At Bethlehem Gate

I was listening to an NPR piece about that new musical based on the life of Alexander Hamilton, and as the discussion about a few specifics unfolded, it called to mind that fun opening piece from The Music Man. You know, “Rock Island.” (A fine high school production offers the full version here. Unlike the film.)

I’ve been stuck on how to set the climactic confrontation at the city gate in Ruth 4, and I thought that while there’s no moving locomotive in ancient Bethlehem, an ensemble piece with Boaz, the village elders, and the townsfolk might give the production a novelty and a lift heading into the wedding and concluding ensemble piece. When I previewed it for my wife last night, she said it was cute.

In the prior scene, Naomi advises her daughter-in-law that “the man will not rest” until he has achieved his goal, so I blended that phrase into the piece. More or less, it runs like this, with parts by Boaz, the community elders, and Tob, who has first right of refusal in the matter of Naomi, Ruth, and the family land. Boaz gathers village elders to start:

Come over, friend; gather at the gate
Sit down here, at the gate of the city.
Come over, friend; gather at the gate
Sit down here, at the gate of the city.

Come over, friend; gather at the gate.
Come over, friend; gather at the gate.
Come over, friend.
Sit down here!
gather at the gate, at the gate of the city.

The man doesn’t rest.
The man doesn’t rest.
The man does not rest.

Come over, friend; gather at the gate
Sit down here, at the gate of the city.
Come over, friend; gather at the gate
Sit down here, at the gate of the city.

Come over, friend; gather at the gate.
Come over, friend; gather at the gate.
Come over, friend.

Sit down here!

gather at the gate, at the gate of the city.

The man doesn’t rest.
The man doesn’t rest.
The man does not rest.

There is a field, a parcel of land
That belonged to Elimelech, that belonged to the man.
The widow Naomi, as all of you know,
has returned from abroad, from the country of Moab.

We know of this news, what is it to us?
We know the redeemer, he sits here among us.

Consider the blessings of God, and his grace
My brother, it is your duty,
My brother, it is your place.

Brother, it is your duty,
Brother, it is your place.

I know it is my duty.
I know it is my place.
I am the first, the closest of kin

To Elimelech, the deceased husband.

To buy, to sow, to toil with your hands
There are no more sons to work this land.

I know I am the first, the closest of kin
To Elimelech, the deceased husband.

I thought I would tell you it’s time that you buy
There’s only one other who’s willing—that’s I
But consider the blessings of God, and his grace
My brother, it is your duty, you have the first place

It is my duty, my rightful place.
I will buy in the presence of those who are near,
I will redeem in the sight of you elders sitting here.

Not everything is as it seems

I will redeem it.

But not everything is as it seems

I will redeem.

But not everything is as it seems

Redeem!

In addition to Naomi and a parcel of land
There is Ruth of Moab, you acquire her hand
She is one of us—this you should know before
You wed and the house of Elimelech is restored.

I cannot redeem, I cannot redeem,
I cannot redeem, lest I impoverish my own.

But you said that you would …

Take a duty, and take a place. Take Naomi
and her daughter’s pretty face.
You buy, you sow,
you toil with your own hands.
You redeem.

I will redeem.

Acquire it all for yourself.

I will redeem.

Today you are witnesses,
Today you have seen,
that I have acquired from the hand of Naomi

Today we have witnessed.
Today we have seen.
Today you’ve acquired from the hand of Naomi.

The house of Elimelech, and all that he owned,
and all that belonged to Chilion and Mahlon.

Today we have witnessed.
Today we have seen.

I also take Ruth,
the widow of Mahlon, to be my wife.

Today we have witnessed.
Today we have seen.

I may alter a few more words here and there to get the thing more smooth and possibly work more of the cast into it, but this was a big hurdle. I’ve chosen Psalm 9 for the finale, and that is the last big song for the musical. Maybe Fall 2016.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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