Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Does "Elliptically Resonate" Even Make Sense?

Perhaps I'm an old-fashioned romantic, perhaps I suffer from an acute case of sentimentality, but whatever the reason, I sometimes hear a piece of music and think "That would be a great song for someone to walk down (up?) the aisle to."

The latest is Hanan Townshend's instrumental version of "Welcome, Happy Morning", a hymn penned by St Venantius Fortunatus in the 6th Century and given music by the Sullivan of Gilbert and Sullivan in the 19th. I came across it in Malick's The Tree of Life, with its soft piano tones forming the background to Jack's discovery of a girl as desirable. These are wonderful scenes that capture the distance, awkwardness, and strangeness of young love as well as its wonder, and the music fits in perfectly. 

Indeed, I wonder if the unsung words of the hymn were not intended to elliptically resonate throughout the film, so near are they to the vision of the work.

“Welcome, happy morning!” age to age shall say:
“Hell today is vanquished, Heav’n is won today!”
Lo! the dead is living, God forevermore!
Him, their true Creator, all His works adore!


“Welcome, happy morning!”
Age to age shall say.

Earth her joy confesses, clothing her for spring,
All fresh gifts returned with her returning King:
Bloom in every meadow, leaves on every bough,
Speak His sorrow ended, hail His triumph now.


Months in due succession, days of lengthening light,
Hours and passing moments praise Thee in their flight.
Brightness of the morning, sky and fields and sea,
Vanquisher of darkness, bring their praise to Thee.


Maker and Redeemer, life and health of all,
Thou from heaven beholding human nature’s fall,
Of the Father’s Godhead true and only Son,
Mankind to deliver, manhood didst put on.


Thou, of life the Author, death didst undergo,
Tread the path of darkness, saving strength to show;
Come, then True and Faithful, now fulfill Thy Word;
’Tis Thine own third morning; rise, O buried Lord!


Loose the souls long prisoned, bound with Satan’s chain;
All that now is fallen raise to life again;
Show Thy face in brightness, bid the nations see;
Bring again our daylight: day returns with Thee!


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