The “column” metaphor seemed reasonably clever, and I hoped that Ed would appreciate it. But I could not have known how true it was, until I experienced it vocally, physically, viscerally, and intellectually, in that CONCORA rehearsal.Let nothing disturb thee,Let nothing affright thee;All things are passing;God never changeth;Patient endurance attaineth to all things;Who God possesseth in nothing is wanting;Alone God sufficeth. Amen.
K in Cathédrale Saint-Étienne d'Auxerre
The music begins in subdued fashion, with a single voice, then two, then three, each one lower than the first, in a gently walking rhythm. (“Nothing, nothing…)Contact the CONCORA office to reserve your seat.http://www.concora.org/ 860.293.0567 email@example.com
I enter through the small door cut into the great portal and stand for a moment in the dimness.The upper voices enter and immediately begin to climb. (Let nothing disturb thee, Let nothing affright thee…)
The musical phrases progress in stately fashion, one very much like the next, except for an almost imperceptibly richer harmonization in each phrase. (Let nothing disturb thee, Let nothing affright thee…)
Entering the side aisle, I walk slowly down the length of the cathedral, behind the massive piers, noting the dimly-lit chapels to the side, but overall, remaining exquisitely aware of the soaring nave and the columns which seem stretch to heaven.The pace slows, the voices come together, and there is a harmonic pause. (All things are passing; God never changeth…)
I reach the end of the side aisle and enter the ambulatory, where I pause in the half-light behind the altar. I look up to the ribbed and arched ceiling of the apse, then through the finely-wrought iron screen, across the choir into the nave, still half-hidden to my sight.The music continues, building, climbing, strengthening once again, blossoming into tall columns of sound and cresting in a high arch of sound that floats in the shimmering air. (Patient endurance attaineth to all things…)
I leave the apse, move down the side aisle, and enter the transept, where I stop in awe. The rose windows at either end of the transept... The convergence of ribs in the arches over the crossing... The impossibly high ceiling of the nave, revealed at last in floods of light from the clerestory, a high arch that floats in the shimmering air…As “all things” resonates in space, the music resumes with the same passages we heard at the opening: a few voices in walking rhythm (“Nothing, nothing…) over which the treble voices rise. (Who God possesseth, in nothing is wanting; Alone God sufficeth.). The music eventually subsides into quietness.
I re-enter the side aisle and make my way back the length of the church, passing another row of candle-lit chapels… When I reach the shadows under the organ loft, I am reluctant to leave… I turn into the nave and make my way up the center aisle to the choir.Finally, an exquisite “Amen” blossoms forth, where contoured, intertwining melodic fragments open the exquisitely curling petals of a new rose.
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