Lazarus…The Story Sung Again
By Larry Hollar
As a new Bread for the World staff member in the late '80s, I had the chance to perform in the original cast of a new musical on hunger and poverty called Lazarus. Joel Underwood, who was also on Bread’s staff at the time, had taken the story of Lazarus at the rich man’s gate (Luke 16:19-31) and set it to music. He added some twists and turns in the story to challenge people of faith to consider their own responses to the tragedy of hunger in our midst.
Early in my career as a hunger advocate—which has now spanned nearly 30 years—Lazarus gave me a chance to use my musical talents to engage others in the call to justice for hungry people. I was delighted that my then-9-year-old daughter Gillian was also a member of the early cast of the musical, confidently singing a solo as a young girl asking the poignant question, “Where Can I Find Bread?” Later, I had the chance to help stage and perform in this versatile musical in two churches in Arlington, Va., and also sing on the CD of the Spanish-language version, Lázaro. Without question, this musical shaped me in my journey with Bread for the World.
I have come to believe that no movement for social justice can succeed without memorable songs to sustain and enspirit it. Joel’s musical offered singable, engaging songs for the hunger movement of its time. But times change.
So what a joy it is for me to again be part of a new—and very different—production of Lazarus that premieres in June. An entirely new cast will perform a revamped Lazarus, using Joel’s lyrics but with updated, jazzy music by the talented composer Dr. Bill Cummings. The new Lazarus premieres on Saturday, June 8, at 7 p.m. at the Mead Center in Washington, D.C., as part of the first day of Bread’s 2013 National Gathering.
You will not want to miss this special presentation, a result of the passion of my Bread colleague Don Williams, who had the vision to see Joel Underwood’s original compelling work recast for a modern vocal and instrumental idiom. Look for me in the chorus—and my now grown-up daughter will be there, too.
Bread engages us to lift our voices when we advocate to our nation’s leaders on key policies and programs for hungry people. Let’s again lift our voices—this time in song—to give us heart and a fresh dose of the Spirit as we gather June 8-11 in Washington, D.C., for the National Gathering. Join us for Lazarus and much more! For more Gathering details, see http://www.bread.org/gathering.
Larry Hollar is senior regional organizer, eastern hub states, for Bread for the World.
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