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Speech of Morning (PDF)

Piece written at Michigan State University in collaboration with percussionist, Alex Smith.

Note to performer:

This piece is a meditation on Psalm 19, focusing on verses one through five. I've also included the final verse of this Psalm at the end of the piece. Other verses in Scripture are used throughout this piece as well (all included below). All other text is designed as a reflection on what passage is being read. You will notice that the climax, which begins with the text "Let there be light!", is a flashback to the first chapter in Genesis. I believe this directly relates to the first verse in Psalm 19: “The heavens declare the glory of God…”. I did not quote Genesis directly, because I want this moment to be spontaneous.

Verse 5 in Psalm 19 is a bit different from the preceding verses. Here, the psalmist takes delight in the rising of the sun, and there is a deep sense of joy. The remainder of the piece becomes more melodic and an offstage flugelhorn joins in the overflow of this moment. The flugelhorn part has been transposed in the score.
I occasionally used italics on certain words that I would like emphasized. The text from Psalm 19 is in capital letters, since it is the main text. Also, notice that the text has been carefully placed in each gesture. The majority of the piece is unmetered and should feel natural to perform. Given that the score is so complicated, I highly recommend memorizing the text.

Program Notes:

The text for Speech of Morning is taken from these verses in Scripture:

Psalm 19:1-5:
“The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims the work of His hands.
Day to day pours forth speech,
And night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words,
Whose [The heaven's] voice is not heard.
Yet their voice goes through all the earth,
And their words to the end of the world.
In them He has set a tent for the sun,
Which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber,
And like a strong man, runs its course with joy.”

Psalm 30:5:
“Weeping may tarry for the night,
but joy comes with the morning”

Lamentations 3:22-23:
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
His mercies never come to an end;
They are new every morning;
great is Your faithfulness.”

Psalm 8:3-4:
“When I consider Your heavens, the works of Your fingers,
What is man that You take thought of him?”

Psalm 19:14:
“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be pleasing in Your sight,
O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.”


There is nothing deceiving about a radiant sunrise in the dead-cold of winter. It's quite the contrary-it's reality. A visual display of grace.