I composed these for Russ Zokaites, a former student.
This piece is currently sold as an encrypted pdf file through my other website, AuditionSolos.com.
I. Everlasting Arms
According to Wikipedia: “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms is a hymn published in 1887 with music by Anthony J. Showalter and lyrics by Showalter and Elisha Hoffman. Showalter said that he received letters from two of his former pupils saying that their wives had died. When writing letters of consolation, Showalter was inspired by the phrase in the Book of Deuteronomy 33:27, ‘The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms’.”
At the time of writing this, I was moved by a beautiful rendition of the music sung by Iris DeMent. The simplicity and pure emotion of her performance hit me right in the gut. This performance was from the soundtrack to the movie, True Grit.
II. He’s Gone Away
According to Answers.com: “This poignant dialogue between a young man and woman in love – just before he has to depart for an indefinite separation – is an early American Appalachian mountain folk song. It probably originated in some form from England, and eventually resonated with the slave spiritual tradition, reminding us of the cruel forced separations imposed on many during that time.”
I have long loved Robert Beaser’s adaptation of this folk song in his composition, Mountain Songs for flute and guitar.
III. Sweet Betsy from Pike
According to Wikipedia, “Sweet Betsy from Pike” is an American ballad about the trials of a pioneer named Betsy and her lover Ike who migrate from Pike County (probably Missouri) to California. The article goes on to explain that the name ‘Betsy’ may have been humorous slang for a rifle. In its original form, this movement was to be a setting of ‘Tennessee Stud’ with brief quotes from ‘Sweet Betsy’ until it was discovered that ‘Tennessee Stud’ wasn’t a folksong at all but was composed by Jimmy Driftwood in 1959 and is still under copyright! And so Sweet Betsy, rifle or not, took over the main themes. Still, it was Doc Watson’s performance of ‘Tennessee Stud’ that inspired the tone of this movement.