The Hours of the Day

Some pieces of music have an especially profound affinity with particular times of day. Those composed deliberately for such hours are of course likelier to fit so well, but even among them there are certain works that are so miraculously fitting they almost seem impossible to separate from their appointed times. Much music composed for the divine offices and devotions of the Roman Catholic church recognizes such affinities because, like many prayers and devotions in other faiths, these practices are meant to be performed at specific times of the day and evening. Like the muezzin‘s call to the mosque, a moving chant or song suited to the hour sets the heart and mind in just the right place for the meditations and oblations of the time.

I wrote this poem long ago and came across it again, remembering that it was written while listening to a specific Angelus played on the organ—Marcel Dupré’s, if I’m not mistaken—and being struck by that wonderful meeting of sound and spirit in it.Painting + text: The Angelus

4 thoughts on “The Hours of the Day

  1. Beautiful verse Kathryn, I don’t know that piece of music, but have been similarly touched by songs, sights, smells, people and other moments of grace that stop me in my tracks, reminding me of the awesome beauty and wonder in this world. blessings, Brad

  2. For reasons that are a bit fuzzy to me, your post, and your poem, brought to mind the music that I had playing in the background during the last several weeks of my mom’s life while she lingered under hospice care, bedridden and semi-comatose. Music had always been very important to her, having been active in her church choir, where she played the autoharp, and also sang with the choir several times a week.

    I remember finding a CD at one of those used CD shops – the Gregorian Monks of St. Michael’s – and I left that music playing quietly in her room day and night, giving her a layer of safety and security, knowing the music would reach her and bring calm to her spirit. Additionally, especially during the last 48 hours of her life, I would quietly sing Amazing Grace to her, even though I am not one who has a voice for singing, because I knew the sound of my voice raised in song would bring her peace. To this day, every time I have an occasion to hear the chanting of Gregorian Monks, or hear the song Amazing Grace, I am brought back to that time, and it fills me with incredible peace. As time has passed, I’ve come to realize that perhaps the music was meant for both of us, during a time that was touched by transition. The music was perfect. I’ve always been grateful for finding that specific piece of music. It was like a gift to us both.

    • That is incredibly moving—no, in*credible* is the wrong word for it, of course, as we both obviously know full well the entirely credible miraculous power of music to comfort, heal, change and inspire us. I think I’ll stick with *powerfully* moving. Your experience confirms my belief in the unsurpassed beauty that lives in music. Thank you for sharing the story, my dear!!!

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