You are here

Fighting Over What We Believe

A bold meditation on conflict, communication and compassion
Commissioned by Mayflower United Church of Christ / Nancy Grundahl [SATB/SAB]
Commissioned by University of Missouri Women's Chorale / Elizabeth McFarland [SSA/SAB]
Poet/Lyricist: 
Elizabeth Alexander

A bold meditation on political conflict, communication and compassion, with a compelling dialogue of voices, and a "call to action" refrain. The interplay between different sections of the choir reflects the dynamic relationship necessary for all difficult and important conversations.

Dialogue is a key element of this song. In the original version for youth and adult choirs, it works well for the two choirs learn their parts separately, combining them at 1 or 2 final rehearsals. In all the other versions, there are prominent soloists/small groups in all parts.

ORDERING MUSIC FROM SEAFARER PRESS:
Licensed PDFs are delivered by email. Sheet Music & CDs ship by UPS or USPS.
All orders are processed within 1-3 business days.
*More FAQs about Ordering Music*

Look Listen Instrumentation/Voicing Duration Level Item Delivery Method Price Quantity
SATB, SAB (youth choir), piano - Choral Score
5'30" M SEA-099-00 Sheet Music
$3.50
SATB, SAB (youth choir), piano - Choral Score
5'30" M SEA-099-00D Licensed PDF
$2.00
https://www.seafarerpress.com/sites/seafarerpress.advantagelabs.com/files/works_variant_audio_files/fighting_over_what_we_believe_satb_%26_soloists.mp3 SATB, soloists, piano - Choral Score
5'30" M SEA-099-01 Sheet Music
$3.50
https://www.seafarerpress.com/sites/seafarerpress.advantagelabs.com/files/works_variant_audio_files/fighting_over_what_we_believe_satb_%26_soloists.mp3 SATB, soloists, piano - Choral Score
5'30" M SEA-099-01D Licensed PDF
$2.00
SSA, SAB (youth choir), piano - Choral Score
5'30" M SEA-099-02 Sheet Music
$3.50
SSA, SAB (youth choir), piano - Choral Score
5'30" M SEA-099-02D Licensed PDF
$2.00
https://www.seafarerpress.com/sites/seafarerpress.advantagelabs.com/files/works_variant_audio_files/recording-fighting_over_what_we_believe_ssa.mp3 SSA, soloists, piano - Choral Score
5'30" M SEA-099-03 Sheet Music
$3.50
https://www.seafarerpress.com/sites/seafarerpress.advantagelabs.com/files/works_variant_audio_files/recording-fighting_over_what_we_believe_ssa.mp3 SSA, soloists, piano - Choral Score
5'30" M SEA-099-03D Licensed PDF
$2.00

Fighting Over What We Believe

Lyrics by Elizabeth Alexander

Talking left, talking right, talking far into the night,
Splitting hairs, splitting up, splitting off,
Less and more, rich and poor, what to address, what to ignore,
What are we really fighting for?
Persuade, coerce,
Convene, disperse,
Accept or curse?
Deny, confess,
Condemn or bless?
Who lives? Who dies?
My truth, your lies.

Bring in, shut out, what's that all about?
Who gives out retribution and grace?
What to keep, what to spend,
What to give and what to lend?
Some have not, some have a lot.
Can we learn to share the things we've got?

I see us fighting over what we believe, how to love and how to pray.
We begin with hope and resolve and dreams, and end up fighting over what we believe.
I see us fighting over what we believe, leaving spirits poor and lonely.
I want to use my fighting spirit in a different way instead of fighting over what we believe.

I want to wrestle with the angel ‘til the light of dawn,
And struggle with my need for pride.
I want to take on my tendency to turn my head,
And grapple with why it feels so hard to gently lay our differences aside.

(Day, night, wrong, right, no end in sight.)

We all believe in justice...
Let's talk about what that looks like.
And we believe in compassion...
Let's look at what that really means.
We believe in the holy work of listening, to every voice.
Let's start our conversation there...

Instead of fighting over what we believe. It wears us down and wears us out.
We have eyes to see, we have ears to hear, we have hands that long to give and receive.
I see us fighting over what we believe, leaving spirits poor and lonely.
I want to use my fighting spirit in a different way instead of fighting over what we believe.

(Divide, unite, exclude, invite, day, night, wrong, right, no end in sight.)

We all believe in justice.

Let's talk about what that looks like.

Composer's Note: 

This commission came with an exciting and irresistible mission: To compose a piece with social justice at its core, which youth and adult choirs could perform together. The church that commissioned the song knew my work already, so I’m sure they suspected that this mission would have me chomping at the bit. And because I already knew of the church’s commitment to unflinching dialogue and bold actions, I knew that this song’s hard edges and difficult questions would be welcome.

While this piece was still in its conceptual stage, Minnesota’s legislature was becoming increasingly polarized and paralyzed. Eventually this resulted in a full state government shutdown, foreshadowing the federal shutdown that would occur the following year. As I saw the suffering caused by this lack of bipartisan cooperation, I realized I need look no further for my social justice theme.

“Fighting Over What We Believe” became a meditation on conflict, communication and compassion, with a dialogue of many voices and a “call to action” refrain. The interplay between soloists and different sections of the choir reflects the dynamic relationship necessary for all difficult and important conversations.

Reviews and Responses: 

"The choir begged me to come home and write you...WE LOVE IT!!  It's a mighty piece, powerful and fun to sing."  Nancy Grundahl, Director of Music, Mayflower UCC Church (Minneapolis, MN)

"I just think everyone on the whole planet needs to hear this wonderful text and music." Gwen McLeod Hall, Choral Music Faculty, NC Governor's School East

"The choir LOVES these lyrics!" David Glasgow, Director of Music, Unitarian Universalists of Cumberland Valley

"This piece brought tears to my ears.  Thank you for your beautiful work." Linda Jo Reinhard (Portland OR)

Performers: 

SATB and SAB:
Choirs of Mayflower United Church of Christ - Nancy Grundahl, conductor (Minneapolis, MN)   * Premiere
Choir of UUs of the Cumberland Valley - David Glasgow, conductor (Boiling Spring, PA)

SATB and piano:
Choir of First Unitarian Universalist Church - Jason Shelton, conductor (Nashville, TN)   * Premiere

Choir of First Unitarian Society of Madison - Dan Broner, conductor (Madison, WI)

Looking for similar titles?
These links will allow you to view all titles in a particular category!
Genres: 
Difficulty: 
Choral/Vocal Categories: 
Accompaniment Type: 

Theme by Danetsoft and Danang Probo Sayekti inspired by Maksimer