The Music of Elizabeth Alexander

We Need Each Other

A down-to-earth celebration of our essential interdependence, well-suited for processionals or recessionals

Words by Susan Gittler, adapted

Sharing, giving and receiving are at the heart of this rhythmic song, which begins with voices in unison and builds to a call-and-response style finale. Several optional repeats make this a natural processional or recessional, and the score can be easily adapted to incorporate combined choirs, intergeneration choirs, or audience participation.

Details and Ordering Information

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Composer Notes

Composer Notes

A piece of music will often evolve in a way that the composer doesn’t exactly have control over. An alternate way to conclude We Need Each Other emerged when I was a clinician at a choir festival. We hadn’t had adequate time to rehearse this song and the soloists weren’t feeling confident. Moments before our performance I decided it was time for a Hail Mary pass. I asked the soloists to simply speak from their hearts, one by one, while the choir sang the final repeated measures.

The result was absolutely stunning. One singer said “We need each other…along our country’s border crossings.” Another said: “…in reforming our criminal justice system.” Before long I heard audience members speaking aloud as well, creating a prayer that surrounded us all.

My song now has an powerful alternate ending that I never could have imagined on my own.

Text

We Need Each Other

We need each other,
As we hunger to give,
and thirst to receive,
in all of our days:
We need each other.

In the joy of celebration,
And when sorrows linger long,
In our labor and creation,
And in every word, every dance, every song.

In discovery and learning,
And in the mystery of art.
In our trusting and our yearning,
blessing every face, every hand, every heart.

We need each other,
As we hunger to give,
and thirst to receive,
in all of our days:
We need each other.

Susan Gittler
Adapted by Elizabeth Alexander
© 2004 by Susan Gittler

Performers

Performers

Premiere: Walden Hill Vocal Ensemble / Joe Mish (Rochester, MN)
Arcadian Chorale / Marina Alexander (Rumson, Aberdeen and Manalapan, NJ)
Choir of First Unitarian Society of Wilmington / Scott Ward (Wilmington, DE)
Choir of First Unitarian Universalist of Columbus / Brandon Moss (Columbus, OH)
Choir of Unitarian Church of Los Alamos / Nylea Butler-Moore (Los Alamos, NM)
Choir of Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Saratoga Springs / Michael Harrison (Saratoga Springs, NY)
Choir of Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Boca Raton / Stephanie Nixdorf (Boca Raton, FL)
Choir of Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of LaCrosse / Becky Post (La Crosse, WI)
Choir of Woodinville Unitarian Universalist / Marian Johnson (Woodinville, WA)
Festival Choir of Madison / Bruce Gladstone (Madison, WI)
Phoenix Chorale / Dierdre McClure. Concert for Victims of Gun Violence (Portland, ME)
St. Edward’s University Chorale / Morris Stevens (Pflugerville, RX)
Twin Cities Jewish Chorale / Sara Cowan (Minneapolis and St. Paul, MN)
Walden Hill Vocal Ensemble / Joe Mish (St. Paul, MN