Susan Slaughter

The Promise of Living

In Detritus, Everything on May 6, 2011 at 3:42 pm

In Memorium

Robert D. Jensvold

The Promise of Living

November 13, 1928 to March 10, 2011

During the few weeks when my father was sick, I discovered an instrumental version of Aaron Copland’s “The Tender Land Suite” and fell in love with one particular movement, playing it over and over and over….

I just learned that “The Tender Land” is an opera with libretto by Horace Everett—and the movement I fell in love with is named “The Promise of Living.”  The story is about a family living on a farm in the Midwest during the Depression.  As a young boy, my father lived on his family’s homestead in Kansas—until a massive swarm of locust ate all the crops and the farmhouse burned down.  In other words, he grew up on a farm in the Midwest during the Depression.  Coincidence?

Here are the words:

The promise of living
With hope and thanksgiving
Is born of our loving
Our friends and our labor.

The promise of growing
With faith and with knowing
Is born of our sharing
Our love with our neighbor.

The promise of living
The promise of growing
Is born of our singing
In joy and thanksgiving.

For many a year I’ve known this field
And know all the work that makes her yield.
Are you ready to lend a hand?
I’m ready to work, I’m ready to lend a hand.
By working together we’ll bring in the harvest,
the blessings of harvest.

We plant each row with seeds of grain,
And Providence sends us the sun and the rain.
By lending a hand, by lending an arm
Bring out, bring out from the farm
Bring out the blessings of harvest.

Give thanks there was sunshine,
Give thanks there was rain,
Give thanks we have hands
To deliver the grain.

O let us be joyful,
O let us be grateful to the Lord
For his blessing.

 The promise of ending
In right understanding
Is peace in our own hearts
And peace with our neighbor

The promise of living
The promise of growing
The promise of ending
Is labor and sharing and loving.

Berkeley Opera, April 2010 video by Jeremy Knight copyright 2010 echidnamedia

  1. Beautiful, Susan. Thanks for sharing, and my condolences on your loss.

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