Sapphire Ruby and Gold


This piece is a “Revolutionary Pastorale.”  It is supposed to be being performed in some culture which is being oppressed be evil conquerors.  It is designed with two different sets of lyrics, one a pastorale about trees and seasons, the other revolutionary lyrics calling for the overthrow of the oppressive feudal masters. The parts are designed so the person singing the revolutionary lyrics can switch instantly with the singers of the pastorale, thus concealing the subversive content of the song in case the overlord’s soldiers happen by while you’re singing.

Composer’s Comment: In live concerts, we like to perform this with a volunteer “lookout” who lets us know when we suddenly need to switch.


Lyric set A:

Oh, I can remember and trust what my memory knows.
I can remember before all the gateways were closed.
I can remember the freedom I savored of old.
I valued those hours like sapphire, ruby and gold.

Oh, true I remember and true what my memory shows.
True I remember the day that their trap was sprung closed.
Remember the day that our lives and our freedoms were sold,
a prize for the powers of sapphire, ruby and gold.

Oh, sad I remember the years since the tyrants arose
and countless the tears I have shed while remembering those,
but greater the hot tears of hatred I’ve spat in the cold
for those in their towers of sapphire, ruby and gold.

Oh, true I remember the words that the prophetess chose,
though should be punished with death for remembering those,
foretelling rebellion, the vict’ry of warriors bold
stripping their bowers of sapphire, ruby and gold.

Lyric set B:

The roses continue continue continue to rose.
The fronds of mimosa continue to open and close.
The forests continue to make leaves and drop leaves when old
in brilliant showers of sapphire ruby and gold.

The trees can remember the summer that fostered the rose
though long since December has come and the leaves have sprung closed.
Remember the daylight that warmed them in seasons of old
and coaxed from them flowers of sapphire, ruby and gold.

The roses remember and mourn for the petals that froze,
as terrible winter has locked them in barren repose.
They dream of the old years, the branches of blossoms they showed
shining like towers of sapphire ruby and gold.

But still both remember what every toddler knows
that some day the spring will arrive and awaken the rose,
and some day the bows of the forest will wake and explode
in brilliant showers of sapphire, ruby and gold.