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Oath Taking

A passionate and soulful plea for integrity in all things
Opal Palmer Adisa
Commissioned by Carol A. Harris for Robert C. Ruud

Opal Palmer Adisa's rich, visceral poem expresses a passionate desire for integrity and trust.  This powerful musical setting captures the ferocity, determination and gentleness of the poet's deeply felt words.

Vocal Range: d'-f#"

Item Instrumentation/Voicing Duration Level Audio Peruse Delivery Method (Print vs. Digital) Price Quantity
SEA-073-02 High voice, piano - Piano/Vocal Score
7' MA Sheet Music $7.00
SEA-073-02DEL High voice, piano - Piano/Vocal Score
7' MA Licensed PDF $7.00

Oath Taking

Poem by Opal Palmer Adisa

used to be
the word spoken
lived like the multi-colored butterfly
that hovers over a nectar-laden tree
every word
was a nail
driven with force
into wood
to say it was to make
it come through
and if perhaps
you didn't value what you spoke
the priestess would come around
hold up her mirror
to help you remember
the spirit of your words
and every time
you moved a hand
jerked a neck or
stretched from your rib-cage
a sharp nail-stabbing pain
would remind you
not to speak lightly
your words would reflect
from the mirror that was your soul
you would know then
the consequences of speaking idly
you would be reminded
that speaking
is a noble act
a gesture of respect
that we insignificant beings
offer to the life force

Composer's Note: 

For me, "Oath Taking" reflects not only Adisa's words, but also the character of Carol Harris, the singer who commissioned the song — both her art and life are deeply informed by precise communication, principled action, and a passionate engagement with truth.

Reviews and Responses: 

"This is such an incredible song. There is something very deep and evocative about it – it gets me in a zone (so to speak) and I feel more like an oracle than a singer. Some pieces connect with that energy right away, some get there eventually, and some never do – this one, bam! Immediate connection to some divine are amazing!!!" Deborah Berioli, Founder of Venice Performing Arts Series (Venice, FL)


Premiere: Carol Harris, soprano and Elizabeth Alexander, piano (St. Paul, MN)
Anne O'Byrne. First Unitarian Univesalist Church. (Richmond, VA)
Deborah Berioli and Elizabeth Alexander. UUMN National Conference (San Diego, CA)
Harriet McCleary and Pam Sohriakoff. Open Eye Figure Theatre (Minneapolis, MN)
Harriet McCleary and Ruth Palmer (Bloomington, MN)
Kathleen Humphrey and Elizabeth Alexander (St. Paul, MN)

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