Three Songs for America

Song Cycle by David Werner Amram (b. 1930)

Word count: 437

1. The courage of life is often a less dramatic spectacle [sung text checked 1 time]

The courage of life is often a less dramatic spectacle than 
the courage of a final moment. But it is no less a magnificent 
mixture of triumph and tragedy. A man does what he must in 
spite of personal consequences, in spite of obstacles and dangers
and pressures and that is the basis of all human morality.

We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that 
great revolution. Let the word go forth from this time
and place to friend and foe alike that the torch has been 
passed to a new generation of Americans, born in this century, 
tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, 
proud of our ancient heritage and unwilling to witness or 
permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this 
nation has always been committed and to which we are committed 
today at home and around the world.

Authorship

This is a prose text. The line breaks above are arbitrary.


Researcher for this text: Malcolm Wren [Guest Editor]

2. Americans, you may give your goods to feed the poor [sung text checked 1 time]

Americans, you may give your goods to feed the poor, 
you may bestow great gifts to charity 
and you may tower high in philanthropy 
but if you have not love, your charity means nothing. 
You may even give your body to be burned and die, 
die the death of a martyr, 
and your spilled blood may be a symbol of honor, 
for generations yet unborn, 
and thousands may praise you as one of history's supreme heroes. 
But even so, if you have not love, 
your blood is spilled in vain. 

You must come to see that a man may be self-centered 
in his self-denial and self-righteous in his self-sacrifice. 
His generosity may feed his ego, and his piety his pride. 
Without love, benevolence becomes egotism and 
martyrdom becomes spiritual pride. 
The greatest of all virtues is love.

Authorship

This is a prose text. The line breaks above are arbitrary.


Researcher for this text: Malcolm Wren [Guest Editor]

3. History has placed us all [sung text checked 1 time]

History has placed us all, black and white, within a common border 
and under a common law. All of us from the wealthiest and most 
powerful men to the weakest and hungriest of children 
share one precious possession, the name American. It is not easy 
to know what that means, but in part to be an American means 
to have been an outcast and a stranger, to have come to the 
exiles' country, and to know that he who denies the outcast 
and the stranger among us at that moment also denies America. 

This is a great nation and a strong people. Any who seek to 
comfort rather than speak plainly, reassure rather than instruct, 
promise satisfaction rather than reveal frustration: 
They deny that greatness and drain that strength. 

For today as it was in the beginning it is the truth, it is 
the truth that makes us free.

Authorship

This is a prose text. The line breaks above are arbitrary.


Researcher for this text: Malcolm Wren [Guest Editor]