2015 – for SATB Chorus and Orchestra (20:00)

SATB Chorus, Solo Tenor


Uriel (piano reduction)

Uriel (full score)



“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance

Uriel was commissioned by Kevin Leong and the Concord Chorus in honor of the chorus’ 70th anniversary season. Composed in April–June, 2015, the work is in one long movement, setting the eponymous epic poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson, longtime Concord native as well as one of my favorite writers and thinkers. Uriel was underwritten by the Concord Chorus with funds provided by the Alfred Nash Patterson Foundation. It will be premiered in May 2016 by the Concord Chorus and professional orchestra, conducted by Kevin Leong.


IT fell in the ancient periods
Which the brooding soul surveys,
Or ever the wild Time coined itself
Into calendar months and days.

This was the lapse of Uriel,
Which in Paradise befell.
Once among the Pleiads walking,
Said overheard the young gods talking,
And the treason too long pent
To his ears was evident.
The young deities discussed
Laws of form and metre just,
Orb, quintessence, and sunbeams,
What subsisteth, and what seems.
One, with low tones that decide,
And doubt and reverend use defied,
With a look that solved the sphere,
And stirred the devils everywhere,
Gave his sentiment divine
Against the being of a line:
“Line in nature is not found,
Unit and universe are round;
In vain produced, all rays return,
Evil will bless, and ice will burn.”
As Uriel spoke with piercing eye,
A shudder ran around the sky;
The stern old war-gods shook their heads,
The seraphs frowned from myrtle-beds;
Seemed to the holy festival,
The rash word boded ill to all;
The balance-beam of Fate was bent;
The bonds of good and ill were rent;
Strong Hades could not keep his own,
But all slid to confusion.

A sad self-knowledge withering fell
On the beauty of Uriel.
In heaven once eminent, the god
Withdrew that hour into his cloud,
Whether doomed to long gyration
In the sea of generation,
Or by knowledge grown too bright
To hit the nerve of feebler sight.
Straightway a forgetting wind
Stole over the Celestial kind,
And their lips the secret kept,
If in ashes the fibre-seed slept.
But now and then truth-speaking things
Shamed the angels’ veiling wings,
And, shrilling from the solar course,
Or from fruit of chemic force,
Procession of a soul in matter,
Or the speeding change of water,
Or out of the good of evil born,
Came Uriel’s voice of cherub scorn;
And a blush tinged the upper sky,
And the gods shook, they knew not why.

Source: Early Poems of Ralph Waldo Emerson. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell and Company, 1899.


May 2016
Church of St. Brigid, Lexington, MA
The Concord Chorus
Professional Orchestra
Kevin Leong, conductor



Copyright 2013-22 by Michael Schachter. michael.schachter [at] gmail.com