THE SONG OF RUTH for Soprano Solo, SATB Chorus unaccompanied by Stanley M. Hoffman (2015)

The Song of Ruth, a setting of the most famous passage from the Book of Ruth (Ruth 1:16–17), opens with a gentle polyphonic section for the chorus. (“Do not ask me to leave you, or to stop following you; for where ever you go, I will go, and where you stay, I will stay. Your people will be my people, and your God my God.”) The soprano joins the choir for the twice-repeated middle section of the piece. The music here is contrastingly homophonic and intense. (“Where you die, I will die and be buried.”) The tune and harmonies are borrowed from a passage in my piece Selections from “The Song of Songs” for male voice and band. That piece is dedicated to my wife, Ruth, hence the connection. If that were not enough, our daughter is named Naomi! The Song of Ruth closes with a recapitulation of the music from the opening, but with new words assigned to it, and with the soprano soloist providing a descant for it. (“May the Lord cause ill fate to befall me, and more, if anything but death separates me and you.”) Appropriate for Shavuot (The Feast of Weeks) and Pentecost.

This performance is by the versatile vocalist, Matthew Curtis (

© Copyright 2018 by Ione Press, Inc.,
a division of ECS Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Ruth 1:16-17
English Translation by Stanley M. Hoffman

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