Ruth Shapes Up

Naomi, Ruth, and OrpahImage credit.

I have two big numbers left to finish. The finale has been started for a few years, but I’m still stuck. That usually means it’s an opportunity to junk it and start from scratch. But it’s hard to do.

I have approximate timings of the basic songs. Including the incomplete pieces, there seems to be about 65 minutes of music. I don’t know if that seems a bit short–I think of the longer works that are favorites, Fiddler or La Mancha. Depending on instrumentalists, or how the work is staged, there could be more. Some songs below are rather brief. Maybe that means one long act rather than something with an intermission.

The overall plan follows the book (Bible passages in brackets; chapter and verse only for the book of Ruth) and looks like this:


“In The Days Of The Judges” (1:1-7) timed at 2:23 by Naomi

Naomi sings the intro of the book to her grandson, so the rest of the story is a flashback as I imagine the staging.

“Go Back” (1:8-15) 3:45, Naomi with Orpah and Ruth
“Where You Go, I Will Go” (1:16-17) 2:11, Ruth

Y’all did know that the celebrity spells it differently from the book, right?

“So Sweet To See You” (1:19) 2:03, townswomen
“Call Me Bitter” (1:20-21) 1:21, Naomi with townswomen

Then there’s a long scene that incorporates a few passages from the Torah into the second chapter of the book:

“The Good Land” 2:06 instrumental
“God Has Given A Good Land” (Dt 8:7-10) 3:18 by the workers
“Let Me Go To The Field” (2:2, 7) 2:12 Ruth, Naomi
“The Favor of the Lord” (Lev 19:9-10) 2:17 overseer & workers
“The Lord Be With You” (2:4; Num 6:24-26) 1:34 Boaz & workers
“Who Is She?” (2:5-7) 1:13 Boaz and overseer
“Under His Wings” (2:8-12) 4:06 Boaz and Ruth
“The Heart of Your Servant” (2:13) 0:56 Ruth
“Ruth’s Work Song” a vocalise 2:33 Ruth
“Abundance” (2:14-15; Ps 104:13, 15; 132:13-15) 2:38 Boaz & workers
“Do Not Bother Her” (2:15b-16) 0:33 Boaz

Psalms? you ask. I figure “David” might have gotten the inspiration somewhere, and I couldn’t resist a bit of anachronism, especially since the texts seemed so fitting and lacking a librettist collaborator, I feel less sure about making things up from scratch.

“Where Did You Work?” (2:19-22) 2:25 Naomi and Ruth


“Harvest” 2:23 band
“Seek Some Security” (3:1-5) 3:04 Naomi and Ruth

“Spread Your Wing” (Ps 101:1-3a; Ruth 3:9-13) 4:54 Boaz and Ruth
“No Other Soul” (3:14-15) 0:51 Boaz

“The Man Will Not Rest” (3:16-18) 1:38 Naomi

“At The Gate” (4:1-12) 4:02+ Boaz, elders, and the near-relative Tob

These last three remain unfinished:

“The Wedding,” an instrumental

This one will pick up the theme of the first song exchanged between Naomi and the townswomen in act one:

“Blessed Be The Lord” (4:14-15) townswomen

And a finale, which will incorporate some of the themes of the songs:

“The Path of Loyalty” (Ps 68:4b-6a, Ps 22:22-31) cast

Over the years, this has expanded from about 20 songs to thirty, and now it’s been compressed a bit to 27. I hope to gather a few friends in June for a reading session and sort through their input. About a year before Tobit was done, I had a similar session that helped to trim that production and inspired some last ideas.

Ruth is going to be more like Dreamcoat, in that it’s more of an operetta with almost everything sung and very little dialogue. I’m excited about the final push to completion. Maybe a late Spring 2017 production.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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1 Response to Ruth Shapes Up

  1. FrMichael says:

    I have some singing ability and play a few instruments, but cannot imagine composing anything of this scale. God bless you!

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