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The past few months have indeed been dark times, but in darkness there is always some light that remains no matter how faint or dim.


It’s from that darkness that some of the most wonderful, mysterious things are revealed. We see the blanket of stars stretched across the heavens; we see the curious play of shadows as moonlight shimmers through the trees; then why do we so curse the darkness?

Wonder and Light is a programme dedicated to light, no matter how dim or how faint that light may be. Morten Lauridsen, in describing his work Lux Aeterna as a paean to light, calls it a “universal symbol of illumination at all levels – spiritual, artistic, and intellectual”. For me, lux aeterna (eternal light), comes after what can feel like very dark time.


Britten’s Rejoice in the Lamb is a setting of a portion of Christopher Smart’s poem entitled ‘Jubilate Agno.’ Smart wrote the poem between 1759 and 1763 (though it remained unpublished until 1939) while he was in an asylum under the “commission of lunacy.” Britten’s setting of the text conveys the disparate feelings of loneliness (darkness) and occasional gratitude (light) Smart would have experienced during his confinement.


Rihards Dubra's evocative setting of Stetit Angelus is a depiction of the momentary solitude in heaven from the Book of Revelation just after the Seventh Seal is opened and immediately before the angel filled the censer with fire, hurling it to the earth causing thunder, lightning, and an earthquake.

Instructions for How to Get Ahead of Yourself While the Light Still Shines, the subtitle for this concert and the title of native Wellingtonian Jenny Bornholdt’s poem of the same name, tells the reader to  ride their bike to the top of the Brooklyn Hill (at night!) and cruise down Happy Valley Road, paying no mind to the eerie shadows created as we sail under each street light.


Andrew Steffen’s Spells of Herrick are settings of two poems by the metaphysical poet Robert Herrick (1591 – 1674) which delve into the unfamiliar world of mysticism and other worldly magic, weaving a tapestry of musical balm. Kaipaava (Finn. longing) is a Finnish folk-song set by Essi Wuorela and Jussi Chydenius depicting one adolescent girl’s longing as she laments the gap between her and her beloved starting ‘without the moon and the sun this world is dark’. 


Lux Aurumque (Light of Gold) is an Eric Whitacre setting of an Edward Esch poem translated from English to Latin to accentuate the beauty of the language’s pure tones when sung.


And for something on the lighter side, we perform a VOCES8 arrangements of Kate Rusby’s Underneath the Stars, where lovers meet and part under the cover of darkness.

It is a pleasure being in front of the choir and to be joined by Heather Easting on the organ in a magnificent space where wonder and light already pervade the atmosphere. 


- Shawn Condon, director

Wonder and Light

St Mary of the Angels

2pm & 7pm, Sunday 20 September 2020

Tickets $20, Concession $15. Children free. Bookings available from Eventfinda.

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