Ruth Author Roger Bayley first presented his libretto for Ruth to Ronald Beckett in 1993. The work was eventually set to music in 1996, in what would become the first of a trilogy of music dramas. John would follow in 1997; I Am... in 1998. On March 30, 1996, the first of many performances of Ruth was given by Arcady at Greenbrier Church in Brantford, Ontario, Canada. The libretto closely follows the book of Ruth, which begins with a famine in the country of Moab. A man named Elimelech took Naomi as his wife and she bore him two sons. Later, Naomi was left a widow and her sons took Ruth and Orpah as their wives. Upon the deaths of the two sons, Naomi urged her daughters-in-law to leave her and return to their native land. Orpah tearfully obeyed, but Ruth insisted on remaining at her mother-in-law's side. So Naomi and Ruth traveled together to Bethlehem where there was a kinsman of the family of Elimelech named Boaz. Ruth went into the fields to glean for grain and happened upon the fields of Boaz. Seeing her there, he asked his servant whose young woman she was. When told she had come with Naomi, Boaz was moved by her dedication to her mother-in-law and asked Ruth to stay with his maidens and work with them in his fields. Then one night, hoping to gain a new husband for Ruth, Naomi sent her to lie at the feet of Boaz as he slept. When he awoke, Ruth entreated him to purchase Elimelech's land - which, according to ancient law, would make her his wife. Boaz admired her devotion to Naomi, but had to inform her of a kinsman nearer than himself, named Malchi-Shua, who had first rights to the land. In the morning, Boaz addressed the man before the elders of the town, offering him the land and Ruth, but the man refused. So it was that Boaz took Ruth as his wife. She then bore him a son, assuring the continuation of the line of David. The main theme of Ruth is chesed: a Hebrew word meaning loyalty and faithfulness, born of a sense of caring and commitment, specifically the relationship between family members and community. Related to this theme is the subject of family continuity; the male members of the family were normally expected to perpetuate the line. In Ruth, the men are removed early in the story so the continuity is instead achieved through the women. A secondary motif in the story is that of emptiness and fullness. The land is plagued by famine then blessed by harvest. Likewise, Ruth and Naomi suffer deaths then celebrate birth. In both small and large ways emptiness is replaced by fullness and continuity.