Originally written for male chorus and orchestra, Ives rearranged "Duty" for voice and piano in 1921. Its partner song, "Vita," is a Latin text by Manlius. Ruth C. Friedberg states: "Ives' original subtitle--'Two slants, or, Christian and Pagan'--refers to a church sermon heard in Redding, Connecticut, which was the inspiration for these two songs."
by Ralph Waldo Emerson
So nigh is grandeur to our dust,
So near is God to man;
When Duty whispers low "Thou must,"
The youth replies "I can!"