I Was Love


SATB choir (divisi), solo voice, piano, drum kit, & electric bass.

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“I was the glowing, I was the singing, I was love.”

"I Was Love" was commissioned to celebrate the beautiful friendship between the University of Pretoria Tuks Camerata (South Africa) and Barnsley Youth Choir (England). Their respective conductors, Michael Barrett and Mat Wright, believe in the unifying power of music and wanted a new piece their choirs could sing together during a joint concert in England in the summer of 2022.

Fenton Johnson was an important literary voice in the USA and forerunner of the Harlem Renaissance, a resurgence of African American arts and culture based in Harlem, New York City. Johnson’s art was influenced by his experience as an African American man living in a divided society. This poem, Revery, speaks to the deep connection we have as living beings on this planet. As all things are made of stardust, we are interconnected over millions of years of life — to lives before and after our own. This universality is a profound reminder of our connectedness across our human-created boundaries.

SATB choir (divisi), solo voice, piano, percussion, & electric bass,.


University of Pretoria Tuks Camerata, Michael Barrett, conductor. Barnsley Youth Choir, Mat Wright, conductor.

Revery by Fenton Johnson

I was the starlight,
I was the moonlight,
Before the dawning
Of my life;
I was the river,
I was the glowing,
I was the singing,
I was love.

I was the sunlight,
I was the twilight,
I was the vision
Ere my birth;
I was the summer,
I was the autumn,
I was the all-time—
I was love.

[Public domain text adapted by the composer.]



1 review for I Was Love

  1. Hano van der Walt

    This piece is a masterful interpretation of the text. The human soul is illustrated through the extensive dynamical range, and our myriad diversity in the different colours of sound Jake evokes through his masterful writing. The modest yet well-thought-out accompaniment of this work, together with complex moments of pleasingly dissonant harmony, is the driving force of this piece and is responsible for the huge and alleviating climax. The gradual, benign erosion of this work journeys to the last few bars, where Jake managed to capture the message of this poem like none other. The music and harmony lift your soul out of your body and let you see how we as humans with our various differences go back to being stardust…going back to natural elements where we are all equal and alike.

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