[BLOG] Music with a Message of Love and Hope

esther upham

Music is a language that speaks without words, but it cuts through to the heart.

Whether you are a music lover who passionately pursues listening to different kinds of music, or whether you are the type of person who likes one specific music style, the sounds and the rhythms that you take into your being affect you deeply.

Knowing and understanding this concept was the essence of what gave me the desire to compose. Deciding what to compose happened because of my love for the God of Israel, as well as for the people that He has called His own. Having this feeling in my heart, I began to pray for a way to express this message, and this is how “Love Revealed” (Ahava Mitgala) was birthed.

The first group of pieces that I wrote were from Jeremiah chapters 9 and 10.

bin blog for usWhen writing the song “Wailing Women,” I felt that no one would be able to understand this music more than the people who had experienced the pain of being torn from their homes and having their Temple destroyed, which is part of what motivated me to go to Israel to share my music there.

In order to illustrate through music the hardship that the people of God endured, I used the same dissonant chord repeatedly, but constantly rising in pitch. At one point, the sopranos go well above the expected standard for a choir, which adds to the heightened sensation of desperation that the people must have felt as they lost everything, including their homes and their country. Indeed, many people who have heard the oratorio commented how they like the intensity of this song.

From this first set of pieces, the oratorio (a classical composition based on religious text) began to flourish and it grew to about nine pieces in total, until the time when I had the desire to move to Israel and volunteer in the land. Being in Israel, and experiencing the sights and sounds increased my love for the land and the people, and it inspired me to write another eight pieces (two of which have never been performed). As I interacted with different music professionals, I was encouraged to have it translated into Hebrew, and I believe this gives the music more of an authentic sound.

One of the pieces written during this time is called “Hosea’s Love Story,” which is my personal favorite. This song tells a story of God’s relationship with Israel, showing how God loved Israel from the start, and fed them and took care of them. Then, the music becomes somber to express how Israel turned their hearts from God and pursued other false idols. Again, the music shifts and uses a driving rhythm to express the different ways that Israel disobeyed God. For the finale, the trumpet comes in with a declaration, as the text says, “I will betroth you to me forever…The Lord your God delights in you.”

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Following this song, the piece presents passages which give the nation hope for the future with texts from the book of Isaiah. The songs, “Raise Up a Branch” and “Who Has Believed Our Report?” have a chassidic Jewish sound to them, and they are very lively. Some people asked me how I got these sounds, even though I wasn’t raised Jewish, and my response has been that the inspiration of the Ruach (spirit) has given me these sounds.

The oratorio culminates with a message reminding the Jewish people of their hope in the Messiah’s return, with passages from the book of Zachariah. The final text of the entire oratorio is, “The Lord is One and His Name is One.” From a Christian perspective, I see this finale as an encouragement to the Jewish people that we are on the same side together, believing in the one true God.

As a young composer with little experience, it was a great pleasure to have the opportunity to work with a well-known and well-acclaimed conductor, orchestra, and choir. Then, to have my music performed in the city of Jerusalem was like a dream come true. At the end of the premiere, the conductor proclaimed that this concert was a fulfillment of Scripture as he quoted Isaiah 2, and explained how people would come from the nations with songs, and I was one of the first to bring my gift of music to share a message of hope and love to the nation of Israel.

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Source: Israel in the News