Watch for this composerJocelyn Hagen

 

 

amass
SATB choir, soprano, tenor and baritone soli, solo cello, cello quartet, guitar, and percussion

duration: 65'
multiple spiritual texts translated by
Daniel Ladinsky
composed in 2007-2011
commissioned by Matthew Culloton

premiered by The Singers, 02.12.11
recorded by The Singers
awards: supported in part by the McKnight Foundation and the Sorel Foundation


A Statement from the Artist

I have often been jealous of friends and family who have an infallible faith in God.  To be so sure of one’s beliefs is not an attribute I have ever possessed. For me, the quest for God has been shaky: full of unanswered questions, setbacks and frustration. I am amazed by the profoundness of religion and all its flaws, as well as how it can be pristinely wrapped in such elegant beauty.

Yet despite all the beauty, compassion and forgiveness present in the religions of the world, there are always people who manage to distort the values and beliefs of their faith in order to justify acts of evil. For this reason, religion has been a major source of conflict throughout history. That bigotry and hatred are often linked to religious belief disgusts me.  Why is there such a disconnect between what we practice and what we preach?

If I had to choose one central idea, or theme, for amass, it would be the concept of interreligious harmony. My beliefs and traditions are based in the Christian faith, but accepting Christianity in its entirety has been hard for me, because if I believe that the Christian faith represents the truth, then I would have to believe that everyone else who believes otherwise is wrong. The problem implicit in all religions is their claim in being the one “true” religion. The Dalai Lama suggests that the key to resolving the reality of the world’s multiplicity of faiths is to understand that “in the case of a single individual, there can indeed be only one truth, one religion.” I guess I’m still looking for my personal truth. amass reflects where I am currently in this journey with God.

The translations of spiritual poetry by Daniel Ladinsky from his book “Love Poems from God” sparked my curiosity in interreligious harmony. Here in this one book, juxtaposed next to each other, were the words of mystics and saints from various world religions, speaking of God and their faith in similar ways, with similar gestures of congeniality towards each other. (The traditional texts from the Roman Catholic mass provide the framework for amass, but Ladinsky’s translations are really the heart of the piece. I encourage you to read these poems before listening, if you are able. They are the true inspiration for this work.)
           
I believe that a person’s relationship with God is a journey through time. No one knows when or if they will discover God, or what events in their life will bring them towards or away from God. I think we can only allow ourselves to be open to the possibility of it, and be respectful of all other’s personal journeys into faith.

“…we cannot escape the necessity of love and compassion. This, then, is my true religion, my simple faith.  In this sense, there is no need for temple or church, for mosque or synagogue, no need for complicated philosophy, doctrine, or dogma. Our own heart, our own mind, is the temple.”
~the Dalai Lama, “Ethics for the New Millenium”

What would happen to the world if, despite our cultural differences, we all believed in this: the necessity of love and compassion towards every living thing on earth? What if we all came to the conclusion that, as St. Thomas Aquinas avows, we are all “madly in love with the same God?”

- Jocelyn Hagen, 2011



resourcesResources

Texts:

Featuring the translations of Daniel Ladinsky

The Essence of Desire

I did not
have to ask my heart what it wanted,
because of all the desires I have ever known just one did I cling to,
for it was the essence of
all desire:

to hold beauty in
my soul’s
arms.
~ St. John of the Cross

Kyrie

Kyrie eleison. Lord, have mercy.
Christe eleison. Christ, have mercy.
Kyrie eleison. Lord, have mercy.

Use the geometry

He left His fingerprint on a glass the
earth drinks
from.

Every religion has studied it.
Churches and temples use the geometry of those lines
to establish rites and laws and prayers
and our ideas of the
universe.
~ Mira

Gloria

Gloria in excelsis Deo.
Glory be to God on high,
Et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis. And on earth peace, good will towards men.
Laudamus te. Benedicimus te.
We praise thee, we bless thee,
Adoramus te. Glorificamus te.
we worship thee, we glorify thee,
Gratias agimus tibi propter magnam gloriam tuam.
we give thanks to thee for thy great glory,
Domine Deus, Rex caelestis, Deus Pater omnipotens.
O Lord God, heavenly King, God the Father Almighty.
Domine Fili unigenite, Jesu Christe.
O Lord, the only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ.
Domine Deus, Agnus Dei, Filius Patris.
O Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father,
Qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis.
that takest away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us.
Qui tollis peccata mundi, suscipe deprecationem nostram.
Thou that takest away the sins of the world, receive our prayer.
Qui sedes ad dexteram Patris, miserere nobis. Thou that sittest at the right hand of God the Father, have mercy on us.
Quoniam tu solus Sanctus.
For thou only art holy;
Tu solus Dominus. Tu solus Altissimus, Jesu Christe.
thou only art the Lord; thou only art most high, Jesus Christ,
Cum Sancto Spiritu, in gloria Dei Patris.
with the Holy Ghost, in the glory of God the Father.
Amen.

Inventing Truths

We invent truths about God to protect ourselves
from the wolf’s cries we hear
and make.
~ St. Thomas Aquinas

Certainty

Certainty undermines one’s power, and turns happiness
into a long shot. Certainty confines.

Dears, there is nothing in your life that will not
change – especially all your ideas of God.

Look what the insanity of righteous knowledge can do:
crusade and maim thousands
in wanting to convert that which
is already gold
into gold.

Certainty can become an illness
that creates hate and
greed.
God once said to Tuka,

“Even I am ever changing –
I am ever beyond
Myself,

what I may once put my seal upon,
may no longer be
the greatest
Truth.”
~ Tukaram

Where All Are Welcome

Why this great war between the countries – the countries –
inside of us?

What are all these insane borders we protect?
What are all these different names for the same church of love
we kneel in together? For it is true, together we live; and only
at that shrine where all are welcome will God sing
loud enough to be heard.
~ St. Teresa of Avila

So Precious

So
precious
is a person’s faith in God,
so precious;

never should we harm
that.

Because
He gave birth
to all

religions.
~ St. Francis of Assisi

Sanctus

Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus,
Holy, Holy, Holy,
Dominus Deus Sabaoth.
Lord God of Hosts.
Pleni sunt coeli et terra gloria tua.
Full are heaven and earth of thy glory.
Hosanna in excelsis.
Hosanna in the highest.

Benedictus

Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini.
Blessed is he who comes in the name
of the Lord.

The Hope

What keeps us alive, what allows us to endure?
I think it is the hope of loving,
or being loved.

I heard a fable once about the sun going on a journey
to find its source, and how the moon wept
without her lover’s
warm gaze.

We weep when light does not reach our hearts. We wither
like fields if someone close
does not rain their
kindness
upon
us.
~ Meister Eckhart

In My Soul

In
my soul
there is a temple, a shrine, a mosque, a church
where I kneel.

Prayer should bring us to an altar where no walls or names exist.

Is there not a region of love where the sovereignty is
illumined nothing,

where ecstasy gets poured into itself
and becomes
lost,

where the wing is fully alive
but has no mind or
body?

In
my soul
there is a temple, a shrine, a mosque,
a church

that dissolve, that
dissolve in
God.
~ Rabia

Agnus Dei

Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi,
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world,
miserere nobis.
have mercy on us.
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi,
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world,
miserere nobis.
have mercy on us.
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi,
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world,
dona nobis pacem.
grant us peace.

Everything

Everything I see, hear, touch, feel, taste,
Speak, think,
Imagine,

Is completing a perfect circle
God has drawn.
~ Meister Eckhart

If you put your heart against the earth with me, in serving
every creature, our Beloved will enter you from our sacred realm
and we will be, we will be
so happy.
~ Rumi

Spirituality is love, and love never wars with the minute, the day,
one’s self and others. Love would rather die
than maim a limb,
a wing.
~ St. Thomas Aquinas

How can we live in harmony?
First we need to
know

we are all madly in love
with the same
God.
~ St. Thomas Aquinas

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Copyright © 2010, Jocelyn Hagen