SATB, piano, English horn, two French horns
   text by Anna George Meek (used by permission)

Commissioned by the Da Camera Singers, Amherst, MA; Sheila Heffernon, conductor


Endless air:

We sing because the elms surround us
as they stretch their arms across the restless sky.
The chorus holds us; together,
we feel the line of music
curve like a crowded train speeding somewhere
exciting, taking us forward into our lives.
We sing on the campus grass with friends;
we sing after savoring the evening's first kiss.
We are wild with wind, and new ideas,
and dance with abandon into the night.
We love this moment and will not let it go.

But breathlessly everywhere, we lose
our voices in loneliness, or fear.
Will we break under the ache of ambition?
Friend, I am standing next to you, singing.
I will hold. I will hold you.


Endless air:

The days have become measured
by what we need to do. At dawn
we pay bills; at night we wash the ordinary
cups and plates that chatter in the sink;
all day long we believe in joy.
We work for a world we can love
and a life that we want. We bend
over the beautiful beds of our children;
we bend over the beautiful beds of our parents.

Breathless, exhausted, the body is aching,
and aching to sing again, to feel
the energy of a chorus that binds us
to the haunted but gorgeous world.
We were never that far apart from one another.
I am standing next to you, singing
I will hold. I will hold you.


Endless air:

Through this quiet moment,
memory is breathing. We sing
for the days of chasing children
through the long evening light.
We sing for the newborns we have held,
and their small, warm breath against our faces.
For them, we cradle
all that we have seen, and all that we know.
How we hope they will sing!

Not everyone is breathing with us
any longer; we sing for every friend
we have lost. Our voices tremble.
Sometimes memory is shadow on shadow.
Do the young understand how fragile life is?
Even breathless, I am next to you singing.
I will hold. I will hold you.


Hold: a technique called staggered breathing

produces the effect of continuous sound.
Each singer breathes in quietly while others nearby

sustain the tone, or sustains while others breathe.
Muscle and tendon rise and relax

near where the heart is housed.
This mechanism of conscious support

extends the capacity
to go on.


Go on!
We are not alone; we will breathe in
and sing out, sustained by love.

The world is singing.
In a burning stairwell, on a war-torn field,
hungry, haze-choked, and worn,
the world is singing in the face of hatred,
and all of this chorus cannot be struck down.

Hold with the delicate touch
of brushing the hand of your beloved. Hold
with the strength of bright sunlight
across your back. Hold with the strength
of a stranger who helps you to your feet.
Hold with the joy of people gathered
to create something hopeful.
Breathe and sing, and breathe again.
We sing to love the world!
With air that is a thousand years old,
to last a thousand years more,

we have returned to one another in song
(we were never that far apart after all)
so we go on. Breathe!

--and I will hold. I will hold you.

--Anna George Meek

© 2019 Craig K. Sandford
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