Gwyneth Walker

Motherless Child

for SATB Chorus (1996)

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Listen to a RealAudio (G2) stream of a performance of this work by Desert Voices, Keith A. Koster, conductor.


Commissioned by the GALA Choruses Festival V -- 1996, Tampa, Florida.

Motherless Child is derived, in part, from the African-American spiritual "Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child." The original song dates back to the era of slavery when it was common practice to sell children of slaves away from their parents.

In this new adaptation, the theme of separation or alienation (away from home, apart from one's community) is viewed as universal and eternal. Everyone at some time feels like a "motherless child."

But as one expresses these feelings, one realizes a common bond with humanity. And one is no longer alone.

Thus a more hopeful refrain is woven into the lyrics of the spiritual:

            Hold on.
            Hold on.
            We are together.
            And we are one.


Notes by the composer