Evening Song

Evening Song: Rest, Ralph Vaughan Williams with text by Christina Rossetti

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Hear this live Saturday, June 4, 2016 | 7:30 PM | St. Matthew’s Episcopal | Lincoln, Nebraska

Printable program

Christina Rossetti (1830 – 1894)
Christina Rossetti (1830 – 1894)

Christina Rossetti was an English poet of the Victorian era. She and Elizabeth Barrett Browning are considered the greatest female poets of their time. Rossetti’s poetry was also famously set in the popular Christmas songs, In the Bleak Midwinter and Love Came Down at Christmas. We feel fortunate to sing Ralph Vaughan Williams’ stunning setting of Rest (text below).

O Earth, lie heavily upon her eyes;
Seal her sweet eyes weary of watching, Earth;
Lie close around her; leave no room for mirth
With its harsh laughter, nor for sound of sighs.
She hath no questions, she hath no replies,
Hushed in and curtained with a blessed dearth
Of all that irked her from the hour of birth;
With stillness that is almost Paradise.
Darkness more clear than noon-day holdeth her,
Silence more musical than any song;
Even her very heart has ceased to stir:
Until the morning of Eternity
Her rest shall not begin nor end, but be;
And when she wakes she will not think it long.

Rossetti experimented with many poetic forms, and followed the Romantic tradition of meditations on death and loss. Rest follows that tradition, using the Italian Sonnet form (abba abba bcb ddc). Vaughan Williams’ phrasing masterfully follows the speech rhythm and line length of the poetry while adding an emotional undercurrent that cannot be expressed in words. You probably won’t hum this tune as you leave the concert. Instead, you will certain to carry it with you when you leave, in the “silence more musical than song.”

The performance of Rest below is by the King’s Singers.

Evening Song: Lamentation Over Boston, William Billings

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Hear this live Saturday, June 4, 2016 | 7:30 PM | St. Matthew’s Episcopal | Lincoln, Nebraska
Printable program

William Billings (1746 –1800)
William Billings (1746 –1800)

William Billings was born in Boston, and is largely regarded as America’s first choral composer. He was dedicated to the art of singing, and listed as “singing master” in the Boston city directory until 1798. Billings lived during a violent period of America’s history. The Revolution began when he was 29-years old, and lasted until after his death, nearly half of his life. Billings’ Lamentation Over Boston bases its text on Psalm 137 (below), drawing parallels between the Israelites’ lamentation over the destruction of Jerusalem and the unrest of his native Boston. It is a powerful and passionate piece of American history.

Psalm 137, King James Version
By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion.
We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof.
For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song; and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion.
How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?
If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning.
If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy.
Remember, O Lord, the children of Edom in the day of Jerusalem; who said, Rase it, rase it, even to the foundation thereof.
O daughter of Babylon, who art to be destroyed; happy shall he be, that rewardeth thee as thou hast served us.
Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.

Below is a performance by the Minneapolis-based group, Cantus. We are very pleased that one of our former members, Chris Foss, sings, arranges, and programs music for that stunning group of singers.

Evening Song: Mass for Four Voices, William Byrd

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Hear this live Saturday, June 4, 2016 | 7:30 PM | St. Matthew’s Episcopal | Lincoln, Nebraska
Printable program

William Byrd (c.1540 – 1623)
William Byrd (c.1540 – 1623)

William Byrd was an English Renaissance composer, writing during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. Over the years movements of his Mass for Four Voices have become a staple in the Dulces Voces repertoire. We have rarely performed the entire work, so this concert will be a treat for us.

While Byrd composed during the Elizabethan period, the mass itself has characteristics of an earlier Tudor style. Some scholars assert the Mass for Four Voices was modeled after John Taverner’s (c. 1490 – 1545) Mean Mass. Byrd’s Mass peppers semi-choir sections throughout the work. Those sections are delicate confections that are both satisfying to sing and hear. Byrd composed three settings of the Ordinary of the Mass, for four, three, and five voices. The editions were undated, did not name the printer, and were thin to allow them to be concealed. Bibliographic analysis suggests these works were publish in the 1590s, a time when many Catholics feared for their lives, and merely possessing the books would be dangerous. Given the history, it is possible Byrd’s mass was written in an earlier style to further conceal the origin of the composition.

The performance below (not Dulces Voces) is the Gloria movement of the Mass for Four Voices.

Evening Song
June 4, 2016, 7:30 PM
St. Matthew’s Episcopal
Lincoln, Nebraska

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Dulces Voces presents, Evening Song: Saturday, June 4, 2016Evening Song is a concert of vocal music, performed by the “sweet voices” of Dulces Voces.

Saturday, June 4, 2016
7:30 PM
St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church
24th and Park Avenue
Lincoln, Nebraska

This concert features the William Byrd Mass for Four Voices, and includes music by William Billings and Zoltan Kodaly.

Freewill offerings are welcomed.  We look forward to seeing you there!

Printable program


Mass for Four Voices, William Byrd (c.1540 – 1623)

Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

Glory to God in the highest, and peace to his people on earth.
Lord God, heavenly King, almighty God and Father,
we worship you, we give you thanks,
we praise you for your glory.
Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father,
Lord God, Lamb of God,
You take away the sin of the world: have mercy on us;
You are seated at the right hand of the Father: receive our prayer.
For You alone are the Holy One. You alone are the Lord,
You alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit,
in the glory of God the Father. Amen.

We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father: by whom all things were made; who for us men, and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man. He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, and suffered, and was buried, and the third day he rose again, according to the Scriptures, and ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of the Father; from thence he shall come again, with glory, to judge the living and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end; and in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of life, who proceedeth from the Father, who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified, who spake by the prophets; and in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

Holy, holy, holy Lord God of Hosts.
Heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.

Agnus Dei
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, grant us peace.


O quam gloriosum, Tomas Luis de Victoria (1548-1611)
O how glorious is the kingdom
in which all the saints rejoice with Christ,
clad in robes of white
they follow the Lamb wherever he goes.

Sfogava con le stelle, Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643)
He vented with the stars
a man infirmed by love
beneath the night sky his grief.
And he said, (eyes) fixed on them:
“O beautiful images
of my idol whom I adore
just as you demonstrated
while so bright
her rare beauty,
as you demonstrate to her
my living ardor;
by your golden appearance make her
compassionate as you make me loving”

As Vesta was, Thomas Weelkes (c. 1576-1623)

Lamentation Over Boston, William Billings (1746 –1800)

Rest, Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958)

Evening Song, Zoltán Kodály (1882–1967)

Dulces Voces

Jessica Brauer
Curt Butler
Holly Heffelbower
Roger Hochstetler
Jackie Josten
John Mills
Jennifer Stevens
Laura Waldman

related posts:
Mass for Four Voices, William Byrd | Lamentation Over Boston, William Billings | Rest, Ralph Vaughan Williams with text by Christina Rossetti