Songs of Salvation and Liberation, Songs of Biblical Women

by Robin Øye


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I've contemplated this project for some time. The five songs attributed to women in the Bible are songs of salvation, victory and liberation. I've long found it intriguing that these songs are in women’s' voices. Setting these songs for women’s chorus is natural. The texts present difficulties and challenges.

I want to put women’s' words to women’s' voices, by setting the biblical songs of Merriam (in Exodus), Deborah (Judges), Hannah (1 Samuel), Judith, and Mary (Luke). Their stories of great victories and miraculous births are unique in the Bible. These are powerful stories. A choir of women can tell these stories, and can create a sound texture that can give them new meaning. 

The project will entail the study of the biblical texts (my theological education is most helpful here) to decide whether a translation should be used, or whether it would be better to develop a paraphrase. So far, I have decided to write for a relatively small group, with minimal or no instrumental accompaniment, choosing instead to explore the choral and solo sound of female voices. I intend to work on the texts serially, and although I envision each of the sections as complete in itself, the work is whole when all of the sections are performed together in a single performance.

I intend to set biblical texts to music for a capella women's choir. The texts are translations (into English) and thus necessitate research into several translations (being aware of copyright restrictions on the use of some). I may also find it necessary to do some of the translations or parts of them myself. I am then able to study the texts, and reflect upon them musically, developing musical materials for the work. In writing the music for these texts, the task becomes one of conveying the meanings, nuances, power, and beauty of the stories and the words themselves within the medium of women’s' voices in an unaccompanied (or nearly unaccompanied) choir with soloists. 

The funding for this project would be used in essentially three ways. There may be materials to acquire in the form of textual material and biblical commentaries. It may be necessary to travel to meet with scholars or others learned in biblical studies and related fields. Largely, though, the funding would assure that I would have time and quality time to devote to this work. "I will need a minimum of $3500 to complete this project In the event of over-funding, I would try and mount a performance near my home.  Below I have offered first performance rights to the largest donor.  My local performance would respect that.  Even if I don't get enough to mount  a performance, I would at least be able to hear the work in rehearsal.  For better or worse, I often do not get to hear my own works performed.

For all who contribute $25 or more, I will send you my solo flute(s) CD, Can This CD Stop War?  Or an ebook collection of short stories called Here and There  available in the ebook format of your choice. The largest contribution over $100 may have premiere performance rights to this work (to be exercised for no more than six months after completion of the work).

Thank you for taking the time to learn more about my project!