Song Cycles

Seven Prophetesses (supported by Harvard Fromm Commissioning Fund)

March 1st, 2017

Premiered and recorded May 2017, at University of New Mexico–Albuquerque, at the John Donald Robb Composers’ Symposium,
with support from the Harvard Fromm Commissioning Fund.

Recorded for Volume 2, Voices of the Pearl,  June 2018.

Moshe Shulman’s Seven Prophetesses sets seven newly commissioned Hebrew poems by Juli Varshavsky, which imagine the inner landscapes of the seven prophetesses from the Jewish tradition. Scored for voice, harp, and string quartet, with a reduction for harp and voice also available, the intensely modern take in words and music opens a unique window into the worlds of these seven women: Miriam, Huldah, Esther, Avigail, Sarah, Hannah, and Deborah. Premiereing at Scripps College this March 23, 2017, and at the UNM Composers’ Symposium 2017.  Shulman’s newest composition for Voices of the Pearl marks an important  and joyful milestone in our collaborative project: his composition, Shir Ha Shirim launched the Voices of the Pearl project over 5 years ago.

 

Texts and translations
Original poetry in Hebrew by Juli Varshavsky

1. Miriam  מִרְיָם

הַיָּם פּוֹתֵחַ אֶת גַּלָּיו,

כּוֹרֵעַ וּפוֹעֶה,

וְעַל הַגּוּף אֶגְלֵי חָלָב

נִקְוִים בִּשְׁבִיל תּוֹעֶה.

 

שׁוֹתֵת בַּחוֹל הַמִּדְבָּרִי,

נוֹבֵעַ בַּמָּחוֹל,

עוֹטֵף בַּדָּם הָעֻבָּרִי

בַּשֶּׁפֶךְ הַכָּחֹל.

 

נִכְרָת מֵחֵבֶל הַטַּבּוּר,

נִשְׁלֶה מֵהַנְּשִׁיָּה,

הַיָּם חוֹתֵךְ אֶת הַחִבּוּר

לְיַד הַמּוֹשִׁיעָה.

 

וְהַנַּחְשׁוֹל זוֹרֵם שָׁמוּט

בְּצֵל חָלָב וּדְבַשׁ,

הָאַחֲרוֹן שֶׁכָּאן יָמוּת

יַחְרִיב אֶת הַמִּקְדָּשׁ.


The sea opens its waves,

Kneels and groans,

And over the body drops of milk

Drain in a wandering path.

 

Bleeds in the desert sand,

Streams in a dance,

Wraps with fetus blood

In the blue outflow.

 

Felled from umbilical cord,

Drawn out from the oblivion,

The sea cuts the connection

To the savior hand.

 

And the billow flows  dropped

In the shadow of milk and honey,

The last one to die here,

Will ruin the temple.


2. Huldah  חולדה

הָעִיר תְּפוּרָה בַּשֶּׁלֶג הַיָּבֵשׁ

וְלֹא נוֹתַר דָּבָר מִלְּבַד חֵמָה,

בִּקְצֵה חֶלְדִּי הַקֶּרַח הַכּוֹבֵשׁ

הָפַךְ לְנֶחָמָה

 

רַגְלַיִם יְחֵפוֹת פּוֹסְעוֹת בַּכְּפוֹר,

הַכְּרַךְ נִכְנָע לַלֹּבֶן הַדּוֹקֵר,

קִמְטֵי הַזִּכָּרוֹן קוֹפְאִים בָּעוֹר

בַּדֶּרֶךְ לַהֶפְקֵר.

 

וּבְרֵאשִׁית כְּבָר לֹא הָיָה דָּבָר,

וְאֵין תִּקְוָה בַּשַּׁחַר הַנִּכְלָם,

וְהָעוֹלָם הָיָה חֶרֶשׁ, וּכְבָר

אֵין בֶּכִי בָּעוֹלָם.

 

The city is sewed in dry snow,

And there is nothing left but wrath,

At the end of my life the conquering ice

Turned to solace.
Bared feet step in the frost,

The city surrenders to the stabbing whiteness,

The wrinkles of the memory freeze in the skin

On the way to abandonment.

 

And at the beginning there was nothing,

And there is no hope in the ashamed dawn,

And the world was deaf and already

There is no crying in the world.

 

 3. Esther אסתר


מִי יִתְקַע בַּשּׁוֹפָר

לִבְתוּלוֹת הָעִיר שׁוֹשָׁן?

מִי יִזְכֹּר אֶת שְׁמֵךְ,

אֶת שְׁמִי,

אֶת שְׁמָן?

מִי יָצוּם?

הַנְּעָרוֹת נִמְשָׁכוֹת בַּקְּרָעִים

בִּרְחוֹבוֹת הַבִּירָה

לְהִתְעַטֵּר בַּכֶּתֶר.

 

אֲנִי הֲדַסָּה בַּת

אִשָּׁה לְלֹא שֵׁם.

מִתַּחַת לְעֵץ חֲמִשִּׁים אָמָה

נִמְשַׁחְתִּי בְּזֶרַע עַמִּי

לִמְלֹךְ עַל

עַם לְלֹא אֵל.

 

מִי יָטִיל אֶת הַפּוּר?

גַּם שֶׁמֶן הַמֹּר לֹא יַמְחֶה

אֶת הַדָּם מֵהַמְּגִלָּה.

וּבְיוֹם חֲמִשָּׁה עָשָׂר לְחֹדֶשׁ אֲדָר

מִי יִקְרָא אֶת הַקַּדִּישׁ
Who will blow the shofar

For the virgins of Shushan?

Who will remember your name,

My name,

Their name?

 

Who will fast?
The girls are being dragged

Through the streets of the capital

To be adorned with crown.
I am Hadassah the daughter of

Woman with no name.

Under the tree of fifty cubits

I was anointed with the seed of my people

To rule over

The people with no God.

Who will cast the pure?

Even the oil of myrrh won’t wipe

The blood from the scroll.

And on the fifteenth day of the month Adar,

Who will say the Kaddish?

 

4. Abigail  אֲבִיגַיִל

הָטֵל אֶת מִשְׁקָלְךָ אֶל תּוֹךְ עֵינַי,

כְּמוֹ אֶבֶן קֶלַע שֶׁקּוֹטֶלֶת גּוּף,

כְּמוֹ גֶּבֶר הָעוֹמֵד בִּפְנֵי סִגּוּף,

הֲפֹךְ אֶת הַדַּקּוֹת לְיוֹם קַנַּאי.

 

הָשֵׂם לִבְּךָ מֵעֵבֶר לְהָרַי,

גַּלֵּה לֵילִי, הֱיֵה בָּהּ לְנָגִיד,

הַחְזֵק בְּאוֹר פּוֹעֵם בִּקְצֵה הַגִּיד,

עִם בּוֹא הַשַּׁחַר שׁוּב לִהְיוֹת טוּרַאי.

 

הַנָּח לַגּוּף לִהְיוֹת לְחוֹל גָּמִישׁ,

כְּמוֹ הֵלֶךְ הַפּוֹתֵר אֶת הַחִידָה

הַתֵּר שׁוֹקַי מִסֵּתֶר דַּם נִדָּה,

 

אֱהֹב אוֹתִי עַכְשָׁו, הֱיֵה שׁוּם-אִישׁ.

 

Cast your weight into my eyes
Like a sling stone that slays the body,

Like a men that faces mortification,

Turn the minutes into jealous day.

 

Set your heart behind my mountains,

Discover my night, rule over there,

Hold the beating light by the edge of the sinew,

When the dawn comes, return to be private.
Allow your body to be elastic sand,

Like wanderer that solves the mystery

Undo my thighs from the secret of the menstruous blood,

Love me now, be no-man.

 

5. Sarah שָׂרָה

אֶתְלֶה עַל וָו בְּפֶתַח הָאֹהֶל

חִיּוּךְ נֶעֱקַד וְנִמּוֹל,

עַל הָרִצְפָּה בַּשְּׁלוּלִית שֶׁל כֹּהַל

אֶתֵּן לִצְחוֹקִי לִקְמֹל.

 אֶשְׁמַע בְּקוֹלְךָ וְאֶקַּח  מַאֲכֶלֶת

אַעֲלֶה גּוֹי גָּדוֹל לְעוֹלָה,

וְאַפִּיל אֶת רַחְמִי בִּתְנוּעָה מְעַקֶּלֶת,

וְאֶהְיֶה לְאֵם שַׁכּוּלָה.

 

On a hook by the tent door I’ll hang

A bound and circumcised smile,

On the floor in a pound of alcohol

I’ll let my laughter wither.

 

I’ll obey your voice and I’ll take the knife,

I’ll sacrifice a great nation as a burnt offering,

In a twisted movement I’ll miscarry my womb,

And I’ll be a bereaved mother.

 

 

6.Hannah  חַנָּה

אֲנִי מַפְלִיגָה אֶל הָאִי

בִּשְׁעַת הַתְּפִלָּה הַמֵּתָה,

וְזֶרַע עָקַר אֱלֹהֵי

נִשְׁכָּב לְצִדִּי בַּמִּטָּה.

 

הַהֵד מְוַתֵּר עַל הַקּוֹל

בַּדֶּרֶךְ לְסוֹף הַנִּגּוּן,

נִפְרָשׂ עַל מִזְבֵּחַ הַחוֹל,

נוֹגֵעַ בְּרֶחֶם עֲגוּן.

 

הַיָּד מְכַסָּה אֶת הַפֶּה,

שְׂפָתַיִם נָעוֹת לְלֹא צֵל,

מִתַּחַת לָעוֹר הָרָפֶה

שׁוֹקֵעַ הַחוֹל הֶעָצֵל.

 

בִּקְצֵה הַנַּחְשׁוֹל הַתָּלוּל

נִקְטַעַת תְּפִלָּה שֶׁל אִשָּׁה,

הָרֶחֶם עֲדַיִן חָלוּל,

הָרֶחֶם מֻקַּף יַבָּשָׁה.

 

I’m sailing to the island

At time of the dead pray,

And barren and divine seed

Lies in the bed by my side.

 

The echo renounces the voice

On its way to the end of the melody,

Spreads on the altar of sand,

Touches the chained womb.

 

The hand covers the mouth,

The lips move with no shadow.

Below the feeble skin

The lazy sand sinks.

 

At the edge of the steep wave

Ends the woman’s pray.

The womb is still hollow,

The womb is surrounded by land.

 

7.Deborah 

שִׁירַת דְּבוֹרָה

אָנִיחַ אֶת רֹאשִׁי עַל אֲדָמָה נוֹטֶפֶת,

וּבְשָׁכְבִי עִמָּךְ אֶהְיֶה אִשָּׁה,

יָעֵל, עוֹרִי בּוֹעֵר, הָאֵשׁ הַמְּלַטֶּפֶת,

תּוֹבִיל אוֹתִי לְאֶרֶץ חֲדָשָׁה.

 

וּבַאֲשֶׁר אֶכְרַע, תִּגְעִי לִי בַּמּוֹלֶדֶת,

וּבִלְשׁוֹנֵךְ עֲשִׂי עִמִּי שְׁפָטִים,

צַעֲקָתִי נָמְסָה, אֲנִי רוֹעֶדֶת,

עוֹרֵךְ הַמִּתְעַרְטֵל עוֹטֵף אוֹתִי.

 

נַשְּׁקִינִי בֶּחָלָב, וְנִכָּנַע לַפֶּרֶץ,

וּבְקוּמֵךְ עִמִּי הֲיִי אִשָּׁה,

מִתַּחַת לַשְּׂמִיכָה גִּלִּינוּ אֶרֶץ,

שֶׁלֹּא תִּשְׁקֹט, וְלֹא תֵּדַע בּוּשָׁה.

 

I’ll put my head on the leaking soil,

And when I lie down with you I’ll be a woman,

Jael, my skin is burning, the soft fire

Will lead me to a new land.

 

And when I bow, touch my motherland,

And with your tongue, judge by my side,

My cry has melted, I’m shivering,

Your naked skin covers me.

Kiss me with thy milk and we’ll surrender to the urge,

And when you rise with me, be a woman,

Under the blanket we discovered a land,

That will not rest and will not know shame.

 

PERSEVERE (supported by an NEA ArtWorks grant)

March 23rd, 2014
World premiere March 23, 2017 at the Scripps Performing Arts Centre, and University of New Mexico–Albuquerque, May 2017.
European premiere, Salzburg Mozartem, May 2018.
Supported with an ArtWorks grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Recorded for Volume 3, Voices of the Pearl,  forthcoming summer 2018.
Text/libretto: early Buddhist Pali texts from female disciples of the historical Buddha collected in the Therīgāthā  (circa 500 B.C.), poetry from the 9th-century Tibetan Yeshe Tsogyel,  and contemporary Tibetan Khandro Tāre Lhamo, both in the original Tibetan; Composer: Karola Obermüller (University of New Mexico)Music for soprano, harp, voice, and live electronics.
Written for Anne Harley and Barbara Pöschl-Edrich
Poetic translation, pronunciation and word-for-word translation: Jim Anderson, Holly Gayley, Bryan Levman, and Dolma Kyab.
Texts and translation

1)         pabbata (mountain)

kiñ cāpi kho ‘mhi kisikā gilānā bāḷhadubbalā |
daṇḍam olubbha gacchāmi pabbataṃ abhirūhiya ||  (Cittātherīgāthā, 27)

Although I am feebly, sick and extremely weak
Leaving on a stick I go, having climbed the mountain.

 

saṃghāṭiṃ nikkhipitvāna pattakaṃ ca nikujjiya |
sele khambhesiṃ attānaṃ tamokhandhaṃ padāliyā ||  (Cittātherīgāthā, 28)

Having put down my upper robe and turned over my bowl,
I supported myself on a rock; the dark mass of confusion was pierced.

 

2)         udaka (water)

pāde pakkhālayitvāna, udakesu karomahaṃ |
pādodakañca disvāna, thalato ninnamāgataṃ ||  (Paṭācārātherīgāthā, 114)

After washing my feet I looked at the waters
I saw the water from my feet going to the low-lying ground from the higher

 

tato cittaṃ samādhemi assaṃ bhadraṃ va jāniyaṃ |
tatodīpaṃ gahetvāna, vihāraṃ pāvisiṃ ahaṃ |
seyyaṃ olokayitvāna mañcakamhi upāvisiṃ ||  (Paṭācārātherīgāthā, 115)

Because of that I concentrated my mind, like a horse of good breed.
Then, taking a lamp I entered my abode
Examining the bed, I took a seat on the couch.

 

tato sūciṃ gahetvāna vaṭṭiṃ okassayām’ ahaṃ |
padīpasseva nibbānaṃ vimokkho ahu cetaso ||  (Paṭācārātherīgāthā, 116)

Then, taking a needle, I pulled out the wick,
My mind was released like the quenching of a lamp.

 

3)         esā antaradhāyāmi (I disappear)

esā antaradhāyāmi, kucchiṃ vā pavisāmi te |
bhamukantare tiṭṭhāmi tiṭṭhantiṃ maṃ na dakkhasi ||  (Uppalavaṇṇātherīgāthā, 232)

I will disappear or enter into your belly;

I stand in between your eyebrows and you do not see where I am standing.

 

4)         gom (thirst)

བུ་མོ་                 ཁྱོད་      གྲངས་མེད་          ལུས་བླངས་          འཁོར་བ་རུ་         འཁྱམས་ནས།

Bu-mo              kyod     chang-med       lus-lang           kor-wa-ri          chum-nei

སྐྱེས་      ཤིའི་      ཁ་         འཁོར་    ངན་སོང་གི་                     སྡུག་བསྔལ།

Kyi       shii       ka        kor       ngan-song-gi               dud-nged

ཚ་         གྲང་      དང་      བཀྲེས་    སྐོམ་      བཀོལ་སྤྱོད་          ཚོ་         བཟོད་བསྲན་དུ་     འདུག་    ནམི་ལུས་

Tsa       drang   dang    gre       gom     gol-jod             tsho      zo-san-du         ‘du       na

མི་ལུས་  དོན་ལྡན་     གྱི་       སྙིང་བོ།

Milee    Dondan     Kyi        Nying wo

 

དམ་ཆོས་       གསང་སྔགས་     ཀྱི་            ཉེ་ལམ།

Dam choe     sang nga     kyi                 Nye lam
མྱུར་མ་ཕྱོགས་                   དཀའ་སྤྱད་          དེ་ཅི་ཕྱིར།
Nyur-ma-chog              ga-jie               de-ji-shur

ཅི་ལྟར་   ཡིན་ཀྱང་             མི་         བཟོད།

ji-dar   yin-jiang          mi        zod

བྱ་བ་                 གཞན་    ཅི་ཕྱིར་               ཡོད་དོ།

Qia-wa             xian     ji-phyir             yod-do

འཆི་བ་               ལས་      དེ་མིན་               ཅི་         མཐའ།

Chi-wa             las        de-min             ji          tha

ད་དུང་               དཀའ་བ་             རང་སྤྱོད་             ཅིག་      སྙིང་རུས་             མ་མཚོ་རྒྱལ།

Da-dung          ga-wa              rang-jio           jig        nyang-rus        ma-tsho-gyal

 

In the circle of existence, Wandering through countless forms,
Turning in the round of birth and death, Tortured by the sorrows and states of misery,

Oh woman! if you bore that heat and cold, That hunger, thirst, and servitude!–
Can you not sustain this hardship now,

What else is there to do?
The worst that can befall is death!
Do not retreat from your austerity, O Tsogyal, courage, persevere!

(Yeshe Tsogyal, Lady of the Lotus-Born)
5)         krul-ba (illusion)

ད་ནི་                 རེ་ཞིག་               གཉིས་བློ་             མ་         ཞིག་      པར། །

Da-ni               re-shig             nyis-lo              ma       shig      bar

ང་         དང་      འབྲལ་འབྲལ་        འདྲ་བས་             བདེ་བར་             བྱོས། །

Nga      dang    dral-dral          dra-wei            de-war             chi

གཉིས་བློ་             ཞིག་     ནས་      ང་         དང་      གཉིས་མེད་          འགྱུར། །

Nyi-lo               shig      ni         nga      dang    nyi-med                        ‘gyur

བཀྲ་ཤིས་བདེ་ལེགས་                       ནམ་མཁའི་          མཐའ་ཁྱབ་          ཤོག།

Ta-shi-de-lek                nam-ki             ta-chab                        shok

For a time now, while your dualistic minds persist,

It will seem that I have left you, but take heart.

When your dualistic minds subside, you will see that we were never parted.

May health and happiness embrace the very limits of the sky!

(Yeshe Tsogyal, Lady of the Lotus-Born)

ཡུལ་      སྣང་བ་               ཡིན་      པས་      གྲུབ་པ་               མེད། །

Yul       nang-wa          yin       be        drub-ba                       mai

ལམ་      འཁྲུལ་པ་             ཡིན་      པས་      བདེན་པ་             མེད། །

lam      krul-ba             yin       be        dhan-ba           mai

The objects of our senses, mere perception, Have no being in themselves.

The path, too, is illusion; It is not the truth.

(Yeshe Tsogyal, Lady of the Lotus-Born)

 

6)         ngang-der shok (There remain.)

ཆོས་      ཟད་       གདོད་མའི་          ཀློང་དུ་               ཐིམ། །

Cho      sai        dod-mi             lun-du              tam

ང་         དང་      འབྲལ་    མེད་      འགྲོགས་  ཐབས་    ཡིན། །

Nga      dang    drul      med      druk     thab     yin

All dissolves, exhausted, in the primal space,

And thus it is that you will never stray from me.

(Yeshe Tsogyal, Lady of the Lotus-Born)

ཕར་      བསྲེ་      ཚུར་      བསྟིམ་    གཉིས་མེད་          ཀློང་། །

Par      se         tshur    dom     nyi-med                        klong

ཉམས་མྱོང་                      སྐྱེས་ན་               ངང་དེར་             ཞོག

Nyam-myong                kyi-na              ngang-der        shok

When you melt and mingle mutually together, Taste that vast expanse of nonduality.

There remain.

(Yeshe Tsogyal, Lady of the Lotus-Born)

 

7)         tha-tshig (oath)

ཁ་ལྟོ་རྒྱབ་མ་སོས་འོང་བ་མིན། །

kha lto rgyab ma sos ‘ong ba min

གནས་འཁོར་མ་ཟིན་འཁྱམས་པ་མིན། །

gnas ‘khor ma zin ‘khyams pa min

འབངས་ཡུལ་མིས་མ་གཅེས་ཕུད་པ་མིན། །

‘bangs yul mis ma gces phud pa min

གཟའ་ཐབས་གྲོགས་མ་འགྲིགས་འཐོར་བ་མིན། །

gza’ thabs grogs ma ‘grigs ‘thor ba min

ང་ཆོས་བརྒྱད་ལས་ལ་གཡེང་བ་མིན།

nga chos brgyad las la g.yeng ba min

 

ཕྱིར་དགྲ་འདུལ་གཉེན་སྐྱོང་བསམ་པ་མིན། །

phyir dgra ‘dul gnyen skyong bsam pa min

སྲིད་འཁོར་བའི་ལས་ལ་འཆིང་བ་མིན།

srid ‘khor ba’i las la chags pa min

ནང་ཉོན་མོངས་འཁྲུལ་བས་བསླུས་པ་མིན། །

nang nyon mongs ‘khrul bas bslus pa min

དཔལ་པད་མའི་ཞལ་གཟིགས་ལུང་བསྟན་ཡིན། །

dpal pad ma’i zhal gzigs lung bstan yin

མ་མཁའ་འགྲོའི་ཐ་ཚིག་དུས་ལ་བབ། །

ma mkha’ ‘gro’i tha tshig dus la bab

Not leaving out of lack of food and clothes,
Not roaming because I failed as a householder,
Not cast aside for lack of affection from kin,
Not tossed away because a relationship didn’t work out,

Not distracted by [everyday] concerns and deeds,
Not thinking of destroying enemies and protecting friends,

Not attached to worldly activities in cyclic existence,

Not deceived due to the confusion of inner emotions,
I am [bound by] the visionary prophecy of glorious Padma!

The time for the oath of the mother ḍākinīs has come!

(Khandro Tāre Lhamo, Pad ma’i phreng ba 103.3–6, translated by Holly Gayley)

 

8)         dwangs-ma (radiance)

ཚེ་མཉམ་སྐྱེལ་བྱེད་པ་ལག་པའི་མཐིལ།

tshe mnyam skyel byed pa lag pa’i mthil

གྲོགས་བརྩེ་གདུང་སྙིང་གི་དྭངས་མ་ལགས། །

grogs brtse gdung snying gi dwangs ma lags

ཉིད་ལན་སྟོང་དྲན་པ་སྨོས་ཅི་དགོས། །

nyid lan stong dran pa smos ci dgos

Of course, we will spend our lives together.
Darling beloved, radiance of my heart,
Recalling you a thousand times a day, what need I say.

(Khandro Tāre Lhamo, Pad ma’i phreng ba 98.4, translated by Holly Gayley)

 

9)         gzugs thon (forms emerge)

ནང་སེམས་ཉིད་རིག་པ་རང་གསལ་འགྲོ༔

nang sems nyid rig pa rang gsal ‘gro

གཞི་རྩོལ་བྲལ་རིག་པའི་རང་ཞལ་མཇལ༔

gzhi rtsol bral rig pa’i rang zhal mjal

མགོན་པད་མའི་སྨོན་ལམ་གཏད་རྒྱ་སད༔

mgon pad ma’i smon lam gtad rgya sad

ལུས་རྩ་རླུང་གཏུམ་མོའི་བདེ་དྲོད་འབར༔

lus rtsa rlung gtum mo’i bde drod ‘bar

 

གནས་འཁོར་ལོ་ལྔ་ཡི་རྩ་མདུད་གྲོལ༔

gnas ‘khor lo lnga yi rtsa mdud grol

བརྡ་ནམ་མཁའི་སྒོ་འབྱེད་དབྱིངས་ཡིད་བཀྲ༔

brda nam mkha’i sgo ‘byed dbyings yid bkra

སྲོག་འཆི་མེད་དཔལ་སྟེར་བུམ་བཅུད་འཁིལ༔

srog ‘chi med dpal ster bum bcud ‘khil

གཟུགས་ལུས་ཀྱི་ཕྱག་རྒྱ་མཁའ་ནས་ཐོན༔

gzugs lus kyi phyag rgya mkha’ nas thon

 

Within, the mind itself becomes naturally radiant awareness.

Meeting one’s original face as awareness, the effortless ground,

Awakening the protector Padma’s aspiration and entrustment,

The body’s channels and winds blaze with blissful heat.

 

The knots in the channels at the five cakras release;

The sky-gate of symbols opens; letters manifest in space;

Nectar pools in the vase that grants glory of deathless life;

Visible, gross symbolic forms emerge from the sky.

(Khandro Tāre Lhamo, Pad ma’i phreng ba 145.1–3, translated by Holly Gayley)

 

 

 

Snowflakes, Blossoms: Friends of the Way

March 23rd, 2014

stonesnowflakeTexts:  poems by 17th-century Buddhist Chan/Zen nuns: Two song-lyrics of Shang Jinglan, and Guxu’s “Paying a Visit to Huang Jieling and Not Finding Her In”;

Premiered fall 2015, Scripps College, and recorded fall 2016, at Manhattan School of Music.

Recorded for Volume 2, Voices of the Pearl,  June 2018.

Composer: Marjorie Merryman.

All three texts express the experience of distance and absence between 17th-century Buddhist Chan/Zen nuns. Displaced by war and political upheaval, they have turned to a life of material simplicity, contemplation, scholarship and poetry. Their muted expressions of longing suggest deep emotion, but ultimately they arrive at a heightened acceptance, spirituality and oneness with the natural world.

This is a work for two sopranos (or soprano/mezzo soprano), flute or Chinese flute, harp and percussion (Chinese and or western), with a duration of 12-15 minutes.

Texts and Translations
(translations used with permission by Dr. Beata Grant)

1. Parting from Master Guxu in the Snow (from “Two Song-lyrics of Shang Jinglan” )  • 憶秦娥·雪中別谷虛大師
空留戀
楊柳裊裊隨風戰
隨風戰
彌天道遠
流光如箭
從壺夜月凝光殿
逆風翦碎鵝毛片
鵝毛片
飛翔莫定
何時相見

Vain longing,
The slender twigs of willows tussle in the wind
Tussle in the wind.
Space: the roads are distant;
Time: like an arrow it flies.
Night moon in the inner quarters, frozen light in the hall,
A perverse wind shreds the goose-feather snowflakes,
The goose-feather snowflakes
Swirling ceaselessly about:
When will we meet again?
— Shang Jinglan (1602-1676)

2. Telling of my Sorrows (from “Two Song-lyrics of Shang Jinglan” ) • 訴衷情· 雪夜懷女僧谷虛
無端小立瑣窗前
飛絮影連天
蒲團雪深三尺
參透幾多禪
花欲綻
烏猶寒
孰相憐
歌翻白雪
蓬弄竹花
兩鬢霜添
I stand awhile for no reason by the latticed window;
The shadows of swirling catkins join the sky,
Piled up on the meditation mat, three feet of snow —
How much Chan has she been able to penetrate?
Blossoms about to burst open,
The crows are still cold:
Who feels for them?
Songs flutter in the white snow,
Reeds turn into bamboo flowers,
Frost tinges the hair at one’s temples.
— Shang Jinglan

3. Paying a Visit to Huang Jieling and Not Finding Her In  • 訪黃皆令不遇

遙聞佳客至
雙槳度江風
道侶原相結
禪心孰與通
雲翻寒袖影
花落小池紅
不見孤舟返
愁予暮色中
From afar I hear this distinguished guest has come;
Her boat’s double oars cutting through the river wind.
Friends in the Way are bound together from the start;
Hearts set on the Chan – to whom can one speak of this?
Clouds shift: shadows are cast on chilled sleeves;
Blossoms fall: the little pond is tinged with red.
When I do not see your solitary skiff returning,
Shall I entrust my melancholy to the colors of dusk?
— Guxu (mid 17th century)

 

Sounds Ineffable

October 6th, 2013

bluelotusComposer: Bill Alves

Text:  from the Therīgāthā , in the original Pali;

Recorded for Volume 2, Voices of the Pearl

The Buddha singled out 13 female disciples for special commendation and Uppalavanna was noted as an especially worthy adept  for her mystical powers.  Uppalavanna’s words are conserved in the original Pali in the Ther?g?th?. They transmit her experience and inspire future generations of women on the spiritual path.  Uppalavanna’s symbol is  the blue lotus.

India has led the world in nurturing the evolution and preservation of esoteric traditions over thousands of years. Despite the rich tradition of mystical experience, however, in India, as in almost everywhere in the world, the tradition of educating women in the processes for attaining for enlightenment in the female body has nearly been extinguished many times.  Nevertheless, often as a form of dissenting knowledge, in every corner of the globe, remarkable women have pursued the mystical path over the centuries.

Therīgāthā , from Uppalavanna (XIV, verse 227)

Pubbenivāsaṃ jānāmi,dibbacakkhuṃ visodhitaṃ; 

Cetopariccañāṇañca,

sotadhātu visodhitā.

 

Iddhīpi me sacchikatā,

patto me āsavakkhayo;

 

Chaḷabhiññā sacchikatā,

kataṃ buddhassa sāsanaṃ.

I know that I have lived before,the divine eye has been purified;

 

There is knowledge of others’ inward life,

 

I hear the sounds ineffable.
I have realized senses beyond the Earth, and annihilated the asavas*;

 

I have realized these knowledges;

the Buddha’s teaching has been done.

Ann Lee Songs

October 6th, 2013

IMG_1319Composer: Christina Southworth;

Texts: anonymous Shaker;

‘Mother’ Ann Lee was the visionary founder of the Shaker Christian sect in 18th-century New England, the first Christian sect to insist on full equality of the sexes

 

 

‘Mother Ann’ left many stories and songs via eyewitness accounts that trace her progress on the mystical path. This songs cycle set early nineteenth-century reports describing the founder of the Shaker sect. I researched these texts in Massachusetts archives while on a fellowship with the American Antiquarian Society in Worcester, MA..  The idea for this cycle was inspired by the last five years I have spent touring internationally with programs of Shaker music with the renowned early music ensemble The Boston Camerata and the Tero Saarinen Dance Company. Following in the spirit of the Shaker tradition of invention and innovation, Southworth has composed 15-minute cycle of new music intertwining traditional Shaker melodies with the sounds of newly made electronic instruments. A native of Harvard, MA, Southworth grew up on Ann Lee Road. Her pieces have been performed internationally by ensembles such as the Kronos Quartet and Bang-On-A-Can.

Revelations of Julian of Norwich

October 6th, 2013

IMG_1944Composer: Derek Holman

Text: Julian of Norwich;

14th-century English anchorite, discount author and visionary. Texts excerpted from her
Divine Revelation of Love

 

 

Julian of Norwich managed to successfully navigate the difficult trajectory of a female mystic remarkably well, however, her work is little known today except to medievalists, or only anonymously, as she is quoted famously by T.S. Eliot in his Four Quartets (“And all shall be well; and all manner of thing shall be well”).

In the six extracts I have chosen from Julian’s Revelation of Divine Love (ca. 1393), her commitment to the female image of God is striking. She also wrote many incitements to universal love as her direct transmission of God’s communication to her. She is  remarkably sure-footed in her own classification of various species of spiritual experiences, which she referred to as ‘the three sights.’ As such, she becomes a source of female esoteric teaching: a rarity in any culture.

Divan-i Hayati (supported by the Canada Council for the Arts)

October 6th, 2013

IMG_1567Composer: Kati Agócs;

Text: Bibi Hayati;

19th-century female Sufi poet and mystic;

Sung in the original Farsi

Recorded for Volume 1, Voices of the Pearl

Please find notes, biography and bibliography below.

This cycle sets verses of a ghazal (roughly speaking, the Persian equivalent of highly structured sonnet) of Bibi Hayati, an early nineteenth-century noblewoman from Bam, in the Kerman province of Iran. Hayati was acquainted with both exoteric and esoteric sciences and adhered to the external principles of Islam, while also embracing the fundamentals of Sufi Gnosticism.  These intensely sensuous lyrical and ecstatic poems  are sung in the original Persian (Farsi).

While Hayati found a welcome for her ecstatic connection to God in Sufism, she waited until she had permission from her spiritual teacher to communicate her experience outside her immediate family in writing in these poems. She was initially reluctant because of her gender, Hayati’s spiritual master conferred on her the duty to write these ghazals that relate her mystical experience, because, according to him,  she had attained the status of manhood through her devotion to the Sufi path: “In the realm of love, sincerity and Sufism, you too are a man.  True manhood is courage.”

 

Original text: Ghazal No. 96 by Bibi Jan Hayati 

Hayati text

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bibi Jan Hayati: Life and works
by Eliza Tasbihi, Concordia University, Montreal, Canada (2014)

Sufism, the mystical dimension of Islam, has always provided equal opportunity for both men and women to engage in spiritual practice. Sufi orders in Iran in particular have a long history of women writing Sufi texts and participating in spiritual gatherings. One of the Sufi Orders that has long encouraged the equality of men and women’s spirituality is the Nimatullahi Sufi Order founded by Shah Nimatullah Vali (d. 1431). Being a poet himself, Shah Nimatullah encouraged the use of poetry during Sufi ceremonies as a means for transmitting spiritual principles.

Among the well-known Iranian Sufi poetesses is Bibi Jan Hayati. Born in the second half of the 18th century in the city of Bam, she was raised in a noble and a well-respected Sufi family. Soon the family moved to Tehran, where Bibi Jan’s elder brother, Rawnaq ‘Ali, was hoping to attain a high-ranking position in the military. After her father passed away, Bibi Jan was raised under the tutelage of her brother who ultimately entered the Sufi path and played a large role in shaping Bibi Jan’s spiritual life. Through her brother, Bibi Jan met and eventually married Nur ‘Ali Shah Isfahani (d. 1797), one of the masters of the Nimatullahi Order.  Her age at the time of marriage would have been between 15 and 18 years old and she bore her husband a daughter. She soon became an active member of the Order, dedicating her entire Divan (collected poems) to her husband. Indeed, the early sources speak of Bibi Hayati primarily as the sister of Rawnaq ‘Ali and the wife of Nur ‘Ali Shah, reflecting the male dominated culture of her time, where women were expected to avoid social recognition and unnecessary attention.

Upon her husband’s encouragement, Bibi Jan started composing love poetry. It is also upon his recommendation that Bibi Jan chose the nickname Hayati, derived from the Persian word “hayat” or life.

Your face is the manifestation of the divine

The sun and the moon are particles from the ray of your beauty,

To your look I gave up my life (hayat), and gained spiritual life (Hayat)

There is no supremacy and power except His! (Quatrain #22)

 

The term Hayat or Hayati reflects Bibi Jan’s spiritual transformation, also pointing to her appreciation for her husband with whom she walked the Sufi path of love and unity. The significant character of her Divan is the mystical aspect of her poetry. Her poetry indicates her sensibility and poetic talent, her familiarity with Persian poetic forms, literature, meters and structure as well as Sufi terminology and musical instruments. They are rich in rhetoric, images, sentiment, metaphors, symbols and also rhyming and musical elements. Her poems demonstrate an intense sense of passion and emotion towards her husband and lover, albeit framed by Sufi spirituality.

The sun of my being shines

Forth again from Nur ‘Ali,

The aurora of the soul

Cast upon Hayati’s heart (Ghazal #87)

 

There is debate about when Bibi Hayati died. Some sources say that she passed away in 1853, which could indicate that she remarried after her husband’s death. Other sources claim that she died in 1798, one year after her husband, leaving her collected poetry unedited. Had she lived and remarried after her first marriage, one would expect her to have left behind many additional poems, whereas her only extant poetry is her Divan, which she composed during her life with Nur ‘Ali.

Most of Bibi Hayati’s poems consist of short ghazals (love poems) ranging from 5 to 10 verses composed in the genre of Sufi poetry and in various poetic meters. It is suggested that Bibi Hayati’s poetic style was heavily influenced by Hafez’s poetry. Her Divan has been published twice in Iran, first in 1935, with no introduction or explanatory notes. The second edition was published in 1970 and supplemented with a comprehensive biography of the poetess and explanatory notes by the late master of the Nimatullahi Order, Dr. Javad Nurbakhsh (d. 2008).

The following is a list of sources in which Bibi Hayati’s life and works are discussed.

In English:

Dr. Javad Nurbakhsh, Sufi Women, NY: Khaniqah Nimatullahi’s publications, 1983.

 

In Persian:

Fatimah Jahangard, Pujhuhish-i dar Divan-i Hayati Kirmani, Tehran: Kirman: Markaz-i Kirman-shinasi, 2008.

‘Ali Akbar Mushir-Salimi, Zanan-i Sukhanvar, Tehran: Shirkat- sahami-i chap va IntisharatiI kitab-i Iran, 1956.

Muhammad Hassan khan ‘Itemad al-Saltanah, Tazkirah Khayrat al-Hasan, 3 volumes manuscripts, Tehran: Majlis library, 1928.

Muhammad Zihni, Tazkirat al-Khavatin, Mumbai: Mirza Muhammad Malik al-Kuttab Shirazi publisher, 1885.

Zabih al-allah Mahallati, Rayahin al-Shari’ah, 6 voles, Qom: dar-al Kutub al-Islamiya, 1996.

 

De virginibus

October 2nd, 2013

Hildegard+TrinityComposer: Jodi Goble;

Text: Hildegard of Bingen;

12th-century German Catholic abbess, composer, mystic

 

Hildegard rose to become an abbess of her own convent, and experienced mystical connection with the divine throughout her life.  She left countless chants that record her visions and were meant for the nuns under her care to sing daily in liturgical services. In October 2012, she was raised to the rank of saint and then further became one of 34 Doctors of the Catholic Church, only 3 of whom are women.

 

The first two poems in Hildegard von Bingen’s De Virginibus, written and dedicated to the nuns under her care — figure among her most playful and lighthearted texts.  The tone is one of wonder and affection, with no hint of admonishment; Hildegard, herself a master gardener and herbalist, likens the nuns to young plants who greet the dawn and flourish under a celestial sun.  The third poem, far longer than the first two, is also heavier in tone, and addresses the challenges of living in collective celibacy with frank, sensually evocative language. The musical setting for these poems is inspired largely by Hildegard’s own music:  highly melismatic, written to showcase both the ethereal and earthy qualities of the female voice, more modal than tonal, and sensitive in its treatment of text.  A dotted-note Leitmotif, meant to musically depict the natural delivery of the word ‘dulcissime’, appears throughout the work.

 

Text and translations

Latin text: Hildegard of Bingen (1098- 1179)

 

  1. O pulchrae facies

 

O pulchrae facies,

Deum aspicientes in aurora aedificantes,

o beatae virgines, quam nobiles estis.

In quibus Rex se consideravit,

cum in vobis omnia caelestia ornamenta praesignavit,

ubi etiam suavissimus hortus estis,

in omnibus ornamentis redolentes.

O beautiful faces

 

O beautiful faces,

God-gazers, dawn-builders,

o blessed virgins, how noble you are.

In this He considers Himself a King,

that you personify all things beautiful and celestial.

You are the sweetest of gardens,

the most decorative, the most fragrant.

 

 

 

  1. O nobilissima viriditas

 

O nobilissima viriditas, quae radicas in sole,

et quae in candida serenitate luces in rota,

quam nulla terrena excellentia comprehendit,

tu circumdata es

amplexibus divinorum mysteriorum.

Tu rubes ut aurora

et ardes ut solis flamma.

O most noble greenness

 

O most noble greenness, with roots in the sun,

and which, in the serene white light of the wheel that no earthly excellence can comprehend,

embraces you and surrounds you

with the divine mysteries.

You, and it, burn red as the dawn

of the sun’s flame.

 

  1. O dulcissime amator

 

O dulcissime amator,

o dulcissime amplexator,

adiuva nos custodire

virginitatem nostram.

Nos sumus ortae in pulvere,

heu, heu, et in crimine Adae.

Valde durum est contradicere

quod habet gustus pomi.

Tu erige nos, Salvator, Christe.

Nos desideramus ardenter te sequi.

O quam grave nobis miseris est

te immaculatum et innocentem

Regem Angelorum imitari.

Tamen confidimus in te,

quod tu desideres

gemmam requirere in putredine.

Nunc advocamus te Sponsum et consolatorem,

qui nos redemisti in cruce.

In tuo sanguine copulatae sumus tibi cum desponsatione,

repudiantes virum

et eligentes te, Filium Dei.

O pulcherrima forma,

o suavissimus odor desiderabilium deliciarum,

semper suspiramus post te

in lacrimabili exilio,

quando te videamus et tecum maneamus!

Nos sumus in mundo

et tu in mente nostra,

et amplectimur te in corde,

quasi habeamus te praesentem.

Tu fortissimus leo rupisti caelum,

descendens in aulam Virginis,

et destruxisti mortem,

aedificans vitam in aurea civitate.

Da nobis societatem cum illa,

et permanere in te, o dulcissime Sponse,

qui abstraxisti nos de faucibus Diaboli,

primum parentem nostrum seducentis.

 

O sweetest lover

 

O sweetest lover,

o sweetest embracer,

help us to keep

our virginity.

We arise in the dust,

alas, alas, in the crimes of Adam.

The taste of the apple

is hard to resist.

You strengthen us, oh Saviour, oh Christ.

We ardently desire to follow you.

Oh, how hard it is for we, the miserable ones to imitate your example, immaculate and innocent

King of the Angels.

We put our trust in you, however,

to nip the worm of our desire in the bud.

Now you summon the Bridegroom, the Counsellor,

who has redeemed us on the cross.

In your blood we are united,

repudiating man and choosing you,

Son of God.

O most beautiful form,

sweetest odor of most delicious delights,

forever we sigh after you

in our lamentable exile,

until we may see you and remain with you!

We are in the world

and you are in our minds,

and in our hearts we embrace you,

we have you present with us.

You are stronger than a lion,

descending to the womb of the Virgin

and destroying Death,

building life in the city of gold.

Give us fellowship with Her,

in order to continue with you, sweetest Bridegroom,

who drew us out of the jaws of the devil,

our first parent, our seducer.

 

 

The Secret Book on the Inner Elixir as Transmitted by the Immortal Sun Bu’er (Sun Bu’er yuan jun chuan shu dan dao mi shu)

September 30th, 2013

 

IMG_0836Composer: Yii Kah Hoe (Malaysia)

Text: Sun Bu’er
12th-century Chinese Daoist practitioner and teacher; the only woman among the Eight Daoist Immortals

Recorded for Volume 1, Voices of the Pearl

 

Performed in modern Mandarin

Please find text and translation below.

 

This, the longest song cycle, is scored for soprano, piano, Ebows  and percussion. It sets fourteen poems from The Secret Book on the Inner Elixir as Transmitted by the Immortal Sun Bu’er (Sun Bu’er yuanjun chuanshu dandao mishu), by the twelfth-century female Daoist practitioner Sun Bu’er.  Sun Bu’er was the only female member of the ‘Seven Immortals.’  These poems instruct the reader, in metaphorical language, in the practices of ‘nüdan,’ which specifies the method of Daoist inner cultivation especially modified for the female body.

Yii Kah Hoe has composed these songs based on the texts helpfully provided by Dr. Robin Wang (Marymount Loyola University (Philosophy)). My experience singing in Chinese (for example Evan Ziporyn’s ‘Ornate Zither and Nomad Flute’), and my frequent visits to China through Scripps’ faculty exchange initiative, teaching in both Mandarin and English, gave me confidence to propose that the composer set these poems in modern Mandarin.

 

Text and translation
(by Dr. Robin Wang, Marymount Loyola University)

 

孫不二女功內丹次第十四

第一收心(男女同)Step One: Collecting Heart/Mind (shouxin)

吾身未有日一氣已先存似玉磨逾潤如金煉豈昏
掃空生滅海固守總持門半黍虛靈處融融火候溫

Primordial qi already existed before the time of my existence;

Like jade being ground to reveal its brightness, how could it be possible that more polishing would make it darker?

Eliminating the seas of desires for life and death to guard the ultimate gate;

At the place of half a grain of rice where the empty spirit is alert, the adjusted fire is at its perfect temperature.

 

第二養氣(男女同)Step Two: Cultivating Qi (yangqi)

本是無為始何期落後天一聲纔出口三寸已司權
況被塵勞耗那堪疾病纏子肥能益母休道不迴旋

The origin begins in non-action, but it then collapses into posterity;

Once the first sound of crying bursts forth, breathing starts to take control of life.

Earthly dusts and laboring exhaust one’s life; one’s body is tangled with weakness and illness;

Abundance of children can benefit the mother, how can we say that we are unable to return to our beginning?

第三行功(未二句女子獨用)Step Three: Moving Energy (xingqi)

斂息凝神處東方生氣來萬緣都不著一氣復歸臺
陰象宜前降陽光許後栽山頭并海底雨過一聲雷

At the place of concentrating breath and spirit, the generating qi comes from the east;

Myriad desires have no place to stay, so only unified breath reachesto the stage of spirit;

The image of yin is descending in the front while the light of yang is ascending at the back;

When the top of the mountain is united with the bottom of the ocean there is thunder after the passing rain.

 

第四斬龍(女子襡用)Step Four: Slaying the Dragon (zanlong)

靜極能生動陰陽相與模風中擒玉虎月裡捉金烏
著眼絪縕候留心順逆途鵲橋重過處丹氣復歸爐

Extreme stillness can generate motion, where yin and yang coalesce;

Capturing the jade tiger in the wind and grasping the golden bird in the moon;

Keep eyes alert to the moment of intercourse of heaven and earth and be aware

At the meeting places of the magpie bridges, the qi of the elixir returns to the stove.

 

第五養丹(首二句女子獨用Step Five: Cultivating the Elixir (yangdan)

縛虎歸真穴牽龍漸益丹性須澂似水心欲靜如山
調息收金鼎安神守玉關日能增黍米鶴髮復朱顏

The captured tiger returns to the authentic spot while the grasped dragon gradually shows the effective elixir;

Disposition must be as clear as water while the desires of heart/mind must be still like the mountain;

Adjusted breath collects in the golden cauldron and a peaceful spirit guards the jade gate;

One can increase the cord of rice every day and a woman’s gray hair can return to youthful radiance.

 

第六胎息(男女同)Step Six: Embryonic Breathing (taixi) 

要得丹成速先將幻境除心心守靈藥息息返乾初
氣復通三島神忘合太虛若來與若去無處不真如

In order to arrive at the perfection of the elixir quickly, one must eliminate all stressful situations in the human world;

Each movement of the heart guards the spiritual medicine and each breath returns to the beginning of heaven;

Qi returns and penetrates the three islands and the forgotten spirit unites with the ultimate void;

Whether coming or leaving, wandering just like a Buddha.

 


第七符火(五六兩句女子獨用)
Step Seven: Symbolic Firing (fuhuo)

胎息綿綿處須分動靜機陽光當益進陰魄要防飛
潭裡珠含景山頭月吐輝六時休少縱灌溉藥苗肥

At the harmonious place of embryonic breath one must distinguish the timing/opportunity of motion and stillness;
The light of yang should gradually move forward and the spirit of yin should be protected to avoid its flying away;

The pearl in the pond reflects the scenery and the moon at the top of the mountain radiates brightness;

Be constant and concentrating through the six periods of the day, cultivate the abundant elixir.

 


第八接藥(男女同)
Step Eight: Receiving the Elixir (jieyao)

一半玄機悟丹頭如露疑雖云能固命安得煉成形
鼻觀純陽接神鉛透體靈哺含須慎重完滿即飛騰

Halfway to grasping the mysterious opportunity, the sprout of elixir appears like a dewdrop;

Though it is said that it can stabilize life, it still must be cultivated into a form.

Use the nose to smell and receive the pure yang while the divine mercury penetrates the bodily spirit.

Cultivation must be careful and it will take off as soon as it is complete.


第九煉神(男女同)
Step Nine: Transforming the Spirit (lianshen)

生前舍利子一旦入吾懷慎似持盈器柔如撫幼孩
地門須固閉天闕要先開洗濯黃芽淨山頭震地雷

Before birth there was a primordial spirit that once came into my body;

Be careful to hold on to it like holding a delicate vessel and be gentle to it as touching a soft infant;

The gate of earth must be firmly closed and the palace of heaven needs to be opened first;

Washing and reflecting the yellow sprout so that the top of mountain is shaking and booming.


第十服食(男女同)
Step Ten: Taking Food (fushi)

大冶成山澤中含造化情朝迎日烏氣夜吸月蟾精
時候丹能採年華體自輕元神來往處萬竅發光明

The great molding forms the mountains and ponds and within they contain the essence of transformation;

In the morning it receives the qi of the sun and in the evening it absorbs the essence of moon;

At the proper time one can pick up the elixir and return to youthfulness, and the body will become light and clean;

At the dwelling place of primordial spirit myriad apertures radiate the bright lights.

 

第十一辟穀(男女同)Step Eleven: Fasting (bigu)

既得餐靈氣清冷肺腑奇忘神無相著合極有空離
朝食尋山芋昏飢採澤芝若將煙火混體不履瑤池

Get vital qi from food and cleanse, purify the internal organs;

A mindless spirit has no desire to be attached and the unified ultimate contains emptiness and space;

Yearning for food one will find mountain taro and hunger will pick magic fungus;

If one is still involved with the ordinary cooking fire then one can never reach the divine pond.

 

第十二面壁(男女同)Step Twelve: Facing the Wall (mianbi)

萬事皆云畢凝然坐小龕輕身乘紫氣靜性濯清潭
氣混陰陽一神同天地三功完朝玉闕長嘯出翜嵐

Myriad things are all put to rest while one sits at a small shrine in concentration;

A light body rides the purple qi, and one’s purified nature is washed in the clear pond;

Qi of yin and yang become one and the spirit unites with heaven and earth to become three;

The completed training moves toward the jade palace, and a long breath blows out the morning haze of mountains.

 

第十三出神(男女同)Step Thirteen: Coming Out of the Spirit (chushen)

身外復有身非關幻術成圓通此靈氣活潑一元神
皓月凝金液青蓮煉玉真烹來烏兔髓珠皎不愁貧

There is a body outside the body but it has nothing to do with the achievement of skillful magic;

Circulating this spiritual qi activates the primordial spirit;

The bright moon forms golden fluid, and green lotus transforms the genuine jade;

Receiving smoothly the essence of bird and rabbit in the moon; holding the bright pearl, one never worries about poverty.

 

第十四沖舉(男女同)Step Fourteen: Ascendant Breaking Through (chongju)

佳期方出谷咫尺上神霄玉女驂青鳳金童獻絳桃
花前彈錦瑟月下弄瓊簫一旦仙凡隔冷然渡海潮

At a good time it will come out of the ravine and fly up to the divine cloud;

The jade girl rides the green phoenix, and the golden boy sends the silk peach;

Performing on the pipa in front of the flower and playing the jade flute under the moon;

Once immortal and mortal are separated one can calmly deal with the waves of the ocean.

Shir ha Shirim • Song of Songs

September 30th, 2013

pearl

Composer: Moshe Shulman;

Text: Anonymous female voice
excerpted from ‘The Song of Songs’ in the Bible/Tannakh;

Recorded for Volume 1, Voices of the Pearl

Performed in Biblical Hebrew

 

Perhaps no other biblical text has inspired so widely diverging commentaries and interpretations as the Shir Ha Shirim, ed or ‘Song of Songs’, ailment found in the Ketuvim  in the Tanakh (Jewish tradition) also known as the Psalms of the Old Testament (Christian tradition).  Although commonly attributed to King Solomon, allergy it is more properly recognized as the work of an anonymous author, whose skillful erotic verses are unusually lyrical and alliterative. The Shir Ha Shirim has been interpreted as, variously, the courtship and consummation between God and the people of Israel, or the soul and God, or the Church and Christ. In Zoharic Kabbalah it is often interpreted as the mystical unification of female and male sephirot emanations. Contemporary Russian-Israeli composer Moshe Shulman selected verses and composed these new settings for premiere, including musical settings of the Hebrew numbering system.