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Song of Kabir

"Saint Kabir" by Ketan S. Saindane
(a.k.a. Ketology)
Used by permission of the artist
See more of Ketan's art

A luminous song of wholehearted devotion
A “Pick Six” featured piece in ACDA-Minnesota's "Star of the North"

A fluid, luminous setting of a beloved prayer by Kabir, offering praise to a God both universal and intimate, both of and beyond this world.

About the poet: The Indian poet Kabir (1440-1518) grew up amidst Hinduism and Islam, and was deeply influenced by both. He had little use for the rites and trappings of any religion, and openly despised the pious quoting of scriptures from any religion. His poetry invoked the divine using both Hindu and Muslim names – “Allah” and “Brahma” – but in all cases Kabir engaged with the divine in a way that was deep and immediate. Today Kabir is revered by Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs alike, and his songs are loved by people of all faiths.

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Song of Kabir

Kabir, adapted

You are in us, and we are in You,
Each being distinct, yet ever united.
You are the tree, the seed, and the cell;
You are the flower, the fruit, and the shade;
You are the sun, the light, and the lighted;
You are the manifold form of infinite space;
You are the breath, the word, and the meaning;
You are the limit and the limitless.
You are the Immanent Mind in us;
You are the Supreme Soul within the soul.
Blessed are all who see You.

Composer's Note: 

About the lyric of Song of Kabir: Rabindranath Tagore translated many of Kabir’s songs into English, introducing them to a worldwide audience.  His 1915 rendering of this poem reflects the writing style of his culture and time:

“The creature is in Brahma, and Brahma is in the creature: they are ever distinct, yet ever united.
He Himself is the tree, the seed, and the germ.
He Himself is the flower, the fruit, and the shade...”

The lyric used in this musical setting is adapted from Tagore’s version, in a modern rendering which reflects the universality of Kabir’s God as well as the less florid language of our time.

Reviews and Responses: 

“Love this piece!  Thank you!!  The Crown of the Continent Choir, in its seventh year,  is an independent community choir of 60-70 voices specializing in inspirational and upbeat choral music of the world.  Our repertoire, drawing from many traditions, is selected to offer a musical soundscape representative of our love for one another and for this beautiful earth in which we live.” Craig N. Hodges, Music Director, Crown of the Continent Choir (Kalispell, MT)

“Song of Kabir is a new composition by Minnesota-based composer Elizabeth Alexander, drawing from a text by the Indian poet Kabir.  Kabir eschewed the formality of organized religions, but sought to find “God" in his own personal truth.  This philosophy is in step with people today who seek to find common ground in our various faiths, as opposed to concentrating on the details that build walls and divide us. Alexander uses a modern translation of the text set in an a cappella, four part homophonic texture.  The musical line is servant to the text at all times, allowing the message to be clearly delivered and understood.  In order to emphasize the appropriate text stresses, Alexander frequently switches meters.  However, this piece should not come across as overly rhythmic.”  Jonathan Kopplin, ACDA-MN Repertoire and Standards Chair for Ethnic and Multicultural Perspectives. "Pick Six Review," Star of the North, Spring 2014.


Unity Singers - Ruth Palmer, conductor ~ Unity Church-Unitarian (Saint Paul, MN)  * Premiere

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