Forever Toward You

Mixed chorus, SATB, 3′

A call-for-action anthem on a devotional text by Rilke.

For individual choral tracks by Matthew Curtis, visit SoundCloud

SKU: No. 8355 (ECS) Categories: , Tags: , , ,


Forever Toward You

SATB chorus, unaccompanied
3′ duration
Text: Rainer Maria Rilke, “Du wirst nur mit der Tat erfaßt”, from Stundenbuch, trans. DET
Premiere—2013 by Plymouth Congregational Church Choir, Philip Brunelle, cond.
Published by ECS. Available from Canticle.

Program Note

Forever Toward You was commissioned by Plymouth Congregational Church in honor of Claire Colliander, who has also been my friend for twenty years. I sought a text that would reflect Claire’s eager, inquisitive, socially-conscious nature.

From the Publisher:

The text is a translation of a poem by Rainer Maria Rilke (1875–1926) from The Book of Monastic Life. Rilke’s poem speaks of a desire to encounter the Creator—the You in the title of this composition—and of the necessity for doing so through action, not thought alone. The tempo of the music alternates between those ideas of activity (Allegro energico, Buoyant) and reflection (Poco andante, Molto moderato), giving this three-minute piece quite a bit of variety and interest.


Du wirst nur mit der Tat erfaßt;
mit Händen nur erhellt;
ein jeder Sinn ist nur ein Gast
und sehnt sich aus der Welt.
Through deed alone we grasp you,
with hands our only light.
The mind is but a guest
and yearns for release from the world.
Ersonnen ist ein jeder Sinn,
man fählt den feinen Saum darin
und daß ihn einer spann:
Du aber kommst und giebst dich hin
und fällst den Flüchtling an.
The mind is but a garment.
We know its dimensions, for we
have joined the seams ourselves.
But you come and give yourself
to the very one who flees you.
Ich will nicht wissen, wo du bist,
sprich mir aus überall.
Dein williger Evangelist
verzeichnet alles und vergißt
zu schauen nach dem Schall.
Let me not fix you in space.
Speak to me from all around.
For your faithful pupil
practices, practices,
without hearing the sound.
Ich geh doch immer auf dich zu
mit meinem ganzen Gehn;
denn wer bin ich und wer bist du,
wenn wir uns nicht verstehn?
I go forever toward you;
all my heart in every pace.
For who am I, and who are you
that we should not see face to face?

Free translation for musical setting by DET

David Evan Thomas is one of the “bright lights” in the Twin Cities—someone to definitely keep in mind. This anthem on a poem by Rainer Maria Rilke speaks of a desire to encounter the Creator through action, not thought alone. It is a unique poem and a beautiful setting.

Philip Brunelle, The American Organist, May 2018

For other Rilke settings, see Du bist die Zukunft and Ein Gebet, both for voice and piano.



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