SATB, piano | Duration c. 4'40"
Hewitt Hill Music
Vigil was commissioned by the choir of Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Tallahassee, Florida, conducted by Anna Marie Friars, for the church’s 2018 Easter Vigil Mass. This piece sets the poem Easter Even by Christina Rossetti, a remarkable and under-celebrated gem in the canon of Easter poetry. Rossetti aptly creates an image of the time before the resurrection, a time that is calm and still while simultaneously full of the love and strength of God. Vigil begins with a swift ornamental figure in the piano, which is revealed in the final moments of the work to be representative of the involuntary shaking of Christ’s body at the moment of resurrection; as Rossetti puts it, “the shaking and the breath.” While this could be viewed as a morbid scene, I prefer to see it for its freshness; after the immense power that God pours into this body, Christ the Savior simply awakes and takes his first breath in the new world.
- Thomas LaVoy
The tempest over and gone, the calm begun,
Lo, “it is finished,” and the Strong Man sleeps:
All stars keep vigil watching for the sun,
The moon her vigil keeps.
A garden full of silence and of dew,
Beside a virgin cave and entrance stone:
Surely a garden full of Angels too,
Wondering, on watch, alone.
They who cry “Holy, Holy, Holy,” still
Veiling their faces round God’s throne above,
May well keep vigil on this heavenly hill
And cry their cry of love.
Adoring God in His new mystery
Of Love more deep than hell, more strong than death;
Until the day break and the shadows flee,
The Shaking and the Breath.