Fighting Over What We Believe (SAB youth choir & SSA)

Instrumentation/Voicing: 
SAB youth choir, SSA adult choir, piano

A bold meditation on conflict, communication and compromise, served up with a touch of hip-hop cadence, a taste of American folk music nuance, and the solid choral and piano writing that the composer is known for. This song's innovative formal structure includes sections of dialogue between the youth and women's choirs, reflecting the dynamic relationship necessary for all difficult, positive and important conversations.

Order Sheet Music
Catalog Number: 
SEA-099-02
Commissioned By: 
Elizabeth McFarland
Premiere
Premiere Ensemble: 
University of Missouri Women's Chorale and Columbia Independent School Choir
Premiere Conductor: 
Elizabeth McFarland
Text
Text Author or Source: 
Elizabeth Alexander
Language: 
English
Text: 

Fighting Over What We Believe

Lyrics by Elizabeth Alexander

Talking left, talking right, talking far into the night,
Splitting hairs, splitting up, splitting off,
Less and more, rich and poor, what to address, what to ignore,
What are we really fighting for?
Persuade, coerce,
Convene, disperse,
Accept or curse?
Deny, confess,
Condemn or bless?
Who lives? Who dies?
My truth, your lies.

Bring in, shut out, what's that all about?
Who gives out retribution and grace?
What to keep, what to spend,
What to give and what to lend?
Some have not, some have a lot.
Can we learn to share the things we've got?

I see us fighting over what we believe, how to love and how to pray.
We begin with hope and resolve and dreams, and end up fighting over what we believe.
I see us fighting over what we believe, leaving spirits poor and lonely.
I want to use my fighting spirit in a different way instead of fighting over what we believe.

I want to wrestle with the angel ‘til the light of dawn,
And struggle with my need for pride.
I want to take on my tendency to turn my head,
And grapple with why it feels so hard to gently lay our differences aside.

(Day, night, wrong, right, no end in sight.)

We all believe in justice...
Let's talk about what that looks like.
And we believe in compassion...
Let's look at what that really means.
We believe in the holy work of listening, to every voice.
Let's start our conversation there...

Instead of fighting over what we believe. It wears us down and wears us out.
We have eyes to see, we have ears to hear, we have hands that long to give and receive.
I see us fighting over what we believe, leaving spirits poor and lonely.
I want to use my fighting spirit in a different way instead of fighting over what we believe.

(Divide, unite, exclude, invite, day, night, wrong, right, no end in sight.)

We all believe in justice.

Let's talk about what that looks like.

© 2011 by Elizabeth Alexander. All rights reserved.