Gwyneth Walker

Tell the Earth to Shake

for SATB Chorus and Piano (2004)
for SATB Chorus and Chamber Orchestra (2007)
for TTBB Chorus and Piano (2009)
for TTBB Chorus and Chamber Orchestra (2009)

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Download an MP3 file of a performance of this work (SATB and piano) by the Vermont High School All-State Music Festival Chorus, Dan Perkins, conductor.
Download an MP3 file of a performance of this work (SATB and piano) by the Clearview High School Vocale Ensemble, Jack Hill, music director.
Download an MP3 file of a performance of this work (SATB and orchestra) by the Western Colorado Chorale and the Grand Junction Symphony orchestra, Monte Atkinson, conductor.
Download an MP3 file of a performance of this work (SATB and orchestra) by the Plymouth State College New England Choral Festival, Dan Perkins, conductor.
Download an MP3 file of a performance of this work (SATB and orchestra) by the American Festival for the Arts Choral Celebration, Dan Perkins, conductor.
Download an MP3 file of a performance of this work (TTBB and piano) by the Boston Gay Men's Chorus, Reuben Reynolds, conductor.

Download a PDF file of the SATB and piano score of this composition. For perusal only -- not printable.
Download a PDF file of the SATB and orchestra score of this composition. For perusal only -- not printable.
Download a PDF file of the TTBB and piano score of this composition. For perusal only -- not printable.
Download a PDF file of the TTBB and orchestra score of this composition. For perusal only -- not printable.

Download a PDF file of the poetry used in this work as text for printing in concert programs.


Commissioned by the Clearview Regional High School Vocale Ensemble, Mullica Hill, New Jersey, Jack Hill Music Director. Premiered on February 2, 2005 at the National Convention of the American Choral Directors Association Los Angeles, CA

The poem, by Thomas Merton (1915-1968), a Trappist Monk, presents the powerful voice of God: "Tell the earth to shake...for a new world is born, and all my people shall be one." This is an insistent poem, with repetitions of stanzas, and only slight variations. Through forceful restatement, the poem grows into the closing lines:

There shall be no more hate
And no more oppression
The old wrongs are done
My people shall be one.

The musical setting adopts the form of the poem. As the lyrics are structured into verse 'pairings' ("tell the earth to shake..." "the old wrongs are over..."), so the men's voices are paired with, and answered by, the women's voices. The alternation continues several times, with the tonal center shifting up a step with each section.

The modulations, intended to increase the strength and intensity of the song, are effected through sections of "pacem" (peace). This word has been inserted by the composer to form bridges between the verses. For, as the earth will shake "with marching feet of messengers of peace..." so peace becomes the means of bringing the people together as one.

Notes by the composer