For Our Common Home
An oratorio by Linda J. Chase
Libretto adapted from
Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical,Laudato Si’
origin & inspiration
I was commissioned by world-renowned theologian Harvey Cox to compose an oratorio based on Laudato Si’ which addresses the impact of the environmental crisis on the most vulnerable communities. Highlighting compassion and solidarity, this quote from the encyclical spoke to me:
Our goal is not to amass information or to satisfy curiosity,
but rather to become painfully aware, to dare to turn what is happening to the world into our own personal suffering and thus to discover
what each of us can do about it.
I began writing in 2020. That summer, protests around the world accelerated with the Movement for Black Lives and response to George Floyd’s murder. For many, the uprising in the streets was the first time we gathered since the beginning of the pandemic, coming together to demand that “injustice can be defeated in the land.”
The text of Laudato Si' speaks out against systems of oppression and reminds us that all are siblings. It challenged me to write music that could invite conversations addressing injustice and rebuilding our common home. Retreating from my crowded house (with the piano next to the kitchen table), I spent winter on the New England coast reflecting on environmental justice, the plight of climate refugees, and questions of responsibility. Tuning in to the Earth that sustains us and listening to the waves and wind, I reflected on the text: "May our struggles and concern for our planet never take away the joy of our hope. Let us sing as we go."
This cross-genre oratorio for chorus, soloists and chamber orchestra draws from sacred music, contemporary classical, jazz, gospel
and klezmer traditions. Instrumental interludes lead the listener from one movement to the next guiding shifts in
mood or harmony, and inviting a moment to reflect on the text which has just been sung.
The following recordings include several excerpts and movements from the 23-movement oratorio.
Listen for the “voices of nature” (birdsong, thunder, rain, wildfire and ocean) accompanying some of the movements.
We come together to care for our home.
We’ve been entrusted to heal and recover.
Journey together in union with all creatures.
SOLOIST Burcu Gulec
A call and response duet express the crying of the earth. The choir whispers names of endangered species while recordings of whale, whooping crane, penguin, and cheetah sound those voices.
Species go extinct
SOLOISTS Sarah Matsushima & Carla Kihlstedt
Sister cries out, she has been misused. Sister cries out, she has been abused. Destruction, devastation, deforestation Pollution, production,injustice, corruption.
"Here I want to recognize, encourage and thank all those striving in countless ways to guarantee the protection of the home which we share. Particular appreciation is owed to those who tirelessly seek to resolve the tragic effects of environmental degradation on the lives of the world’s poorest. Young people demand change. They wonder how anyone can claim to be building a better future without thinking of the environmental crisis and the sufferings of the excluded. I urgently appeal, then, for a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet. We need a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all. …We require a new and universal solidarity." - From Laudsto Si'
In gratitude and affirmation The work of solidarity The sacrifices taken to heal the suffering So hate and fear may cease, may cease to be. Who work for justice: root of peace With tireless devotion build community Who seek to restore Resolve the causes of suffering Rebuild our common home Reveal the common soul In gratitude we speak Proclaiming equity Faith is turning dreams into deeds The urgency of healing needs A dialogue for all to speak till all are free.
Following the performance, we facilitate discussions with the audience about applying concepts from Laudato Si’ in our own communities. We offer choral and community singing workshops using the For Our Common Home Songbook.
Music can inspire, build bridges
and serve as a vehicle to
The ensemble on this recording features many young upcoming musicians, alongside some of Boston’s finest veteran musicians. The Carduus Chamber Choir, directed
by Holly Druckman was formed in 2018 with many recent graduates from
New England Conservatory.
This oratorio was commissioned by theologian/author Dr. Harvey G. Cox who also advised the composer on the text. Dr. Cox taught for fifty years at Harvard College and Divinity School, lectured at the (Jesuit) Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, and has been personally received by three popes. He has published eleven books, one of which The Feast of Fools was nominated for the National Book Prize and inspired the musical Godspell. The Secular City was translated into eighteen languages and became an international classic, selling over one million copies.
I am humbled and grateful to the community at Old Cambridge Baptist Church and the many generous donors who supported the recording and premiere performance of For Our Common Home - Resounding Ecojustice. Special thanks to the Inavale Foundation. Thank you with all my heart!
Abigale Reisman, violin
Helen Sherrah-Davies, violin
David Rubin, violin
Bengisu Gokce, violin
Carson McHaney, violin
Beth Abbate, violin
Carla Kihlstedt, violin and voice
Lysander Jaffe, viola
Arjun Mudan, viola
Adithya Muralidharan, cello
Sebastian Ortega, cello
Thomas Schmidt, cello
Kirstan Lamb, double bass
Lemuel Mark, trumpet
Mark Berney, trumpet
Aimee Toner, flute and piccolo
Linda J. Chase, flute
Diane Heffner bass clarinet/clarinet
Jonathan Russell, bass clarinet/clarinet
Thomas Schmidt, percussion
George Lernis, percussion
Stuart Ryerse, piano
Hankus Netsky, piano
Anna Unchu Pyon, piano
Jennifer Hruska, nature’s voice
Wei En Chan