Spiritual Poems of Rainer Maria Rilke
Interpreted Through Vocal Chants & Harmonies

Robert Benford Lepley

MERYL STREEP, recitation



Visions Within links the ancient past with the present to create a new "spiritual sound". I composed primitive-sounding chants woven into contemporary fugues and canons that circle around illusive poly-rhythms as well as other pieces with ancestral harmonies that evolve into lush tone clusters used in contemporary jazz. I used Rilke’s poems because their profound existential nature has the power to connect ancient symbols of the "sacred" found deep within the human psyche with current forms of religious and secular spirituality that explore the relationships between thought and emotion, life and death, fear and love, personal faith and social justice. It is an honor to have Ms. Streep's sensitive presentation of the poems on the recording, and I chose the remarkable New York Voices to bring Visions Within into being. My hope is that this work has the power to nurture healing of the inner life, and to transform the subconscious universal spiritual symbols of peace, justice and compassion outwardly into positive community values that nurture the common good and care for the poor, that promote nonviolence, that respect the differences between people, and that protect our sacred Earth.

*    *    *

Robert Benford Lepley is a composer and a jazz and classical pianist who has performed with legendary "big bands" such as the Glenn Miller Orchestra and Bob Crosby's Bobcats as well as many well-known contemporary jazz musicians. He was also a parish minister for twenty five years, and has been an activist and community organizer since the 1960s. For six years he directed the Long Island Alliance for Peaceful Alternatives - the largest peace organization on Long Island. He holds graduate degrees in the areas of theology and choral composition. Mr. Lepley is married to Martha Helen Chamberlain. They have one son, Benford Chamberlain Lepley.

Rainer Maria Rilke has long been considered one of the world’s greatest spiritual poets. His mystical and unique subjective view have influenced generations of later writers as well as several prominent literary and spiritual movements. The meditational poems interpreted on this recording are from the middle of Rilke’s career, having been written between 1899 and 1903. During this stage of his life, Rilke was striving for a personal, plain-spoken perspective on the self, the spirit and the act of poetry. In these poems, Rilke looks inward as he seeks "God/Spirit" within the dance between thought and emotion as well as outward in "all the things of the world". Rilke's voice is one of a poet seeking to nurture the inner and outer lives of people who seek a meaningful place on a chaotic planet.


You Darkness That I Come From
Already The Ripening Barberries Are Red
To Music
My Life Is Not This Steeply Sloping Hour
I Find You In All These Things Of The World
I Live My Life In Growing Orbits

MSR Classics