The Sacrifice of Isaac

Text by Madeleine L’Engle, from Ladder of Angels, 1979

Sacrifice of Isaac

O my father, am I really to go with you?
And help you with the sacrifice to the Lord?
You’ve never taken me before, and I’ve always wanted to go.
Why do you weep, Mother? We won’t be long.
I’m growing up, now, and it is right that I go with Father….(etc.)

Performance Note

The boy, Isaac, is throughout represented by the soprano line. The ‘soli’ nature of this part should be reflected in the balance of the ensemble.

Programme Note

Sacrifice of Isaac is a setting of a poem by Madeleine L’Engle. In it she describes the unsettling events of Genesis 22:1–18 from the perfective of the boy, Isaac. As in the poem the music represents his shifting feelings: enthusiasm and pride, confusion, terror and, finally, a betrayal that even heavenly intervention cannot dissipate.

In this setting the soprano line represents Isaac, the other parts comment and accompany.


Unaccompanied SATB (div to SAATTBB)


c. 3’30’’