The Prison of Tihran

I’ve been asked to sing tomorrow night for the birth of Baha’u’llah.  I haven’t had much of a voice for the last few weeks as a result of catching a cold.  Usually if my throat gets sore, then I’m out of commission for a month or more sometimes!  That’s why I’m extra careful to avoid getting sick and even a little neurotic about it at times.  Anyway, because of this cold I haven’t managed to practice singing much at all.  When I did practice the song a few days ago, I lost my voice the next day!  So I was back to no singing for the next few days.
Now, the day before the performance, I’m testing my voice so I’ve sung it a few times today – so far so good.  The reason I’m pushing myself to go ahead and sing this piece tomorrow night is because it’s one of my favorite compositions.  ‘The Prison of Tihran’ from the CD, Fire and Gold, was composed when I was studying the Ruhi series – Book 4 titled ‘Twin Manifestations’ which is mostly about the history and life of Baha’u’llah.
We were asked to memorize a particular long passage about the period of time when Baha’u’llah was imprisoned in a dungeon in Tihran where He received His first intimations of His revelation in that prison.   It is such a moving passage which describes what took place and how He felt in those moments.  The only way I felt I could remember the quotation was to set it to music.  The melody came instantly for this piece which was quite miraculous considering there are long and difficult words within the quotation.  It just seemed to come together so quickly and flow so wonderfully.
When recording the piece, we chose specific instruments like the santur to make the song sound Middle Eastern and to set the tone for where Baha’u’llah was imprisoned.  As the piece progresses, the instruments keep building and the voices become more intense to bring out the emotion within the piece.  Working together with Jarome Matthew and Farshid Samandari on the score was an exciting process and quite challenging to keep the balance and not to make the song sound too chaotic.
I was moved while singing the piece which surprised me as I have heard the song so many times yet the lyrics, melody and instrumentation still take me to another realm.  The way in which Baha’u’llah describes those moments in prison are extremely touching especially knowing how much He suffered within that dungeon and how deplorably He was treated.  Here are the words of Baha’u’llah:
‘During the days I lay in the prison of Tihran, though the galling weight of the chains and the stench-filled air allowed Me but little sleep, still in those infrequent moments of slumber I felt as if something flowed from the crown of My head over My breast, even as a mighty torrent that precipitateth itself upon the earth from the summit of a lofty mountain. Every limb of My body would, as a result, be set afire. At such moments My tongue recited what no man could bear to hear.’
Here is the music for ‘The Prison of Tihran’:
[audio:https://www.elikamahony.com/wp-content/uploads/The-Prison-of-Tihran-Elika-Mahony.mp3|titles=The Prison of Tihran]

7 Comments

    Varya November 10, 2010Reply

    Thank you for sharing, dearest Elika. It is also one of my most favorite pieces of yours. I’ve been playing it for Tessa when she was going for naps or down for the night. She knows and loves your voice too. Today when I put for her Fire&Gold she said “O God Guide Me” – in her interpretation it means the prayer or prayer time.

    Shane November 10, 2010Reply

    A beautiful and most moving piece Elika. Thank you for bringing the dark days and nights of the Siyah-Chal back to life.

    Bernie November 10, 2010Reply

    This peace is very moving Elika….the music helps to get closer to a deeper understanding of the meaning of those words…so profound, so meaningful, so powerful !!

    Elika November 16, 2010Reply

    What a sweet story Varyajoon! Thanks for sharing… I can’t wait to see Tessa again – she is such a sweetheart.
    Thank you Shahrooz for your kind words. I’m so glad you enjoyed the piece.
    Dear Bernie – thank you for your love and support. Yes the words are truly powerful – can hardly contain myself when I sing them.

    Kellie November 18, 2010Reply

    Elika, this is my favorite of all your pieces–it may very well be my favorite of all Bahá’í songs. It is so riveting, so transporting, so utterly powerful. It brings me to tears so often. It is one of the primary instruments I use, when I forget who I am, to bring me back to the very essence of what it means to be a Bahá’í. It brings me right to Bahá’u’lláh. You have an extraordinary talent, Elika. I am so strengthened by your music. Thank you for who you are and who are you becoming, and thank you for sharing yourself and your music with the world. Blessings to you! Now I must go and explore your new works! 🙂

    Elika November 19, 2010Reply

    Dear Kellie, your comment moved me to tears. To know that what I love to do can bring so much joy and inspiration to others is beyond words for me. Thank you for your encouragement and support. Knowing how much this song means to you means a great deal to me and spurs me on to create and to share more. Thanks again for your kind words and I look forward to being in touch with you.

    jaleh November 20, 2010Reply

    We are so proud of you our precious Elly love. This piece is truly a master piece! we play it over and over and each time find the beauty and emotion so moving so inspiring…Thank you again for all you are doing to inspire so many of us.
    love always and ever

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