Nick Peros







Prayer of Consolation is an innovative, classical music work by Canadian composer Nick Peros composed as an artistic response to the events of September 11, 2001. It is an cappella choral work (SATB) in eleven movements using Scripture text to create a dialogue between God and humanity addressing the pain and suffering resulting from the September 11 terrorist attacks. Prayer of Consolation is an invitation for listeners to discover meaning and hope in the midst of tragedy.

"The events of September 11, 2001 will forever be etched in the minds of millions. They will forever be etched in my mind and heart. In the days following the tragedy I had personal encounters with a number of people who had suffered loss as a result of the terrorist attacks. As a result of these encounters, I realized that as a composer I must somehow respond to the tragedy of these events.

On the afternoon of September 23rd I sat down and began to compile Scripture text that addressed the issues, feelings, emotions, questions, pain and anger that were engendered by the events of September 11. Within two hours, the text was completed. The result is Prayer of Consolation. The finished text expressed a cry of hurt, pain and disillusionment but at the same time it offered comfort, strength, encouragement and hope.

I laid the text aside for six months. In February 2002, having become convinced that Prayer of Consolation could offer courage and hope to others, I began setting the text to music."

Below is the description of each of the eleven movements. The text is structured to be a dialogue between humanity and God on the issues of pain, loss, tragedy and confusion engendered by the events of September 11. First, the People speak and then God answers. Ultimately, Prayer of Consolation is a work of hope.

Movement I is an expression of pain and grief where the People exclaim that their "Eyes fail from weeping" as their "Young and old lie together in the dust of the streets" - a vivid description of the aftermath of the September 11 attacks seen by millions around the world.

The People continue speaking, groaning with weeping and then are dismayed that their enemies rejoice over their tragedy - "they laugh at my destruction". This movements' expression is a clear reference to the shocking television images of groups of anti-US civilians celebrating the deaths of so many Americans during the terrorist attacks. The movement ends with the People asking God how long their enemy will triumph over them.

In Movement II God answers this cry when He speaks of: "These double calamities that have come upon you, who can comfort you? Who can console you?" These "double calamities" can be seen to represent the twin towers, but the People in God's response are not left without comfort or hope.

Movement III & IV continue the dialogue of suffering and express the questions that go with it. Again, God acknowledges the distress of the People and responds.

Movement V has the People pointing out that... "The righteous perish." This age-old issue¬"Why do the righteous die? -- is specifically addressed in Movement VI. The answer is not meant to negate the pain of loss, but to show that there is a larger context that can sometimes be forgotten.

Movement VII identifies itself with the American people when it begins with the words "In You, our father's put their trust..." ­ a clear reference to the motto used in the United States and found on the back of every dollar bill and every coin¬"In God We Trust". This motto, born out of the Founding Father's understanding of the basis for American society, is an expression of the People's hope where consolation is found for those who mourn.

The theme of trust continues in Movement VIII and concludes with Movement XI where the People, seeking peace, realize where true safety is found.

Musically and structurally Prayer of Consolation symbolizes the date of September 11¬this date is imbedded within its very makeup. The fact that the whole work is made up of eleven movements represents the date of "the 11th day". Movement IX is textually highlighted by its relation to Movement III and VI (every movement a multiple of 3, outlining the Trinity), representing "the 9th month". As a result, the very structure of Prayer of Consolation subtly but clearly symbolizes "9/11".

The world premiere concert of Prayer of Consolation took place Tuesday September 10, 2002 at Washington National Cathedral, performed by The Palestrina Choir, conducted by Michael Harrison. The Palestrina Choir, from the DC area, has a reputation for world class, deeply expressive performance. Washington National Cathedral is the sixth-largest cathedral in the world and the second largest in the United States. As one of the chief venues for US state occasions, the Cathedral was intended for "national purposes... equally open to all." The World Premiere concert of Prayer of Consolation on September 10, 2002 was given as a free concert, a gift to the American people.


Prayer of Consolation

By Nick Peros


PEOPLE: My eyes fail from weeping,
I am in torment within,
My heart is poured out on the ground
because my people are destroyed. (Lam. 1.16c)
Young and old lie together in the
dust of the streets, (Lam. 2.21a)
My children are destitute, (Lam. 1.16c)
This is why I weep
and my eyes overflow with tears. (Lam. 1.16a)

People have heard my groaning
but there is no one to comfort me.
All my enemies have heard of my distress;
they rejoice-- (Lam. 1.21)
They laugh at my destruction. (Lam. 1.7b)

How long, O LORD? (Ps. 13.1a)
How long will my enemy
triumph over me? (Ps. 13.2b)
Answer me when I call to you, (Ps. 4.1)
Hear my prayer, O LORD,
listen to my cry for help. (Ps. 39.12a)


GOD: I will strengthen and help you, (Is. 41.10)
Do not be afraid for I am with you. (Gen. 26.24)

These double calamities have come upon you--
Who can comfort you?
Who can console you? (Is. 51.19)

I, even I, am He who comforts you. (Is. 51.12c)

Those who wage war against you
will be as nothing at all (Is. 41.12)
Do not be afraid (Gen. 26.24)
turn to Me and be saved (Is. 45.22)
I will strengthen you (Is. 45.5)
For I am the LORD, (Is. 45.3)
I call you by name. (Is. 45.4)


PEOPLE: All our enemies have opened their mouths
wide against us¬
We have suffered terror and pitfalls,
ruin and destruction. (Lam. 3.46-47)
What I see brings grief to my soul (Lam. 3.51a)
Those who were my enemies without cause
hunted me like a bird (Lam. 3.52)
I called on Your name, O LORD¬
I called on Your name (Lam. 3.55a)
Everlasting Father (Is. 9.6a)
You heard my plea: "Do not close your ears
to my cry for relief."
You came near when I called to you
and You said "Do not fear." (Lam. 3.56-57)


GOD: All your enemies open their mouths
wide against you;
They scoff and gnash their teeth and say
"We have swallowed her up.
This is the day we have waited for;
we have lived to see it." (Lam. 2.16)

In your distress you called
and I rescued you. (Ps. 81.7a)
Be strong, do not fear (Is. 35.4)
Trust in the LORD (Ps. 4.5)
For I have loved you
with an everlasting love. (Jer. 31.3)


PEOPLE: The righteous perish-- (Is.57.1)
O righteous God,
Who searches minds and hearts,
Bring to an end the violence
of the wicked
and make the righteous secure. (Ps. 7.9)


GOD: The righteous perish,
And no one ponders it in his heart;
devout men are taken away,
And no one understands
that the righteous are taken away
To be spared from evil.
Those who walk uprightly
enter into peace. (Is. 57.1-2)

I am the resurrection
and the life.
He who believes in Me will live,
even though he dies, (Jn. 11.25)
For whoever believes in the Son
Has eternal life. (Jn. 3.36)


PEOPLE: In You our fathers put their trust;
They trusted and You delivered them.
They cried to You and were saved;
in You they trusted and were not disappointed. (Ps. 22.4-5)

I trust in You, O LORD,
I say, "You are my God." (Ps. 31.14)


GOD: Trust in Me (Jn. 14.1)
For I am the LORD (Is. 43.3)
I am the Way, the Truth and
the Life. (Jn. 14.6)
Everyone who looks to the Son
and believes in Him
shall have eternal life
And I will raise him up
at the last day. (Jn. 6.40)


PEOPLE: Your dead will live,
their bodies will rise (Is. 26.19)
For your Spirit gives life. (Jn. 6.63)
In righteousness I will see
Your face,
When I awake I will be satisfied
with seeing Your likeness. (Ps. 17.15)


GOD: Come to Me, all you who are weary
and burdened,
And I will give you rest. (Matt. 11.28)


PEOPLE: I will lie down and sleep in peace,
For You alone, O LORD,
make me dwell in safety. (Ps. 4.8)

September 23, 2001
© 2001 Nick Peros
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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