SONGS OF JOB’S DESPAIR – “I’m Alive” & “Divine Intervention”

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“I’m Alive” and “Divine Intervention” are two songs that speak to humanity’s age-old despair, in the person of one man crying out against overwhelming unspeakable events outside of his fault and control.

They were written for The Song of Job 9:11, a hybrid of rock song cycle and classical oratorio I created in response to the events and aftermath of September 11, 2001.  It has been performed in concert and theatrically staged numerous times in New York City.

“The Song of Job 9:11” views the horrors of 9/11 via the template of the Old Testament’s Book of Job, a text about a good man to whom horrible things happen, and who challenges God for answers.  The musical piece combines contemporary accounts (eyewitness reports, news articles, op-ed pieces) with the original O.T. text (King James version), spoken verbatim, while the sung lyrics are mostly inspired by both.

While some songs engage directly with the events of 9/11, with the biblical Job offering commentary, “I’m Alive” and “Divine Intervention” are based most closely on Job’s own point of view.  After a short prologue enumerating the disasters that befall Job (destruction of crops and home, the murder of his children, debilitating disease) Job sings “I’m Alive”, whose lyrics hew closely to Job’s first speech in the Book of Job (Chapter 3):

Let the day perish wherein I was born

and the night which said, “A man child is conceived.”

Let that day be darkness!

May God above not seek it, nor shine light upon it…

Job’s final appeal to God in “The Song of Job 9:11”, “Divine Intervention” comes before God appears to Job as the voice in the whirlwind, and is based on Job’s speech starting in chapter 29:

Oh, that I were in the months of old,

as in the days when God watched over me;

when his lamp shone over my head

and by his light I walked through darkness…

Following are the lyrics and live recordings of both “I’m Alive” and “Divine Intervention”.  To watch videos of both (and the whole piece) and read more about “The Song of Job 9:11”, visit the Song of Job page.

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I’m Alive

JOB:    God curse the day that I was born

            And damn the night that didn’t shut my mother’s womb

            Nor keep this trouble and despair from my eye –

            Why did I not die at birth

            Come forth, expire and return to earth

 

E/B/Z: Man is born to trouble, his afflictions only double when he shouts to the wind

             Man is made of sorrow, all he can do for tomorrow is repent all his sins

 

JOB:    Just let me lay down and be quiet

            Where the wicked cease from troubling and the weary can rest

 

            I’m alive

E/B/Z: Praise the Lord for the blood in your veins – for each heartbeat that you gain

JOB:    I’m alive

E/B/Z: Praise the Lord for the air that you claim – as your lungs take constant measure

JOB:    I’m alive

E/B/Z: Praise the lord for the sparks in your brain – giving pain and taking pleasure

JOB:    Why was I born alive

             Tell me why I’m alive

 

ELIPHAZ:      Behold, you have instructed many, and you have strengthened the week hands. But now it has come to you, and you are impatient; it touches you and you are dismayed.

Think now, who that was innocent ever perished? Or where were the upright cut off? As I have seen, those who plow iniquity and sow trouble reap the same.

By the breath of God they perish, and by the blast of his anger they are consumed.

 

JOB:    Why give a light to him whose way is hid in misery

            And why endow with life the bitter souls whose only joy is to die –

            Why do my sighs go unheard

            I’m wracked with troubles I did not deserve

 

E/B/Z: Quit your protestations and admit your degradation, be a man and give in

             Follow resignation, simply swallow your frustration and acknowledge your sins

 

JOB:    If God would crush me, loose his hand and simply cut me

             That would be my final joy and request

 

             I’m alive

E/B/Z: Praise the Lord for the blood in your veins – for each heartbeat that you gain

JOB:    I’m alive

E/B/Z: Praise the Lord for the air that you claim – as your lungs take constant measure

JOB:    I’m alive

E/B/Z: Praise the lord for the sparks in your brain – giving pain and taking pleasure

JOB:    Why was I born alive

             Tell me why I’m alive

BILDAD:        How long will you say these things, and the words of your mouth be a great wind? Does God pervert justice? Or does the Almighty pervert the right?

If your children have sinned against him, he has delivered them into the power of their transgression.

ZOPHAR:      Can you find out the deep things of God?

Can you find out the limit of the Almighty?

It is higher than heaven – what can you do?

Deeper than hell – what can you know?

JOB:    Thy hands furnished me and made me; and now thou dost turn about and destroy me; remember thou hast made me of clay; and wilt thou turn me to dust again?

Didst thou not pour me out like milk and curdle me like cheese?

Thou didst clothe me with skin and knit me together with bones and sinew.

Thou hast granted me life and steadfast love; and thy care has preserved my spirit.

Yet these things thou didst hide in thy heart: I know that this was thy purpose:

If I sin thou wouldst mark me and wouldst not acquit me of my iniquity.

If I am wicked, woe to me! Yet if I am righteous, I cannot lift up my head, for I am filled with disgrace and look upon my afflictions.

E/B/Z & OTHERS:     Man is born to trouble, his afflictions only double when he shouts to the wind

         Quit your protestations and admit your degradation, be a man and give in

            Man is made of sorrow, all he can do for tomorrow is repent all his sins

            Follow resignation, simply swallow your frustration and acknowledge your sins

           Man is born to trouble, his afflictions only double when he shouts to the wind

        Quit your protestations and admit your degradation, be a man and give in

            Man is made of sorrow, all he can do for tomorrow is repent all his sins

            Follow resignation, simply swallow your frustration and acknowledge your sins

 

JOB & JOB’S WIFE (& OTHERS?):            Put to the scales all these vexations and calamities

         They weigh more than the sands of the seas

 

ENSEMBLE:  I’m alive

JOB & J’S WIFE (& OTHERS?):      See the loss of the blood in my veins – with each heartbeat I am drained

ENSEMBLE:  I’m alive

JOB & J’S WIFE (& O’s):     Breathe the air that with poison is stained – as my lungs take constant measure

ENSEMBLE:  I’m alive

JOB & J’S WIFE (&O’s):      Feel the pain that has shaken my brain – that has robbed my soul of pleasure

ENSEMBLE:  I’m alive I’m alive I’m alive

             I’m alive

JOB & J’s WIFE (& O’s):      See the loss of the blood in my veins – with each heartbeat I am drained

ENSEMBLE:  I’m alive

JOB & J’S WIFE (& O’s):     Breathe the air that with poison is stained – as my lungs take constant measure

ENSEMBLE:  I’m alive

JOB & J’S WIFE (& O’s):     Feel the pain that has shaken my brain – that has robbed my soul of pleasure

ENSEMBLE:  I’m alive I’m alive I’m alive

            I’m alive I’m alive I’m alive

            I’m alive

 

JOB:    Mother

            I’m alive

            Father

            I’m alive

            Mother

            Father

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Divine Intervention

JOB’S WIFE:  Man puts his hand to the flinting rock, and overturns mountains by the roots. He cuts out channels in the rocks, and his eye sees every precious thing. He binds up the streams so that they do not trickle, and the thing that is hid he brings to light.

But where shall wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding?

Man does not know the way to it, and it is not found in the land of the living.

The deep says ”It is not in me” and the sea says “It is not in me”.

It cannot be gotten for gold, and silver cannot be weighed as its price.

Whence then comes wisdom? And where is the place of understanding?

It is hid from the eyes of all living, and concealed from all the birds of the air.

Destruction and Death say “We have heard a rumor of it with our ears.”

God understands the way to it, and he knows its place.

For he looks to the ends of the earth, and sees everything under the heavens.

ELIPHAZ / BILDAD / ZOPHAR:

            Where is wisdom found

            Where can meaning be

            Can we find the way

            To the truth we seek

            No ears know the sound

            No eyes ever see

            Beyond night and day

            Let the whirlwind speak

 

JOB:    I long for the days when I lived in heaven’s graces

            If I only could return to the time when I walked in that light

            Once I was held in fortune’s warm embraces

            Now I am lost in endless night

 

            I was a tree standing tall with my roots strong and deeply nourished

            Now I am cut down in pieces and burned to the ground

            All I believed and strived for madly perished

            All hope in misery is drowned

 

            Looks like I need

                                                                        ELIPHAZ / BILDAD / ZOPHAR:

            Some divine intervention                Where is wisdom found

                                                                        Where can meaning be

            Help me now                                     Can we find the way

                                                                        To the truth we seek

            Soul inspiration                               No ears know the sound

                                                                        No eyes ever see

            Show your face Tell me why          Beyond night and day

                                                                        Let the whirlwind speak

 

 

(JOB): Why am I brought down so low like a broken-bodied dancer

            Why have I been made to suffer your storms till I’m beaten and blind

            I cry for reason but receive no answer

            Should I fall silent, would you mind

 

            Did I ever strike a beggar in wrath or spread malice amongst my neighbors?

            What is the wrong I have wrought and how heavy the blame?

            I tried to live my life in truth and honor

            I looked for good, yet evil came

 

            Looks like I need

            I think I deserve

 

                                                            ELIPHAZ / BILDAD / ZOPHAR:

            Some divine intervention                Where is wisdom found

                                                                        Where can meaning be

            Help me now                                     Can we find the way

                                                                        To the truth we seek

            Soul inspiration                               No ears know the sound

                                                                        No eyes ever see

            Show your face Tell me why          Beyond night and day

     Let the whirlwind speak

 

 

JOB:    But I would speak to the almighty, and I desire to argue my case with God.

I will take my flesh in my teeth, and put my life in my hand.

Behold he will slay me; I have no hope; yet I will defend my ways to his face.

I will lay my case before him and fill my mouth with arguments.

I will learn what he should answer me, and understand what he should say to me.

JOB, JOB’S WIFE:    My flesh has been blackened, my bones have been set on fire

JOB, JOB’S WIFE & ELIPHAZ:      My song is a dirge, all the notes fall as tears

            To know the mind of God is my desire

            My dreaded hope, my fervent fear

 

JOB:    Looks like I need

JOB’S WIFE: Looks like I need

JOB:    All that I ask

ELIPHAZ:     All that I ask

ALL THREE: staggered Some divine

Some divine

            Some divine

 

                                                                        ENSEMBLE:

            Some divine                                      Where is wisdom found

                                                                        Where can meaning be

            Intervention                                      Can we find the way

                                                                        To the truth we seek

            Help me now                                     No ears know the sound

                                                                        No eyes ever see

            Help me now                                     Beyond night and day

                                                                        Let the whirlwind speak

            Soul                                                    Where is wisdom found

                                                                        Where can meaning be

            Inspiration                                         Can we find the way

                                                                        To the truth we seek

            Show your face                                 No ears know the sound

                                                                        No eyes ever see

       Tell me why  Tell me why              Beyond night and day

                                                                        Let the whirlwind speak

 

            Divine                                                Where is wisdom found

                                                                        Where can meaning be

        Intervention                                      Can we find the way

                                                                        To the truth we seek

            Help me now                                     No ears know the sound

            (Oh you got to help me)                  No eyes ever see

            Help me now                                     Beyond night and day

            Help me help me                              Let the whirlwind speak

          Soul                                                    Where is wisdom found

                                                                        Where can meaning be

            Inspiration                                         Can we find the way

                                                                        To the truth we seek

            Show your face                                 No ears know the sound

            (you got to show your face)              No eyes ever see

        Tell me why  Tell me why              Beyond night and day

                                                                        Let the whirlwind speak

JOB:    You got to tell me why

            Why don’t you help me now help me now

            Tell me tell me tell me why

            I want you to show your face

            Your face

 

 

           

 

About dannyashkenasi

I'm a composer with over 30 years experience creating music theater. I'm also an actor, writer, director, producer, teacher and general enthusiast for the arts.
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