,” is inseparable from the beauty we see in each other.



We can be together now and forever; I love you.

And when I'm prayin', I hear him sayin' "I love you."

People all over the world, they're opening up, they're comin' around

And they're sayin' "I love you"

I see skies of blue and clouds of white,

Bright blessed day and dark, sacred night;

And I think to myself, "What a wonderful world."

The colors of the rainbow, so pretty in the sky,

Are also on the faces of the people going by,

I see friends shaking hands, saying "How do you do?"

They're really saying, "I love you."

I hear babies cry, I watch them grow;

They'll learn much more than I'll ever know.

And I think to myself, "What a wonderful world."

OK - Kirk Franklin, arr. Darita Seth

Kirk Franklin is considered the leader of contemporary urban gospel music. In OK, using the aesthetic of old school funk, Franklin addresses everyday issues. The chart was released in 2019, and this streamlined arrangement was written for educational use for Choral Audacity in 2020.


Woke up to a world that is changing
Looking out the window, got me wondering lately
Will we be ok?
Will we be ok?
One day I can feel the sun shining
Next day a bullet can leave a momma cryin'
Will she be ok? 
Tell me will we be ok?

Life is taking everything that I have
Just to survive 

I got twenty-five dollars in my pocket
And I think another ten in my glove compartment
I'm trying so bad not to cry, but it's hard to stop it
But You say all of my needs You promised You got it

So I'm gone be ok 
I'm gone be ok 
See I gotta remember, that my God is bigger
Than any battle, I'll ever face
So I'm gone be ok

Why do we hate one another
When love is the most beautiful color
It takes away the grey 
And makes everything ok
Where is the American dream
If only one percent knows what it means
To really be ok 
Tell me is that ok? 

See our God is great
This season of pain it won't last always 

Life is taking everything that I have
Just to survive 

You got twenty-five dollars in your pocket
And you think another ten in your glove compartment
But that family with no food would trade places with you 
Give thanks and don't forget how you got it

And we gone be ok 
We gone be ok
See I gotta remember, that my God is bigger
Than any battle, I'll ever face
So I'm gone be ok 
We gone be ok 
And you gone be ok
I'm gone be ok 
So I'm gone be ok

Come Together/Freedom - Beatles, Beyonce, arr. Ash Walker


Here come old flat top
He come grooving up slowly
He got joo joo eyeball
He one holy roller
He got hair down to his knee
Got to be a joker he just do what he please

He wear no shoe shine
He got toe jam football
He got monkey finger
He shoot Coca-Cola
He say I know you, you know me
One thing I can tell you is you got to be free

Come together, right now, over me

Tryna rain, tryna rain on the thunder
Tell the storm I'm new
I'm a wall, come and march on the regular
Painting white flags blue

Lord forgive me, I've been running
Running blind in truth
I'ma rain, I'ma rain on this bitter love
Tell the sweet I'm new

I'm telling these tears, go and fall away, fall away
May the last one burn into flames

Freedom, Freedom, I can't move
Freedom, cut me loose
Singin', freedom, Freedom, Where are you?
'Cause I need freedom, too
I break chains all by myself
Won't let my freedom rot in hell
Hey! I'ma keep running
'Cause a winner don't quit on themselves

Hold On! - Traditional Spiritual, arr. Moses Hogan


Moses Hogan was one of the most influential choral musicians of the late 20th century, and one of the most prolific and skilled arrangers of spirituals. Hogan’s arrangements are some of the most popular in the choral repertoire and range from simple gospel style arrangements to incredibly virtuosic and imaginative variations of the spiritual tunes.


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