The Music of Elizabeth Alexander

Calm the Tempests of My Heart

A prayer for peace within one’s own heart

Words by Søren Kierkegaard

Danish philosopher and theologian Søren Kirkegaard suffered from depression – a condition then called “melancholy” – for most of his life. In this intimate prayer, Kirkegaard refers to this condition as “the tempests of my heart” as he seeks for the peace and stillness that eludes him.

Note: The “Flexible Voicing” edition contains three completely different arrangements of this song: 2, 3, and 4-part voicings suitable for treble, bass or mixed choir, or for unison congregational singing.

Details and Ordering Information

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Composer Notes

Composer Notes

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.

Text

Lyric of Calm the Tempests of My Heart

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.

Søren Kierkegaard
Adapted text © 2012 by Elizabeth Alexander
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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.

Performers

Performers

Premiere: Choir of Trinity Lutheran Church of Watertown / Joyce Harding (Watertown, MN)
AKSARA / Victoria Schneider. Elliot Hospital Service of Remembrance (Manchester, NH)
Choir of Boulder Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship / Deborah Mensh (Lafayette, CO)
Choir of Brookfield Unitarian Universalist Church / Lila Farrar. Benefit for The Center for Nonviolent Solutions (Brookfield, MA)
Choir of First Parish in Concord / Beth Norton (Concord, MA)
Choir of Trinity Lutheran Church of Watertown / Joyce Harding (Watertown, MN)
Choir of Unitarian Universalist Community Church of Santa Monica / DeReau Farrar (Santa Monica, CA)
Choir of Unity Church-Unitarian / Ruth Palmer (St. Paul, MN)
Festival Choir of First Presbyterian Church / Linda Kachelmeier (South St. Paul, MN)
Lumina Women’s Ensemble (St. Paul, MN)
Women’s Ensemble of Unity Church-Unitarian / Ruth Palmer (St. Paul, MN)