Before the End of Light
I wrote this music around the time of the total solar eclipse as could be seen North America in August of 2017. The music is dedicated to the Scottish virtuoso and composer Michael Bonaventure, “Before the End of Light” considers a 7th century text by St. Ambrose often associated with the Advent Season.
Procul recedant somnia
et noctium phantasmata;
hostemque nostrum comprime,
ne polluantur corpora.
From all ill dreams defend our eyes,
from nightly fears and fantasies:
tread under foot our ghostly foe,
that no corruption we may know.
translation by John Mason Neale
A profound sense of mystery pervades this work. There is contemplation about what the world might be like without Light, without a Redeemer. Midway through the work, at a place of some repose, a quote of the Advent plainchant “Te Ante Lucis Terminum” appears in the pedal. A passage at the end of the piece, a coda of sorts, suggests the tolling of bells for the night has ended and the sun has returned with the morning.
Michael’s performance of this major work is definitive. Here is his 2020 world premiere of “Before the End of Light” played on the IV/71 Harrison & Harrison organ at St. Mary Redcliffe, Bristol.