The Idol-Maker Prays - (2008)
for high voice and piano
Great god whom I shall carve from this gray stone
Wherein thou liest, hid to all but me,
Grant thou that when my art hath
made thee known
And others bow, I shall not worship
But, as I pray thee now, then let me pray
Some greater god,—like thee to be conceived
Within my soul,—for strength
to turn away
From his new altar, when, that task
He, too, stands manifest. Yea, let me yearn
From dream to grander dream! Let me not rest
Content at any goal! Still
bid me spurn
Each transient triumph on the Eternal
Abjuring godlings whom my hand hath made
For Deity, revealed, but unportrayed!
[ 4 pages, circa 3' 25" ]
The Idols of Easter Island
Guiterman's reputation lies with humorous verse, such as
Strictly Germ-Proof; the page
with a song setting for that comic text contains additional information
about this author and poet.
Here Guiterman turns his attention to the more serious discussion in rhymed
verse of the nature of God, as the idol maker speaks to the god whose
likeness he invents, with full yet growing awareness and sophistication that
each mystery of God probed brings yet another mystery. This notion is caught
up in a fine explanation for the tripartite repetition of "Holy, Holy, Holy"
stemming from the Latin mass' "Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus" which in turn is
drawn from the threefold repetition in the word for holiness as found in the
original Hebrew text, "Kadosh, Kadosh, Kadosh." Why the repetition? One
commentator sensibly suggested that holiness in this meaning is such a
mysterious concept that "looking behind the curtain" yields another curtain
behind which to look, which in turn yields another.
In an amusingly similar way, Stephen Pincker's imaginative text, How the
Mind Works, ends with an intellectual shrug basically concluding that
there are mysteries of the mind which the mind perhaps will never be able to
solve. In the same way the modern eruptions of enthusiastic atheism yield
the same old nostrums, while pretending towards some new insights. There is
that which cannot be portrayed, even in the clumsy credo of a non-believer,
but rather as Guiterman reminds us will remain "unportrayed," for who shall
claim full comprehension and knowledge of God?
Conceived for high voice, the pendulum between tonic and submediant seven
chords carries the opening exposition through to a rising gesture and
cadence in three arching repetitions. As the statement of revelation is
reached the key of F sharp major yields to E flat major alongside the text's
notion that there is this very human "Eternal Quest," which Guiterman spells
with capital letters all the while spelling "god" and the plenteous and more
diminutive "godlings" in the lower case. As with Darwin's "the Creator,"
this is a statement without expression of a particular religious faith, and
yet one which abounds with faith -- the idol maker's most sensible
conclusion, mirroring that acknowledgment in our time as organizations such
as Alcoholics Anonymous also recognizes, "a higher power." The piano
accompaniment should be sonorous, long lined and sustained.
The score for The Idol-Maker Prays is available as a free PDF
download, 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 piano-vocal score.
The Idol-Maker Prays