Land of the Living Songs

The songs: a definitive anthology

In the beginning
The story begins…Mordecai’s dream is prophetic. The ancient Persian Empire is the setting and the context of the drama is explained. The great King Xerxes, son of Darius, is the undisputed ruler of his domain.
for such a time as this
As she strolls through the scenic grassy plains in the Persian countryside, Hadassah recounts the events that led to the current situation her people now face. Although they are treated quite well in their exile under their Persian overlords, still they long to return to their homeland, Jerusalem.
the banquet
The scene now dramatically shifts to the bustling capital city of Susa. The great King Xerxes is hosting dignitaries from all over his realm (and outside of it) at an epic 180-day banquet. To his disdain, his beautiful wife, Queen Vashti, refuses to be displayed before the guests. She had been hosting a separate 7-day banquet for the aristocratic women of the empire. Now the king must decide how to respond to the embarrassing circumstances. Flowers
how long, Jerusalem?
As we return to the woodlands near a rural village, Hadassah and Mordecai share their divergent views of the present status of the city of Jerusalem. The city had been destroyed in 586BC by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II and the occupants had been exiled to Babylon. Then the Persians under Cyrus II defeated Babylon in 539BC. In 537, the Jews were allowed to rebuild the city. It was completed in 515, but intimidation by surrounding nations, fearing a restored kingdom, prevented the Jews from rebuilding the walls surrounding the city. A city with walls can be defended, hence the apprehension of the rival kingdoms.
The plans of xerxes
Meanwhile, in Susa, in an effort to restore his diminished pride, Xerxes calls together the high council to discuss the possibilities of a new conquest. Mardonius suggests in invasion of Greece in revenge for his father Darius’ defeat by them years before. At first the king is apprehensive, but Mardonius’ arguments convince him of the necessity of the campaign. Honor must be restored, and Greece will be the unwilling victim in this effort. Flowers
The voice of reason
Then Artabanus, brother of Darius and uncle of Xerxes, steps forward to condemn the warmongers and their futile plans. He reminds them of the possibilities of humiliating defeat. He also warns King Xerxes of the consequences of defeat for his reputation before the people.
The theme of esther
As Hadassah wanders about on a Spring day, she reflects on her tumultuous past; the loss of her parents and her childhood in exile. Her elder cousin, Mordecai, had adopted her and raised her as his own child. Although she is now 18 years old, she still struggles with her perplexing existence as an orphan. She has made peace with her situation, but throughout each day there are constant reminders that she has missed out on the full blessings of a “normal” childhood. Flowers
the great invasion
We return to the final meeting of the high council. The war will begin shortly, but many members of the council voice their opinion on the dangers that await them. The reminder of the prophecy of the priestess of the oracle of Delphi spurs the hawks on in their efforts. Xerxes recounts the vision he has had of a mysterious figure who sternly presses him to begin his preparations for war.
to the sea
As events rapidly proceed, and as the prophecy of Esther continues to unfold, Hadassah begins to become aware of her destiny. Her and the king’s worlds will soon collide, inaugurating a spectacular movement in the heavens that will have its counterpart on earth.
the defeat of Persia
Unfortunately, the Persians do not realize their ambitions with regards to Greece. The Persian Wars will continue on until the ultimate defeat of Persia by Alexander the Great in 331B Flowers
the despair of xerxes
Xerxes and his subjects, Memucan and Lord Tigranes, mourn their defeat. However, a momentous decision is made; Xerxes will seek a new wife.
a new direction
As we return to the “Yehud,” as the world of the exiled dramatically Jews is called, Hadassah and Mordecai and the entire community are celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles. Things change dramatically when Hadassah becomes aware that she has been chosen for a new role in the cosmic unfolding of fate.
the rebellion begins
Although King Xerxes and his court move forward, all is not well in the ranks of his subjects. Many disgruntled officials, including Bagatha and Tharra, two officials who guard the royal gate, plot to overthrow the king in a palace coup. They are furious at the loss to Greece in the war. Mordecai, by now also a royal guard, will hear of the plan and report it to the king’s council. Because of his loyalty, Mordecai will be promoted to a higher position in the court. This will soon lead to a dramatic showdown with a new ominous figure in the court as events continue to unfold.
better than the rest
The plot builds and events start to come into place as Hadassah finds herself in the royal court at Susa, specifically at the harem run by the chief custodian, Hegai. Hegai and his assistant, Shashgaz will groom the future potential wife of Xerxes. It is at this time that Hadassah experiences her metamorphosis into Esther. However, she must remember to keep her identity as a Jew a secret.
the king meets the king
The two chief protagonists finally find themselves in each other’s presence. Xerxes is impressed with Esther, and she realizes the potential power she will have to protect her people if need be. And need will be. Flowers
the real threat begins
We are now introduced to the most sinister antagonists in our story. Haman of Hammedatha, who will soon be promoted to vizier under Xerxes, is meeting with his wife Zeresh and his 10 sons. As his eldest son speaks of Mordecai, a lower official who refuses to bow before Haman, the future vizier reminisces on their shared history. In times past, King Saul of Israel had been ordered to annihilate King Agag the Amalekite and his people. The Amalekites had in ages past prevented the Israelites from traveling through their territory during their journeys in the deserts. The Amalekites had also harassed the Israelites in their attempts to find safety in their plight. By foolishly sparing King Agag, King Saul unwittingly allowed future generations of Israelites to deal with a formidable foe in the Amalekites. For Haman himself was an Amalekite, a descendant of Agag.
alone at last
The newly married royal couple enjoy some peaceful moments during a sunny afternoon in the fields outside of the royal palace. They speak of their deep love for one another, and Queen Esther gains wisdom as she explores the unveiling prophecies of her future. Flowers
The rebellion put down
The intended overthrow of the king by the coup leaders is stopped in its tracks. The chief conspirators, Bagatha and Tharra, are condemned to death.
The ceremony
Amidst wild celebrations, Haman is inaugurated as the new vizier of the Persian Empire. Zeresh extrapolates on the implications of the new direction in their dynasty.
The reluctant queen
Finally finding some time alone, Queen Esther laments her role as the new queen. The day-to-day life in the royal house does not suit her, and she expresses her true concern: the destiny of Jerusalem and her people. For now she must remain content to be the orphan queen she was destined to be.
A sinister plan
At this point things begin to unravel. Discouraged by the foiled coup, which Haman and his companions had actually watched with eager anticipation, the group now makes a momentous decision to take action against Mordecai and his people. The conspirators, who were friends of Haman, are dead. The next course of action is to destroy Haman’s remaining who may pose a threat against his future ambitions.
A sleepless night
In the middle of the night, the court is thrown into chaos as the king, in the midst of the recent consternation in the empire, finds himself unable to sleep. As he is reminded of the fact that Mordecai was never formally recognized for his loyalty, King Xerxes decides to move forward with a long overdue reward.
To honor mordecai
With great jubilation, Haman arrives at the royal court after hearing of the planned festivities in honor of himself, or so he thinks. Unfortunately, he is unaware that Mordecai is the one to be honored. Not only that, but Haman has been chosen to lead Mordecai through the streets on a royal horse. As he leads Mordecai through the town, Haman is made to proclaim, “This is what is done to those whom king wishes to honor!” His humiliation will lead to the culmination of dramatic events. Flowers
Strike first
Soon after the recent humiliation, Haman and his fellow conspirators appear before the king with their dire proposal. They present such a convincing case that the king agrees and issues a decree for the destruction of the people of Mordecai. Unbeknownst to the king, he has just signed the death warrant for his own queen.
A desperate prayer
The queen now prays in desperation for her people. She is reassured that help will come from another source.
From another source
As events progress toward a final showdown, Mordecai, begins to express his doubts about the chances of Esther being able to resolve the situation despite her royal position. He too, however, is convinced that help will come from another source.
The truth revealed
Several young friends of Esther and Mordecai make a desperate attempt to inform Lord Tigranes of the dire situation. The future course of history will depend on Lord Tigranes’ reaction to the revelation that the queen is actually a Jew.
Where could she be?
At the royal court, King Xerxes despairs of not having seen the queen in 30 days. Finally, she is seen by court officials approaching the palace. She knows she cannot approach the king without having been summoned. Unaware of his concern for her, she is ready to face execution in order to at last reveal her identity to the king and make an appeal for her people.
The restoration
The fateful moment arrives. Queen Esther takes a huge risk in order to intercede for her people.
The fall of haman
The court explodes into chaos as the final confrontation begins. The cosmic battle between good and evil commences as Haman and his comrades clash with Queen Esther and her companions. Mordecai dramatically confronts Haman and reiterates passionately his refusal to show honor to him.
A star is born
The people of Mordecai rejoice at the downfall of their enemy. Hegai, Shashgaz, and many others express their admiration for Esther.
in the end
In the final scene, Queen Esther, King Xerxes, and Mordecai soberly reflect on the events that have just occurred. Esther finally realizes the full extent of the prophecies that have been fulfilled.
the theme of esther revisited
A final opportunity for the listener to reflect on this epic story of redemption.