Go Down Death

Go Down, Death

More than ten years ago, I began work on a new choral work based on a poem by American poet James Weldon Johnson (1871-1938) entitled Go Down, Death. This year, I got the chance to finish up this five-minute piece.

Written in concerto style, this piece is for a cappella choir with a soprano soloist. I was captivated by the text, which begins and ends with these heartbreaking bookends:

Weep not, weep not,

She is not dead;

She’s resting in the bosom of Jesus.

Heart-broken husband–weep no more;

Grief-stricken son–weep no more;

Left-lonesome daughter –weep no more;

She only just gone home.

In between the bookends, a beautiful narrative spins, a story of God dealing with a grief-stricken woman (partially excerpted here):

Day before yesterday morning,

God was looking down from his great, high heaven,

Looking down on all his children,

And his eye fell of Sister Caroline.

Then off to the races with an adventure:

Call Death!–Call Death!

And the echo sounded down the streets of heaven

Till it reached away back to that shadowy place,

Where Death waits with his pale, white horses.

And Death heard the summons,

And he leaped on his fastest horse,

Pale as a sheet in the moonlight.

Up the golden street Death galloped,

This piece, which has not yet been performed, follows the form of the original poem exactly, with a somewhat dissonant reflective introduction, and then a series of episodes at medium and fast tempos as the story unfolds, concluding with a return to the introduction to cap off the piece. In the faster adventure sections, I spent a lot of time writing the highly rhythmic inner lines to create minimalistic pulsing textures to propel the movement.

If you are a choral director who would like to peruse the score for evaluation, please use the Contact page.

4 days ago
Congrats to my great friends at @PSPaudioware for 20 years of making absolutely exceptional plug-ins that have transformed the way I'm able to shape music. Here's to the next 20 guys! https://t.co/HoHOhWyuHm daviddas photo
1 week ago
Thinking about going to see @stevelukather play the Whisky and cuss out #ab5. Anyone want in? https://t.co/HQKOfFBB5h daviddas photo
2 weeks ago
Uh, help? Mac was fine yesterday. Today, one entire drive with all my samples is BLANK. Files are nowhere to be found. Not in the trash. (Trash wasn't emptied anyway - it's full of other stuff.) Disk Utility says no problems with that drive. What do I do??
2 weeks ago
A computer generated (almost) every possible melody conceivable and put them on a hard drive. This could have big ramifications for copyright. Thanks @adamneelybass for a great @YouTube vid and channel. https://t.co/9taTGa2Izo