They Can’t Put It Back

“They Can’t Put It Back” is a suite of three pieces for unaccompanied female voices (SSAA with occasional 2-part divisi) by Mary Simmons, an American composer. Skip ahead to 8 mins in the video below to hear the entire trilogy:

Download the text (Word document)
Download score sample (PDF, 2 pages from each movement)

The piece is about environmental degradation in the Appalachian region. The trilogy features poems by three Appalachian poets: Muriel Miller Dressler, Sarah Cornet-Hagen, and Billy Edd Wheeler.

“The Appalachian region is home to one of the oldest and most biologically diverse mountain systems on the continent. Tragically, mountaintop removal mining has already destroyed more than 500 mountains encompassing more than 1 million acres of Central and Southern Appalachia.
After the coal companies blast apart the mountaintops, they dump the rubble into neighboring valleys, where lie the headwaters of streams and rivers, like the Kanawha, Clinch, and Big Sandy. The exposed rock leaches heavy metals and other toxins that pose enormous health threats to the region’s plants and animals — and people.”
Appalachian Voices

To order a full score ($2 per copy of each movement or $6 per copy for all three), please contact Mary directly by email. As of May 2021, Mary has permission to release the second and third movements, but is still pursuing text permission to publish the first movement.


Let Them Not Say

“Let Them Not Say” is for SSAATTBB choir, quite tricky, high ranges needed, 2020). Words by Jane Hirshfield can be found here, or below: all rights to the words are reserved, but the music is available for performance under a Creative Commons license and the words can be used as part of that.

Download the choir-only score or a score with a piano reduction.

A MIDI sample recording is available on request – email Chris Hutchings for queries.

Let Them Not Say – Jane Hirshfield, 1953-

Let them not say:   we did not see it.
We saw.

Let them not say:   we did not hear it.
We heard.

Let them not say:     they did not taste it.
We ate, we trembled.

Let them not say:   it was not spoken, not written.
We spoke,
we witnessed with voices and hands.

Let them not say:     they did nothing.
We did not-enough.

Let them say, as they must say something: 

A kerosene beauty.
It burned.

Let them say we warmed ourselves by it,
read by its light, praised,
and it burned.



Send Lazarus

Send Lazarus – words by David Ervin, music by Chris Hutchings

Free for fundraising or other non-commercial use (including church services). For any commercial use (ticketed concerts or CD recordings, etc.), please contact Chris Hutchings for permission.

This is an SATB choir piece in the style of a spiritual (also available a tone lower for ATBarB). It’s fairly easy, with no divisi, and low ranges. There are some key changes but they are carefully voiced so as not to be overly difficult.

Download SATB music (.pdf, Creative Commons license)
Download ATBarB music
Download lead sheet / chords and melody
(the chords-only version is only really suitable for piano/keyboard instruments unless you’ve got a very skilled guitar player)

Listen to a virtual choir recording

Watch a video with the score below:

If you’re performing this piece, please let us know! Tag me in a tweet (@hutchingsmusic), or send an email (link above).

If you’d like a version in a higher key, send an email and I’d be happy to arrange this. Piano or organ reduction available on request.

Full lyrics:

Oh God, send Lazarus
To cool my burning tongue.
Oh God send Lazarus
I’ve lived too large too long.
Send Lazarus
Although I’ve scorned him
All along…

Oh God, send Lazarus
‘Cross chasm dark and wide
Oh God Send Lazarus,
To ev’ry heart confide
Send Lazarus
To set their fateful ways aside.

But why, my friend,
should they hear,
Lazarus’s song?
Oh why, my friend,
when they’ve heard
Crying for so long?
Crying for so long?

They’ve heard…
Moses and the prophets
Ocean level’s rising
And warming by the day
Moses and the Prophets
Flooding and tsunamis
And coral reef decay
Moses and the prophets
Melting of the tundra
Pandemic and disease
Moses and the prophets
fires ever burning
White smoke upon the breeze
And no one ever, really sees.

Moses and the prophets
Hurricane destruction,
With loss of human life.
Moses and the Prophets,
Coastal devastation,
And relocation strife.
Moses and the prophets
Weather out of season,
Drought, polluted air.
Moses and the prophets
Habitat depletion,
Extinction and despair.
And no one ever seems to care…

Oh God, send Lazarus
To cool my burning tongue.
Oh God, send Lazarus
I’ve lived too large too long.
Send Lazarus
Although I’ve scorned him
All along.

The origin of the words is from the Bible excerpt below:

Luke 16:19-31 New International Version (NIV): The Rich Man and Lazarus

There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores. The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’ But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’ He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’ Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’ ‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”

In the story “Moses and the prophets” represents all of the warnings of scripture as a whole. I have reinterpreted it as the warnings of science. – David Erwin

This is a collaboration that started on the Choirs for Climate facebook group – join us if you’d like to create music with us!