The Four Freedoms–patriotic anthem
SATB quartet/chorus, piano
The work may be sung by a mixed quartet or mixed chorus.
This patriotic anthem was commissioned by Plymouth Congregational Church in celebration of the “Summer of the First Amendment” embroidery. It sets excerpts from Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s State of the Union Message for 1941, an address that has come to be known as the “Four Freedoms” Speech. The first performance: July 15, 2012 by Maria Jette, Lisa Drew, Dan Dressen, James Bohn and James Lee Bobb, Plymouth Congregational Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota.
This nation has placed its destiny
in the hands and heads and hearts
of its free men and women;
and its faith in freedom under the guidance of God.
Freedom means the supremacy of human rights
We look forward to a world founded upon four essential
freedom of speech and expression;
freedom of every person to worship God in his own way;
freedom from want—everywhere in the world.
freedom from fear—anywhere in the world.
This is no vision of a distant millennium.
It is attainable in our own time.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt, from Message to Congress January 6, 1941, in Public Papers, vol. 9, p. 672 (P.D.), edited by the composer.
Entering Guild Hall in Plymouth Congregational Church, Minneapolis, a grand, intricate embroidery covering the west wall immediately catches the eye. There are actually four embroideries, each 15 feet tall by 25 feet wide, though only one is displayed in each season. They were designed by Pauline Baynes, the illustrator of Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia, but even more impressive, each was executed by a team of volunteer needlers, laboring over a ten-year period. The dedication of these women has been truly astounding, a commitment spanning forty years. In July 2012, I was asked by Philip Brunelle to write a work celebrating the unveiling of the fourth and final embroidery. The subject was the “Summer of the First Amendment,” specifically the signing of the Bill of Rights and the preservation of the core value of freedom of speech.