ANGEL BREATHING OUT  ©2007 Heritage Music Press (a division of The Lorenz Corporation)   

Lyrics by Dina Soraya Gregory

Music by Alisa Bair

                 

From the lyricist . . .

     Raised in Devon, in the South West of England, the backdrop to my childhood was one of dramatic landscapes; beautiful moorland, thick forests, windswept coastlines, and unpredictable weather. This piece, although written much later, captures the emotions I once felt while watching the moors from my window ("beyond a sheet of glass"), pondering my future and trying to imagine what lay in store.

      I actually wrote the words in 1999, which was an interesting year – both the end of a century and the end of a millennium.  There was a certain mood in the air, a mixture of fear and excitement, an expectation of change, a heightened sense of history and of our place in time. This mood gave birth to the song.

      I find that angels frequently feature in my writing, and I am not entirely sure what this means. The word “angel” sings beautifully and has an otherworldly quality in addition to its spiritual symbolism. Ultimately, I think we all long to feel watched over, to sense that we are guided by a benevolent force.

 

From the composer . . .

     Dina and I met as classmates in the Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program at NYU. We had been working together on musical theatre songs, and I asked her if she’d like to collaborate on some choral music. When she offered me this poem she had written, I loved the stormy, energy-laden images and the most alluring idea of angel breath. We think of angels appearing, maybe even speaking, but not usually the power of their breath! It ignited my spirit so fully that I set immediately to work on it. We didn’t really collaborate at all on it until I called her up and said, “Would you mind terribly if I added some ‘ahhs’ to your text? I feel like these angels are ready to burst.”

      She loved the idea, and we have both enjoyed listening to the many renditions we’ve heard both in person and online. I’ve traveled to several regional high schools to do workshops with choirs on this piece, and I have been so completely blessed by the students’ enthusiasm as well as their stories of hope and longing, as they’re on the precipice of so much change themselves.  

COME UNTO ME  Original copyright 1983 by STUDIO 224, c/o CPP Belwin, INC. Copyright reversion 2016 by ALFRED PUBLISHING CO., INC to ALISA BAIR.  Click here for the story behind the music.

FROM THERE  ©2008 Heritage Music Press (a division of The Lorenz Corporation)   

Lyrics by Dina Soraya Gregory

Music by Alisa Bair

                 

From the composer . . .

     Dina and I met as classmates in the Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program at NYU in September 2001, just seven days before the World Trade Center towers fell less than two miles from where we were each living at the time. On that fateful day when the city was stunned and devastated, Dina was abruptly dislocated from her apartment in the financial district without being able to go back for her things, and I was living right on the line of demarcation between lower and mid-Manhattan, just a block from Union Square, where all the community expressions of grief quickly centralized.

      In light of the devastation and death around us, it was only natural that one of the first things we learned about each other was that we had each experienced untimely deaths: she with the loss of her father, and I with the losses of my youngest daughter and brother. We grieved deeply for the families of the people the city lost, because we knew something of what it felt like to be them. 

      Several years later, when Dina showed me a poem she had written in memory of her father, I couldn’t stop weeping as I worked on setting it to music. She had captured so poetically the wrenching frustrations of grief: Where is this I’m calling? In my earthly attire shall I ever see beyond? Shall I know whither kindly angels have carried off your soul? Can I run to you? How I long to… 

YET WILL I SING  ©1987 Providence Press (a division of Hope Publishing Co.)   

Music and Adaptation from Psalm 63 by Alisa Bair.  Click here for the story behind the music.

     

     

© 2020 by Alisa Bair                           Lancaster, Pennsylvania  |  alisabair@gmail.com  |  (717) 823-1518

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