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Mensenleid = A Song About People, 1967 - 1980

Identifier: 108

Scope and Contents

The Lives We Lead As People for Unison Choir and Assembly with Keyboard, Guitar and Optional Percussion


  • Publication: 1967 - 1980


Biographical / Historical

This is a reflection on Matthew 6:26, comparing the life of people on this earth to that of the birds which have no worries about their fate or future. By comparison, we allow daily anxiety and concerns erode our peace of mind. Jesus was a peripatetic wisdom teacher. He drew his imagery from the towns and countryside through which he passed, surrounded by those walking the dusty roads with him. He didn’t theologize, he simply drew attention to everything around him, and would speak out only against incongruity and the abuse of power. Camus likewise challenged the absurd, what he called the incongruity gap, while Kierkegaard spoke about the leap of faith, across the gap between evidence as it presented itself and something beyond it. Central to this wisdom was the a refutation of the importance of self, based on a misconceived premise of a personal God who condoned self-interest. Oosterhuis' keen biblical sense provides a clear insight into this.

Each verse offers comparisons. In the flow of life, all things will ultimately disintegrate and die. But within all created things, there is an indestructible quality at the subatomic level, where through the phenomenon of electromagnetic induction, matter can be nether created nor destroyed, The light-energy which ignited the Cosmos pervades every shred of existence, and within every being, whether animate or inanimate, there is both spirit and matter, and spirit is indestructible.

People, says Oosterhuis, are unique because we understand this, though in ways limited by our reasoning capacities, we fail to see beyond the finite horizon - how could we? We have neither the senses nor the required filters to discern that which is all-pervasive, the integrity of light. We struggle to conform our behavior with the innate rules of light, which embrace the pursuit of harmony through just behavior.

Despite our frailty, our worrisome nature, restlessness, stubbornness and ultimate decrepitude, there is something in our spirit which makes us never stop. We just keep on going right up till the end, and even there we don't stop as we continue marching ahead beyond the future. whimsical text and the impulsive music setting. -- Tony Barr


4 Leaves

2 Digital File (audio recordings)

Language of Materials


Dutch; Flemish

Alternate Numbering

BH 108 CH 7 JM 334

Repository Details

Part of the Saint John's University Archives and Special Collections Repository

P O Box 2500
Alcuin Library
Collegeville Minnesota 56321 United States