Courtesy of Four Larks Courtesy of Four Larks

Homeric Hymns: Visual Album (Preview)

Four Larks

The Homeric Hymns are among the oldest surviving texts from Ancient Greece. The gods, images, and ideas contained within them evidence a vast ecosystem of cultural and intellectual exchange across the Mediterranean. Our hymns are not direct translations. In the tradition of the original hymnists who continually adapted these stories over centuries, we have made them our own. We drew inspiration from the original fragmented texts, from an array of contemporary poetic translations, and from other praise music traditions, and created a set of prayers and paeans specific to the insight and anxieties of our own age.

Four Larks typically makes live performance; immersive rituals of music and design in shared space. The music videos previewed below are a testament to a time when we couldn’t congregate. We harmonized into our computers and digitally spliced together an ensemble that wasn’t able to meet in real time. In doing so we discovered new reasons to holler out praise to the ancient ideas that these gods embody. These are very old songs that continue to inspire new ways of singing. —Mat Sweeney / Four Larks

The following videos are previews of Four Larks’ forthcoming visual album. To stream the album and learn more about the project please visit:

Hymn to Dionysus (born of Semele) - hymn 1

WARNING: Homeric Hymns contains a sequence of flashing lights or strobe effects which may affect viewers with photosensitive epilepsy or other photo-sensitivities. Viewer discretion is advised.

The Homeric Hymns often served as preludes to performances and public events. We’ve constructed our own prologue from the fragmented first hymn to Dionysus. We adapt the story of his genesis, born from his mortal mother Semele’s desire to look directly upon God’s true form. In the most common telling of this story, pregnant Semele is obliterated by the sight of her divine lover Zeus. Here we shift the narrative frame and ceremonially conjure Dionysus, imploring the “bull-god” of performance, madness, and transformation to bless our proceedings.

Run Time: 5:20

Hymn to Gaia - hymn 30

This is the first of a trilogy of hymns to the earth, sun, and moon that anchor our sequence of adapted hymns. Here we sing to the earth itself—the “eldest” of all the deities and the “mother of all”—and bless the foundation from which all things are generated, and all stories are set.

Run Time: 4:47

Hymn to Demeter - hymn 2

Demeter, goddess of the harvest, mourns her daughter Persephone and wanders through a wasteland of her own grief. This hymn ends with a divine compromise in which Persephone returns from the underworld every spring to reunite with her mother. Upon eating pomegranate seeds, Persephone is eternally bound to the realm of the dead but carries within her the cyclical promise of new life. Our adaptation condenses the story to focus on the relationship between mother and daughter—an enduring metaphor for processing loss and navigating the bonds between death and life, joy and despair.

Run Time: 11:26

Hymn to Helios - hymn 31

The Homeric Hymns draw a recurring distinction between “death-less” gods and “death-prone” mortals. This hymn offers a magnificent personification of the sun “riding his chariot” across the sky each day. His daily journey is constant and eternal, undisturbed by the comparative trivialities of mortal life, reminding us of the scale of the universe that dwarfs our existence and marks the limited days we are witness to its splendor. The hymn's poetic expression of our mortality acquires a new dimension when viewed through a 21st-century lens, now knowing our capacity to distort the cycles of nature that facilitate human life.

Run Time: 3:32

Hymn to Dionysus (the Liberator) - hymn 7

Thinking they’ve captured a prince, a band of Tyrrhenian pirates steal Dionysus aboard their ship. Once they’ve drifted beyond the shore, their captive transforms into a glowing giant and conjures a heavenly storm. The revealed Dionysus then wraps the ship in grapevines, turns the ocean into wine, and the pirates into dolphins—who swim away, reminding future sailors to be more discerning in their exploits. This hymn invites us into a realm where hierarchies are flipped upside-down, form is fluid, and wine is queen.

Run Time: 7:30

Hymn to Selene - hymn 32

The last of our tributes to the orbiting spheres goes to the glowing moon. Selene, like her brother Helios, rides a chariot across the sky. She is a beacon and a signal, of beauty and of hope. She is a “marker” of possibility, guiding the lost and carving light into the darkness.

Run Time: 3:26

Hymn to Xenoi - hymn 34

Hellenic polytheism allows for a fluidity of belief in which the worship of one community's god doesn’t necessarily exclude the worship of another; the gods and their stories can be traded and mutually celebrated. The ethical code expressed in the Homeric Hymns places hospitality above all. This hymn to Xenoi (meaning “foreign ones” or “guest-friends”) is the only song not addressed to a specific deity. It is an offering to the stranger passing by, who may just reveal themselves to be a god.

Run Time: 2:57

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Four Larks - Artistic & Music Director: Mat Sweeney, Production & Design Director: Sebastian Peters-Lazaro

Written & Composed by Mat Sweeney, with Ellen Warkentine (Collaborative Composer), Jesse Rasmussen (Lyrical Collaborator), and Sebastian Peters-Lazaro (Additional Development & Dramaturgy) **


Max Baumgarten, Sharon Chohi Kim, Hyosun Choi, Lu Coy, Yvette Cornelia Holzwarth, Kasper, Jett Kwong Kelly, Joanna Lynn-Jacobs, Malachi Middleton, Lukas Papenfusscline, Theodosia Roussos, Mat Sweeney, Rosanna Tavarez, James Waterman, James Vitz-Wong

Additional Musicians:

Philip Graulty, Matt Orenstein, Sebastian Peters-Lazaro, Tom Peyton, Prudence Rees-Lee, Lisa Salvo, Ellen Warkentine


Film Director: Christin Turner
Director of Photography: Loreto Di Cesare

Direction and Staging: Mat Sweeney & Sebastian Peters-Lazaro
Additional Choreography: Hyosun Choi

Costume Designer: Lena Sands
Makeup and Hair Designer: Pamela Bjorklund
Properties and Headpiece Design and Construction: Sebastian Peters-Lazaro
Additional Design & Construction: Katherine M. Clark (Headpieces for Demeter & Persephone) & Alan Tollefson (Helios’ Wheel)

Producer / Assistant Director: Miranda Peters-Lazaro
Line Producer: Xiaoyue Zhang
2nd Camera: Elijah Garcia
Assistant Camera: Ari Nevarez

Editor: Christin Turner
Assistant Editors: Sebastian Peters-Lazaro & Mat Sweeney
Color Correction by: Matteo Saradini


Produced by Matt Orenstein (Mixing), Mat Sweeney (Music Direction), & James Vitz-Wong (Editing, Engineering, & Additional Mixing)

Principal Arrangements: Yvette Cornelia Holzwarth, Matt Orenstein, Mat Sweeney, & Ellen Warkentine
Percussion Arrangements & Additional Audio Facilitation: James Waterman
Additional Arrangements by: Lu Coy, Danny Echevarria, Philip Graulty, Sharon Chohi Kim, Jett Kwong Kelly, Lukas Papenfusscline, Tom Peyton, Prudence Rees-Lee, Theodosia Roussos, Lisa Salvo, & James Vitz-Wong

Recorded by the performers at their homes, facilitated by James Vitz-Wong
Mastering: Brendan Byrnes

**The lyrics were created with consult and inspiration from various translations of the Homeric Hymns including those by Hugh Evelyn-White, Peter McDonald, Gregory Nagy, Diane Rayor, Sarah Ruden, etc

Passages of the original texts were selected in consultation with and pronunciation coached by Dr. Kathryn Morgan (UCLA Classics Department)

Additional Production Credits:

Costume Construction and Wardrobe Assistant: Ashphord Jacoway
Costume Construction: Miranda Tejeda
Additional Make-Up Artists: Maria Abreu, Hannah Coyoc, Jake C. Barber, & Rachel Lorsch
Assistant Hair Stylist: Chloe-nil Acerol

Second Assistant Director: Joe Garrity
Assistant Production Manager: Crystal Gehr
Filming Audio Facilitator: James Vitz-Wong, with Mat Sweeney & Sebastian Peters-Lazaro
Production Assistants: Gezelle Barajas, Nicholas Ceballos, Anthony Lezama, Robby Meredith, Victoria Tavera

This project was supported in part by the Getty Villa Theater Lab:

Laurel Kishi: Executive Producer (Getty Villa)
Ralph Flores: Executive Producer (Getty Villa)
Anna Woo: Executive Producer (Getty Villa)
Dr. Shelby Brown: Senior Education Specialist (Getty Villa)
Technical Production: Heather Alvear, Chris Jeong, Marvin Jones (Getty Villa)
Heather Leisy: Events Manager (Getty Villa)
Aaron Lee Harvey: Events Coordinator (Getty Villa)

With additional support from:

University of La Verne Theatre Arts Department (Alan Tollefson, Technical Director/Producer, and Tom Ontiveros, Associate Professor) and the Digital Media Department (Morgan Sandler, Associate Professor)

The UCLA Stavros Niarchos Foundation Center for the Study of Hellenic Culture (Sharon E. J. Gerstel, Director)

Network of Ensemble Theaters NET/TEN Summer Virtual Exploration Grant

Additional Post-Production work was done by Mat Sweeney & Sebastian Peters-Lazaro as Fellows at the Bogliasco Foundation Study Center

Special thanks to:

Corby Baumgarten, Regan Baumgarten, Patricia Garza, Sharon E.J. Gerstel, Davina Moss, Mary Papenfuss, Martin Perret, Andrea Peters, Robyn & Gabriel Peters-Lazaro, Jim & Jenise Sweeney, Craig & Anne Turner, Alan Tollefson
UCLA Department of Classics, The Make-Up Designory

For full credits and bios visit:

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