for counter-tenor, bass-baritone soli, mixed chorus and orchestra
S T R A T A M U S IC
counter-tenor and bass-baritone soli,
mixed chorus and orchestra
© Robin Field 2000
performing material available from
STRATAMUSIC 4 Ellergreen Burneside Kendal Cumbria LA9 5SD
Tel: 01539 729226
Vision at night. One like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven.
His dominion everlasting. His kingdom never to be destroyed.
Men, why stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go.
The Lord will come with a loud command; the voice of the archangel, the trumpet call of God; and the dead in Christ will rise.
“Behold, I come like a thief. Blessed is he who stays awake.”
How long, O Lord?
War. Folly. Sorrow. Hunger. Disease. Extinction.
How long, O Lord? Marana tha!
“I am coming soon, my reward with me; everyone according to their deeds.
I am Alpha and Omega. First and last. Beginning and End.”
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.
Text compiled by the composer from the New International Version of the Bible.
© International Bible Society
Solo Counter tenor
2 Horns in F
2 Trumpets in C
Timpani (2 sets)
Percussion (3 players):
Large Tam-tam, Tambourine, Cymbals, Suspended Cymbal, Side drum,
Tenor drum, (or side drum without snares), Bass drum, Whip
Piano (doubling Celesta)
Violins (at least 12)
Violas (at least 12)
Double basses (at least 6)
All instruments are notated at sounding pitch, except for the double basses where the normal octave transposition applies.
It is important that this work is performed in a spacious acoustic such as a large church; a conventional concert hall is not appropriate.
The Aramaic expression “Marana Tha!”, meaning, approximately, “May the Lord come!” was used as a greeting or slogan by the members of the early Christian Church.
Marana Tha! was composed in 2000 to mark the new Millennium, the title being an Aramaic greeting used by members of the New Testament Church meaning, approximately, “May the Lord come!”
As the world slides into chaos and Christians find themselves increasingly isolated, “Marana Tha!” is a reflection from the perspective of both disciples and the world in general on the condition of waiting for the return of Christ and the flowering of the true Millennium.
The words have been assembled from the books of Daniel and Habakkuk and various New Testament sources. The biblical text has been pared to the bone and is terse and epigrammatic, while the music is austere, symbolic and ritualistic. Though using modern compositional methods (for example, everything springs from a serial matrix of just six notes) the music is simple and traditional in idiom. The orchestra is unusual, lacking bassoons and cellos and featuring the raw, primeval sounds of trombone fundamental notes which are usually avoided in orchestral music.
The baritone soloist sings the prophetic and apostolic words; the counter tenor is concerned with the words of Christ. Each soloist has an instrumental partner: bass clarinet with the baritone and oboe d’amore with the counter tenor, while the chorus either echoes the prophetic words or repeats the phrase “Marana Tha!” as a refrain.
In addition, there is an important part for solo viola, personalising the long lament for the world’s sorrows (How long, O Lord?) which follows as a reaction to the euphoric shout “The dead in Christ will rise!” and the promise of Christ’s return.
There follows an extended section in which rôles are reversed: the chorus singing the words “Amen. Come Lord Jesus.” while the soloists respond with increasingly elaborated and intertwined “Marana Tha!s. A great climax of love and anticipatory joy is reached after which the music subsides to a quiet epilogue. At the very end, however, there is a dramatic and apocalyptic section reminding the disciples that they must stay awake. The last sound of all is that of the deepest note of the organ pedals which lasts for twenty seconds, balancing the twenty second string chord with which the piece began.
The Score of Marana Tha! is at http://www.aletheiacollege.net/audio/maranatha.pdf
A sample MP3 of pages 60-67 of the score of Marana Tha! is at http://www.aletheiacollege.net/audio/maranatha.mp3