… and then we were left (download)


A wealth of emotions is on display in this dramatic song cycle based on the “lost boys of Sudan.”

SKU: JH-V008 Category:



Voicing: baritone, cello, and guitar

Level: 4

Duration: 15 minutes

To see perusal score, please contact Jocelyn.


It was not the first time that I had crafted my own poetry for a piece of music, but it was the first time I had ever adapted a text with such a powerful emotional perspective. I remember the moment when I was reading through the text of what became the first song: “Barefoot.” Joseph Jok Kuol Wel says “I was with my brother. I was four years old.” At the time, my first child, a son, had just turned four, and I was dumbfounded by the strength and vitality that this young boy exhibited in the face of extreme violence and starvation. At that point the material came to life in a whole new way and I was inspired to create music that was simplistic and naive, wrought with strong emotion and a sense of incomprehensibility. The subject matter made this piece a difficult one to compose because I had to take myself into an emotionally draining artistic space. I hope this song cycle transports the musicians and audience into a similar state full of emotional extremes such as fear, loss, devastation and hope.




I. Barefoot


I was in the fields with my brother. We walked and walked for more than one month and a half. Barefoot, we didn’t have shoes.


We survived by eating wild foods. I was with my brother. I was four years old. Wherever we went, my brother held my hand because I was so young. We just went in any direction.


We lived in the desert. You could not see a single tree as far as you could see. There was no other place to go.


– Joseph Jok Kuol Wel, adapted by J. Hagen


II. “agot, agot”


“agot, agot” which mean in English sit down, sit down. I fell down and crawl on my stomach, arms and knees. The battle was over in just thirty-seconds. They shot three times and those shots killed ten boys and three security guards. At that time, I knew that life was one percent and death was close to my nose.


– Michael Ajang Bol, adapted by J. Hagen


III. Sometime in the future


I want to go back. That’s what I want; to join hands, go back there, make a better life.


– Duot Aguer, adapted by J. Hagen


IV. The Rainy Season


It was the rainy season. We ran back to Sudan. It was difficult because the river between Ethiopia and Sudan had overflowed, because it was the rainy season.


Most of us didn’t know how to swim. We needed to run so that we could survive, so we jumped into the water. Thousands of people were left in the water, drowned, and few of us got out. I have never seen anything like that before.


– Duot Aguer, adapted by J. Hagen


Composer’s Notes


Please contact the composer for cello and guitar parts: jocelyn@jocelynhagen.com

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