Holy World


A powerful gospel anthem for two soloists and choir that affirms life in the face of tragic loss. The soloists take turn with verses, and the choir provides backing vocals on the refrain as the song builds.  After a bridge in which the soloists trade phrases back and forth, the choir fully emerges in power as the refrain mounts toward a transcendent closing.


A licensed copy is required for each member performing.



My family endured the tragic loss of our mother in May 1998.  She was killed in a random act of violence by a troubled young man, and our world was forever changed.  I responded to this life event in my usual way, through music.  Various songs emerged in the weeks and months afterwards, including this song, Holy World.  If I remember correctly, the idea came as I was riding the “El” in Chicago one afternoon, with the ride allowing for reflection time.

The talented tenor Ryan Harrison and I recorded a full album’s worth of these songs, in duet form, called “Holy World: Songs of Grief and Healing.”  Little by little over the years, many of these songs have turned into choral pieces.  “Holy World,” the title track, but also “Never More Will the Wind,” “Rain Come Down,” “Intimations of Immortality,” “Make Me to Know the Measure of My Days,” and “I’ll Be On My Way.”

O I have seen the beauty of a child,
Born into this weary world —
Pure and new, placed into
The old and care-worn hands.

And I have seen how hopes slip away,
Slip away like shifting sand —
Only to reveal:
The rock, and a place to stand.

Holy world, holy world,
Where sorrows are turning with joy
Holy world:
Sorrows are turning with joy.


Surely, surely, the rainbow promise of old still remains.
Surely, surely there is a voice to which all souls resound.
Surely, surely the road is still there, that leads us all back home.
And surely, surely a mother waits…for her lost to be found.

Additional information


SATB piano, SSA piano

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