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Life is not a Garden

"Flowers from my Backyard" by Jonathan Machen. Used by permission of the artist. www.jonathanmachen.com

A complex view of the world, both upbeat and real
Commissioned by One Voice Mixed Chorus & Community of Peace Academy [SATB version]
Commissioned by MUSE [SSAA version]
Poet/Lyricist: 
Elizabeth Alexander

For singers courageous enough to embrace a complex view of the world, "Life Is Not a Garden" offers a perspective both upbeat and real. With a hard-edged Latin groove, blues-inflected melody lines, and moments of hymn-like sweetness, this visionary song overflows with hope, determination and compassion.

ORDER MUSIC DIRECTLY FROM SEAFARER PRESS:
Look Listen Instrumentation/Voicing Duration Level Item Price Quantity
SATB, piano - Choral Score
6'00" M SEA-064-00 $2.75
Sheet Music
SATB, piano - Choral Score
6'00" M SEA-064-00D $2.00
Licensed PDF
http://seafarerpress.advantagelabs.com/sites/seafarerpress.advantagelabs.com/files/works_variant_audio_files/life_is_not_a_garden_ssaa.mp3 SSAA, piano - Choral Score
6'00" M SEA-064-03 $3.25
Sheet Music
http://seafarerpress.advantagelabs.com/sites/seafarerpress.advantagelabs.com/files/works_variant_audio_files/life_is_not_a_garden_ssaa.mp3 SSAA, piano - Choral Score
6'00" M SEA-064-03D $2.50
Licensed PDF

Life Is Not a Garden

Lyrics by Elizabeth Alexander, with students from Community of Peace Academy Choir

Life is not a garden, sunny and bright,
Life is not an endless twinkle star night,
Life is not a mountain towering high,
With its spire climbing higher 'til it meets the sky.
Life is not a gentle flowing stream,
And no matter what the song says: Life is not a dream.

For in the world that I know, there are bitter winds that blow,
And the mountains are blocking the way I need to go.
There are storms, there is rain, there is trouble, there is pain.
There's no doubt about it: some days I could do without it.

(Chorus) Life is not a garden, sunny and bright,
Life is not an endless twinkle star night,
Life is not a mountain towering high,
With its spire climbing higher 'til it meets the sky.
Life is not a gentle flowing stream,
And no matter what the song says: Life is not a dream.

For in the world where I live, there is so much to forgive,
And so many take more than they intend to give.
The unknown turns to fear, growing stronger year by year;
Then one day it's hatred. It can get so complicated.

Life is not a garden, an Eden to behold,
But that doesn't mean that everything is hard and barren and cold.
At any time or place a tiny miracle can bloom,
In a crowded city or a lonely room.
Find a place in the stillness of your heart,
A wilderness where something green can start to make a home.
Keep it safe and keep it warm,
Keep it sheltered from each passing storm.
Let its young and tender form remind you:
There is beauty, there is splendor yet unseen, deep within, still asleep,
Slender and rare, but always there.

For as our journeys unfold, there are many hands to hold,
And the people who love us are worth their weight in gold.
Though many tears grow from pain, some flow with joy we can't explain -
A garden it's not, but it's the only world we've got.

Life is not a garden, row after row,
But nobody can tell me that my seeds won't grow,
I plant them in my home, and I plant them in the street,
I plant them in the heart of every stranger I meet.

Life is not a garden, sunny and bright,
Life is not an endless twinkle star night,
Life is not a mountain towering high,
With its spire climbing higher 'til it meets the sky.
Life is not a gentle flowing stream —

But even though it is a mighty far cry
From the garden and the mountain and the starry sky,
I'm gonna keep working to make this world that dream.

Reviews and Responses: 

"Our audiences responded enthusiastically to the whole thing, from the Latin groove to the ethereal middle section to the rousing finish...  It really is a lovely work with a strong message."  Leora Zimmer, Artistic Director, Voices Rising

Performers: 

SATB and piano:
Community of Peace Academy Choir and One Voice Mixed Chorus - Jane Ramseyer Miller, cond.
     (Saint Paul, MN)  * Premiere

Choir of All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church - Kit Johnson, cond. (New London, CT)
Choir of Davies Memorial Unitarian Universalist Church - Dixon Redditt, cond. (Camp Spring, MD)
Choir of Eliot Unitarian Chapel - Leon Burke III cond. (Kirkwood, MO)
Choir of First Unitarian Universalist Church of Middleboro, MA - Jeannie Gagne, cond. (Middleboro, MA)
Choir of First Unitarian Universalist Church of Nashville - Jason Shelton, cond. (Nashville, TN)
Choir of Unitarian Universalist Church of Silver Spring - Jeffery Ames, cond. (Silver Spring, MD)
Koloszvar Ensemble of First Unitarian Universalist Church of Houston - Dema Solberg, cond. (Houston, TX)
Unitarian Univesalist Choral Festival Choir - Dixon Redditt., cond. (Adelphi, MD)
Vocalpoint - Jennifer Anderson, cond. (Saint Paul, MN)

SSAA and piano:
MUSE, with Wyoming High School Chorus - Catherine Roma, conductor (Wyoming, OH)   * Premiere

Cantus Femina (Western Michigan University's Women's Chorus) - Dee Gauthier, cond. (Kalamazoo, MI)
Voices Rising - Leora Zimmer, cond. ~ Boston Gay Pride Week (Boston, MA)
Women in Harmony - Catherine Beller-McKenna, cond. (Portland, ME)
                

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