Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Holden evening prayer

For a few years we have been singing Holden evening prayer by Marty Haugen in the chapel of the ecumenical centre here in Geneva on Wednesday evenings during Advent and Lent. You need a strong singer to lead it and a good pianist but the music is easy to pick up and I always end up humming and whistling it for the rest of the evening. I like that about the disicpline of prayer and song, it stays with you even if you go initially out of a feeling of duty rather than joy.
The version we sing was written in 1985-86 during the winter when the community at Holden village is in almost complete darkness for much of the day. I love singing it through advent and then taking it up again in lent as the days begin to lengthen. For me starting advent and singing this is in some way like coming home and I think that says something about good liturgy. However, not everyone seems to like Haugen's music, perhaps over-exposure means that even good things pall after a while.
Anyway I've discovered that there's a also a new Holden evening prayer, which sounds rather less traditional but it still isn't Palestrina so it won't please the Haugen detractors.