You Must Win

Lyrics by Marian Partee

Music by Christina Whitten Thomas

Mother’s Word is a song cycle exploring transformative moments in the lives of mothers from the bible. In “You Must Win,” Rebekah sings to her grown son, Jacob.


Esau is a fool. 

He hunts, he grunts.

He could never lead.

But you, my son, 

Are destined to succeed.

You have won your brother’s birthright

With your cunning and your cooking.

You’ll inherit flocks and herds and wealth.

I have taught you well.

You’ve learned what you must learn:

If you can’t prevail through honest means,

You’ll have to win by stealth.

You must win your father’s blessing

With my cunning and my cooking.

Give him wine and bread and tender meat.

Wear your brother’s clothes

And goat hide on your skin.

With your father’s potent blessing,

Men will bow down at your feet.

You’ve always been a loyal, loving son,

Content to stay home with mother…

A world apart from your feckless, reckless brother.

He has no respect for me

Or for the Lord,

So you, my youngest,

Will take his reward.

You must win our Maker’s blessing

With off’rings on the altar.

You’ll have offspring numerous as sand,

Victory in war,

And visions from our God.

With His covenant of favor,

You will take the Promised Land.

If this deception angers Isaac or the Lord,

Let the curse fall on me.

You must be who you were born to be.

Isaac Blessing Jacob by Giotto di Bondone (c.1290-1295)