Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Sing-along blog

There is a tradition in my family to go to the Washington Chorus Christmas concert every year at the Kennedy Center.  Parts of it are sing-along, so they give you a program with all the words to the songs.  Then there are some songs that only the choir sings and you sit back and listen.  During one of those, I was reading the words and realizing what great poetry some of these songs are on their own.  My favorite was "The Dream Isaiah Saw."  Here are the lyrics:

Lions and oxen will sleep in the hay,
leopards will join with the lambs as they play,
wolves will be pastured with cows in the glade,
blood will not darken the earth that God made.

Little child whose bed is straw,
take new lodgings in my heart.
Bring the dream Isaiah saw:
life redeemed from fang and claw.

Peace will pervade more than forest and field:
God will transfigure the Violence concealed
deep in the heart and in systems of gain,
ripe for the judgement the Lord will ordain.

Little child whose bed is straw,
take new lodgings in my heart.
Bring the dream Isaiah saw:
justice purifying law.

Nature reordered to match God's intent,
nations obeying the call to repent,
all of creation completely restored,
filled with the knowledge and love of the Lord.

I always wonder about songwriters and what their processes are.  Is is melody first and then lyrics?  Or do you start with a poem?  Then I found some information about the history of this song:

Commissioned by the Bach Choir of Pittsburg in memory of those who perished on September 11, 2001, "The Dream Isaiah Saw" refers to the 8th Century BC prophet Isaiah's vision of God's creation restored to peace and harmony through the word of the Lord from Jerusalem (Isaiah 2:1-5).  It is the panoramic view of the future Messianic Kingdom. Thomas H. Troeger, professor at the Iliff School of Theology in Denver, Colorado, and director of its homiletics program, wrote the poem “Lion and Oxen Will Sleep in the Hay” in 1994.  The composer Glenn L. Rudolph (composer, conductor, and tenor soloist with many choral organizations in Pittsburgh) began to set this poem to music toward the end of July, 2001.  Nineteen days after September 11th, he completed this choral work.  It captures the contrast of the chaotic world we live in with Isaiah's dream calling for us to "walk in the light of the Lord."


  1. Love your post. It’s such an amazing song. My church is preforming it on the 24th at 6. We first preformed it the Christmas after OWS was formed. Check it out online if you like.

  2. Heard the Washington Chorus last Thursday night. Wonderful concert. This song was a highlight. Redeeming and necessary message. Beautiful, soul-touching melody and harmonies. The line "justice putyfying law" gave me a chill. I hope to live to see some of this "dream" come true!

  3. Thank you for your comments! It's really nice to hear other people's feelings about this song. I was able to see the Washington Chorus perform yesterday afternoon and was thrilled when they sang this just before the Hallelujah Chorus at the end. It always makes me tear up, it's so beautiful. Merry Christmas.

  4. A community chorus I was in sang this song and I could never get through it without crying. The lyrics move me so, the thought that someday there will be peace beyond anything we can imagine.