Vaughan Williams’ Dona Nobis Pacem

I am thrilled to sing this great work again. The text is quite relevant, in light the current events we face. I hope each of you might find time to read it.

Better still, please listen to it. It will heal any sorrow or fear you have, if only for a moment.

I.

Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, dona nobis pacem.
(Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world, grant us peace.)

II. (Walt Whitman)

Beat! beat! drums! – blow! bugles! blow!
Through the windows – through the doors – burst like a ruthless force,
Into the solemn church, and scatter the congregation,
Into the school where the scholar is studying;
Leave not the bridegroom quiet – no happiness must he have now with his bride,
Nor the peaceful farmer any peace, ploughing his field, or gathering in his grain,
So fierce you whirr and pound you drums – so shrill you bugles blow.

III. Reconciliation (Walt Whitman)

Word over all, beautiful as the sky,
Beautiful that war and all its deeds of carnage must in time be utterly lost,
That the hands of the sisters Death and Night incessantly, softly,
wash again and ever again this soiled world;
For my enemy is dead, a man divine as myself is dead,
I look where he lies white-faced and still in the coffin – I draw near,
Bend down and touch lightly wih my lips the white face in the coffin.

IV. Dirge for Two Veterans (Walt Whitman)

   The last sunbeam
Lightly falls from the finished Sabbath,
On the pavement here, and there beyond it is looking
Down a new-made double grave.

   Lo, the moon ascending,
Up from the east the silvery round moon,
Beautiful over the house-tops, ghastly, phantom moon,
Immense and silent moon.

   I see a sad procession,
And I hear the sound of coming full-keyed bugles,
All the channels of the city streets they’re flooding
As with voices and with tears.

   I hear the great drums pounding,
And the small drums steady whirring,
And every blow of the great convulsive drums
Strikes me through and through.

   For the son is brought with the father,
In the foremost ranks of the fierce assault they fell,
Two veterans, son and father, dropped together,
And the double grave awaits them.

   Now nearer blow the bugles,
And the drums strike more convulsive,
And the daylight o’er the pavement quite has faded,
And the strong dead-march enwraps me.

   In the eastern sky up-buoying,
The sorrowful vast phantom moves illumined,
’Tis some mother’s large transparent face,
In heaven brighter growing.

   O strong dead-march you please me!
O moon immense with your silvery face you soothe me!
O my soldiers twain! O my veterans passing to burial!
What I have I also give you.

   The moon gives you light,
And the bugles and the drums give you music,
And my heart, O my soldiers, my veterans,
My heart gives you love.

V. (John Bright)

The Angel of Death has been abroad throughout the land; you may almost hear the beating of his wings. There is no one as of old … to sprinkle with blood the lintel and the two side-posts of our doors, that he may spare and pass on.

Dona nobis pacem.

(Jeremiah 8:15-22)
We looked for peace, but no good came; and for a time of health, and behold trouble!
The snorting of his horses was heard from Dan; the whole land trembled at the sound of the neighing
of his strong ones; for they are come, and have devoured the land … and those that dwell therein …
The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved …
Is there no balm in Gilead?; is there no physician there? Why then is not the health of the daughter
of my people recovered?

VI. (Daniel 10:19)

O man greatly beloved, fear not, peace be unto thee, be strong, yea, be strong.

(Haggai 2:9)
The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former … and in this place will I give peace.

(Adapted from Micah 4:3, Leviticus 26:6, Psalms 85:10 and 118:19, Isaiah 43:9 and 56:18-22, Luke 2:14)
Nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
And none shall make them afraid, neither shall the sword go through their land.
Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.
Truth shall spring out of the earth, and righteousness shall look down from heaven.
Open to me the gates of righteousness, I will go into them.
Let all the nations be gathered together, and let the people be assembled;
and let them hear and say, it is the truth.
And it shall come, that I will gather all nations and tongues.
And they shall come and see my glory. And I will set a sign among them,
and they shall declare my glory among the nations.
For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me,
so shall your seed and your name remain for ever.

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good-will toward men.

Dona nobis pacem.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.