Program Note: I often find comfort and encouragement from the words of John the Beloved. In these particular verses which I have chosen to set for If ye love me (2016), I feel that John clearly articulates what Jesus expects from those who profess to love him: “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). Even more poignant, perhaps, are the verses in the following chapter in which Jesus explains that His Atonement is the ultimate expression of His love for mankind (John 15:13). John then records Jesus humbly stating, “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you” (John 15:14).
In setting these verses, I have attempted to convey two things. First, by using tender melodies and tonal harmonic language, I try to convey Jesus’ love for everyone. Jesus’ love is humble and unconditional. Second, by using aleatoric repetition of key phrases, I have tried to touch on the importance of us showing our love for Jesus, while shedding light on our continually faltering efforts to do so. The aleatoric cells cause the performers to not sing the phrases exactly right. Similarly, we as imperfect humans cannot do everything quite right – we stumble, we fall, and we fail. But in failing there is hope – at the end, in plain speech, one soprano speaks the truth of exactly what we need to do to show our love for Jesus: “Keep [His] commandments.”