11. The Oxen
Bass/Baritone Solo originally titled “The Wagon Master,” this churning piece, thrice changing keys, calls to mind what driving the oxen fifteen miles a day on the long overland journey to California must have been like.
“Move these wagons fifteen a day.
That’s what we have to do…each day.
Count off our lives fifteen miles a day.
Each dawn our rest awaits, fifteen miles away…
Lean to your work, God made you beasts to strain.
Pull through the rocks and mud…and…pain.
Axles break, ground gives way, floods wash o’er the way.
Steadfastly, we must be, movin’ on each day..AWAY!
A-YA! GEE! HAW!
We travel fifteen miles…each…day.”
Orchestral & Choral Version
Piano & Choral Version*
*Original Cast CD recording from August 1993:
Joy Bechtler, Soprano
Polly Kopituk, Mezzo-Soprano
David Ronis, Tenor
Martin Hargrove, Bass
Eric Houghton, Piano/Composer