Mike McFerron is professor of music and composer-in-residence at Lewis University and he is founder and co-director of Electronic Music Midwest (http://www.emmfestival.org). McFerron’s music has received critical acclaim and recognition. His music has been performed by the Remarkable Theater Brigade (Carnegie Hall), the Louisville Orchestra, the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, and Cantus among many others.

He serves on the board of the directors for the Metropolitan Youth Symphony Orchestra and is a past Chair of the Executive Committee for the Society of Composers, Inc. McFerron’s music can be heard on numerous commercial recordings as well as on his website at http://www.bigcomposer.com.

Compositions

Journey to Sekhet-Aanru: Four Ancient Egyptian Magic Rituals for Male Voices


PDF score

Journey to Sekhet-Aanru: Four Ancient Egyptian Magic Rituals for Male Voices was written for Cantus. This work was commissioned by Cantus through Community Partners, which is underwritten by the American Composers Forum with funds provided by The Katherine B. Anderson Fund of The Saint Paul Foundation. This work was premiered by Cantus.

Journey to Sekhet-Aanru grew out of a collaborative effort between Cantus and me. This work was written for Cantus' Myth, Magic, and Legend concert series (2003). It creates a dramatic environment where audience members witness an ancient Egyptian burial ceremony. They travel with Anubis--a canine-headed god who guides the dead through the underworld on the journey to Sekhet-Aanru (The ancient Egyptian semi-equivalent place to our heaven). While in the underworld, the dead face trials and tests. This composition is set from the perspective of Egyptian priests who administer spells during the ritual. This composition contains four rituals.

  • I. Processional: An hommage to the main Egyptian gods, Tem Herushuti and Hathor. The first movement serves as a call to service.
  • II. The Key to the 15th Gate of the Underworld: Before the dead may enter the underworld, they must first pass through several "pylons", or gates. This spell is for the 15th pylon.
  • III. Spell to Keep Your Heart from Being Stolen: Probably the most recognized section of the journey through the underworld occurs when the dead must weigh their hearts against a feather. In this trial, gods are told what the dead person did, and as important, what the dead person did not do. After this, the heart of the dead is weighed against the "feather of truth." If the heart was heavier than the feather, that meant then the person would die a second death which was forever. If the heart was lighter than the feather the person would go on to Sekhet-Aanru.
  • IV. The Arrival: This movement is a song of celebration. The soul has successfully passed through the underworld and is now gazing at Sekhet-Aanru. This movement also gives thanks to the Egyptian god, RA.


  • Throughout the work, Anubis periodically uses the priests as a vessel to make his presence perceived. At times, Anubis appears in one priest, and at other times in many. The "Anubis Theme" is heard throughout--it is this theme that binds the four movements together.


    Translation

    I. Processional
    Hommage to thee, O thou glorious being,
    The endowed Tem Herushuti,
    You rise in the horizon of heaven And from the mouths of all people comes a joyful cry.
    Beautiful one, Becoming young in the palm of the hand,
    Of the mother, Hathor, Rising therefore in the place,
    Of every expanded heart for ever and ever.
    May he be victorious in the underworld.
    The sektet boat comes closer, It arrives...


    II. The Key to the 15th Gate of the Underworld
    The terrible souls who judge,
    Who emerge at night, Who shackle the demon in his lair,
    May they be given two hands of the still heart
    And make them come forth,
    For they judge the sins of the dead.


    III. Spell to Keep Your Heart from Being Stolen
    My heart is with me, and it will not be taken away.
    I am the lord of the hearts that commands the heart,
    Because I am moral, I exist in the heart.
    My heart will not be taken away from me,
    Let it not be harmed, I will not be harmed.
    Homage to thee, my heart! Homage to thee, its soul.
    Homage to the, gods who rule The divine clouds.


    IV. The Arrival
    In Sekhet-Aanru, Let me have power,
    Let me be strong, So that I can plough there.
    Let me harvest, And let me eat and drink there,
    As it is done on earth, Yet in the protection of Anubis.
    I have come to thee, My lord RA, In Sekhet-Aanru



    Translation and transliteration (found in score) adapted by the composer primarily from the 1888 edition of The Egyptian Book of the Dead: The Papyrus of ANI by E.A. Wallis Budge. Music, translation and Transliteration ?2003 by Red Earth Publishing. All Rights Reserved.