Eat Bread. Drink Wine.


Voice: Soprano or Mezzo-soprano [D4-F5] and piano. Time: ca. 3′; Tempo: “Rubato, with motion;” “Bossa nova.” Language: English. Dedication: For Susan Gaylord¬† [Recording by Susan Gaylord & Philip Orr]

From the time I first read it in the late 1990s, this extract from Hope is a Blind Bard by Sister Maura Eichner, SSND (1915-2009) presented both an enticement and a caveat: savor the elemental, and don’t overdo it. After a lengthy gestation and a decade of composing as many songs as choral works, the solo voice medium finally focused the text for me: the intuited opening melodic gesture suggested the (to me) elemental, savory, cycle-of-fifths-in-a-bossanova setting, and the floating rhythms of the melody addressed the don’t overdo it’ concern. The fact that the final melodic note and harmony feel open and unresolved suggests that the ideas of the text are a continuing state of being, or at least, of practice; indeed, harmonically and aesthetically, it’s possible to reprise the entire song immediately, I believe without attracting suspicion or ire. If you try this in performance, let me know your responses.