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It Is Not Death to Die

By Robert Myers

Detailed Description

Piano Accompaniment, SATB - Advanced Intermediate - Digital Download
Composed by Robert Myers. Christian, Sacred, Easter, Funeral, Recital. Octavo. 10 pages. Published by WheatMyer Music (S0.612459).

Item Number: S0.612459

It Is Not Death to Die is a new setting of French poet Henri Abraham César Malan's Non, ce n'est pas mourir as translated by George Washington Bethune and adapted for this work. Why this text? It first came to my notice shortly after the passing of Billy Graham, who was known to paraphrase D. L. Moody,

   "Someday you will read or hear that Billy Graham is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it. I shall be more alive than I
   am now. I will just have changed my address. I will have gone into the presence of God."

Graham's bold proclamation and Malan's poetry motivated me to focus anew on the resurrection, re-remembering it as the pivotal element of the Christian faith. For if there is no resurrection, Paul says in 1 Cor 15, our faith is useless. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead! Unfortunately, singing about heaven has, perhaps, been neglected of recent decades. We seem to have focused more on the "already" to the detriment of the "not yet." But it is important to remember that this life is not all there is! Quoting Paul again, “the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Rom 8:18). Yet, if Christ delays, the grim inevitability of our transition into eternity is a certain experience we all face. Malan's poetry so poignantly and eloquently captures this tension that it compelled me to compose a fresh musical setting that attempts to captures the mixture of dread and hope borne out in the acclamation that “death is swallowed up in victory!” I pray that this setting aids the Church to remember the great hope and promise Christ has granted us:

   “O Death, where is your victory?
    O Death, where is your sting?”

The music opens with a C# diminished chord in a very still and somber texture reflective of grief. The text is introduced with the first of two main motives, a rising 4-note outline of B minor in a triple repetition of “It Is Not Death.” As each stanza proceeds the music concludes on the second motive, a 5-note descending span of a minor 7th in Bb Lydian. The energy and mood of the music gradually shift over the five stanzas, as the focus moves from this life to the next; the texture thickens, the harmony expands, and the dynamic grows into the music’s pinnacle on “reign with You on high!” The music closes on a reprise of the opening section, simultaneously mindful of our mortality and our eternity.

Available with orchestral or piano (this version) accompaniment, It Is Not Death to Die is a fitting close to the Easter season, or is suitable for Ascension Sunday, a funeral or memorial service, or any time in the church year to remind Christians of the central hope of our faith, eternal life in Christ.It is equally at home in the sanctuary or concert hall and makes fitting repertoire for advanced high school, college, or select ensembles.

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The accompanying audio file (mp3) is a virtual instrument mock-up prepared by Evensong Productions (, used by permission.

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