Behold, how good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell in unity!
It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down unto the beard—even unto Aaron’s beard, and went down the skirts of his clothing.
Like as the dew of Hermon, which fell upon the hill of Sion.
For there the Lord promised his blessing and life for evermore.
Unity is this composer’s response to all of the violence in our cities and the world at large. The text is an adaptation of Psalm 133, “How good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity….” The verses state that Unity is like the love of a mother or father holding their child who has been killed because of violence in the street.
The vamp section begins in measure 32 which asks each voice to enter separately, thus creating a dialogue between the voices. The altos say, “stand up, speak out, we need the unity.” Then the sopranos respond to the alto’s statement by singing, “look around, lift your voice.” The dialogue is as follow: “Stand up, look around. Speak out, lift your voice….” Once all of the voices have entered the choir modulates up a half step. A change in unity emphasis is created by changing text during each modulation as follows: “We need the unity.” “We want the unity.” “We have the unity” and finally, “we have the victory.”
The repeats from m. 32 through m. 36 are mid-measure and feature a solo piano the first time, with the voices joining it the second time.
The “wall of vocal sound” should be sung with power and projection, with each note sounding evenly from top to bottom like a wall. Be sure to use proper breath support and avoid throat singing and yelling.
Dr. Keith Hampton