The Music of Elizabeth Alexander

All of Life Becomes a Prayer

Five small doorways for solo organ

Music: Elizabeth Alexander

“If only we knew how to listen to God, if we knew how to look around us, all of life would become a prayer.” – Michel Quoist

Each movement of “All of Life Becomes a Prayer” offers a small doorway into the sacredness of the present moment. Whether performed on their own or as a complete set, these colorful pieces spin the world’s beauty, messiness, uncertainty, and playfulness into music for grand cathedral and modest church alike.

  1. River Bottoms, Summer
  2. Muddy Paw Prints, Again
  3. Still Small Voice, Kitchen Table
  4. Peekaboo, Checkout Line
  5. Basketball, Two on Two

The score includes a performance commentary by Carson Cooman, which offers intermediate-level organists guidance on adapting these pieces to any organ.

Details and Ordering Information

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Composer Notes

Composer Notes

Every so often when I was a kid my dad would casually hand me a book or article and say, “You might like to take a look at this sometime.” Although there would be no follow-up questions or tests, I knew there was nothing random about these offerings. They were pieces of writing that meant something to my dad, which he wanted to pass on to me.

One such offering was a small book entitled Prayers by French priest Michel Quoist. I opened the book because my father suggested it, but I finished reading it because of Quoist’s way of looking at every part of the world as if it were precious and sacred. Nothing was too trivial, earthbound, tarnished or disconcerting to be a doorway to some spiritual insight. Glimpses of the sacred hid within a tractor, a brick, a swing, a telephone, a twenty-dollar bill, pornography, addiction and loneliness. While I didn’t understand everything in the book, its central refrain resonated strongly with me: “If only we knew how to listen to God, if we knew how to look around us, all of life would become a prayer.”

This refrain became the guiding principle of “All of Life Becomes a Prayer,” a work for solo organ whose five movements I like to think of as “small doorways.” I wrapped my arms around the world’s beauty, messiness, uncertainty, playfulness, tedium, and goofy ordinariness, and spun it into music. I wanted to hear those prayers bouncing off the walls and ceilings of grand cathedrals and modest churches, knowing they absolutely belonged there.

Special thanks to Carson Cooman for commissioning this work, and for his enthusiasm, expertise and guidance throughout this project.



Premiere: Carson Cooman. National City Cathedral Church (Washington, DC)
Carson Cooman. Southeastern Massachusetts Chapter of the American Guild of Organists (Attleboro, MA)