The work of musician Justin Keller captures the sense of overwhelming awe found in the heavenly vision as described in Revelation 4:2-8.
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2 And immediately I was in the Spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne. 3 And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and therewas a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald. 4 And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold. 5 And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God. 6 And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal. And in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind.
7 And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle. 8 And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.
“Lion, Calf, Man, Eagle”
I was always fascinated with Revelation when I was a kid. I didn’t understand the symbolism (not that I do now), but the images it conjured up in my imagination were astounding. I wanted to capture some of that daydreamy wonder with this song. My normal tendency is to pile lots of stuff onto an arrangement to build it to a climax, but I decided it would be better here to give the listener the feeling of being dropped into this amazing scene that has started long ago and shows no signs of stopping or creating a crescendo.
I also went against my initial instinct with the words I chose to set. The “Holy, holy, holy” chorus is the obvious choice, but it’s been set to music many times by superior composers. I ran the passage by an editor friend of mine, and he fixated on the “full of eyes around and within” phrase. As it’s repeated, it can take on different meanings, which I love. When I first read it, I just imagined these heavenly creatures with many eyes. As I recorded the song and sang and heard the phrase over and over, its meaning shifted according to my mood and what else was on my mind. I hope the listener has a similar experience.
A few nerdy notes about the music: I came up with the rhythm section parts by using some serial composition techniques with the numbers in the passage. I love having numbers to help me set limits on my musical choices. The saxophone part was improvised as I looped the backing parts and thought about the passage. Sort of my own musical narration.
Started in Brooklyn in 2007, Land of Leland is the musical project of multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter Justin Keller. LoL’s releases include a self-titled EP and a full-length record, Home/Away, which just came out in April on Primary Records. Justin occasionally plays shows with different iterations of the band, from solo to sextet.
View more info at www.LandofLeland.com