We celebrate Esther, the Jewish Queen of Persia in art, poetry and music.

Esther – Painting by Silvia Dimitrova (2020)

Credit: Esther – Painting by Silvia Dimitrova (2020)

Esther 4:6-17

Hathach went out to Mordecai in the open square of the city in front of the king’s gate, and Mordecai told him all that had happened to him, and the exact sum of money that Haman had promised to pay into the king’s treasuries for the destruction of the Jews. Mordecai also gave him a copy of the written decree issued in Susa for their destruction, that he might show it to Esther, explain it to her, and charge her to go to the king to make supplication to him and entreat him for her people.

Hathach went and told Esther what Mordecai had said. 10 Then Esther spoke to Hathach and gave him a message for Mordecai, saying, 11 ‘All the king’s servants and the people of the king’s provinces know that if any man or woman goes to the king inside the inner court without being called, there is but one law—all alike are to be put to death. Only if the king holds out the golden sceptre to someone, may that person live. I myself have not been called to come in to the king for thirty days.’ 12 When they told Mordecai what Esther had said, 13 Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, ‘Do not think that in the king’s palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. 14 For if you keep silence at such a time as this, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another quarter, but you and your father’s family will perish. Who knows? Perhaps you have come to royal dignity for just such a time as this.’ 15 Then Esther said in reply to Mordecai, 16 ‘Go, gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my behalf, and neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. I and my maids will also fast as you do. After that I will go to the king, though it is against the law; and if I perish, I perish.’ 17 Mordecai then went away and did everything as Esther had ordered him.

Esther by Graham Kings

Who is this woman,
Framed by arches,
Beautiful, bountiful,
Centred, subtle, shrewd,
Carrying scented lilies?

Who is this man,
Pictured with pillars,
Royal, imperial,
Majestic, magnetic,
Extending his sceptre?

Who is this man,
Holding a scroll, eyes alert,
Beckoning, suggesting,
Suppliant, petitioning?

Who is this man,
Head down, eyes closed,
Gallowed, glowering,
Schemer, scowling?

Who are these girls,
Gazing at us,
And the woman,
With posy and scroll?

Esther, Jewish Queen of Persia,
Orphaned, adopted, awesome,
Raised to the heights,
Reticent, persuasive, risk-taker,
‘If I perish, I perish’,
Bravely delivers her race,
From depths of death.

Xerxes, King of Persian Empire,
Reigns in citadel of Susa,
From India to Ethiopia,
Opulent, hospitable, terrifying,
Saved by Esther from murder,
Hears her pleas for her people.

Mordecai, cousin of Esther,
Foster-father, chronicler,
Honourably perceptive:
‘Perhaps you have come
To royal dignity
For such a time as this?’

Haman, vizier of Xerxes,
Machiavellian murderer,
Plans destruction of Jews:
Snarler ensnared,
Worsted, reversed, hoisted,
Despised for ever.

Jewish children and families,
Throughout the ages,
Celebrate Purim,
Reading the scroll,
Feasting and sharing,
Remembering friendship and revenge.

Yet, the Jew of Nazareth
Enjoins love for enemies,
Endures imperial gallows,
Absorbing vengeance:
Death is destroyed by
Esther’s successor at Easter.

© Graham Kings, Nourishing Connections (Canterbury Press, 2020).

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Permissions for Churches to show the paintings.
We encourage churches to use the paintings in PowerPoint presentations.
There is no charge for this, but the copyright wording should be:
‘Esther’ by Silvia Dimitrova, commissioned by Alison and Graham Kings. and 

The poems are published with photos of the paintings in ‘Nourishing Connections’, Canterbury Press, 2020.

The CD of the seven anthems is available here:

A 17-minute Fugue State Films video of the world premiere of Tristan’s anthems at St Stephen, Walbrook, London, 14 June 2023, can be seen here: 

Church Times podcast, featuring the project, with interviews with Silvia, Graham and Tristan, may be heard here: