Ruth, a chancel opera

Children's and Liturgical Opera Company, LLC




a chancel opera based on the Book of Ruth

by Susan Hulsman Bingham

Doré Bible Illustrations:



Ruth (choose between soprano or mezzo soprano), Orpah (sopranos), Naomi (mezzo soprano), Villagers (men, women, children, all ranges), Boaz (choose between bass baritone or tenor), Reapers (low tenor range)


piano or organ


treble or SATB choir




minimal household materials. Details in score.


based on the Book of Ruth; adaptation by
Susan Bingham




tonal, melodic, some chant, lyrical


Six short scenes


twenty minutes


Listen to entire piece, earlier version with lower voices -- or scroll through sections to get a sense of this opera (high version).
Watch a YouTube dress rehearsal of entire chancel opera, newer version with high voices.

Trinity Church on the Green
New Haven, CT, 1983

COMPOSER'S NOTE: "Ruth" comes in two versions. In the first, Ruth is sung by a mezzo soprano or lower soprano, and Boaz is sung by a bass baritone. In the second version, Ruth is sung by a high soprano and Boaz by a tenor. Please note "high version" or "low version" when ordering.



Naomi laments her dead husband and sons. She grieves that she has been left in her husband's land of Moab rather than her native Judah, and that her two daughters-in-law have been left childless. Though her two daughters-in-law are Moabitish women, Naomi invites them to go to Judah with her, but just as quickly changes her mind, believing that they would be happier in their own land. One daughter-in-law, Orpah, does decide to remain. Ruth, however, sings the famous lines, "Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee. For whither thou goest, I will go, and thy God shall be my God . . . "

Ruth and Naomi travel to Judah and are greeted by townsfolk. They set up precarious housekeeping, but since they are desperately poor, Ruth, following the custom of the time, goes to Boaz’s fields, since he is a kinsman of Naomi, and gleans grain left behind by the reapers. Boaz takes notice of her, welcomes her, feeds her, and tells her she should feel free to glean in his fields. Ruth returns home with her apron filled with grain. Naomi realizes that since Boaz might be the next of kin, perhaps he could marry Ruth and thus give Naomi back her inheritance -- that is, grandchildren who will carry on the family name.

Naomi suggests that Ruth go to the threshing floor late at night, lift up Boaz's garment, and sleep at his feet, as was customary at the time.With trepidation, Ruth carries out her mother-in-law's suggestion. Boaz is touched and amazed. Soberly, in the dark, he and she shape their plans. They sleep, and at dawn Boaz sends Ruth home with another large bag of grain.

Later, having cleared his plan with other possibly eligible kinsmen, Boaz announces that he has bought land from Naomi's family and that he has taken Ruth for his wife.

Ruth bears a son named Obed, who later fathers Jesse, who is the father of King David. The townsfolk end this piece, singing of the birth of Obed and prophesying that this holy line will lead to the birth of Our Lord.

Piano/ vocal score for the chancel opera RUTH (high voices): $50. Includes shipping within the U.S. as well as copying and performing rights (see contract which accompanies order form for more details).

Piano/ vocal score for the chancel opera RUTH (low voices): $50. Includes shipping within the U.S. as well as copying and performing rights (see contract which accompanies order form for more details).

Downloadable PDF file of musical score: $25.

CD of four chancel operas (LEARNING TO PRAY, THE SACRIFICE OF ISAAC, RUTH, and A CONVERSATION BETWEEN MARY AND THE ANGEL GABRIEL): $20. Price includes shipping within the U.S. form).



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