Prophecies for a New Millennium (2000)

variable duration

first performance ca. 75:00

 

Instrumentation

for various combinations of performers in various media

 

Program note

“Mother Shipton” is believed by many to be the most uncannily accurate seer the world has ever produced.  Her prophecies, supposedly produced in England toward the middle of the 1500s, accurately describe many of the events and things commonplace today, but unimaginable in her time. Submarines, the Internet, the European Union, the World Wars, the rise of Communist China, and more are predicted in startlingly clear language, unlike the prophecies of others such as Nostradamus.  And frighteningly, Mother Shipton’s prophecies speak clearly of a coming apocalypse--the end of the world in a series of horrible disasters and wars.  She does hold out hope for mankind, though, as she also speaks of a rebirth, lead by some outside source, either extraterrestrial or heavenly.

 

Further inquiry into the historical truth concerning these prophecies, however, reveals that they only recently “came to light” in the 1970’s, when transcripts written by hand were supposedly smuggled out of a secret library room in Australia.  The library denies the existence of this room and this material, and there is apparently no historical record of these particular prophecies (although there may have been a “Mother Shipton”) before about 1970 and no original material exists.  Upon examination, the language of the texts reveals that they are modern--there is no trace of 16th century English usage.  Undoubtedly the prophecies are a fraud--yet many still continue to believe them in spite of the undeniable facts.  They speak to very real and fundamental human fears and hopes--the fear of death and the hope for redemption; and the pull of these fears and hopes may be more powerful than historical truth.

 Prophecies for a New Millennium was premiered by the Hong Kong Baptist University Contemporary Music Workshop on May 5, 2000 at Hong Kong Baptist University's Academic Community Hall.

 

 Part I

I know I go -- I know I'm free

I know that this will come to be.

Secreted this -- for this will be

Found by later dynasty.

 

This is then held year by year

Till an iron monster trembling fear

Eats parchment, words and quill and ink

And mankind is given time to think.

 

And only when this comes to be

Will mankind read this prophecy

But one man's sweet is another's bane

So I shall not have burned in vain.

 

 

Part II

The signs will be there for all to read

When man shall do most heinous deed

Man will ruin kinder lives

By taking them as to their wives.

And murder foul and brutal deed

When man will only think of greed.

 

The kings shall false promise make

And talk just for talking's sake

And nations plan horrific war

The like as never seen before.

And taxes rise and lively down

And nations wear perpetual frown.

 

Yet greater sign there be to see

As man nears latter century.

Three sleeping mountains gather breath

And spew out mud, and ice and death.

And earthquakes swallow town and town,

In lands as yet to me unknown.

 

And Christian one fights Christian two

And nations sigh, yet nothing do

And yellow men great power gain

From mighty bear with whom they've lain.

 

These mighty tyrants will fail to do

They fail to split the world in two.

But from their acts a danger bred

An ague -- leaving many dead.

 

And physics find no remedy

For this is worse than leprosy.

Oh, many signs for all to see

The truth of this true prophecy.

 

 

Part III

And now a word, in uncouth rhyme

Of what shall be in future time.

 

The poor shall now great wisdom know.

A carriage without horse will go

Disaster fill the world with woe.

Around the world men's thoughts will fly

Quick as the twinkling of an eye.

 

And water shall great wonders do

How strange. And yet it shall come true.

Through towering hills proud men shall ride.

Beneath the water, men shall walk

Shall ride, shall sleep, shall even talk.

 

 

Part IV

A house of glass shall come to pass

In England. But Alas, alas

A war will follow with the work

Where dwells the Pagan and the Turk.

 

These states will lock in fiercest strife

And seek to take each other's life.

When North shall thus divide the south

And Eagle build in Lion's mouth

Then tax and blood and cruel war

Shall come to every humble door.

 

Three times shall lovely sunny France

Be led to play a bloody dance

Before the people shall be free

Three tyrant rulers shall she see.

 

Three rulers in succession be

Each springs from different dynasty.

Then when the fiercest strife is done

England and France shall be as one.

 

Part V

The British olive shall next then twine

In marriage with a German vine.

Men walk beneath and over streams

Fulfilled shall be their wondrous dreams.

 

And roaring monsters with man atop

Does seem to eat the verdant crop

And men shall fly as birds do now

And give away the horse and plough.

 

There'll be a sign for all to see

Be sure that it will certain be.

Then love shall die and marriage cease

And nations wane as babes decrease.

 

When pictures seem alive with movements free

When boats like fishes swim beneath the sea,

When men like birds shall scour the sky

Then half the world, deep drenched in blood shall die.

 

For storms will rage and oceans roar

When Gabriel stands on sea and shore

And as he blows his wondrous horn

Old worlds die and new be born.

 

Part VI

A fiery Dragon will cross the sky

Six times before this earth shall die

Mankind will tremble and frightened be

For the six heralds in this prophecy.

 

For seven days and seven nights

Man will watch this awesome sight.

The tides will rise beyond their ken

To bite away the shores and then

The mountains will begin to roar

And earthquakes split the plain to shore.

 

And flooding waters, rushing in

Will flood the lands with such a din

That mankind cowers in muddy fen

And snarls about his fellow men.

 

He bares his teeth and fights and kills

And secrets food in secret hills

And ugly in his fear, he lies

To kill marauders, thieves and spies.

 

Man flees in terror from the floods

And kills, and rapes and lies in blood

And spilling blood by mankind's hands

Will stain and bitter many lands.

 

And when the Dragon's tail is gone,

Man forgets, and smiles, and carries on

To apply himself -- too late, too late!

Mankind has earned deserved fate.

 

His masked smile -- his false grandeur

Will serve the Gods their anger stir.

And they will send the Dragon back

To light the sky -- his tail will crack

Upon the earth and rend the earth

And man shall flee, King, Lord, and serf.

 

But slowly they are routed out

To seek diminishing water spout

And men will die of thirst before

The oceans rise to mount the shore.

And lands will crack and rend anew

You think it strange. It will come true.

 

And in some far off distant land

Some men -- oh such a tiny band

Will have to leave their solid mount

And span the earth, those few to count,

Who survives this and then

Begin the human race again.

 

But not on land already there

But on ocean beds, stark, dry and bare

 

Not every soul on Earth will die.

 

Not every land on earth will sink

But these will wallow in stench and stink

Of rotting bodies of beast and man

Of vegetation crisped on land.

 

But the land that rises from the sea

Will be dry and clean and soft and free

Of mankind's dirt and therefore be

The source of man's new dynasty.

 

And those that live will ever fear

The Dragons tail for many year

But time erases memory

You think it strange. But it will be.

 

 

Part VII

And before the race is built anew

A silver serpent comes to view

And spew out men of like unknown

To mingle with the earth now grown

Cold from its heat and these men can

Enlighten the minds of future man.

 

To intermingle and show them how

To live and love and thus endow

The children with the second sight.

A natural thing so that they might

Grow graceful, humble and when they do

The Golden Age will start anew.

 

The dragon’s tail is but a sign

For mankind’s fall and man’s decline,

And before this prophecy is done

I shall be burned at the stake, at 1.

My body singed and my soul set free

You think I utter blasphemy, you’re wrong.

These things have come to me

This prophecy will come to be.

 

Programme from the Premiere Performance

 

Part I:  I know I go--I know I’m free, I know that this will come to be.....

Wen Ching, Agnes To Wai Man, Esther Lee King Wo, Jocelyn Wong Man Ki, Joanne Tsang Mei Yiu, Jacqueline Tsang King Wing

 

Interlude I:  kalimba solo by Wen Ching

 

Part II:  The signs will be there for all to read when man shall do most heinous deed...

Elaine Louie Wai Wah, Billy Chan Ka King, Geneva Fing Tsui Shan, Michele Ngyuen, Eric Leong Mang Kit

 

Interlude II:  organ solo by Michelle Ngyuen

 

Part III:  And now a word, in uncouth rhyme of what shall be in future time....

 Maggie Leung Yu Mei, Julia Poon Chi Ying, Jennifer Chan Ning Huen, Angel Woo Kam Fun, Enoch Lam Yee Lok, John Wilson

 

Part IV:  A house of glass shall some to pass in England.  But Alas, alas...

Winnie Lo, Candy Yip Wai Man, Louisa Hung Yuen Kwan

 

Part V:  The British olive shall next them twine in marriage with a German vine....

Maggie Leung Yu Mei, Julia Poon Chi Ying, Jennifer Chan Ning Huen, Angel Woo Kam Fun, Enoch Lam Yee Lok, John Wilson

 

Part VI:  A fiery Dragon will cross the sky six times before this earth

shall die....

complete ensemble

 

Interlude III:  guitar solo by Billy Chan Ka King

 

Part VII:  And before the race is built anew a silver serpent comes to view...

Eva Ng Yuen Mei, Becky Lee, Cherry Poon Sze Ling, Sandy Yau Sum Yee, Catherine Chow Lo Kar, Connie Tam Ho Ying

 

 

Guest Artists:

Cheung Ka Ho, Natalie Chan Pui Man, Anita Tam Ho Yan, Mary Lee Wai Man; clarinets

Christopher Coleman, trombone; Chris Choi Ka Yan, euphonium; Thomas Chan Kin Pang, tuba

 

Digital Signal Processing Workshop Program by Dr. Christopher Keyes

 

Paintings by Salvador Dali; Maps of Cambodian Bomb Site

 

Photographs by Stuart Issett and file photos

 

Creature design, makeup design, and graphic sequence by Christopher Coleman

 

Creature created by Wen Ching, Jennifer Chan Ning Huen, Maggie Leung Yu Mei, Jacqueline Tsang King Wing, Elaine Louie Wai Wah, and John Wilson

Christopher Coleman

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Fo Tan, New Territories
Hong Kong

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Office: (852) 3411-7595 

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