God Only Knows

"God Only Knows" was composed for an event at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City celebrating the 60th anniversary of the literary journal The Hudson Review. The event was part of the Guggenheim's Works and Process series and included not only musical settings of poems by Dana Gioia, but readings and interviews with the poet as well.

"God Only Knows" was published in Gioia's volume Daily Horoscope in 1986.

The audio recording features soprano Lucy Shelton and pianist Sarah Rothenberg. The performance was part of the Guggenheim's "Works and Process" Series.

Date: 2008Composer: John HarbisonText: Dana Gioia

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God Only Knows
by Dana Gioia

Here is the church,
Here is the steeple,
Open it up,
And see all the people.

God only knows

if Bach’s greatest work
was just an improvised
between two verses of a hymn,
one that stopped the burghers
squirming in their pews
and made them not only
listen to the organ in the loft
but actually hear the roof
unbend itself
and leave the church wide
open to a terrifying sky
which he had filled with angels
holding ledgers
for a roll call of the damned,
whom they would have named,
had not the congregation
started up the final chorus
and sung

to save their souls.

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