And was the holy Lamb of God,
On Englands pleasant pastures seen!
- And did those feet, William Blake

mandag 25. juli 2011

Te Lucis Ante Terminum

Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.
- Psalm 141:1-2

The hour when the new pilgrim's heart is pierced
With love, if he hears the far-off bells
Which seem to weep for the dying day
- Purgatorio, Dante Alighieri (translated by Charles Sisson)

Te Lucis Ante Terminum is the title of a hymn for the Hour of Compline, the last service of the day, in the Roman breviary. The line translates to "To you [God] in the light before the darkness" or "To you before the ending of the light". It is found in an Irish hymnary from the late 8th or early 9th century and is according to some sources ascribed to St. Ambrose of Milan, but this provenance is contested and most likely false. I find the expression very beautiful and poetic, and I decided it was a proper title for this compilation of photos. Originally I had intended to name this blogpost after the Middle English term "evynlyghthus" which I came across in the romance Sir Degrevant and which I also find very beautiful.

I am nostalgic of character, prone to melancholia in certain circumstances and I therefore have a particular fondness for the evening, both due to its poetic qualities but also because evenings are swaddled in the most beautiful of lights possible. Evenings are of strong symbolic character, a reminder of transience, a quotidien memento mori which alerts us not to the fear of death but to the length of life since one life may span so many evenings. Some lives are unfortunately denied this and evenings should therefore also be a reminder of our loved ones who are no longer with us. We should seek history in a sunset, history and comfort, and therefore I dedicate this blogpost to the victims in Oslo and Utøya July 22 2011, whom we must now remember at eventide and whom must remain in our prayers and hearts.

  My first sunset in York, seen from St. Mary's.

Thus may you flie from dull and sensuall earth
- To all vertuous Ladies in generall, Aemilia Lanyer 

My pictures blacken in their frames
As night comes on
- Death of the Day, Walter Savage Landor 

Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
- The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, T. S. Eliot 

 In the twilight, in the evening, in the black and dark night 
- Proverbs, 7:9

To Thee, before the close of day
Creator of the world, we pray
that with Thy wonted favor, Thou
wouldst be our Guard and Keeper now.
- From J. M. Neale's rendition of the hymn Te Lucis Ante Terminum. It should be noted that this is not so much as a translation as an attempt of rendering the lines to fit a rhyming English. 

Syr Egrivaunt at evynlyghthus
Armed hym at al ryghthus,
And callyd to hym tow knyghthus,
That pryvest were ay.
- Sir Degrevant

Now hath the Sunne with his lamp-burning light,
Walkt round about the world
- The Faerie Queene, Edmund Spenser

Adieu sweet Sun
Thy night is neare
- Urania, Lady Mary Wroth

The hour when the new pilgrim's heart is pierced
With love, if he hears the far-off bells
Which seem to weep for the dying day
- Purgatorio, Dante Alighieri (translated by Charles Sisson)

Abrupt, as Spirits vanish, he is sunk!
A soul-like breeze possesses all the wood.
- A Sunset, Samuel Taylor Coleridge

 Immortal transience, a "kind
of otherness", self-understood,
BE FAITHFUL grows upon the mind
as lichen glimmers on the wood.
- Te Lucis Ante Terminum, Geoffrey Hill (after Paul Celan)

Personally I treasure greatly Tudor composer Thomas Tallis' version of Te Lucis Ante Terminum, and I find it very suitable music for evanescence of any kind, especially a sunset.

Pax et Dominus vobiscum.

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