And What Shall You Say


And What Shall You Say? - (2008)    

Joseph S. Cotter, Jr.

for medium or high voice and piano


Brother, come!
And let us go unto our God.
And when we stand before Him
I shall say—
“Lord, I do not hate,
I am hated.
I scourge no one,
I am scourged.
I covet no lands,
My lands are coveted.
I mock no peoples,
My people are mocked.”
And, brother, what shall you say?

[ 2 pages, circa 1' 45" ]

 Joseph S. Cotter, Jr. (1895-1919)


For information on Joseph Cotter, see the information at A Prayer. This text is found in The Book of American Negro Poetry, published in 1922, James Weldon Johnson, ed. (1871–1938).



The setting opens with a musical flourish, bold and declarative. Yet at the point that the speaker begins to imagine his plea before the throne of God, the setting softens and becomes quieter. The challenge as characterized by dotted rhythms and louder dynamics is a challenge to one's "brother." The truest and most vile evils of the world are perpetrated man against man, in which the victim can see the victimizer as "brother," while the evil doer cannot recognize this kinship of man to man. The brilliance of this text is its clear challenge -- the real victim's challenge -- to a "brother."



The score for And What Shall You Say? 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.


And What Shall You Say?