Music and Texts of Gary Bachlund

 

 

Jacob's Ladder - (1994)    

for harp and organ


 

From Genesis 28:

 

"And he lighted upon a certain place, and tarried there all night, because the sun was set; and he took of the stones of that place, and put them for his pillows, and lay down in that place to sleep. And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it. And, behold, the Lord stood above it, and said, I am the Lord God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed; And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of. And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the Lord is in this place; and I knew it not. And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place! this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven."

 

The "ladder set up on the earth" is popularly referred to as "Jacob's ladder," though Jacob did not possess it. Rather the image possessed him. Among the lessons of this passage comes the notion that often we "knew it not" as regards wherein God was and is in our lives. When notice is finally made, then we make some marker of this, as did Jacob with his remembrance.

 

Timothy Howard and Maria Casale

 

Timothy Howard had debuted the Requiem for the Victims of AIDS (1991), and thereafter for one of his doctoral recitals at the University of Southern California  played my organ suite, The Jerusalem Windows (1993). When he and Maria Casale planned a duo recital at All Saints Church in Pasadena, California, he asked me for a work for harp and organ, and I was happy to compose for this combination.

 

Choosing the text above, two contrasting textures were planned. The first with its recurring theme as doubled in harp and organ pedal and an extended chromatic meditation paints the moment of when Jacob "tarried" and slept.

 

 

The second section becomes a initial revealing of C major, set against the preceding gentle chromaticism, as the harp rises to equal status with the organ, in a broad lined melodic section, wherein the top line in the organ moves from C to D and thence beyond. The dénouement of the work comes after an intervening reprise of the opening themes, and second and positive statement of the "ladder" and a final cadence on a whole tone cluster in which C and D major are decorated with the addition of B flat into a "consonant" last dissonance.

 

 

 Full score, 17 pages, circa 10' 20"  --  MP3 

 

The score and harp part for Jacob's Ladder are available as a free PDF downloads, though any major commercial performance or recording of the work is prohibited without prior arrangement with the composer. Click on the graphic below for this score in either 8½ x 11 inch format or the European standard, A4.

 

Jacob's Ladder - score

8½ x 11 inch format

 

Jacob's Ladder - harp part

8½ x 11 inch format

 

Jacob's Ladder - score

A4 format

 

Jacob's Ladder - harp part

A4 format