Song of Ezekiel

Song of Ezekiel

Year: 2001

For: treble choir and piano

First Performance:
28 April 2001
The 92nd Street Y, New York City
The Young People's Chorus of New York City/ Francisco Nunez

Instrumentation: SSA choir and piano

Duration: 4 min. 40 sec.

Program Notes:
The prophet Ezekiel lived in exile and was very concerned about the restoration of Israel. These verses I have chosen - about high trees and low trees - can serve as a political metaphor for the kings and leaders of the time, that through God, He will lift the "lowly tree," and make the "withered tree bloom," restoring Israel to its majesty, and bringing down her enemies.

But to me these verses are about human beings' expectations of the world. It is only through God that a branch planted will bear fruit, it is not through credit of our own. Therefore, God has the power to bring low the high and lift high the low. Consequently, this teaches us acceptance and an accompanying inner peace: it is not through our own will that we will bloom.

I think this idea has resonance with adolescence: this is a period of tremendous change, growth, awkwardness, and uncertainty. Social hierarchies and cliques threaten a teenager's confidence. A belief that it is within God's power to lift high the lowly and bring low the high is a way to restore in a young person a sense of autonomy, strength, and inner belief.

And all the trees of the field shall know
that I, the Lord,
Bring low the high tree,
lift high the lowly tree,
Wither up the green tree,
and make the withered tree bloom.

As I, the Lord, have spoken, so will I do.

I, too, will take the crest of the cedar,
from its topmost branches tear off a tender shoot,
And plant it on a high and lofty mountain;
on the mountain heights of Israel I will plant it.

It shall put forth branches and bear fruit,
and become a majestic cedar.
Birds of every kind shall dwell beneath it,
every winged thing in the shade of its boughs.

Ezekiel 17:24, 22-23