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Mid-Winter Songs

March 16, 2024

First United Methodist Church

Grand Rapids

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Artistic Director
Dr. Christopher Mason

Mid-Winter Artists

Texts & Translations

WINTER

Patterns on the Snow
Mari Valverde

Lose the pain in the snow

Where all footsteps melt

And the magic trance

Bids you rise and follow

Forgetting all you felt

Except the dance, except the dance.

 

Lose the pain in the love

Where all being flows

Though the step is intricate

Still as through the dance you move

Silently the pattern grows

To include, not to reject.

 

Lose the pain in the living

Where the self however haunted

Dances on because it must,

All forgiving, all forgiving.

Lose again all that you wanted

Except trust, except trust.

 

Lose the pain in the faith

Gladly as the dance grows graver,

Love and living both let go,

Love and pain be danced to death

Let the dancer never waver

Drawing patterns on the snow.

 

-May Sarton (1912-1995)

Mid-Winter Songs
Morten Lauridsen

I. Lament for Pasiphaë

Dying sun, shine warm a little longer!

My eye, dazzled with tears, shall dazzle yours,

Conjuring you to shine and not to move.

You, sun, and I all afternoon have laboured

Beneath a dewless and oppressive cloud--

a fleece now gilded with our common grief

That this must be a night without a moon.

Dying sun, shine warm a little longer!

Faithless she was not: she was very woman,

Smiling with dire impartiality,

Sovereign, with heart unmatched, adored of men,

Until Spring’s cuckoo with bedraggled plumes

Tempted her pity and her truth betrayed.

Then she who shone for all resigned her being,

And this must be a night without a moon.

Dying sun, shine warm a little longer!

 

II. Like Snow

She, then, like snow in a dark night,

Fell secretly. And the world waked

With dazzling of the drowsy eye,

So that some muttered ‘Too much light,’

And drew the curtains close.

Like snow, warmer than fingers feared,

And to soil friendly;

Holding the histories of the night

In yet unmelted tracks.

 

III. She Tells Her Love While Half Asleep

She tells her love while half asleep,

In the dark hours,

With half-words whispered low:

As Earth stirs in her winter sleep

And puts out grass and flowers

Despite the snow,

Despite the falling snow.

 

IV. Mid-Winter Waking

Stirring suddenly from long hibernation

I knew myself once more a poet

Guarded by timeless principalities

Against the worm of death, this hillside haunting;

And presently dared open both my eyes.

O gracious, lofty, shone against from under,

Back-of-the-mind-far clouds like towers;

And you, sudden warm airs that blow

Before the expected season of new blossom,

While sheep still gnaw at roots and lambless go—

Be witness that on waking, this mid-winter,

I found her hand in mine laid closely

Who shall watch out the Spring with me.

We stared in silence all around us

But found no winter anywhere to see.

 

V. Intercession in Late October

How hard the year dies: no frost yet.

On drifts of yellow sand Midas reclines,

Fearless of moaning reed or sullen wave.

Firm and fragrant still the brambleberries.

On ivy-bloom butterflies wag.

Spare him a little longer, Crone,

For his clean hands and love-submissive heart.

 

-Robert Graves (1895-1985)

DARK NIGHT

Te lucis ante terminum
Thomas Tallis

Te lucis ante terminum,

Rerum Creator poscimus,

Ut solita clementia

Sis præsul ad custodiam.

 

Procul recedant somnia,

Et noctium phantasmata;

Hostemque nostrum comprime,

Ne polluantur corpora.

 

Præsta, Pater omnipotens,

Per Iesum Christum Dominum,

Qui tecum in perpetuum

Regnat cum Sancto Spiritu. Amen.

 

Before the ending of the day,

Creator of the world, we pray

That with thy wonted favor, Thou

Would'st be our guard and keeper now.

 

From all ill dreams defend our eyes,

From nightly fears and fantasies;

Tread under foot our ghostly foe,

That no pollution we may know.

 

O Father, that we ask be done,

Through Jesus Christ, Thine only Son;

Who, with the Holy Ghost and Thee,

Shall live and reign eternally. Amen.

 

-Hymn for Compline 

-English Translation by J. M. Neale

Nachtleid
Heinrich von Herzogenberg

Quellende, schwellende Nacht, 

Voll von Lichtern und Sternen: 

In den ewigen Fernen, 

Sage, was ist da erwacht? 

 

Herz in der Brust wird beengt; 

Steigendes, neigendes Leben, 

Riesenhaft fühle ich's weben, 

Welches das meine verdrängt. 

 

Schlaf, da nahst du dich leis', 

Wie dem Kinde die Amme, 

Und um die dürftige Flamme 

Ziehst du den schützenden Kreis.

Night Song

 

Welling, swelling night,

Full of lights and stars:

In the eternal distances,

Tell me, what has awakened?

 

The heart in my chest becomes cramped;

Rising, inclining life,

I feel it moving enormously,

Which suppresses my heart.

 

Sleep, you approach quietly,

Like a wet nurse to a child,

And about the meager flame

You draw the protective circle.

 

-Friedrich Hebbel (1813-1863)

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