Even When He is Silent

This year (2015), we’re playing with themes of lightness and darkness. Though we have solemn, heavy works like “Stabat Mater”, and rapturous works like “Ride On King Jesus” arranged by Moses Hogan, we’ve named our concert “I Believe in the Sun” after a contemplative piece called “Even When He is Silent”. Written in 2011 by Norwegian composer, Kim Andre Arnesen, the song is an a cappella credo to hope in the face of despair. The lyrics are taken from a poem found after World War II scratched onto a concentration camp wall.

The lyrics are a heart-wrenching. Imagine a prisoner lonely, starving, and under daily threat of painful death–still hoping. Still believing in love when faced with tremendous hate. Still believing in God though, day after day, his bitter longing was not answered.

Mr. Arnesen’s musical setting perfectly captures the emotive content of this powerful poem. It first starts out on a stark unison pitch and then opens to a mournful but simple minor chord. The piece very quickly progresses into more complex chord clusters matching the complex emotional content. Midway through the piece the pace and urgency increases rapidly as the choir sings over and over “I believe in love” almost desperately clinging to that thought in the chaos. Finally, we arrive at a sense of piece in the final section: “I believe in God even when He is silent” with long contemplative pauses and ending on a delicate triple piano.

No matter how large the darkness, it cannot overcome even the tiniest spark of hope. That’s definitely worth singing about.

Come hear Sonoro Choral Society perform this and other works June 10, 11, and 12, 2016. See their Facebook page for more details.

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