Choral Work

River – Choral Piece by Paul Sullivan

choraleMuch of my work over the past year has been devoted to a new project, which has been very exciting for me, because it is something I’ve never done before. In 2009, I was commissioned to create a choral piece for our community chorus, The Bagaduce Chorale.

I wrote the text and music for a composition I named River. In a nutshell, it’s a big rollicking piece for a large choir about saying “yes” to life, despite our chronic objections.

The Chorale and I premiered River here in Maine in spring of 2010.

Listen to River:
Performed by Paul Sullivan & The Bagaduce Chorale
(just press play!)


By Paul Sullivan

“Follow me to the endless rolling sea
To the flashing, rolling sea
To the endless flowing Infinity.”

“Take a chance, launch a boat, sing a song
Call a friend to sing along,
Singing down the river.
Start with two, add a few
Oh, the things a few can do with music,
Oh, the flowing melodies!”

“Add some more, add a score, sweep the singers from the shore,
Trusting what’s in store as the river starts to roar.
Trusting in the singing.
Singing down the river.
Hold on tight to your friends as you rocket, rocket down the river.”

”Speeding down through the years,
Through the meadows and the mountains
And the riffles and the rapids and the waterfalls and
Swirling snowfalls and whirlpools and rushing tides
And whitecaps on the bay.
Oh! The streaming water and thunder and
Screaming winds that shove you off your way!”

“Just don’t stop singing. Keep singing
‘Don’t be afraid, Don’t be afraid’. Singing
‘Don’t be afraid, Don’t be afraid.’ Trust the music.
Follow the flow. Go where it goes. It will
Never run out, never go dry, never fail you.
Don’t look ahead. Don’t look behind. Don’t run away.
Trust in the song.
Don’t be afraid”

“Someone’s always there.
Someone’s always near.
Friends are always there.
Sing and they will hear.
They will always hear, so
Sing! Never fight against the current.
Just float, just follow me. Just sing and
Don’t be afraid, don’t be afraid. Know you are
Never alone-never alone
River is always there to hold you.”

I remember long years of burning copper sunshine
Searing my eyes and skin and mind
I lived in my own private desert,
Searching, blind.
One day I heard the river whisper
“No matter what you think, or what you do,
I‘ll never go away from you.”

Peace is my quiet river
When the summer night is falling
When her soft breathing is as calm as the glowing sky
The clouds blossom overhead,
Flare red,
and die into night.

Follow the river, never stop.
Follow her everywhere.
She will support you, soothe you and steer you through the night.
Restore your sight
With the morning light.
Gliding through the forests, drifting past the towns,
Slipping through the cities, under bridges,
Like a highway.
Take me to the ocean,
Bring me to the sea,
Free me.

Oh dark mysterious river
I am so tired, so weary
I have seen all I want to see
I have felt all I can bear to feel,
Sung until my voice is almost gone.
Now let me sink into your loving liquid arms,
Feel your cold current washing over my fever’d face,
And breathe your merciful waters,
Bringing me peace,
And rest.

“Follow me further now,
Past where you want to go
Don’t try to shortcut the bends in the riverbed
There are miracles just beyond the rocks ahead
New singers joining you and new songs to sing
More friends to strengthen you
Follow me — I will carry you
To joy! And fun! And music!”

I thought that I would be in charge of my boat.
I thought that I knew how to navigate and find my way back home.
I thought all my training,
And my talent, education, all my kindness and my savings
And my wholesome way of living
Were enough to make me Captain, but
They’re not! They’re not! They’re NOT!

Old River chuckles on her way.
She smiles at all our fancy resumes.
She smiles at all our little plans,
And simply washes all of them away.
She smiles at all our theories,
She smiles at all of our illusions and conjectures, and says,
“Just trust and follow me! Just trust and follow me!
Won’t you stop insisting and persisting and resisting? Let go of the tiller and just
Flow along with me, flow along with me!”

And now I say “Yes! Yes! Yes!


Old River–FLOW!”