Light Eternal, The

From Wind Repertory Project
James Swearingen

James Swearingen

General Info

Year: 1992
Duration: c. 7:35
Difficulty: IV (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: C. L. Barnhouse
Cost: Score & Parts - $78.00   |   Score Only - $8.00


Full Score
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
E-flat Alto Clarinet
B-flat Bass Clarinet
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Trumpet I-II-III
French Horn I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III
String Bass
Percussion I-II-III-IV, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Brake Drum
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Glockenspiel
  • Gong (or Tam-Tam)
  • Rachet
  • Siren
  • Snare Drum
  • Suspended Cymbal
  • Tambourine
  • Triangle
  • Tubular Bells
  • Vibraphone
  • Xylophone


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

A powerful work that recounts the magnificent story of four U.S. Army chaplains who heroically sacrificed their lives during World War II. The Light Eternal is based on the well-known hymn God Of Our Fathers and is filled with an abundance of musical inventiveness that will produce a startling emotional impact on the listener.

Romanesque was commissioned by the Orville, Ohio, High School Band, Rob Hennell and Dave Tibbitis directors, and is dedicated to the memory of The Four Chaplains, Lt. G. L. Fox, Lt. A. D. Goode, Lt. C. V. Poling and Lt. J. P. Washington.

- Program Note from publisher

On February 3, 1943, The S.S. Dorchester, an American troop transport vessel, sank in the icy waters off the coast of Greenland, the victim of a German U-boat. Of the 904 men aboard, 605 were lost. Among those who perished were four Army chaplains, each of a different faith, each called to the same duty.

The testimony of the survivors tells the story best; “As overcrowded lifeboats capsized, as rafts drifted away empty and men milled around on deck on the ragged edge of panic, the only fragment of hope came from these four men… and when the life jackets were gone, they gave away their own.”

As the survivors swam away, they remember the chaplains standing – their arms linked-braced against the slanting deck. They were praying; words of prayer in Latin, Hebrew, and English, addressed to the same God.

The Light Eternal, based on the well-known hymn God of Our Fathers, is a reflective work that musically recounts this magnificent story. Commissioned by the Orrville High School Concert Band, Rob Hennell and Dave Tibbitts, directors, the premiere performance took place on May 19, 1991, at the University of Akron Wayne College in Orrville, Ohio.

It should be noted that the 50th anniversary of the story of The Four Chaplains was commemorated on February 3, 1993. A complete reprint of this moving story was printed in the June 1989 Reader’s Digest.

- Program Note from score


(Needed - please join the WRP if you can help.)

State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • Tooele Valley (Utah) Wind Ensemble (James Cavan, conductor) - 11 November 2023
  • Appalachian State University (Boone, N.C.) Concert Band (Jimmy McKenzie, conductor) - 16 February 2023
  • Northern Illinois University (DeKalb) Wind Symphony (Dani’ca Richardson, conductor) – 11 November 2022
  • West Virginia University (Morgantown) Thursday Concert Band (Justin G. McCrary, conductor) -19 April 2022
  • Karl L. King Municipal Band (Ft. Dodge, Iowa) (Jerrold Jimmerson, conductor) - 11 July 2021
  • La Sierra University (Riverside, Calif.) Wind Ensemble (David Brennan, conductor) – 15 February 2020
  • Berea (Ky.) College Wind Ensemble (James Dreiling, conductor) – 16 April 2019
  • State College Area (Penn.) Municipal Band (Ned C. Deihl, conductor)- 19 November 2017
  • Fresno (Calif.) Community Concert Band (Robert Nielsen, conductor) – 28 May 2017
  • Lone Star Symphonic Band (Kay, Tex.) (Bob Bryant, conductor) - 14 December 2014
  • Orrville (Ohio) High School Concert Band (Rob Hennell, conductor) - 3 February 1993 *Premiere Performance*

Works for Winds by This Composer

Adaptable Music

All Wind Works


  • Swaringen, J. (1992). The Light Eternal [score]. C.L. Barnhouse: Oskaloosa, Iowa.