Over the past year, the use of fear as a persuasive tool has grown increasingly disturbing to me. This is of course not a new development, but my perception of it has been heightened. In His Hands, explores one of my earliest memories of the use of a fear tactic—the “Fire and Brimstone” teachings of the Baptist Church. The text of the work is drawn from one of the most famous and iconic sermons of the Great Awakening period delivered in 1741—Jonathan Edward’s Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God—as well as a few select biblical passages from Revelation and Jeremiah. In Edward’s sermon, he uses the fear of eternal damnation to scare people into converting to Christianity. Here is an excerpt from the famous sermon:
“O Sinner! Consider the fearful Danger you are in: 'Tis a great Furnace of Wrath, a wide and bottomless Pit, full of the Fire of Wrath, that you are held over in the Hand of that God, whose Wrath is provoked and incensed as much against you as against many of the Damned in Hell: You hang by a slender Thread, with the Flames of divine Wrath flashing about it, and ready every Moment to singe it, and burn it asunder; and you have no Interest in any Mediator, and nothing to lay hold of to save yourself, nothing to keep off the Flames of Wrath, nothing of your own, nothing that you ever have done, nothing that you can do, to induce God to spare you one Moment.”
-Jonathan Edwards, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God
It is not my intention to merely call attention to Edward’s deplorable tactics. There are many beautiful things about faith practice and my own experiences with organized religion as well. As with many things in this world, however, the beautiful and the grotesque often inhabit the same spaces. In His Hands is my attempt to explore some of these complicated relationships and unpack some of my own feelings on this complex matter.
Lucas Marshall Smith (b.1989) is a composer who hails from New London, Ohio. He holds degrees from Bowling Green State University (B.M. 2012) and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (M.M. 2014). Smith is currently pursuing his Doctorate of Musical Arts at the University of Illinois where he is working as the Operations Assistant in the Experimental Music Studios. During his studies, Smith has also served as choirmaster at the Maumee Valley Unitarian Universalist Congregational Church and as a teaching assistant for Aural Skills and Music Theory courses at the University of Illinois.
Active as a composer of both acoustic and electroacoustic music, Smith has had his music performed at the 30th and 31st Annual SEAMUS (Society for Electro-Acoustic Music in the United States) National Conferences (2015-16), the New York City Electroacoustic Music Festival (2015-16), the 46th Annual Ball State Festival of New Music and the 2016 RED NOTE New Music Festival. Smith has also received premieres and commissions from numerous new music groups including the New York based ensemble loadbang, the Illinois Modern Ensemble, the Heartland Sings chorale, and ensemble mise-en. Smith’s music is recorded on the RMN Classical music label.
Some of Smith’s prominent composition teachers have included Burton Beerman, Carlos Carrillo, Christopher Dietz, Erin Gee, Marilyn Shrude, Stephen Taylor, Reynold Tharp, and electroacoustic studies with Eli Fieldsteel, Elainie Lillios and Scott A. Wyatt.
Performer Biographical Sketch
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