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Only a Few Years Will Pass is a guided improvisation for piano solo by composer Jonathon Roberts in response to Job chapter 16.

Job 16:1-20

Only a Few Years Will Pass


Jonathon Roberts


Curated by: 

Spark+Echo Arts


Guided improvisation, piano solo

Image by Giorgio Trovato

Primary Scripture

Then Job answered,
“I have heard many such things.
You are all miserable comforters!
Shall vain words have an end?
Or what provokes you that you answer?
I also could speak as you do.
If your soul were in my soul’s place,
I could join words together against you,
and shake my head at you,
but I would strengthen you with my mouth.
The solace of my lips would relieve you.
“Though I speak, my grief is not subsided.
Though I forbear, what am I eased?
But now, God, you have surely worn me out.
You have made desolate all my company.
You have shriveled me up. This is a witness against me.
My leanness rises up against me.
It testifies to my face.
He has torn me in his wrath, and persecuted me.
He has gnashed on me with his teeth.
My adversary sharpens his eyes on me.
They have gaped on me with their mouth.
They have struck me on the cheek reproachfully.
They gather themselves together against me.
God delivers me to the ungodly,
and casts me into the hands of the wicked.
I was at ease, and he broke me apart.
Yes, he has taken me by the neck, and dashed me to pieces.
He has also set me up for his target.
His archers surround me.
He splits my kidneys apart, and does not spare.
He pours out my gall on the ground.
He breaks me with breach on breach.
He runs on me like a giant.
I have sewed sackcloth on my skin,
and have thrust my horn in the dust.
My face is red with weeping.
Deep darkness is on my eyelids.
Although there is no violence in my hands,
and my prayer is pure.
“Earth, don’t cover my blood.
Let my cry have no place to rest.
Even now, behold, my witness is in heaven.
He who vouches for me is on high.
My friends scoff at me.
My eyes pour out tears to God,

Job 16:1-20

Here you will find a recording of the piece and also the score so you can play your own response to Job. This piece was written as a "guided Improvisation" for piano. It was meant for a concert setting or even to be used in worship at a service that focuses on this text. The performer is given an outline with the freedom to explore certain themes. Each episode is punctuated by a recurring motive.

If you don't know the story of Job, read the full book. Chapter 16 is especially vivid and I feel has certain "improvisatory" elements that inspired this piano solo.

Spark Notes

The Artist's Reflection

Jonathon Roberts is a composer and sound designer for games, film, theatre, and ensembles. His style grew out of classical and jazz training, and evolved through quality life adventures: touring the country in an RV with a one person theater piece on the Apostle Paul, living in Brooklyn with an improv music ensemble, performing in a downtown NYC absurdist comedy band, and a long stint writing music for the renowned slot machine company, High 5 Games. He has released four albums including the latest, Cities a song cycle personifying biblical cities. He created the popular podcast/web series ComposerDad Vs. Bible, in which ComposerDad accepts intense compositional challenges from a mysterious Bible while out with his kids. He frequently collaborates on music and theater projects with his wife, actor Emily Clare Zempel. They live in Beacon, NY, with their two boys and a tangled box of electrical cords.

Jonathon Roberts

About the Artist

I Make Tents

The Sower


There Is Room

These are My Sons

Consider Me a Partner


The Day Is Almost Here



Remember Me


How Beautiful

I Am a Fool

The Constant

Ecclesiastes Cows