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Calm the Tempests of My Heart

"Waves" Woodcut print by Konen Uehara

An invocation asking for peace within one's own heart
Commissioned by American Composers Forum's Faith Partners Program
Søren Kierkegaard

Danish philosopher and theologian Søren Kirkegaard suffered from melancholy – now known as depression – for most of his life.  So it is not surprising that many his writings focused on what he called “inwardness,” a realm completely separate from one’s outward demeanor or actions.  His unceasing search for authenticity in his faith and stillness in his heart is reflected in this chorale's elegant simplicity.

This flexibly voiced edition contains three completely different arrangements of this song! Composed to be easily adapted to the vocal forces as hand, this publication includes 2, 3, and 4-part voicings of varying difficulties, suitable for treble, bass or mixed choir, or for congregational singing. It may be repeated as desired in worship settings or processionals.

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2, 3, or 4-part chorus a cappella - Choral Score
2'00" E SEA-114-00 Sheet Music
2, 3, or 4-part chorus a cappella - Choral Score
2'00" E SEA-114-00D Licensed PDF

Calm the Tempests of My Heart

Søren Kierkegaard
Adapted by Elizabeth Alexander

Calm the tempests of my heart, O my God.
Calm the tempests of my heart, O my God.
Be still, O my soul, so that God may rest in thee,
Bringing peace that the world can never take away.

Original Prayer by Sören Kierkegaard:
Calm the waves of this heart, O God; calm its tempests.
Calm yourself, O my soul, so that God is able to rest in you, so that God’s peace may cover you.
Yes, You can give us peace, O God, peace that the whole world can never take away.

Composer's Note: 

This song was inspired by both spiritual and practical needs.  Conductor Joyce Harding was looking for a meditative choral response which could be sung at all of her church services during Lent – but the composition of the choir was apt to change week to week, depending on members’ availability!

For this reason, Calm the Tempests of My Heart was conceived with performance flexibility in mind.  I crafted 2-part, 3-part, and 4-part voicings, so that it could be sung by a variety of high voice, low voice and mixed voice ensembles.  Far from a rote exercise in arranging, this project gave me the chance to fashion a different character for each voicing, revealing different facets of Kierkegaard’s timeless prayer.


Choir of Trinity Lutheran Church - Joyce Harding, conductor (Watertown, MN)   * Premiere

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