Monday, September 12, 2005

"Prayer of the Children" - The Story Behind the Song.


Over the years, I've written many songs with melodies more memorable, lyrics more poetic, and harmonies richer. But none of my compositions has had the kind of reach and emotional effect of Prayer of the Children. Ironically, I never intended to publish the song at all. I wrote it out of frustration over the horrendous civil war and ethnic cleansing taking place in the former country of Yugoslavia.

Having lived in this now war-torn country back in the late 1970's, I grew to love the people with whom I lived. It didn't matter to me their ethnic origin - Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian - they were all just happy fun people to me and I counted as friends people from each region. Of course, I was always aware of the bigotry and ethnic differences that bubbled just below the surface, but I always hoped that the peace this rich country enjoyed would continue indefinitely. Obviously that didn't happen.

When Yugoslavian President Josip Broz Tito died, different political factions jockeyed for position and the inevitable happened - civil war. Suddenly my friends were pitted against each other. Serbian brother wouldn't talk to Croatian sister-in-law. Bosnian mother disowned Serbian son-in-law and so it went. Meanwhile, all I could do was stay glued to the TV back in the US and sink deeper in a sense of hopelessness.

Finally, one night I began channeling these deep feelings into a wordless melody. Then little by little I added words....Can you hear....? Can you feel......? I started with these feelings - sensations that the children struggling to live in this difficult time might be feeling. Serbian, Croatian, and Bosnian children all felt the same feelings of confusion and sadness and it was for them that I was writing this song.

I took a long night to finish the song and I sang it for my wife and family, but that was about it. I put it away for awhile never thinking to sing it publicly. (Being primarily an instrumental composer - I rarely sang in concert. Then one night, as I struggled to fill a 2-hour concert, I decided to sing "Prayer of the Children." It was in Abravanel Hall at a private concert for Folio Corporation. (I'm not sure, but I think it was 1994.) The song had an immediate reaction on those in attendance and I was surprised at the almost hushed sound as I sang.

I performed the song a cappella with a vocal synthesizer called the Digitech Vocalist - a vocoder that digitally split my voice into 5 distinct parts. (This is done via MIDI.) The sound makes me sound a bit like a hip Gregorian choir and lends a sacred sound to the song. To this day I usually perform the song this way.

Eventually the song was recorded and made its way on to a CD produced by Randy and Brian Blosil for the Wordperfect Corporation entitled "Innovators." This CD was disseminated worldwide to over 500,000 Wordperfect 6.0 users. This aided in large part to people becoming familiar with the song.

Someone heard the song in Pullayup, Washington and got it into the hands of Andrea Klause who felt it would work perfectly as an vocal arrangement for children's choir. Already a talented arranger with many titles to her credit, she worked with me on a version that would soon be the de facto SSA arrangement of the song. This made its way throughout the Northwest (thanks to many choir directors and their Xerox machines. Aargh!). Eventually reknowned choir director Weston Noble heard the piece and began performing it with his Luther College Nordic Choir. It was now becoming know throughout the midwest.

As Mr. Noble would participate as a guest adjudicator and conductor of high school honor choirs throughout the nation, he almost always sang "Prayer." Because of the this, the song exploded across the counhtry to where now - over 500 choirs have sung the song in high schools, community choirs, and professional chorales across the country. It has even been sung in many countries incoluding: Australia, Sweden, Mexico, German, among others.

The song has also been recorded (at last count) by over 100 choirs and used for such special occasions as the annual 9/11 commemoration, a yearly memorial service for the Columbine High School tragedy, and a concert in memory of the Oklahoma City bombing. These philanthropic uses of my song are the most meaningful to me because it was out of a spirit of desperation and frustration that the song was born. The fact that the song is used to console others in similar circumstanes is how the song should be used.


Can you hear the prayer of the children?
On bended knee, in the shadow of an unknown room
Empty eyes with no more tears to cry
Turning heavenward toward the light

Crying Jesus*, help me
To see the morning light-of one more day
But if I should die before I wake,
I pray my soul to take

Can you feel the hearts of the children?
Aching for home, for something of their very own
Reaching hands, with nothing to hold on to,
But hope for a better day a better day

Crying Jesus*, help me
To feel the love again in my own land
But if unknown roads lead away from home,
Give me loving arms, away from harm

Can you hear the voice of the children?
Softly pleading for silence in a shattered world?
Angry guns preach a gospel full of hate,
Blood of the innocent on their hands

Crying Jesus*, help me
To feel the sun again upon my face,
For when darkness clears I know you're near,
Bringing peace again

Dali cujete sve djecje molitive?
(Croatian translation:
'Can you hear all the children's prayers?')
Can you hear the prayer of the children?

(*note: Originally, the song was written with the lyrics “Crying Jesus…” Bestor now recommends substituting the words “Crying softly…” enabling people to subconsciously substitute “Jesus, Allah, Yahweh, etc.” This way, the song's universal message of love will be felt without any barriers or limitations.)
If anyone reading this blog knows of a choir or a recording featuring my song, I would love to hear from you. I'm trying to connect the dots where all the places it has been sung. Perhaps this small offering of mine can be a catalyst for peaceful change in a very troubled world.

I'm thankful everyday for the still, small place where this song came from. I go there often and am always soothed.

Kurt Bestor
< Order sheet music of SSA,TTBB,& SATB versions of "Prayer of the Children"
< Download solo vocal / piano version of "Prayer of the Children"

101 comments:

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Stella said...

I don't know if you even really read this, but if you do, I want you to know what "Prayer" has meant to some of us in Idaho Falls. We have an annual weekend in December to raise funds for those living with HIV/AIDs and part of the weekend always involves showing panels from the AIDs Memorial Quilt and exhibiting new panels we have made for those we have lost in southeastern Idaho (or anyone who wants one) for inclusion in the National Quilt. On the last night of the weekend we have a memorial service for those whose quilt panels are being included. This year we sent off my beloved brother, George Hanson's, quilt panel to be part of the thousands and thousands of the National Quilt. George lost his fight with AIDs in Jaunary of 2001. One of my dear friends had heard your "Prayer" and we wanted it as the theme of the Memorial Service. Unfortunately, we were outvoted by the minority who are atheists. However, I went out and bought your CDs of Christmas music and listened to them over and over again, and everytime I heard "Prayer" I sang it to my darling George.

I myself have a disease which may take my life very soon, Kurt, and I want "Prayer" to be sung and prayed during Communion at my funeral mass. Thank you for giving that piece of music to us, and for all the rest of the extraordinary music and contributions you create. God Bless You!!

Stella Jacobsen

Anonymous said...

Bruce Dickerson, (the choral director at Truman High School in Independence, Missouri) has done an incredible job suiting this song to SATB voices. He is known for adding little touches to every arrangement he directs and this song is definately one of his best.

Christine said...

The Northern New Jersey Regional SATB choir did an amazing version of "Prayer of the Chilren". It was performed Saturday, February 11th at the Morris Knolls High School. The director was Tom Voorhis. The dynamics was the most breathtaking part of the song. There is a cd with a recording of the song on it. Information on it can be found at njsma.com. The performance really was breathtaking.

- Christine <3

Nostril585129 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Nostril585129 said...

I was part of that choir that the previous person left a comment about, the Northern New Jersey Regional SATB choir. Singing your song was the most emotionally intense and heart-aching moment I have ever experienced in a choir. As soon as I get the CD that I have ordered I will send it to you, for I think you will be very pleasently surprised at how well Mr. Voorhis conducted this piece. Thank you so much for writing such an amazing piece of music, such a beautiful poem, and for touching the hearts of so many.

Michael

Kory said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Kory said...

I served a Mission in the Australia Sydney South Mission from 2000-2002. During that time I had the oppertunity to Sing "The Prayer of the Children" at a stake talent show in Canberra Australia with a few wonderful missionaries that have wonderful singing voices. While we were singing the song there was a hush in the crowd and a wonderful spirit filled the room and you could tell that everyone was touched by the song. Since that day I have gained a wonderful appreciation for that song. thank you for writing a song and a poem that can heard and felt by every religion. This song will always be a favorite of mine. This song has caused me to remember and pray for all of my brothers and sisters around the world. Thank You

Kory

Feeleece said...

The first time I heard this song was up in Idaho at Rick's College, now BYU-I, at a Kurt Bestor concert back in 1999-2000. My boyfriend, at the time, was involved with the technical aspects of the show and invited me to tag along. At the time, I had never heard of Kurt Bestor and I say this with great shame because I was a hardcore, up to my eye balls, music major. Throughout the performance, I enjoyed the brilliant music and the interpretation of emotions he had being translated into joyful sound. The very last song of the evening was "Prayer", I had never heard it before, so I listened itently as he gave the background to the song and explained the instrument that he would be using. As he began to sing the first line of the song, the hair on the back of my neck raised and I was suddenly filled with emotions that just made me tremble. Oddly enough, I didn't buy the c.d that night or any other time since then, and in a way I had forgotten about the song. I've just complete my tour of duty in the US Army and have been living in Hawaii where I have been station these past 5 years and also where I met my husband and were sealed FT&E this past July. Since 2001, I've been able to deploy to Bosnia and other nations on peace keeping missions. My husband, who's also in the Army, has just completed his 13 month tour in Iraq and is preparing to return shortly. Recently we were given a burnt c.d. from a friend with a collection of church music that she felt was inspiring. On our way home from one of our many Saturday errands, we popped the c.d. in to see what was on it. When track 12 began to play, I immediately knew what song it was and began to recall a concert I had seen more than 5 years ago with flashes of my memories of Bosnia and other various locations I've traveled to with the military. I never realized how much of an impression that song has left on my soul and only now do I understand what it was really about. Seeing the war torn country and the people for myself, gave me an even greater appreciation for not only the song but for the people as well. My husband had to pull the car over because he was so moved and became REALLY emotional. It was such a wonderful experience to share with him and its wonderful to know that we'll be able to share it with the family that we'll have together. This song has left an impression on our souls and we will carry it with us forever. Thank you Kurt!

Jessie said...

My Chamber Choir, sang this song for the holocaust rememberance ceremony here in town.
(Central high School, Springfield Missouri)
I really love this piece. thanks so much for this beautiful and moving contribution to the musical literarature world.

Tabitha P. said...

Thank you so much for the beautiful music. Please check out these guys who sang it as a Virginia Tech tribute. It is the best I have heard from a school group. Please enjoy, and thank you again!

http://youtube.com/watch?v=dORfCEfKhl8&mode=user&search=

Anonymous said...

I worked out an arrangement with new lyrics for a concert my mission did in New Caledonia, an island near Australia. I can promise you that it was the highlight of the evening.

Jessi said...

The moment I heard this song I felt millions of chills running up and down my spine. I couldn't hear the words, but I could hear the feeling coming from the boys choir that was singing this beautiful piece. I was supposed to attend I-8 Honor Band (Illinois) and my teacher was informing me that this song was chosen as the boys piece. I was excited to hear what it would sound like. Unfortunately I couldn't attend I-8 due to a throat infection, so I never got to hear this live.. However my teacher loved the song so much that she decided to include it in our Spring concert as a small girls ensemble. I am one of 5 girls singing the piece a capella. I can't say that our performance will live up to the standards of all the great ones I have heard, but every time I hear, sing, read, or even think of this song tears well in my eyes and my heart throbs painfully for all who are in need. I want to spend my life helping and teaching, and plan to spend time in Africa helping rebuild houses and lives, and helping in HIV/AIDS clinics there sometime after or during college, and this song reminds me of why this is one of my goals for my future. This song reminds me of the meaning of my life, and allows me in some unimaginable way to hear all those I want to help, and all the voices that are calling out for help. Thank you so much for this beautiful reminder that there's more to the world than merely comfortable homes and the four walls around us. Peace and Love for an eternity and more,

Jessi.

Jessi said...

The moment I heard this song I felt millions of chills running up and down my spine. I couldn't hear the words, but I could hear the feeling coming from the boys choir that was singing this beautiful piece. I was supposed to attend I-8 Honor Band (Illinois) and my teacher was informing me that this song was chosen as the boys piece. I was excited to hear what it would sound like. Unfortunately I couldn't attend I-8 due to a throat infection, so I never got to hear this live.. However my teacher loved the song so much that she decided to include it in our Spring concert as a small girls ensemble. I am one of 5 girls singing the piece a capella. I can't say that our performance will live up to the standards of all the great ones I have heard, but every time I hear, sing, read, or even think of this song tears well in my eyes and my heart throbs painfully for all who are in need. I want to spend my life helping and teaching, and plan to spend time in Africa helping rebuild houses and lives, and helping in HIV/AIDS clinics there sometime after or during college, and this song reminds me of why this is one of my goals for my future. This song reminds me of the meaning of my life, and allows me in some unimaginable way to hear all those I want to help, and all the voices that are calling out for so much more. Thank you so much for this beautiful reminder that there's more to the world than merely comfortable homes and the four walls around us. Peace and Love for an eternity and more,

Jessi.

Art said...

I attended a conference many years ago where WordPerfect Corporation was handing out the "Innovators" cd to promote the release of version 6.0 for Windows (track one is a demo). All of the music on the cd is absolutely awesome. I was pastoring a church at the time of the Oklahoma City bombing and because of my feelings of how children suffer because of the hate felt by adults I felt impelled to preach about it. I played the cd before my sermon to set the tone, and after to drive the point home. I used it again a couple years later for similar effect.

This is truly a great piece. I wish more of the world knew it and could feel the need to stop the hate and the pain. Thank you.

For information -- I do not remember when I attened the conference and got the CD. WorPerfect's copyright date is 1993. The page in the booklet for "Prayer" says copyright 1992 by Black Diamond Music.

Art (aka Rev. Blue Jeans)

Sound Guy Nick said...

I somehow doubt that you have the time to read comments on your blog, but if you do and you're still interested in knowing where "Prayer" has been sung, I performed this song as part of a mixed choir in Columbus, Georgia in 1999. The director's name was Patricia Bonnaker, and this song was performed with the assistance of an American Sign Language translator. The Croatian gave her a bit of a headache. :)

This song remains my favorite piece that I've ever performed. It was an SATB arrangement.

Thanks, Mr. Bestor. All of us out here appreciate it. Sometimes music is the best way to communicate something that words cannot cover, and I think this is one of those cases.

Jess said...

I personally think this song pulled the most emotional response out of me than any other before it.

I'm currently working on choreography for the piece and hope to perform it in the next year or two.

Thank you, for putting words to what my heart has been bleeding for.

Anonymous said...

Wow what an awsome song i'm hard of hearing and I got the opportunity to sign this song in front of my parish. And that my song also sang it in their Senior.

Elizabeth said...

Mr. Bestor,

A few years ago I was in a choir called Anderson Area Youth Chorale in Anderson, Indina and we performed your song. Among all of the memebers of the high school age choir, it had become one of our favorite songs. We all enjoyed performing this song so many times and we even asked our director if we could sing it again a few years later. It had such an incredible story along with it and we took that to heart when we performed it, making the audience feel the story as we sang. It moved all of us every time we performed this piece. Thank you for writing and sharing this beautiful and powerful piece of music. --Elizabeth

Ryan said...

I sang this song in February or early March for the Ohio River Choral Valley Festival which took place in Switzerland County in Feb. or March. The festival is a high school festival. My school and several others in the area learn the songs at their school, then come together to sing them.

We sang Prayer of the Children, and it was one of my favorites at the time. It still is, but now whenever I listen to it, and I listen to it a lot, it brings back memories of my step-dad, who died weeks later. I may not be religious, but this song touches me emotionally in a way that no other song has ever. I listen to our performance of the song whenever I need to vent, or am feeling sad. It really helps. Thank you so much for writing this song.

Sacredlove said...

ever since i was thirteen, i've wanted to be a missionary to africa. i want to work with children there. you can call it a calling.
so when our highschool choir director pulled this song out i just couldn't believe it. it moved me even before i heard the music.
something so simple as that song has stuck with me and reminded me of my purpose. of why i am working so hard now to reach my goal. that i dont do it for me, but for them.
I am so glad that God used you in such a beautiful way to touch the lives and hearts of people who can actually take the extra step and make a difference.

jeremy said...

Hi,
Just to your request, the song was also sung beautifully at the 2009 top acts in the melbourne arts centre, i think the video's on youtube, but i was there and it was the first time i'd heard it. it had me tearing up and it was partially this that contributed to me giving my heart and life completely to God.
Thank you so much.

Kirsten said...

Mr. Bestor,

You wonder where your beautiful song is being performed. David Archuleta performed it throughout his Christmas from the Heart tour this December. It's gorgeous. Thank you for writing this song to impart this important and inspirational message.

It is obvious that David Archuleta has a deep connection to this song, which he discusses at length in introducing it. Check out his rendition and I guarantee you will be very moved.

The link is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lQyt1TmewpA

Morgan Jean said...

hello! I'm in an all women's acapella group at Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio. 4 years ago our group was founded and your song was the smash hit of our newly-begun group! Ever since then it has been the trademark of our group, and without fail there are tears in the audience when it is performed. Thank you for your sensitivity to the suffering children in the world! And the Croatian bit at the end is perfect - the language is beautiful.

Yvette K. said...

THe Seacoast Community Chorus of York ME (60 voice mixed choir) will be performing "Prayer of the Children" in our January concert. We will start with Karl Jenkins "The Armed Man: A Mass For Peace" and end with your beautiful very powerful song. I still get tears in my eyes every time we sing it. Thank you for your music. Yvette

Anonymous said...

I am a first year H.S. choir director and was looking through our files for a piece for women's choir for this spring and for district music contest. I pulled a few pieces out to bring home over Christmas break and absolutely fell in love with this piece. I am so excited to get back to school so that I can introduce it to my students. It is beautiful in it's simplicity and just so incredibly touching. Thank you for sharing it with the world.

Betillo said...

Hi,
I'm from a small town roughly two hours SW of Chicago called Mendota, IL. I sang this piece with my hs choir in the spring of '98 and have always remembered it.. I've seen that there is a link to download the solo/piano version on here but unfortunately the link doesn't work... Is there somewhere else I can find it? I'd really like to get my hands on it but I've searched around the net and can't seem to find anything. Any help would be great! Me email is torosax@yahoo.com

Thanks!
Betillo Arellano

Anonymous said...

Two of the choirs in my school(Wayland High School) is singing this in May for their final concert of the year. It's really beautiful and we all enjoy working on it.

nancy said...

Foothills Dance Conservatory performs a dance to Prayer of the Children probably at least once a year. My daughter has been in the performance a few times over the last 9 years and I still get emotional when I listen & watch. I hope the link works. This is at a local elementary school.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gZdthh_TIeE&feature=youtube_gdata

nancy said...

The link to the performance of the dance to Prayer of the Children I added was not correct. This is it:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gZdthh_TIeE

The Wirt Family said...

My first experience with this song was several years ago, when my mother bought "Innovators." My three brothers and I all sang in our high school choir, and all of us instantly loved the words and arrangment, not truly grasping the intensity of the meaning. I heard it several more times over the last few years & each time it gained more significance to me, as I had more and more trials. I heard it a couple of years ago, once again, performed by my husbands cousins high school a capella choir (true story). I wanted to know how the song came about so I found your blog.
My newborn son born Feb, 18th was born with a congenital heart defect, which my husband and I were unaware of. We have spent many nights pleading with God to spare him, and many nights crying. He is doing well today, and although I now know the songs origin, I apply it to my daily life. Although at times I feel selfish to have been blessed with so much,(other healthy children, and to live in a country not torn by war), I do feel consoled by the songs message in regards to little insignificant me. Thank you for sharing your gift with the world. I have heard the words to your song, on many late nights, and what hope it brings me! You are so talented and deserve all the recognition and praise you have recieved and will recieve. Thank you again.

Rachel

The Wirt Family said...

Oh this is Rachel again, and the choir that sang "Prayer of the Children" was in Washugal, WA. They performed it at state, I believe. I am located in Warrenton, OR. Just in case you haven't heard of anyone singing it this for northwest! Thanx again.

Karen said...

I've heard this performed with different names for God substituted for "Jesus" (Allah, Yaweh, etc.). Doing so made the piece even more powerful, as all children, regardless of faith traditions that separate them and precipitate violence, really pray the same prayer, don't they?

Anonymous said...

The Necedah High School Choir sang the "Prayer of the Children" during their spring concert; they also collected donations for hungry children and children in need.

Anonymous said...

i thought i would say that Fairview High School in boulder CO is sining this song in the spring concert coming up and we love this song so much but my friend has to speak a little about this song do you have and ideas for her.

Robbyn said...

The Watertown, SD, High School Meistersingers boys (TTBB arrangement) under the direction of Burdell Gauger, sang a rendition of "Prayer of the Children" at their concert on May 13, 2010. It was an extremely moving moment...it brought the house down. The feeling that was achieved through the message of the words and the sound of their voices was truly a gift from God. I do now know if the concert was recorded in any way. The school is very aware of copywrite infringements and only offers recordings when all copywrite rules have been followed.

Anonymous said...

Elena Sharkova directed the Cantabile Youth Singers of Los Altos, California in a very moving performance of "Prayer" at their advanced choirs concert yesterday. It was a highlight of the concert.

Clarissa said...

I am the featured musician in a couple weeks at my church and I will be singing this. I can't wait!

Rosemarie Peace, Ireland said...

Hi, Kurt! It is 25th August 2010. I have been searching for a way to reach you directly. We are creating a Peace Event in Dublin on 21st September 2010, the UN World Day of Peace. We are gathering different groups of artists together to reflect on/celebrate Peace. We name our event "FOUR SEASONS OF PEACE" and in one of the seasons, a school choir will perform your song: "THE PRAYER OF THE CHILDREN". The choir's Director has already bought the score from the US and she is now preparing the singers to perform the song. There will be 150 artists/performers and participants altogether in the whole event at one of the well established entertainment centres of Dublin called "The Helix". We are a small crowd using the smallest auditorium of The Helix. We are not selling tickets for the event as we want to have a manageable number for the intimate auditorium called "The Space". But what we wish to do is record the whole event in "broadcastable" quality so that we can share it with a wider audience. I would like to know how we go about getting your permission to record your song on DVD. We would very gladly send you as many copies you would like. We wish to make the DVDs available on request to anyone on the planet in order to fully spread consciousness on Peace as a daily need in every situation, in war-torn countries and throughout the rest of the world. Your song is one of the best ever composed songs that inspire that consciousness. I would love to hear from you if at all possible. In the meantime, I will continue to research how to get the proper permission to record your song when we perform it live. Thank you and may you be richly rewarded for the gift you have blessed the world with through "The Prayer of the Children." -- Rosemarie from Instruments of Peace, Ireland

CJWest said...

At the Stone Church of Willow Glen, the choir performed "Prayer of the Children" today. During his subsequent sermon, Rev. Dr. Ken Henry reflects on this moving composition. Listen to the sermon at:
http://www.archive.org/details/CanYouHearThePrayerOfTheChildren

Anonymous said...

The Miami University Glee Club in Oxford, OH does a wonder performance of "Prayer" I first heard it from them under the direction of Ethan Sperry and was not the only one brought to tears. I believe they have recorded it as well.

Anonymous said...

I think it was two years ago that our former Choir Director of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Sunnyvale, Stephanie, introduced this piece to us. We are singing it again this Sunday under our present director, Alan, with our Minister Nina preaching on "Reflections on Peace in a Time of War."

Corey said...

My name is Corey Gaught. I live in Huntsville, Alabama.
I sang "Prayer of the Children" in my high school choir. Buckhorn High School in New Market, Alabama. I know you're wanting to try to follow your song so I thought I'd let you know. That was in 2006.

Anonymous said...

I sang this song in a high school district choir conference back in 2005. The festival was in Erie, Pennyslvania and consisted of voices from all of north western Pennsylvania. I recently found the cd made from that event and am revisiting the song. It is absolutely beautiful and impossible to keep a dry eye through.

Kholl1721 said...

I'd like to link the Performance by the All SJ Jr high Choir today...
http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=1794559072712

David Munro said...

David
I got the chance in junior high and took this piece to a State competition for chior in Utah and scored really high with it. We were the only Chior there who got a full Standing Ovation for the perfomance.

Amanda Scott said...

I run a mission house in Tegucigalpa HN. We have a team of teenagers from Virginia here on a mission trip. They sang this song to the staff this morning and will be singing it to orphans in Tegucigalpa today. Absolutely beautiful.

Amanda Scott
Casa LAMB
Tegucigalpa, HN

Anonymous said...

The Needham High School Mixed Chorus from Needham, Massachusetts. I love this piece, it's so beautiful. Easily one of my favorite pieces I've ever sung in a chorus. Our director played a recording of the piece being performed by the Baylor Men's Choir, and it was so moving.

Joseph English said...

I have sang this piece in the TTBB setting when I was in High school in Winner, SD. It has touched me so I will sit and think about it just about any time and place. When I feel that things just aren't going right i try to find a choir singing it to let me know I don't have it the worst there are people worse off than me. I have also chose to do this piece for my advanced choral conducting final.

Anonymous said...

On April 30, 2011 and May 1, 2011 the song is being perfomed by a solo artist in Keene NH as part of a concert to accent the power of the Holy Spirit.

Sandi said...

I saw the Contemporary Dance Theater at Ricks/BYUI perform this for Mother's Weekend in '99 or 2000, I think. No one was singing it live, they were just dancing to a recording, but OH MY. My mom and I were both bawling, their performance was so moving. Every prayer, every hope was acted out before us. Especially poignant was the line "angry guns" during which the women "danced" an exaggerated cocking of rifles--if was horrifying and amazing at the same time.

Danielle said...

I was part of a choir in 2006-2007 and the gentlemen from this choir, the Clackamas Community College Chamber choir, sang this song that year. I have never been so moved in my life. We/they performed this song in Oregon as well as in California.

Barbara Weaver said...

This piece brings images of the wonderful and deserving children in Ukrainian Orphanages. It compells me to do my work as an adoption professional. I play my Innovatiions CD regularly.

I heard it live at Fairview High School, Boulder, Colorado, Spring concert,2010.

Marga said...

This is so moving – every time I hear it.

I am an Indian woman living in Mumbai, a storyteller, peace activist and writer. I came across the words of you song , and listened to the beauty of it, and would like to ask your permission to post the lyrics of PRAYER OF THE CHILDREN on my blog, “Peace, Like a Poem” http://www.speakingtree.in/public/marguerite.theophil/blogs
for our national daily newspaper, The Times of India.

In Croatia, many years after the fighting and pain, I offered workshops on leadership for women new to these roles, and met many mothers and children, and learnt how hard the wounds of war are to heal; how very long they last. These people taught me how important it is to work for peace in my own country and indeed the world over with the many wonderful people who think the same way and work bravely and tirelessly for a better world.

Many blessings on your life and work,
Marga
weave@vsnl.net

Anonymous said...

I sang this piece on a tour of Europe with the Iowa Ambassador's of music, another student and I loved the song and took it to our choir director at home where it was used for solo and ensemble contest as a all male quartet and then as a full concert choir piece for Independence high school. It is a beautiful piece that touched my heart and I was lucky to have the amazing experience of while on that European tour getting to perform Prayer of the children in Dachau Concentration camp in Germany where it seemed particularly fitting.

Doreen said...

The very first time I heard this song it touched my heart so deeply, and it continues to do so each time I hear it. I am so inspired by this song that I will being singing it as one of my solo pieces at the Festival of Performing Arts in February 2012 in Powell River,BC, Canada.
Doreen

Dale said...

Heard this beautiful music last night while listening to a Christmas CD. I kept rewinding it over and over and finally stopped the car, opened the trunck to remove the disc and discovered it's title. So, this morning I am thinking of how I can use this powerful piece of music for a photography exhibit; no profit of course. I've been involved with mucic productions for years and every once in a while, I come across a piece of music that moves deep into my soul/spirit and this one does. I am very excited to have discovered it and greatly apprecaite those who have already found creative ways to share it. I applaud the composer and pray that he will continue to "hear that voice within," and share more in the future!
Warmest regards to all who really "hear" the "Prayer Of The Children." Dale Myers

Anonymous said...

In Yuma, Arizona the high school honor choir the Kofa Royalairs performed this song in thier packed auditorium one night a few years ago. It was one of the choirs most popular years they were so talented that they drew crowds when they performed in public. This was thier first emotional song which usually leaves everyone bored to lose attention. The choir also argued amost themselves that they were not ready, haveing seven parts instead of thier usual four. They sounded just as good as any recording i've heard of it and it left the entire building in tears including the choir. This was from a pulic school no one there was recruited or had a impressive background of singing. They all had young green voices worried they might not give the song justice (especially the high supranos lol). When the curtain opened you saw the nerves vanish and each and every one of those kids sangstraight from thier heart. I was amazed this song brought out and showed off the full potential of that choir.

Steve Sylvester said...

Kurt,
Our son, Charlie, sings second alto with the Northstar Boys Choir (a "new" choir that is the result of a split with the Land of Lakes Choirboys in Minnesota). They sang "Prayer of the Children" yesterday for their Christmas concert. It was very moving. Thank you for writing this piece.

Steve

Anonymous said...

I am a sophore @minico high school in rupert idaho and im in the all girls choir and were singing this song. Its absolutely beautiful

Teresa said...

Hello, Kurt.
I wanted to let you know that the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire is currently practicing your "Prayer of the Children." This is a very inspiring piece and I am delighted to sing it!

Anonymous said...

I am a student at Elizabethtown College and a member of the all male a cappella group on campus. We are currently singing your song in the Varsity Vocals International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella. We placed second in the quarterfinal, moving on to the Semi-final, which will take place at Rutgers University. My group loves performing this song and our audiences have also been very moved by it. At our competition, the entire crowd was silent and a woman after our last note yelled out "Awesome!" from the back of the auditorium.

Anonymous said...

The highest performing group at D'evelyn High school of Colorado, concert choir, sang this song a couple of years back. We are singing it again this year because of its widespread popularity among the audience and the singers themselves. The first time I heard it, I felt like crying. I found this site as i was searching for the lyrics because I wanted to sing it at home. We got the music for it a three days ago and II have fallen in love with it already.

Dorothy Sheffield said...

We just attended a Three Dog Night concert in Saint George, UT Their very last song was an a cappella version of The Prayer of the Children. We recognized it as your song. They preformed it beautifully, but regrettably they didn't acknowledge you as the composer. I hope you get royalties.

Anonymous said...

My high school honors choir sang this song this year. We are in michigan and went to florida for our festival. We sang this and got a superior rating. I have never been happier in my life.

bj said...

The link to the solo version does not work. Can you tell me how I might obtain a copy?

Pat said...

From Bloomsburg PA. Having first heard Prayer sung by our Central Columbia Middle School Select Choir in 2004, and performed at the ACDC in Boston, I felt deeply about it. I included it in the program of my Community Choir of 100+ singers the following year. It was a resounding success with the choir and audience! When I was planning for this year's program - the 11th year of the choir - I requested comments from the singers on their most favorite songs that we have sung through the 11 years - Prayer received the most picks. Our concerts are this Saturday and Sunday, and approx. 1000-1200 will again hear your beloved anthem! Thank you so much for it. God be praised.

SongCyber11 said...

Mr. Bestor...

I first sang your composition with Maestro Noble in the late 1990's when the high school choir that I was conducting was ask to sing at
a choral festival at Carnegie Hall.

I have chosen the SSAA version for my Nassau County Festival Chorus. The song has such power and continues resound.

The children are the forgotten victims of war and the most innocent.

I would live to send you a recording when the concert is completed. This will be performed at the Tilles Center on Long Island in January of 2013.

Sincerely,

Stephen C. Pagano
Adjunct Professor
Five Towns College

Guest Conductor
NMEA Women's Chorus 2012-13

Treble Maker said...

I sang this song with the Ridgefield high school choir in Connecticut 11 years ago, and to this day it is still one of my favorite choral works. my junior year we performed it along with If Music Be, A Gaelic Blessing, Lauridsen 's Magnum Mysterium at Carnegie Hall. The summer before, we sang it as part of our concert tour across the UK. I have so many amazing and wonderful memories attached to this piece, I want to thank you, for this piece, for those memories. They all mean the world to me!

Karen said...

I just returned from a 3 Dog Night concert at the Southeastern Idaho State Fair. They sang your song as part of their encore. It was gorgeous!!!!!

Jim Gantenbein said...

It is scheduled to be performed on Saturday, November 10, 2012 at Oklahoma Baptist University as part of the 75th anniversary of the Bison Glee Club and will include the present Club as well as alumni from previous years.

Anonymous said...

1st Congregational Church of San Jose did it Nov. 4th with their older elem/middle school youth signing. Very moving. Thanks for the blessing of this song.

Anonymous said...

My high school advanced choir sang this song my Sophomore year for our Christmas program. Our teacher had disappeared just days before and we sang with a student directing us. The school is North Valleys High School in Reno, Nevada. We sang it back in December 2008. I absolutely love this song and plan to sing it at my church some time in the near future.

Anonymous said...

Los Lunas, NM, Los Lunas Ward men's a-capella choir a few times during our 4th of July Independence Day program. Thanks Kurt!

Emily Whitman said...

I believe it was in 1996 or 1997, but the Wisconsin High School Honors Choir, under the direction of Weston Noble, performed this piece. He was the guest conductor for the week-long clinic and the concert conducted later. While I didn't get to sing it personally, because he used it as a TTBB piece, I still have the recording of it, and there is no version I love to hear more than that one. That was my first experience with Mr. Noble, and I was honored to attend Luther College the following year in the hopes of being under his direction again.

Will Mittelsteadt said...

In 1999 I sang this with a High School Men's Chorus in Faribault, MN. Chris Harris was our Director.

Now, I work for a church and today (Dec. 18, 2012) we were planning a candle lighting service in memory of the children slain in Newtown, Ct. Someone said the words "...praying for these children..." and this song flooded my mind.

Anonymous said...

My name is Meryl, and I am a high school student from Ohio. My high school's choral department sang The Prayer of the Children a few years a go, under our former director, but in light of the recent tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, our current director has composed a project, centered around the song. We are to research the origin of the song, what was occurring politically at the time it was written, etc. We are then supposed to either write a paper describing our research and our feelings and yours on the song and situation, or create an image with a short description that explains the same thing. Later this year, our director intends to create a concert with the basis of The Prayer of the Children as a sort-of tribute to the Newtown victims.

Anonymous said...

My high school honor choir at Skyline High School, Royal Blue, sang this song in 1999, under the direction of Gail Birdsong, in Idaho Falls, Idaho. A previous Royal Blue group sang it in 1997 and Ms. B wanted to redo it. Ms. Birdsong had musical yearbooks made on CD each year and I had the 1997 version in my car to practice. On my morning after the Columbine incident, it came on as the next song on my CD player. I broke down in tears on the way to school. I will NEVER forget that moment and those emotions. On our class of 99 yearbook it is the most passionate piece we have. Everyone is dedicated to the message and it really hit with the Columbine shootings. Now, at 31 and an 8th grade English teacher in Boise, Idaho, I use it in my poetry lessons. I play the version from my high school CD and I can't help but tear up. The students are mesmerized and struck by the lyrics. Thank you for the inspiring piece and it continues to spread in Idaho.

Anonymous said...

My sister is in Zions Youth Symphony and Choir in Las Vegas and they are about to preform this Sunday, Prayer of the Children is one of the peicies the choir is singing. They are preforming in The Smith Center. The song is truly moving and I can not wait to hear it live!

frostwood said...

This is being sung by the high school choir of Dripping
Spring High, Dripping Springs Texas at the UIL contest next week. I heard them preform this at a concert last night. It was outstanding, not a dry eye around me after the choir director said he thought it was appropriate after the Sandy hill massacre .

Caroline Schlaufman said...

I go to Waterford Kettering High School in Waterford Michigan, this song was sang on a yearly basis for many years and is now held in very high esteem and only pulled out for very special occasions. We are going to Washington DC as a choir on April 25-28 to commemerate the bisentenial aniversary of the Civil War and we will be singing it. It means an incredible deal to all of the students at Kettering and we thank you for making such a beautiful song!

Caroline Schlaufman said...

I go to Waterford Kettering High School in Waterford Michigan. We sang this song yearly for many years, but we now save it for very special occasions. We are going to Washington DC on April 25-28 for the bicentenial anneversary of the Civil War and we will be performing this song. It means a lot to each and every one of us and we all feel honored to sing it. On behalf of all of the choir students at Kettering, thank you for the beautiful music and giving us the oppurtunity to sing it!

Stephen Moore said...

In the 1990s I flew supplies into Sarejevo and airdropped supplies all over the area. On one of my flights in, I started noticing the roofs in Sarejevo had been systematically targeted - I had this vision of young mothers with children, older men and women, all innocent - being destroyed mercilessly. I was so horrified I became very nauseated and ill. It was terrible.

I am retired from the military now - and am singing in the Renaissance Center Community choir in Dickson, Tennessee. When our choir director, Chris Greene, chose this song - I thought the language looked and sounded familiar. I researched and found your description of how the song came to be. Thanks much - I hope folks never forget the price of the short-sighted nature and very high human cost of "civil" war. God Bless. Steve Moore/Dickson, TN

Juli Schatz said...

Prayer of the Children is one of the most beautiful pieces I've ever heard. I first heard it a year ago when my son's middle school choir performed it at the spring honors concert and I have listened to it countless times through various recordings on YouTube. Though you wrote it from a sad experience, it is inspiring and wonderful. Thanks you for sharing it with the world.

will said...

Just thought that I would add that me along with a couple of missionaries sang this song in Riga, Latvia in 2005.

Stephanie said...

I just heard "Prayer of the CHildren" sung by the New Zealand choir "Resolution" from Rangiruru Girls College. They sung it so exquisitely and it made tears roll down my cheeks. Thank you for being the instrument that channeled this utterly compassionate song of great beauty. May it continue to melt hearts around the world, and contribute to a more peaceful, less violent, more loving world. Stephanie, New Zealand.

Maddie B said...

Rangi Ruru Girl's School in New Zealand did a lovely performance of this song in 2010

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9NoeR1_8JCA

Anonymous said...

There is a group of churches in our community who will gather for our fourth annual Peace Concert. Each year we try to focus on specific topics, the past have been "Peace", "Peace and Thanksgiving", "Peace and Light" and this year is "Peace and Remembrance". Within the theme of remembrance is remembering those who do not have peace and remembering those who speak for peace. So, we are including "Prayer of the Children", the TTBB arrangement as a part of this concert. These concerts were created to use music as a medium to try to promote peace within our world and using music as a way to bring peace to all of us. Thank you for your song and the impact that it is having on our singers and will have at the concert.

That Kid said...

What a beautiful song...and the story behind it, makes it even better. We are a small a capella group in Stellenbosch, South Africa and we are performing your song next week at our yearly concert. I think we can really see it as a message to our country to further embrace our diversity and to not allow anything to drive us onto the same path as sadly so many other countries have gone. Thanks!

Jordan Venditelli said...

The men of the advanced choir at my high school sang this song last winter at our winter concert. The thing that made this song special was that the Sandy Hook shooting had taken place less than a week before. The sanctuary was dead silent as they sang, and by the end of it, there was not a dry eye in the house. Thank you so much for your music and the inspiration and hope you give people through it.

Anonymous said...

Singing your song this afternoon with my men's choir in a set with Down by the Riverside and Hommage by R. Stroope. First sang it two years ago with the same men's choir and it remains a favorite with them and audiences who hear us sing it.
Thanks for the beautiful music!

Kingston Capital Men's Chorus
Kingston Ontario
Canada

Anonymous said...

Crystal Children's Choir has sang Prayer of the Children multiple times at the ACDA convention.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GnLItWVi7XY

Peterand said...

Our Town Choir is singing it on Monday...Remembrance Day in hte Arctic Canada.

Our Choir Directors have substituted Jesus Help Me with Someone Help Me and I am a little perplexed as to why.
A prayer sent out to someone??

Wonderful song as I have seen quite a few of our Choir in tears singing it, including myself.

Anonymous said...

I'd just like to say that I heard this song without knowing the magnitude of what it's meant to the world and who wrote it etc. Now that I know, I'm in utter shock and I have goosebumps. I live in Athens, GA and was listening to a station on Spotify. That's where I heard the song. InsideOut A Cappella had sang the arrangement and I love it. Thank you so much for creating this song. You are truly a blessed man and a tool in God's hands.

Anonymous said...

I'd just like to say that I heard this song without knowing the magnitude of what it's meant to the world and who wrote it etc. Now that I know, I'm in utter shock and I have goosebumps. I live in Athens, GA and was listening to a station on Spotify. That's where I heard the song. InsideOut A Cappella had sang the arrangement and I love it. Thank you so much for creating this song. You are truly a blessed man and a tool in God's hands.

Anonymous said...

A friend sang this today at church as part of her lesson (Pocatello, Idaho). No music, just her voice...absolutely beautiful and moving song, I love it!

Anonymous said...

I've always loved this song, mainly because its about children and their wonderful innocence. I am a father of three beautiful children. I have an older daughter from my first marriage and two adopted children with my current wife. I love them all so much. Your song is particularly moving this year more than any other year. My children and wife and I are not living together this year and I can only see them with a few hours and a few days a week. They are with my wife who loves me and them very much, and without going into detail I am extremely sad this year and miss them so much. Your song makes me cry every time I hear it because my children pray every day that we can be back together again. I "pray for the children" too.

Thank you and god bless you.

Anonymous said...

My high school in Newark, DE sang this song five or six years ago, and it has stuck with me ever since. What an amazing and touching song.
Interestingly, the version we did replaced Jesus with the words "who will," so that it went, "crying who will help me?" It added a touch of hopelessness to the song. It was interesting, but I think it may have made the song a bit more hopeless than you meant it to be. Still, an amazing and inspiring song. I hope that someday, as a composer, I am able to write a song that touches others like your piece has. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I attend the Community High School in West Chicago, Illinois and my Concert choir will be singing this song for our March concert. Our director played it for us for the first time today and I fell in love. It is a beautiful and powerful song. Thank you so much for sharing!

MaddzLife said...

In High School in Utah, the honor boys choir at my school sang this song. They recorded it on our honor choir CD and I still love listening to this song. When they preformed it, everyone in all the choirs would sneak somewhere where they could listen to the boys sing this song. It is so powerful. When we were on our choir trip last year, a small group of boys sang this song in Wayfarers Chapel and it was absolutely beautiful. This song gets to me every time. I still cry whenever I listen to it. It is so powerful, beautiful, and very meaningful. This is one of my favorite songs I have heard. Thank you for writing it. It is absolutely amazing!

Anonymous said...

This song is indeed beautiful and moving.

I'm wondering though, if the word "gospel" could be changed to "message," as the etymology of "gospel" shows the meaning as "good news." And how can good news be "full of hate"?

Perhaps this part of the lyric could read: "Angry ones spread a message full of hate..."

Thoughts?

Mary Helen