From the Odes of Solomon

Ars Brunensis Chorus recording available on CD

Three settings for unaccompanied mixed choir

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Riveting from the start, with the rhythmic flexibility of chant, and some beautiful harmonic changes. Heartfelt, moving and wise.
    — American Prize Adjudicator David Katz comments on From Ode 14

The Odes of Solomon are believed to have been written around the year 100 A.D., and include strong parallels to the Dead Sea Scrolls. Scholars have debated whether the Odes should be considered Jewish, Christian or Gnostic, and whether they were first written in Greek, Hebrew or Syriac. Early Christian writings refer to and quote from them. A Syriac manuscript containing the text of most of the Odes was discovered in 1909 by the English scholar J. Rendel Harris, and other partial texts in various languages have also been found. There are 42 Odes. Some fragments are still missing from Odes I and III, and no part of Ode II has yet been found. For these choral settings, I selected text from four of the Odes of Solomon which I found particularly compelling. The anonymous translation I have used comes from The Gnostic Society Library.

From the Odes of Solomon was premiered in concert on June 2, 2002, by the Ars Brunensis Chorus under the direction of conductor Roman Valek and choirmaster Dan Kalousek at the Husov Sbor, in Brno, Czech Republic. Their recording is available on CD.

From the Odes of Solomon is a Project Encore selection.

From Ode 1

The Lord is on my head like a crown
And I shall not be without him.

From Ode 3

I clothe his limbs, his own limbs,
and hang from them. He loves me.

How would I know how to love the Lord
if he did not love me?
And who can tell us about love?
Only one who is loved.

I love the beloved, and my soul loves him.
I am where he reposes,
and I will be no stranger to him,
because he is not petty, my high merciful Lord.

I have gone to join him
for the lover has found his beloved.

From Ode 14

As the eyes of a son to his father,
so my eyes turn to you, O Lord, at all times,
for with you are my consolation and joy.

Do not turn your mercy from me, O Lord,
nor your kindness,
but stretch out your right hand,
and be my guide to the end.

Care for me, save me from evil,
and let your gentleness and love be with me.

Teach me to sing of truth,
that I may engender fruit in you.

Open the harp of your holy spirit
so I may praise you, Lord, with all its notes.

From your sea of mercy, help me,
help me in my hour of need.

From Ode 17

I was crowned by God, by a crown alive.
And my Lord justified me.

I was freed from myself and uncondemned.
The chains fell from my wrists.

The thought of truth drove me.
I walked to it and did not wander off.

He glorified me by kindness
and lifted my thought to truth.
I opened closed doors,
shattered bars of iron.
My own shackles melted.

Nothing appeared closed
because I was the door to everything.

I freed slaves,
left no man in bonds.

I spread my knowledge and love,
and sowed my fruits in hearts
and transformed them.

I blessed them. They lived.
I gathered them and saved them.

They became the limbs of my body
and I was their head.

Purchase Sheet Music

Sheet music for From the Odes of Solomon is available from J. W. Pepper.

Performance History

Premiered June 2, 2002, by the Ars Brunensis Chorus, Roman Valek conducting, Dan Kalousek choirmaster, Husov Sbor, Brno, Czech Republic

August 13, 2005, The Macquarie University Singers, Margot McLaughlin conducting, presented the Australian premiere of From Ode 14 of the Odes of Solomon at Macquarie Theatre, Ryde, New South Wales, Australia

October 18, 2009, Springwood Presbyterian Church Choir performed From Ode 14 of the Odes of Solomon, Springwood, New South Wales, Australia

October 23, 2011, the Choir of Trinity Wall Street under Julian Wachner performed From Ode 14 of the Odes of Solomon in New York City.

February 11, 2017, Singers in Accord under Dr. Andrew Barrett performed From Ode 14 of the Odes of Solomonn at the Minnesota Masonic Heritage Center, Bloomington, Minnesota.

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