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David Lang

Publisher: G. Schirmer

when we were children (2013)
Commissioned by the Glimmerglass Festival
Text Writer
the composer after St. Paul
Red Poppy
Chorus a cappella / + 1 instrument
Year Composed
8 Minutes
SATB a cappella chamber choir
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Programme Note
David Lang when we were children (2013)
Composer note:
The director Francesca Zambello asked me to write something for choir, as a companion piece for a staging of my work the little match girl passion. I wanted to make something that shared the spiritual questioning of the passion, and was also somehow appropriate for children.

I remembered this famous line from Saint Paul: "When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things."

That is the King James version. Of course, this line wasn’t originally in English. Paul was born a Jew in what is now Turkey, he worshiped in Hebrew and he spoke Greek. This famous Christian line must have gone on an interesting journey to get to King James, and to us.

For my text I compiled all the differing translations into English that I could find, I cut them up into phrases and I alphabetized them, creating a kind of catalog of its meaning, as it changes from translation to translation

when we were children is dedicated to Francesca Zambello

— David Lang

  • Ensemble
    Ars Nova Copenhagen
    Paul Hillier
    Cantaloupe Music:
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