Stephen Sondheim died November 26, 2021, at the age of 91. The obituary in The New York Times described him as "the theater’s most revered and influential composer-lyricist of the last half of the 20th century and the driving force behind some of Broadway’s most beloved and celebrated shows." He was known for his collaborative style and his ceaseless encouragement of actors, writers, and composers. I can attest to that. After his death, I got out a note I had received from Sondheim years ago. He said that he was unable to attend my show, but I should keep writing. And I have. Below is my prayer of gratitude for Stephen Sondheim.

And so we pray this news . . .

Hey, old friend.

Genius and generosity don’t often go hand-in-hand,
But they were balanced and harmonized in you,
Offered up in equal measure,
Through lyric, melody, moments, and mentorship,
Reminding us that,
While being alive can drive a person crazy,
Though demons may be prowling,
There’s a place for us, and no one is alone.

Giant and microscopic might often be opposites,
But they were married in your music,
Sweeping emotion and scalpel-sharp wit,
Heaving heart and searing smarts,
Every ache assuring us that,
No matter how we might regret the roads we didn’t take,
No matter what might break,
There is power in simply putting it all back together and moving on.

Now, with so little to be sure of,
As you journey beyond the hills of tomorrow,
You leave us, your fans, your friends,
To listen like sorry-grateful children
To this wondrous world that you made into a star
Simply by calling our attention
To one another,
To ourselves,
To color and light,
To passion,
To happiness,
To the perfect rhymes packed inside every epiphany of this imperfect canvas,
And you’re still here,
Urging us to not let another day go by,
To rise above being nice to pursue being good,
Not later, not soon, but now,
Even if everybody says “Don’t,”
Because that is what you were,
Because that is who you are:
A great who rocked us all by actually being good.


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