On the windshields of fire trucks and firehouse windows around the United States, copies of the traditional "Firefighter's Prayer" are glued. For generations, its traditional words have had personal meaning to firefighters across the continent, a core of faith for lives built on daily acts of bravery and heroism.
Touched by the traditional words, I found a melody hidden inside the prayer, built on elements of Irish folksongs of loss and longing.
In the afterglow of September 11th, the words of "The Firefighter's Prayer" are profoundly poignant; and the stark contrast between the prayer and what we know to have been its fulfillment infuses the music with stark dignity and deep lyrical tenderness. The crushing irony is so great that in some New York City firehouses the prayer has been removed, a subtle sign of quiet, communal crises of faith.
I wrote "Firefighter's Prayer" in two versions: a solo song and a 4-part choral version which can be sung in schools, churches, at memorials or firehouses.
The choral setting of the "Firefighter's Prayer" hymn also serves as the basis of a larger, dramatic work for orchestra, chorus, tenor solo and speaker, While Hope Remains.
Essay on the larger work in progress:
While Hope Remains: Envisioning the Music
A Composer's Response to 9/11
Memo from Captain James J. Gormley
When I am called to duty,
Whenever flames may rage,
Give me strength to save a life
Whatever be its age.
Help me embrace a little child
Before it is too late
Or save an older person from
The horror of that fate.
Enable me to be alert
And hear the weakest shout
And quickly and efficiently
Put the fire out.
I want to fill my calling
To give the best in me
To guard my every neighbor,
protect his property.
And if according to Your will
I must answer death's last call
Bless with Your protecting hand
My family one and all.