I wrote the text and a musical sketch for You Are Present months ago but returned to it a few days after the mass shooting in Orlando. The initial feelings of shock and disbelief had given way to anger at the perpetrator and a broken political system that refuses to enact sensible gun control legislation. Anger melted into sadness for the victims, whose lives were ended far too soon, as well as their families and friends.
In a moment of bewilderment I sat at the piano, wanting to say something meaningful. What emerged first was a pulse, the heartbeat in the accompaniment that connects to the name of the club but also speaks of life, of faithful presence. A simple melody took shape, accompanied by dissonant harmony with several unexpected harmonic turns.
While specifically written to honor those who lost their lives in Orlando, every human life is touched by grief and loss. This piece does not avoid the unanswered questions, longing, and pain, but seeks to claim God's love and presence in the dark and unknown places. I hear it as both a song of lament and a song of hope that could be sung by a soloist or unison choir. The text is expansive enough that it could also work within varied liturgical settings, including funerals, services of healing prayer, or Longest Night/Blue Christmas observances.
I invite you to listen to the scratch recording below and view a sample score here. Sheet music will soon be available for purchase on the Music page of my website.
In the unknown, in the empty places,
in the ache of mind or body, heart or soul,
in the sorrow, in the lonely spaces,
in the longing for a comfort we can feel
You are present, ever present,
Holy Comforter, Companion, and our Friend.
And we trust, even when we cannot see it,
the Love that holds us close from our beginning until our end.
In the wounds, in the tender places,
in the scars that hold a mem'ry of the pain,
in the dark, in the hidden spaces,
in the secrets we may never speak again