There is a New Spirit Rising

Composer Cheryl B. Engelhardt found Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1967 sermon titled “Beyond Vietnam- A Time to Break the Silence.”  Using Dr. King’s sermon lyrics, she created a compelling social justice choral piece entitled “The Listening.”  It is a call to action:  to listen, to be the voice for the voiceless, and to come together to bring about social change. 

In her composition notes Engelhardt explains, “what intrigued me most about this speech is “the silence” to which he refers. The world, certainly, was not silent. There was madness (as he states, “somehow this madness must cease”), there was war, there were atrocities being committed both abroad and at home in the United States.

The “silence” was not that of global society and events, it was personal. In breaking the silence, King was not, in my opinion, encouraging revolutionaries and anti-war supporters to grow louder than their opposition. No, he was suggesting to those who have not spoken up to speak. He was encouraging those who could speak to break the silence for those who could not.

Dr. King urged listeners to embrace “unconditional love for all mankind” and made clear that love is not something weak or sentimental, but rather access to making history” Dr. King was listening to the oppressed, the abused, the poor, the scared, and the unloved. In “The Listening”, I set out to recreate how he listened. This is the recreation of the listening.”


Violence! Silence! Silence! Violence! Time!

Time has come for us to move on.

We must move on.

There is a new spirit rising.

I turn my back when I hold my tongue 

I cannot be silent.

I cannot stand by and leave these words unsung.

I cannot be silent.

Trust and praise is reason to make better choices.

It’s our purpose to speak for the voiceless.

We must hear their broken cries.

It starts with listening.

This is the re-creation of the listening…

Interruption, oppression, suppression, exploitation, violence, control, hypocrisy…

Somehow, this madness must stop.

To be on the right side of the revolution  

means it’s time we shift our view of peace so we can alter our evolution.

War is not the way.

Can we be tranquil and somewhat tame,

rational while we stay sane?

Solve the problem with a solution thereof.

That being unconditional love?


Not as a weak condition.

But as the key for the ignition of peace.

The time is now.

There is a new spirit rising.

We must act in the face of risk.

We must choose to transform,

and we need to be brisk.

I cannot be silent. I will not be silent.

It is time to close the gap,

and stop the distancing, stop inhibiting,

stop what we are witnessing.

It’s time to break the silence with the listening.

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