Works of Secretary Michael
Below are the more recent public-domain choral compositions of St. Louis peace activist Secretary Michael. These harmonically-rich works are egalitarian in spirit, secular, and free from nationalistic content. They invite anybody from any background to share in the visceral and intellectual thrill of singing with others. (Click covers to open books)
The Secular Hymnal is a free, shared resource that has been downloaded and enjoyed by countless choirs throughout the English-speaking world. So short and simple, the hymns can even be used as sight-reading material to build musicianship.
To give everybody the chance to experience hymn-singing, the old religious verses have been carefully replaced with aspirational and egalitarian lyrics. However the famous melodies that the world knows and loves have not been touched.
The 144 hymns are available in 2 versions:
– in the SATB version, the score includes all 4 choral parts
– in the SOLO version, the score is a single, comfortably-pitched melody with easy-to-see chord symbols for guitar or other accompanying instrument. Click on either cover to access the scores.
Little Machines is a collection of 28 very short mechanical works for unaccompanied mixed singers. Full of ostinati and countermelodies, these well-crafted, sophisticated songs are easy and fun to sing – and fascinating to hear.
“Candelescence” is an egalitarian musical/opera that calls for dozens of singers and actors of all ages, making it an ideal production for a progressive community theater. It is a story about a young woman who goes off to teach in a conflict zone. It is a celebration of teachers and bilinguals. The story is inspired by the lives of Chinese teachers Ma Wenzhong and Gu Qingyu who opened a door for countless students.
The four Choral Dialectics introduce something new. A “choral dialectic” is a debate – a musical tussle between two points of view. At the end of each dialectic there is a grand resolution – a harmony.
Jo Puma is a collection of favorite “Sacred Harp” songs with more legible shape-notes and with egalitarian lyrics appropriate for public school choirs. “Sacred Harp” songs represent an entire body of traditional American choral music. To modern ears they sound a bit raw as they violate almost every rule of harmony. They also sound machinelike with their pushed, unrelenting drive. But that’s how people liked to sing them back then, and that’s how musical rebels still like to sing them today.
Other miscellaneous works by Secretary Michael can be found on the Machinists Union Press website.