18 January 2016

Lighten our Darkness ...

Lighten our darkness …

The swirling waters of the great river 
leave behind the bustle 
of the noon-tide port,
the scream of sirens,
and the rattling of grain
pouring into boxes on the Quay.
The river, calm now, 
flows into the roseate West 
and the tired sun sinks lazily 
into a darkening sea.

In the Minster 
the evening candles have been lit,
their shadows dancing 
like grasses in the wind
spread across the stone altar
in the old chapel
where the red light hangs, 
a perpetual reminder 
that this is a place 
of sanctuary and of prayer.

Beside the estuary 
and across the vast expanse
of mud and marsh and sand,
pink footed geese 
fly home to their roost, 
while the curlew’s haunting cry
faintly echoes the bell’s 
summons to Evensong,
there to give thanks for the day,
and pray for a quiet night.

“Lighten our darkness 
we beseech thee O Lord”
The ancient chapel stirs,
the old words reverberate
and gather darkly 
in the rafters high above,
as tiny candle flames 
leap suddenly upwards, 
haloes of light in darkness, 
an answer to prayer.

The sky above the estuary is filled 
with the dusky mist of evening.
A lamb stranded on the Sea Bank
calls for its mother, 
but only a Barn Owl hoots
as he swoops low 
across the salt marsh
to find his fishing ground,
at the edge 
of the wide river. 

Tomorrow the sun will rise again
into the eastern sky, 
and the world will be remade 
as it has been daily since 
those first bright days of creation.
While tonight, 
far away across the marsh, 
a lone blackbird still sings,
and we shall rest 
in the arms of a loving God.

08 January 2016

A poem for the New Year

In the beginning, Music …

At the 1799 first public performance of Haydn’s Creation in Vienna, the Overture, the first recitative and Chorus were all written around the sombre key of C minor.  The following section with its unexpectedly bold opening fortissimo chord of C major, marking the creation of Light, so electrified the Viennese audience that, for some minutes, the orchestra was unable to move on to the Introduction to the first Tenor aria.

In the perpetual stygean darkness
of a desolate void and turbulent gloom. 
Haydn heard dark chords empty and disparate,
cadences disappeared like hope before dawn.
Chaos reigned, sad lonely monarch of nothing,
faithless and sinister, faceless and threatening,
cloaked in a mantle of grey shadows and fear.

But the Spirit of God moved a new dawning,
lichen and mosses unfurled their drab beauty
quietly chanting their first sunrise hymn,
singing clouds sailed stately over blue waters,
and breezes blew through the stems of tall reeds
like far distant oboes announcing the news
that Creation’s Odyssey was now begun.

Following the music the journey continues
as trumpets of flowers call us to prayer,
the meandering stream’s soft ostinato
offers its song to the still summer evening,
and fluting owls in the cool gathering dusk 
sing praises and psalms once heard in a garden,
reflections of Paradise from the deep night. 

God’s were the melodies sung by Creation,
stars in the night sky his sweet psalteries of gold,
and carolling birds his immutable choir.
’Twas Love first struck the great Chord of C major,
but the genius of Haydn echoed its sound
opening our eyes to a glory unending,
revealed to us all in that vast burst of light.