In the early 1940’s, Terezin, a small town in the Czech Republic, was converted into a Nazi ghetto and quickly become the largest concentration camp in the region. More than 150,000 Jews, of which 15,000 were children, were herded onto overcrowded train cars destined for this camp, where unbeknownst to them, most all would be held until their final extermination.
Living conditions in the ghetto were atrocious and activities were highly prohibited. However, the detainees were allowed a cultural life for a short period of time by the Nazis in secret hopes to disguise the truth of the Jews predetermined fate. Terezin, unlike other camps, detained many scholars, philosophers, scientists, visual artists, and musicians of all types, some of whom had achieved international renown. There were so many musicians in Terezin at that time that there could have been two full symphony orchestras that played simultaneously. These creatives turned to music and the arts to cope with depression and the fear of their unknown future. Most of the detainees of Terezin died, but today their lives are reflected in all of the music, plays, diaries and art that was created during this unthinkable time in history.
In 2010, travels took my wife Gina and I to the town of Terezin. We still remember the profound feeling of brokenness and despair in the city as we walked the cobblestone streets and along the train tracks, that led to the entrance into the camp, derailing all of those precious souls so many years ago. We walked through building after building and caught a small glimpse of the life and story of the children through the original drawings and artwork they created while they were detained there. This experience was deeply moving and one that we will never forget. During our time there, I could imagine the music that had been penned by the composers and how they must have expressed themselves in every note. I started hearing a song well up inside of me and felt inspired to write a song to tell their story and so was born the song, simply entitled, “Terezin“.
My original composition of the song “Terezin“, as recorded on my album entitled, Hope, was written as violin solo with piano. Later, as we were preparing to go to Romania with an orchestra in the summer of 2017, we wanted to use this song in our concerts. My desire was to not only consider what happened in Terezin, but to also consider the brokenness of our world and convey that the only answer to the hurt and hopelessness of all people is through a relationship with Christ. This desire led me to pair “Terezin” with the classic worship song, “You Are My Hiding Place”. With this pairing, the message of this song was finally complete. From this context, the words from “You Are My Hiding Place” truly take on new meaning and point us all to the hope of Christ even in the midst of our broken world. The lyrics from “You Are My Hiding Place”…
You are my hiding place
You always fill my heart with songs of deliverance
Whenever I am afraid
I will trust in You
I will trust in You
Let the weak say I am strong
In the strength of the Lord
I do hope this song and arrangement moves you deeply and most of all leads you to the hope we have in Christ.