the breath of life

the breath of life” is Dan Forrest’s evocative reflection on the beauty and joy of new life juxtaposed with the pain of loss. Using choir, strings, piano, solo cello, percussion, organ, and electronics, Forrest creates a rich and poignant soundscape intertwining with profound and compelling texts from Scripture as well as classic and modern poetry. The emotional arc of the music beautifully mirrors that of life, from the miracle of birth to the bereavement of death, and the love that makes life rich and meaningful.

Audio Recording

Audio recording is now available on iTunes, Apple Music, Spotify, YouTube Music, etc.

iTunes / Apple MusicSpotifyYouTube Music

Physical CDs can be purchased from Bel Canto Company website.

Print Music

Vocals scores (for purchase) and instrumental scores/parts (for rent) will be available May 2020.

Vocal Score (Draft) Preview


1. et Deus inspiravit (and God breathed)
(Genesis 2:7)

Et Deus inspiravit in faciem eius spiraculum vitae;
et factus est homo in animam viventem.
(and God breathed into him the breath of life;
and man became a living soul.)


2. first breath last breath

When a baby boy is born
and the midwife
holds him up
as he takes
his first breath,
Place him over
the Mother’s face
so when the baby exhales
his first breath on Earth
the Mother breathes it.

And when the Mother dies,
her middle-aged son
the baby grew up to be —
by her side,
his head next to her head —
Follows her breathing with his breath
as it becomes shorter,
and as the dying Mother
exhales her last breath
her son inhales it.


3. the silent kiss
(from “A Man Young and Old”, W. B. Yeats)

In the long echoing street the laughing dancers throng,
The bride is carried to the bridegroom’s chamber
through torchlight and tumultuous song;
I celebrate the silent kiss that ends short life or long.
Never to have lived is best, ancient writers say;
Never to have drawn the breath of life,
never to have looked into the eye of day;
The second best’s a soft goodnight and quickly turn away.


epilogue: time is
(Henry Van Dyke)

Time is
Too Slow for those who Wait,
Too Swift for those who Fear,
Too Long for those who Grieve,
Too Short for those who Rejoice;
But for those who Love…

…Time is not.


Premiere Performance: October 2019, Bel Canto Company, Greensboro, NC, conducted by Dr. Welborn Young.


(TBA May 2020)

Ordering Information

(TBA May 2020)

Program Notes

the breath of life Program Notes (May 2020)