Evensong: Of Love and Angels

Song Cycle by Dominick Argento (1927 - 2019)

Word count: 1330

1. Threnody (Orchestral prelude) [sung text checked 1 time]

— Tacet —

2. Preces : Phos Hilaron [sung text checked 1 time]

As the first candle is lighted:
An Angel (solo treble):
  Hail Gracious Light, pure brightness everlasting!
The Afflicted (mixed chorus):
  Come, long-awaited Light! Most holy, most blessed!

As the second candle is lighted: 
An Angel:
 Now as we come to the setting of the sun. 
The Afflicted:
 Now as our eyes behold the vesper light.

As the third candle is lighted: 
An Angel:
 It is meet to sing your praises,
 Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
The Afflicted:
 Ever worthy to be glorified,
 throughout all the worlds.

As the fourth candle is lighted: 
An Angel:
 O, Giver of Life!
The Afflicted:
 Come now, long-awaited Love! Come, heal us, renew us,
 let Thine living waters cleanse us and wash away our sins 
 that we may dwell with Thee in Thy glory forever.

As the fifth candle is lighted: 
An Angel:
 Light of the World!
The Afflicted:
 Let Thine everlasting Light shine upon us.

As the sixth candle is lighted: 
An Angel:
 As it was in the beginning,
The Afflicted:
 Is now, and ever shall be. Amen.

Authorship

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

3. Psalm 102 [sung text checked 1 time]

1  Hear my prayer, O LORD, 
   and let my cry come unto thee.
 Hide not thy face from me in the day when I am in trouble;
   incline thine ear unto me: 
   in the day when I call answer me speedily.
 For my days are consumed like smoke, 
   and my bones are burned as an hearth.
 My heart is smitten, and withered like grass; 
   so that I forget to eat my bread.
 By reason of the voice of my groaning 
   my bones cleave to my [skin]1.
 I am like a pelican of the wilderness: 
   I am like an owl of the desert.
 I watch, and am as a sparrow alone upon the house top.
[ ... ]

 For I have eaten ashes like bread, 
   and mingled my drink with weeping,
[ ... ]

My days are like a shadow that declineth; 
   and I am withered like grass.
[ ... ]

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1 Argento: "skin, O Lord!"

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

4. The lesson [sung text checked 1 time]

Now there is at Jerusalem a pool which is called Bethesda. Around it lay 
a multitude of invalids, blind, lame, malformed, waiting for the moving 
of the water: For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, 
and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the 
water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had.

Authorship

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

5. Sermon [sung text checked 1 time]

Picture that Angel - the Angel That Troubled the Water. His head 
enclosed in a dazzling halo made of gold as bright as the sun, 
and the wings dark red and blue, edged with rose.

In the early Renaissance a humble friar painted scores of angel-musicians 
playing strange-looking instruments in praise of God. But the Angel 
John speaks of had a special mission, a special music and his instrument 
was Divine Love. With his sacred fingers and sacred breath he stirred up
the pool, he troubled the water and miracles of healing were performed.

Today the pool of Bethesda is a relic, without so much as a drop of water 
to be troubled. Still, its parched and dusty ruins have something to 
teach us.They teach us to pray that an Angel will stir up our hearts,
will trouble our souls and move us to comfort the afflicted; to offer 
them our steadfast hope and understanding, our unflagging sympathy and
solace, and most of all, never-ending love, our eternal love. We, of 
course, cannot perform miracles of healing, but we can assuage their 
pain and suffering -- perhaps we may even palliate their fear of dying --
by showing how boundless is their significance to us, letting them know
that we will always love and remember them. Remember them forevermore.

Can we not do more than that?

Can we not do more than that? Perhaps not, for we are not Angels; we are 
mere mortals. In time we too must die, and with us all the cherished 
thoughts of those whom we have loved also die. We too survive but a while 
in the thoughts of those who loved us. Yet the love will have been enough.
What a gift from Him whose love for us is neither brief nor fragile.

Love is not consolation. It is light. And what more precious gift than that
can we bring to those afraid to face the darkness? Or to those already
standing in the shadows, longing for light? The light of love.

Yes, we are mere mortals and the gift of love comes at the cost of 
everything we are, and all that we will ever be. Giving it is the 
greatest blessing within our power. To give it is to be -- for a 
little while at least - among the Angels.

Authorship

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

6. Meditation (Orchestral intermezzo) [sung text checked 1 time]

— Tacet —

7. Canticle: Nunc Dimittis [sung text checked 1 time]

Nunc dimittis servum tuum, Domine, 
secundum verbum tuum in pace.
Quia viderunt oculi mei salutare tuum.
Quod parasti ante faciem omnium populorum.
Lumen ad revelationem gentium,
et gloriam plebis tuae Israel. 

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Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

8. Prayer/Lullaby [sung text checked 1 time]

The Angel
  Keep watch this night, dear Lord,
with those who work, or watch, or weep,
and give your angels charge over those who sleep.
Tend the sick, Lord Christ;
give rest to the weary, bless the dying,
soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted,
shield the joyous and wash away our sins
that we may dwell with thee in thy glory forever;
and all for your love's sake we pray. Amen.

Authorship

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

9. Anthem  [sung text checked 1 time]

Like sleepers, we drift down Night's cold corridors, 
Unseeing, unhearing, unfeeling. 
Then, in the distance, a ray of light 
Appears, growing into a brightness
As white as an angel's wings. 
And in its celestial glow 
Our lives are forever altered.

This radiance is love 
And in our illuminated souls 
A new knowledge is formed. 
Fantastic landscapes appear; 
Choirs of Cherubim intone 
A music never heard before: 
While compassion unveils a world 
Of warmth, kindness, unselfishness, and care.

Love is not consolation. It is light.
It is a light acquired by patience and pain,
Doubt and understanding, sorrow and forgiveness.

Encircled by torch-bearing angels 
Banishing the dark. 
We are transformed, 
Transformed and Enlightened by these blessed 
guides of love.

Love is light.

Authorship

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]