Written for the 2016 Rautavaara Contest Helsinki Choir (SMATBB)

Score availble on request.

Program notes

Drawing from ancient texts, a Christian hymn in Greek and a Jewish prayer in Hebrew, this work tries to get both religions in dialogue. Both texts are sung or said in the evening, just before sleep and are set using different musical textures. The Phos Hilaron uses homophony with quintal and mirrored harmonies, while the haMapil uses a canonic texture with hexachordal harmonies. Together with the polyrhythms this paints the difficulty of dialogue.

This clashes when the female voices arive at a static moment, praising the trinity, a highlight in christian theology; which from a Jewish perspective is nothing but an bad dream.
There is however overlap in both texts, the light (Φῶς, l.1 and וְהָאֵר 3 times in l.6-8), and a moment where the immortality of God is juxtaposed with the mortality of men.
At a certain point both prayers seem to agree with each other, even to the extent that the texture of the male voices become more homophonic, and the female voices break out of their rigid homophony. The coda surrenders to sleep, as a lullaby is supposed to do. The question remains whether the dialogue is put to rest.

Text and translation

Phos Hilaron

Φῶς ἱλαρὸν ἁγίας δόξης
ἀθανάτου Πατρός,
O Light gladsome of the holy glory
of the Immortal Father,
οὐρανίου, ἁγίου, μάκαρος,
Ἰησοῦ Χριστέ,
the Heavenly, the Holy, the Blessed,
O Jesus Christ,
3.ἐλθόντες ἐπὶ τὴν ἡλίου δύσιν, having come upon the setting of the sun,
4.ἰδόντες φῶς ἑσπερινόν, having seen the light of the evening,
ὑμνοῦμεν Πατέρα, Υἱόν,
καὶ ἅγιον Πνεῦμα, Θεόν.
we praise the Father, the Son,
and the Holy Spirit: God.
6.Ἄξιόν σε ἐν πᾶσι καιροῖς ὑμνεῖσθαι
φωναῖς αἰσίαις,
Worthy it is at all times to praise Thee
in joyful voices,
7.Υἱὲ Θεοῦ, ζωὴν ὁ διδούς· O Son of God, Giver of Life,
8.διὸ ὁ κόσμος σὲ δοξάζει. for which the world glorifies Thee.

Baruch HaMapil

1. בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם Blessed are you, Lord our God, Ruler of the Universe
2. הַמַּפִּיל חֶבְלֵי שֵׁנָה עַל עֵינָי who causes the bands of sleep to fall upon my eyes
וּתְנוּמָה עַל עַפְעַפָּי and slumber on my eyelids,
וִיהִי רָצוֹן מִלְפָנֶיךָ
יְיָ אֱלֹהַי וְאֱלֹהֵי אֲבוֹתַי
May it be Thy will,
O Lord, my God, and God of my fathers,
4. שֶׁתַּשְׁכִּיבֵנִי לְשָׁלוֹם to make me lie down in peace,
וְתַעֲמִידֵנִי לְשָׁלוֹם and raise me up in peace.
5. וְאַל יְבַהֲלוּנִי רַעְיוֹנַי And let not disturb me, my ideas,
וַחֲלוֹמוֹת רָעִים וְהִרְהוּרִים רָעִים evil dreams and evil thoughts.
6. וּתְהֵא מִטָּתִי שְׁלֵמָה לְפָנֶיךָ And may my couch be flawless before Thee,
וְהָאֵר עֵינַי פֶּן אִישַׁן הַמָּוֶת and enlighten mine eyes lest I sleep the sleep of death.
7. כִּי אַתָּה הַמֵּאִיר לְאִישׁוֹן בַּת עַיִן For you give light to the apple of the eye.
8. בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ Blessed art Thou, oh Lord,
הַמֵּאִיר לָעוֹלָם כֻּלוֹ בִּכְבוֹדוֹ: who givest light to the whole world with His glory.