Duration23 minutes

Instrumentation: 2(2+picc.)222/4221/timp.1perc.harp/strings, SATB chorus

Program note:

For the National President's Day Choral Festival, Gary R. Schwartzhoff, artistic director and conductor, honoring John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 35th President of the United States, as commissioned by Music Celebrations International, John Wiscombe, President


I. Inauguration

We observe today a celebration of freedom, signifying renewal, as well as change. For I have sworn before you and Almighty God the same solemn oath that our forebears prescribed.

The world is very different now. For man holds in his hands the power to abolish poverty and all forms of human life. And yet the same beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe--the belief that the rights of man come from the hand of God.

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to ensure the survival of liberty.

Let the word go forth from this time and place, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans.

Let both sides explore what problems unite us. Let both sides seek to invoke the wonders of science instead of its terrors. Let both sides unite to let the oppressed go free.

The trumpet summons us again. Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country. Ask what we can do for the freedom of man. (from JFK Inaugural Address, January 20, 1961)

II. To the Moon

Let us make some brick and burn them, bricks for stone and slime for mortar. Go, let us build up a mighty city and a tower unto heaven. (Genesis 11:3-4 KJV)

Archimedes told us we could lift the world with levers from the sky. Galileo, dreaming of inertia, said an object could continue onward in its flight. (EW)

Now it is time to take longer strides; time for a great new American enterprise; time for this nation to take a leading role which may hold the key to our future on earth. I believe in achieving this goal of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to earth. (from JFK Address to Congress, May 25, 1961)

We choose to go to the moon in this decade for knowledge and peace. On this adventure we embark. (from JFK, Address at Rice University, September 12, 1962)

III. Crisis of Conscience

I hope that every American, regardless of where he lives, will stop and examine his conscience about this. (JFK Civil Rights Address, June 11, 1963)

When saw we thee a stranger? When saw we thee an hungered? Naked or clothed thee; sick or in prison; or thirsty gave thee drink? Inasmuch as ye have done it to one of the least, ye have done it unto me. (from Matt. 25: 37-40 KJV)

One hundred years of delay have passed since Lincoln freed the slaves. Yet their heirs are not yet free from the bonds of injustice; and this nation shall not be free until all its citizens are free.

We face a moral crisis, we face a moral issue as old as the scriptures and clear as the constitution.

It is time to act in the congress, it is time to act in your state, it is time to act in your homes and in your daily lives. This is one country. (JFK Civil Rights Address)

IV. Berlin

I am proud to come to this city as a guest of your distinguished Mayor, who has symbolized around the world the fighting spirit of West Berlin.

Two thousand years ago the greatest boast was “civis Romanus sum.” Today, “Ich bin ein Berliner.”

There are many people in the world who really don’t understand. Let them come to Berlin. There are some that say that Communism is the way of the future. Let them come to Berlin. There are some who say in Europe and elsewhere we can work with the communists. Let them come to Berlin.

So let me ask you to lift your eyes beyond the dangers of today, beyond the wall to the day of peace, with justice, beyond yourselves, and ourselves to all mankind.

Freedom is indivisible, and when one man is enslaved, all are not free.

All free men, wherever they live, are citizens of Berlin, and therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words “Ich bin ein Berliner.” (JFK Address in West Berlin, June 26, 1963)

V. Eulogy

When he shall die,
Take him and cut him out in little stars,
And he will make the face of heaven so fine
That all the world will be in love with night,
And pay no worship to the garish sun. (Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, Act 3, Scene 2)


Concert Premiere: February 3, 2013, at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington DC

Choral score published by Colla Voce

LET THE WORD GO FORTH IS ALSO PERFORMABLE IN SEPARATE MOVEMENTS, click on the following links to learn more: