Hosea: A Love Story – Full Text (Libretto)

hosea libretto brittany leigh

I wrote the words to a wonderful bit of music that my friend Brittany Leigh (soon-to-not-be-Bydalek) wrote and performed for the first time this month.

Here’s the synopsis Brittany put together:

Hosea is a twenty-five minute piece, composed with the intent of utilizing the unique features of the Sheldon [Museum of Art, where it was first performed]. The piece explores the opportunities of different visual and acoustic combinations within a single story. The story is based off of an ancient, Biblical text, and re-contextualized in a modern, classical oratorio style.

This was the first time I wrote a choral thing and then it got performed. My experience writing and then seeing it coming to life is a post for another time. Here’s the full text for anyone who’s interested.

Please contact me before using or amending this text. Thanks!

HOSEA: a love story

1. Where are You?

CHORUS
Hosea
Take a wife
Of adultery
One who worships
The fall.
Hosea
Come home to me,
Come home to me.

HOSEA
Is this how agony feels?
Is this how men of old
Felt as they flinched
At the voice of their Lord?
Or is it a voice in my mind
Mocking and twisting
My longing for good?
My wife,
My love,
Come home.

When will she return
From the places she’s gone?
Where the men please their eyes,
With the bend of her waist,
Oh please, stop thinking
Their hands on her face!
My wife,
My love,
Come home.

GOMER
Is this how freedom tastes?
How many days and weeks
Since I’ve been free like this?
From his morals,
His rules.

How could I have taken so long
To see what he is?
Judging my feelings and ways,
Calling them “pagan,” “unsaved.”
My body’s not shameful,
I don’t care if I’m chaste.

What arrogance led him
To take me from my work?

GOMER
Is this how freedom tastes?

HOSEA
Is this how agony feels?

GOMER
I don’t care if I’m chaste,

HOSEA
Their hands on her face,

GOMER
It’s my life!

HOSEA
My wife,
My love.

GOMER
Let’s stop pretending.

HOSEA
My wife,
My love.

HOSEA/GOMER
Where, where are you?
Where, where are you?

HOSEA
I’ve had enough
Of this absent love.
Come home.

2. Hosea’s Song

HOSEA

We’re so young,
So broken,
So broke.

All’s not well
In these darkened lands,
Families shifting,
Far from home.
Paper bills.
Can’t hear them weep.

And I still hear voices
In the night.
Our children’s voices.
But she can’t hear their fear.

I still hear a voice
In the night
That says, “Listen,
To what I say.”

“I know you,
your pain,
And your thoughts.
I twisted the threads
That knit you.”

Was it all just a haze
Of religious fever
When I wander through the night
When I saw her?
Was it love
That possessed me?

I felt a voice
From deep inside,
Like a love I did not summon
And could not contain.

We’re so young,
So broken
And so broke.
All’s not well
In these darkened lands.

3. Divorce

GOMER
Is that you?

HOSEA
Is that you?
I don’t want to ask,
Where you’ve been
What you’ve been doing.

GOMER
And I’m happy
Not to answer.

HOSEA
I’ve been worried sick
Trying to find you.
Haven’t slept,
Trying to find you.

GOMER
Don’t worry, old man,
This is the last time
You’ll be troubled.
I’ve been searching for you,
So I can tell you:
I’m leaving,
For good.

HOSEA GOMER
You’re leaving? I’m leaving,
For good? For good.

GOMER
How can you expect me
To take this anymore?
I’m amazed I’ve stayed this long.
How are those voices you hear,
In the night?

HOSEA
Forget all that.
Forget what I said.
Please, come home.
This isn’t the you
That I know.

GOMER
Listen to the wife you have
Not the one you want.
Do you deny
All the voices?
Oh god, I was a fool,
Young and drunk with love
To read romance
Out of sheer delusion.

HOSEA
Delusion?
What don’t you know
Of delusion?
There’s nothing to deny
I’ve nothing to explain.
Remember how I found you?
A woman of the city–

GOMER
You mean a slut!

HOSEA
I mean my wife.
I was young,
With weak faith and doubt.
I gave you my life
All that I had
Freedom from life in that world
Hoping only for love
In return.

God, I was a fool
Young and drunk with love.

GOMER
Free, I once thought.
Foolish girl,
Loving dreams!
HOSEA GOMER
Foolish boy, Foolish girl,
Loving lies! Loving dreams!

GOMER
You and your voices
Can only say no.
I make men say yes.

HOSEA
Fine, leave!
For good!
I never wanted this,
Not to be your savior.
Leave us all!
Leave your children!
Just don’t come
Crawling back!

GOMER
I’m leaving,
For good.

4. The Voices

CHORUS
Hosea,
Take a wife of a–

HOSEA
Shut up!
All you voices in my mind.
Be gone all you voices in my head.
Leave me to my misery.

CHORUS
Hosea,
Come home.

HOSEA
Does it make you happy
To see us divided?
A mother of three,
Not with us.
But with men
Who think of her
As a plaything.

Does it make you happy
To see us divided?
Why was I born,
To suffer this way?

CHORUS:
Where were you
When I laid the earth’s foundation?
Set marble
Around its molten core?

Who made the clouds
Garments for the sky?

The morning
With ribbons of color?

Can you shake the rain
from the air?

Where were you?

HOSEA
If you could explain.
Why you drove away my wife,
Maybe I could understand.

CHORUS
Who traced the lines
Of her face?
Sculpted them
From the dust?

I tangled
The threads of your lives.

Where were you?

I will be
Your comfort.

Hosea,
Come home to me.

6. Genesis

GOMER
It was early in the morning
I woke up cold and shivering
Wondering where I was
What I’d done,
Why I was alone.

HOSEA
I spent all night praying
On what I had to do
And could not do alone.

GOMER
What felt like freedom
Emptiness,
Men’s hands and sighs
And no one
could hear my voice.
No one could hear my voice.

HOSEA/GOMER
I was alone.

GOMER
I had forgotten this life
Handled by fat old men,
Their eyes lit up
With alcohol.
The numbness
of my mind.

HOSEA
I knew where she’d be
I’d told myself I’d never go
Back there for her.

GOMER
I was already nameless.
Couldn’t say a thing.

HOSEA
What would she say
When she saw me?

GOMER
This was my fault,
I chose this place.

HOSEA/GOMER
I was alone.

HOSEA
Something in my soul ached
Something in my mind spoke
Sent me to where
She waited.

GOMER
I waited for the morning crowd.
My body’s value named,
Afraid to walk away.

HOSEA
What would happen
When she heard my voice?

GOMER
What would happen
When he saw my face?
I stood naked as they looked,
Not with lust,
But cold glances,
Walking by.

HOSEA
And then
I saw her.
GOMER
And then
I saw him.

HOSEA
And I covered her
With my coat,

GOMER
And he covered me.

HOSEA
And I paid her fare.

HOSEA GOMER
Not expecting her to stay… What would he say?

HOSEA GOMER
Would she come home? Could I come home?

HOSEA
My sweet darling,

GOMER
Sweet darling,

HOSEA
You’re free to go,

GOMER
I was free to go,

HOSEA
My wife, my love,
Please come home.

GOMER
He begged me to come home.

HOSEA
My wife, my love,
Please come home.

GOMER
And I knew
He was my home.
This is how freedom tastes.

HOSEA/GOMER
This is where
I am home.

CHORUS
Hosea,
Come home to me.
Come home,
Come home
To me.

END

[Image source: Kayla Roth]

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2 comments

  1. sarah

    wonderful. i would love to hear the piece. what a project! i’m curious to hear/read your thoughts eventually on seeing the words come to life and be performed.

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