Earthquake

Earthquake.jpg
Earthquake.jpg

Earthquake

2.00

an extended anthem for peace and unity for SATB chorus (with divisi and a soprano solo) and organ (10')

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Completed in May 2015.

Commissioned by the American Guild of Organists for the Biennial National Convention in Houston, Texas, 2016. Dedicated to Crista Miller.

Text: “Earthquake” by Thomas Merton, from THE COLLECTED POEMS OF THOMAS MERTON, copyright ©1977 by The Trustees of the Merton Legacy Trust. Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corp.


“Earthquake” is an imaginative setting of the eponymous text by Thomas Merton that promotes love and unity. Wadsworth’s rhythmic sophistication and lyrical finesse are reminiscent of Benjamin Britten; his understanding of the organ’s capabilities was apparent throughout the score. ... “Earthquake” is a stunning new work that deserves a lasting place in the repertoire.
— Kimberly Marshall and David Yearsley, The American Organist

Program Note

Thomas Merton (1915-1968) was a monk, a social activist, and a poet. His writing vividly describes a peaceful and socially aware Christianity. In 1966, in response to the Christian non-violent movement for Civil Rights, he wrote “Eight Freedom Songs.” In the last of these,“Earthquake,” he reimagined Isaiah 52 as a call to action for the Christians of the world to use their “marching feet” to become “messengers of peace,” and to build a world in which “All ... people / shall be one.”

This message of strength and obligation reverberates powerfully in the continuing civil rights struggles of our time, and the poem’s strong inner rhythms resonated powerfully with me as a composer. My anthem, Earthquake, starts darkly with Merton’s invocations to “tell the thunder / To wake the sky,” but erupts joyfully with images of the bright paradises of love and unity.