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I’m intrigued by the idea, though it’s unfortunately not true, that the word “alleluia” originated in imitation of the sound a person makes when overcome with joy.

Alleluia was composed for the LacrossE trio (Jennifer Ashe, soprano; Jessi Rosinski, flute; & Benjamin Schwartz, cello) for Sarah Bob’s New Gallery Concert Series in Boston.

I once heard somewhere that the word “hallelujah” was originally an onomatopoetic invention imitating the sound of an exclamation made by a person overcome with joy. Irrepressible and perhaps even a little ridiculous, it expresses what cannot be contained in mere language. But as much as this story appeals to me, it turns out not to be true — “hallelujah” is a perfectly legitimate Hebrew word with a sensible etymology, meaning simply “praise God.” In any case, the single word “alleluia” has served for centuries as a text for songs of praise, often using only the vowels of the word, or drawing out the final syllable in an extended and essentially wordless “jubilus.” It therefore seemed an appropriate title for this wordless piece for voice, flute and cello.

This composition has not yet been premiered.