If Thou Wilt Be Perfect (2018)
for SATB choir | 00:04:30
by Melissa Dunphy
This work is published by EC Schirmer.
If Thou Wilt Be Perfect was commissioned by St. Peter’s Choir, St. Louis, Missouri, David Sinden, Conductor. The premiere performance took place on October 14, 2018, at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church’s 150th Anniversary Festival Eucharist.
If Thou Wilt Be Perfect is an anthem that uses as its central text one of the Gospel’s best-known, yet least commonly sung, verses: “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven.”
From An Interview with Melissa Dunphy, the Composer of This Sunday's Anthem by David Sinden for St Peter's Episcopal: "It’s true that many of my works are inspired by political messages, movements, and events, and it’s no accident that this text also reads as political. But I think we also sometimes forget that Jesus was an inherently political figure. His message that we should care for the sick and the poor as a moral priority, that the humblest are the most holy, and that the meek shall inherit the earth, is just as political and relevant today as it was when he first preached it. One of the things I most admire about Christian philosophy is the introduction into mainstream discourse of the idea that wealth and status do not equate to goodness, and even more radical than that, that wealth and true Christian goodness might be mutually exclusive. It’s a question that we all have to examine, whether or not we are Christian: is inequality, especially extreme wealth inequality, damaging to our own spirit as well as the world at large? I think this is an important issue that we are currently facing, even though Jesus addressed it two thousand years ago."
"The a cappella harmonies offer lovely moments of meditation on this important text." [National Pastoral Musicians]
If thou wilt be perfect,
go sell what thou hast, and give to the poor,
and thou shalt have treasure in heaven:
and come follow me.
Amen, I say to you,
that a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.
And again I say to you:
It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle,
than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven.
And every one that hath left riches for my name's sake,
shall receive a hundred times as much,
and life everlasting.
Many that are first, shall be last:
and the last shall be first.
Adapted from Matthew, Chapter 19, verses 21-30
(Douay-Rheims Bible, 1899)
- 02 Jun, 2019: St. Peter's Choir at St. Peter's Episcopal Church, St. Louis, MO
- 14 Oct, 2018: St. Peter's Choir at St. Peter's Episcopal Church, St. Louis, MO