was working with Martha on a set of lullabies, and, while on the
subject of children, Martha produced this poem about a mother and the
death of her infant. A threnody is a song or poem of lament, and
James Michael, the subject of this poem, was the first child to a young
couple belonging to the church in which Martha ministered. As
Martha wrote in introducing the poem to me, “That's one thing about
working in a church – you certainly have a lot of instances where
you're called to walk with people through some very painful
places.” The poem’s emotional impact on me was so great that I
felt compelled to set it to music.
The original setting is for
string orchestra, marimba, and women’s choir. A second setting
was made for string quartet, marimba, and women's choir.
The text is as follows:
Threnody by Martha Kirby Capo Copyright 2007
On a cold, rainy November night James Michael died as I cradled him in my new mother's arms we were so young and now in the silent space of a heartbeat I am so old and my new mother's arms are empty.
The chill panes are misted with my breath indifferent raindrops splatter turgid trickling half-moon rivers I do not see their source I
cannot know their end.
James Michael has rested on his seventh day of creation.
please make it stop raining
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