The Gift to Sing

SATB and Piano

Accessible, 3 min 30 s duration

Published by SBMP

The Gift to Sing”, the inaugural piece in the Jamie Hillman Choral Series, is a setting of the poem of the same name by revered African American poet and civil rights leader James Weldon Johnson. Matthew Emery’s (b. 1991) unique ability to tell a story through song is perfectly coupled with Johnson’s hopeful and inspiring words on the power of singing to overcome grief, strife, and adversity. The work utilizes a somewhat varied strophic form, though phrases are slightly varied and developed. Different textures are created so that each section presents the main theme, and various voices add counterpoint which cause the piece to blossom. An exciting choice for concert, festival, honor choir, competition, assembly, or Black History Month.

Sometimes the mist overhangs my path,
And blackening clouds about me cling;
But, oh, I have a magic way
To turn the gloom to cheerful day—
I softly sing.

And if the way grows darker still,
Shadowed by Sorrow’s somber wing,
With glad defiance in my throat,
I pierce the darkness with a note,
And sing, and sing.

I brood not over the broken past,
Nor dread whatever time may bring;
No nights are dark, no days are long,
While in my heart there swells a song,
And I can sing.

James Weldon Johnson