Haphazard by Starlight

Below is the complete programme of the evening of meditations and music for Advent held at Flax Bourton Church on 1 December. There are some surprising conjunctions and inclusions:

Music: Tantum Ergo                                             

arranged Janet Harbison        

Welcome and opening prayer

Everlasting Circle (from Word from Wormingford)       

Ronald Blythe

Music: Qui sunt hi, qui ut rubes? (from Ordo Virtutum

Hildegard von Bingen

O come, thou Wisdom from on high! Who madest all in earth and sky, creating man from dust and clay: to us reveal salvation’s way.


The Bright Field                                        

R.S. Thomas

Dover Beach                                                       

Matthew Arnold

Music: Vivace (from Serenade for Strings)                     

Lennox Berkeley

O come, thou Lord of David’s Key! The royal door fling wide and free; safeguard for us the heavenward road, and bar the way to death’s abode.


U.A. Fanthorpe

Seasonal ghazal                                         

Harry Gilonis

Music: Touches bloquées (from Etudes Book I)              

György Ligeti

O come, O come, Adonai, who in thy glorious majesty from Sinai’s mountain, clothed with awe, gavest thy folk the ancient law.


Elizabeth Jennings

Music: Boisterous Bourée (from the Simple Symphony)  

Benjamin Britten

O come, O come, thou Dayspring bright! Pour on our souls thy healing light; dispel the long night’s lingering gloom, and pierce the shadows of the tomb.

Ode to Winter                                                     

Gillian Clarke

Music: Strange Fruit                                                       

Billie Holiday

O come, o come, Emmanuel! Redeem thy captive Israel, that into exile drear is gone far from the face of God’s dear Son.

Not the Millennium                                             

U.A. Fanthorpe


Leonard Cohen

Music: Twenty Tons of TNT

Michael Flanders and Donald Swann

O come, thou Root of Jesse! draw the quarry from the lion’s claw; from those dread caverns of the grave, from nether hell, thy people save.

The Second Coming                                            

W.B. Yeats

Music: O nos peregrine sumus (from Ordo Virtutum)     

Hildegard von Bingen

O come, Desire of nations! show thy kingly reign on earth below; thou Corner-stone, uniting all, restore the ruin of our fall.

BC. AD.                                                              

U.A Fanthorpe

Folk Tale                                                             

R.S. Thomas

Closing prayer

Music: Journey into Exile                                                         

Janet Harbison

Some of the connections in the minds of those of us who put this all together:

Advent as waiting; preparation; darkness to light; darkness; cold; fragility; the turning of the year; bare branches; resting earth; new growth; darkness of the heart; dark places in the world; light coming; Christ coming; the world still needs salvation; miracle of life; possibility of death; the risk of stillbirth; what rhythm do we live by?

There are many more. Look up the texts and music – I haven’t included them for copyright reasons, and because part of the point of Advent is that we have to work to prepare.


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