In the inaugural issue of this newsletter, published one year ago this month, I presented the words and music of a composition that I wrote in the autumn of 2016, entitled I Ask, “Who is the Believer?” The lyrics are based on the following verse by an unknown Chinese author:
“I ask, ‘Within emptiness, who is the Believer?’
He replies, ‘Your Eternal Lord.’”
In a later newsletter, we published a recorded version of this composition with myself and Rev. Master Mokushin singing the two vocal parts (transposed down to put the parts into the range of our voices). I also described my efforts to find a soprano who could take the upper part so that we could get a recording in the key in which the piece was originally written. I could not find a soprano.
To my surprise. Rev. Master Hector and congregation members of Westerwolder Dharma Toevlucht took up this project and carried it through, and we are very pleased to present a new recording of I Ask, “Who is the Believer?” in this newsletter.
I would like to express my gratitude to Rev. Master Hector and to Wyanda Yap (soprano), Maroesja Veken (mezzo-soprano), Rob Brunekreeft (organ accompaniment) and Wim de Bruin (recording), and also to the other congregation members and friends who attended the recording session.
I Ask, “Who is the Believer?” is about faith, and I believe that the faith of those who participated in the making of this recording is evident in the performance.
Click to play... Full lyrics... Lyrics and Music...
One spring day last year, Rev. Master Hector told the laypeople of the Westerwolder Dharma Toevlucht that Rev. Master Koshin had written some pieces of music. He showed us two compositions: As Rivers and Streams and I Ask, “Who is the Believer?” Some of us enjoy singing and playing music, so we were quite interested.
Together with Rev. Master Hector, we sang As Rivers and Streams, a beautiful quartet. Rev. Master Hector told us that the duet I Ask, “Who is the Believer?” had never before been sung by female voices (see the newsletter for April 2017). This inspired us to practice and perform this piece with Rob playing the keyboard, with the intention to record it as an offering to Rev. Master Koshin.
The piece turned out to be a real challenge, and we rehearsed it the entire summer. It is a long and complex choral piece for soprano and alto, whereas we (Wyanda and Maroesja) are two sopranos singing it as a duet and the low notes in the alto part are especially hard work for a soprano. But we were both enchanted by this wonderful piece and it was a great joy for us to perform this serene music. It needs to be sung from the heart in order to express the deeper meaning of the words, to which end Rev. Master Hector was helpful.
On October 22, 2017, it was recorded in a local church. It was a joint effort: Rob playing the organ, Wyanda and Maroesja singing, Rev. Master Hector assisted by keeping time, Wim (Maroesja’s husband) taking care of the recording, Wendy (member of the temple) and Tsjeerd (Wyanda’s husband) being the willing audience. All in all, it was a very special occasion!
You can hear one of the takes by clicking on the link in Rev. Master Koshin’s section, above, or click here. It is sung with love and is a present to Rev. Master Koshin.
Rev. Clement will be giving two public talks in January. The first talk will be on January 23rd, 6:30 p.m. at the Olympia Public Library Meeting Room. The talk is titled “The Deeper Purpose of Buddhist Meditation.” The second talk will be on January 24th, 5:30 p.m. at the Lacey Public Library Meeting Room. The talk is titled “Meditation as a Religious Act.”
Rev. Master Basil was invited by the spiritual director of a Seattle hospice, where he is an on-call chaplain, to offer an end-of-year blessing. On December 19, Rev. Master Basil and lay trainee Ian Davros recited a section of the Sweet Gate Scripture as they processed through the hospice. They began with the outpatient section on the first floor, then moved upstairs to the rooms of patients who were interested in a Buddhist blessing. Many patients expressed appreciation for the offering.
The temple experienced several weeks of subzero weather at the end of December into early January; the high one day was -7F (-22C). As shown in the photo below, Tom has a sensible strategy for coping with cold mornings: stretching out on the hot-water radiator (there have been times when Rev. Bennet's been tempted to join him!).