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The Gospel Isn't Written In the Bible Alone

"Zen Landscape" by Valerie Kelley.
Used by permission of the artist.
See more of Valerie's work

An expansive embrace of the sacredness of all creation
Poet/Lyricist: 
Elizabeth Alexander

An expansive embrace of the sacredness of all creation, inspired by this anonymous quote: "God writes the gospel not in the Bible alone, but on trees, and flowers, and clouds, and stars."  This sweet and soulful song welcomes some rhythmic and melodic improvisation, and some heartfelt vocal nuance.

The Gospel Isn't Written in the Bible Alone may also be performed as part of the concert-length work, Go Out!

This song is also available in the collection A Love Like That: Songs of Unconditional Love.

Vocal Ranges: Low: a-b'/d" High: e'-f"

ORDER MUSIC DIRECTLY FROM SEAFARER PRESS:
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http://seafarerpress.advantagelabs.com/sites/seafarerpress.advantagelabs.com/files/works_variant_audio_files/recording-gospel_isnt_written_in_the_bible_alone.mp3 Low voice, piano - Piano/Vocal Score
5'00" M SEA-082-00 $6.00
Sheet Music
Medium/high voice, piano - Piano/Vocal Score
5'00" M SEA-082-02 $6.00
Sheet Music

The Gospel Isn't Written In the Bible Alone

Lyrics by Elizabeth Alexander

"God writes the gospel not in the Bible alone, but on trees, and flowers, and clouds, and stars."  - Anonymous, often erroneously attributed to Martin Luther

The Gospel is written on the trees and flowers, it's written on the wind and the rain,
Recorded on the rock and sediment and sand.
It's written on the glory of the far-off sun, and also on the very near,
Inscribed upon the palm of every open hand.
You can hear it in the thunder, you can read it in the stars,
You can find it under every leaf and stone.
On a page wide as a prairie there's a message large as life:
The Gospel isn't written in the Bible alone.
 
The Gospel is painted onto fins and scales, it's ruffled into feathers and fur,
It's spun into the seashell's deep and sacred scroll.
Behold it in the voices of the birds at dawn, composers of the Song of Songs,
Discern it in the Acts of every living soul.
Every pebble holds a Proverb, every spider spins a Psalm,
Every seed's a Resurrection of its own.
On a page wide as a prairie there's a message large as life:
The Gospel isn't written in the Bible alone.

Imagine now, if you were God
Setting forth a Gospel for all you're worth,
Why would you settle for a single book
When you could write the Gospel on the whole wide Earth?
The Gospel is moving over darkened seas, it's working in the change and the flow,
It's written in a tongue we long to understand.
We marvel at the beauty of the poetry encoded in the chromosome,
And braided through the length of every twisted strand.
It is molded into muscle, it is whispered into breath,
It is carved into the curve of every bone.
On a page wide as a prairie there's a message large as life:
The Gospel may be written in the Bible —
But it surely isn't written in the Bible alone.

Composer's Note: 

The inspiration for this piece began with a quote from one of my favorite free thinkers, the provocative Protestant reformer Martin Luther, whose words I came across in an old anthology of religious writings:  "God writes the gospel not in the Bible alone, but on trees, and flowers, and clouds, and stars."  What a fabulous quote, I thought.  Wouldn't that sentiment make for a wonderful song?  However, after an afternoon of exhaustive research, Luther Seminary research librarian Bruce Eldevik reported to me that it was highly unlikely that Luther was the source of the quote.  (Thanks anyway, Bruce!)  I was a little disappointed, but that didn't keep me from using this anonymous quote as the inspiration for this song.

Performers: 

Libby Turner-Opanga and Elizabeth Alexander ~ Studio Z (Saint Paul, MN)  * PremiereLibby Turner-Opanga

Amanda Thomas and Jeff Hamrick ~ Countryside Church Unitarian Universalist (Palatine, IL)

Marti Mendenhall, soprano and Elizabeth Alexander, piano ~ Unitarian-Univeralist Musicians Network National Conference (Madison, WI)

 

 

 

 

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