Music for Corpus et Sanguis Christi — Sunday June 19 2022

The Eyes of All Wait Upon Thee – Jean Berger (1909-2002)

View video here

Composer Jean Berger was born Arthur Schlossberg in Germany in 1909. After earning a Ph.D. in musicology in 1931, he moved to Paris and changed his name to Jean Berger as the Nazis came to power in Germany. He later moved to the United States, became an American citizen, and enlisted in the US Army in 1942. After the war, he became an arranger for CBS and NBC and toured as a concert accompanist. During the latter part of his career, he taught for decades at several American colleges and universities while continuing to compose.

Choral works were very much the central focus of Berger’s composition. “The Eyes of All Wait Upon Thee” (1959), one of Berger’s best-known pieces, and this Sunday’s communion motet in church, is based on a text from Psalm 145. After starting in E minor, the piece features a mid-section which shifts across several keys. The third section partially mirrors the first, with the substantial difference of closing the piece in E major.

The eyes of all wait upon thee,

and thou givest them their meat in due season.

Thou openest thine hand,

and satisfies the desire of every living thing.

Gerald Harder