Traveling Mercies

wind quintet & organ
duration: 08:18

This is a tone poem about wanderlust. Hearing the call of adventure, our hero seeks excitement and wisdom from faraway places, dismissing the concerns and well-meaning advice of loved ones. Life abroad eventually proves to be inspiring but overwhelming and confusing, leading our hero on an introspective journey to find himself. Eventually, the wanderer finds he is grateful for his journey but is undeniably longing for his homeland. He returns home, finding peace among the familiar surroundings through the lens of his new perspective. During the coda, he’s startled to hear the words of his parents coming out of his own mouth. Maybe some things never change?

The title, Traveling Mercies, came to me as I was sketching outlines for the work in my notebook. The title takes on a double meaning: it evokes the special blessing travelers request as protection before embarking on a long journey, and it reminds me of a line from my favorite psalm, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life” (Psalm 23:6). I’ve always taken comfort in the notion that mercy can be a traveling companion — following us if we allow it.

Premiered 12 May, 2018, at Central United Methodist Church, Traverse City, MI: Manitou Winds with Thomas Bara, organ.

Traveling Mercies (electronic rendering); © 2018 by J.T. McKinney
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