“And I heard a voice” is commissioned by the Centro Nacional de Difusión Musical CNDM (Madrid) on the occasion of the 800th anniversary of the founding of the University of Salamanca in 2018. The work is dedicated to the memory of Archbishop Konrad Veem.
The text underlying the choral piece is taken from the Revelation of John (14:13):
And I heard a voice from heaven saying, ‘Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’ ‘Blessed indeed,’ says the Spirit, ‘that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!’ (John, Revelation 14:13)
The Estonian edition of the Holy Bible, which Arvo Pärt used for this setting, translates the word “rest” to “hingama”, which in Estonian can also mean “breathe”. This thought that the creative people who had passed away may rest, but still “breathe”, i.e. continue to live and be among us, as are their works, this thought inspired Arvo Pärt to the choral piece.
Hardly any other place breathes like a university that has been feeding the spirit of mankind for 800 years.
The memory of the Estonian archbishop Konrad Reinhold Veem, who died in 1996, also led to this passage. His life's work is still alive today.
Since the text for this vocal piece is in Estonian, we have provided a pronunciation guide for English speakers.