Wake! Now a Time Has Come

Wake! Now a Time Has Come (A Choral Piece for SATB chorus, a cappella) was composed for and is warmly dedicated to Christopher Gilliam and the 2020 Wake Forest University choral music program in celebration of Dr. Gilliam’s inaugural year as Wake Forest’s Director of Choral Activities. Wake!, the title of the poem on which the piece is based, was the result of a 2020 commission from Dr. Gilliam and the Wake Forest choral program to the American author and poet, Fred Chappell. Mr. Chappell’s distinguished career has resulted in many awards for his work, including the Aiken Taylor Award for Modern American Poetry, the Prix de Meilleur des Livres Etrangers, the Bollingen Prize, and the T. S. Eliot Prize. Mr. Chappell was Poet Laureate for the State of North Carolina from 1997 to 2002 and was a Professor of English at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro from 1964 to 2004.

Fred Chappell’s poem, Wake!, is a timely creation for 2020 – an unprecedented year marked by the difficult challenges of the global Covid-19 pandemic, along with widespread human suffering and civil unrest. The poem is insightful and provocative, and, through hope, festive. It celebrates new creation, doing so in “harmony,” even as the harmony to achieve a “peaceful unity” calls upon us all to “sing as one In Unison.” My music seeks to mirror and amplify the poem’s sentiments throughout. Mr. Chappell notes that the roots for Wake! lie in the Great Seal of the United States of America: E pluribus unum = From many, one.

Wake! Now a Time Has Come was composed in the late summer of 2020 and is approximately three minutes in length. An exuberant and rising two-note choral motive on the word “Wake!” is immediately heard at the beginning and provides unity for the composition throughout. As the piece progresses, the tonal centers in Wake! Now a Time Has Come move upward, symbolizing the hope that a “new-made history,” when sung “In Unison,” will surely “Raise every voice in amity.”

Dan Locklair
Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Wake!

Wake!
Wake now a time has come;
Raise every voice in amity.
The grandest form of harmony
Is Unison.

Sing bravely now in chorus.
The days that lie before us
May darken or fill with sun,
And we shall raise our song,
Our music pure and strong
In Unison.

Every one of us is All;
Each individual
A community
Who will support the call
To peaceful unity,
And all shall sing as one
In Unison.

(Wake!
Wake now a time…)

So we extend our hands
To all people in all lands,
Banishing dark misery
From our new-made history,
And hold as we have begun
In Unison.

(Wake!…)

Fred Chappell (2020)