Duration: 12 minutes
– a song that has special importance for a particular group of people
– a religious song sung by a choir with organ music
– from antem, from Old English antefn, from Late Latin antiphona – related to antiphony
Anthems is a work for four-hands piano in two movements and was written for Piano Pinnacle in early 2021 and inspired by events surrounding social justice. The form and themes of the piece came from the lyrics of the black anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing”, written in 1900 by African-Americans James Weldon Johnson and set to music by J. Rosamund Johnson. The lyrics capture the struggle and hardship faced by many in their journey towards equality but is equally rousing in its declaration of hope and victory. These words inspired me to write two movements that capture these opposing emotions.
The first movement the road we trod was inspired by the third stanza of the song depicting a painful march suffered by those along the road to freedom. A steady beat anchors the opening before giving way to a tumultuous and tormented middle section.
Stony the road we trod
Bitter the chastening rod
Felt in the days when hope unborn had died
The second movement takes its title from a line in the first stanza and begins as a meditation on peace before slowly building towards a rousing finale.
Lift every voice and sing
Till earth and heaven ring
Ring with the harmonies of Liberty
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