Life is not a Garden (SSAA)

Instrumentation/Voicing: 
SSAA, piano (women's choir)

For choirs courageous enough to embrace a complex view of the world, "Life Is Not a Garden" offers a perspective both upbeat and real. With a hard-edged Latin groove, blues-inflected melody lines, and moments of hymn-like sweetness, this visionary song overflows with hope, determination and compassion.

Audio: 

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Order Sheet Music
Catalog Number: 
SEA-064-01
Duration: 
6:00
Commissioned By: 
One Voice Mixed Chorus and Community of Peace Academy. Saint Paul, MN. Commissioned with support from the Jerome Composer Commissioning Project.[Original SATB Version] - SSAA Arrangement Commissioned by MUSE, Cincinnati's Women's Choir
Premiere
Premiere Conductor: 
Catherine Roma
Performances: 

MUSE: Cincinnati's Women's Choir; Catherine Roma, condutor. Wyoming, OH

Text
Text Author or Source: 
Elizabeth Alexander
Language: 
English
Text: 

"Life Is Not a Garden "
Lyric by composer Elizabeth Alexander,
with students from Community of Peace Academy Choir

Life is not a garden, sunny and bright,
Life is not an endless twinkle star night,
Life is not a mountain towering high,
With its spire climbing higher 'til it meets the sky.
Life is not a gentle flowing stream,
And no matter what the song says: Life is not a dream.

For in the world that I know, there are bitter winds that blow,
And the mountains are blocking the way I need to go.
There are storms, there is rain, there is trouble, there is pain.
There's no doubt about it: some days I could do without it.

(Chorus) Life is not a garden, sunny and bright,
Life is not an endless twinkle star night,
Life is not a mountain towering high,
With its spire climbing higher 'til it meets the sky.
Life is not a gentle flowing stream,
And no matter what the song says: Life is not a dream.

For in the world where I live, there is so much to forgive,
And so many take more than they intend to give.
The unknown turns to fear, growing stronger year by year;
Then one day it's hatred. It can get so complicated.

Life is not a garden, an Eden to behold,
But that doesn't mean that everything is hard and barren and cold.
At any time or place a tiny miracle can bloom,
In a crowded city or a lonely room.
Find a place in the stillness of your heart,
A wilderness where something green can start to make a home.
Keep it safe and keep it warm,
Keep it sheltered from each passing storm.
Let its young and tender form remind you:
There is beauty, there is splendor yet unseen, deep within, still asleep,
Slender and rare, but always there.

For as our journeys unfold, there are many hands to hold,
And the people who love us are worth their weight in gold.
Though many tears grow from pain, some flow with joy we can't explain -
A garden it's not, but it's the only world we've got.

Life is not a garden, row after row,
But nobody can tell me that my seeds won't grow,
I plant them in my home, and I plant them in the street,
I plant them in the heart of every stranger I meet.

Life is not a garden, sunny and bright,
Life is not an endless twinkle star night,
Life is not a mountain towering high,
With its spire climbing higher 'til it meets the sky.
Life is not a gentle flowing stream -

But even though it is a mighty far cry
From the garden and the mountain and the starry sky,
I'm gonna keep working to make this world that dream.

© 2005 by Elizabeth Alexander. All rights reserved.