You Are My Brother

You Are My Brother


SATB ( 2019 )
5 minutes

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Written for The Thirteen; Matthew Robertson, conductor

8.5 x 11"

Text and Music by Scott Ordway

You Are My Brother utilizes an original text based on the Book of Genesis to imagine a love that must (may?) have existed between Cain and Abel in the early years of their lives. The two brothers function as archetypal siblings in western culture, and Cain as the progenitor of human conflict and violence. But each represents a second archetype as well: Cain was a farmer and Abel was a shepherd. These contrasting ways of life evoke distinct relationships to the landscape, to the family, and to society. They represent several other beautiful opposites as well: stability and movement, permanence and impermanence, plants and animals, community and solitude, security and freedom, and what the Chinese-American geographer Yi-Fu Tuan describes as “place and space.” But the shepherd’s vocation and farmer’s converge again in that they both ultimately care for other living beings, and are in some sense rooted in love. In this way, the differences that separate the brothers—and ultimately lead to tragedy—are inseparable from the affection that binds them together. This short piece dwells on the warmth and trust that must have been present, to some degree, but are not typically conjured by the fable’s infamous crime. Our deep collective knowledge of this ultimate outcome colors how we hear the work’s jubilant outcry of love and its restful, embracing conclusion.