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Black Hours We Have Spent


Genre: Band
# of Players: Standard
Level: 3.5 | Duration: 5:30
Publisher: C. Alan Publications | Copyright: 2010

Download mp3 | Click on images to left for score sample

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Notes & Instrumentation
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  • Notes & Instrumentation

    Drawing inspiration from a heart-wrenching poem and a German hymn, Black Hours We have Spent is a passionate work for band that utilizes texture and color beautifully.

    Genre: Band | # of Players: Standard
    Level: 3.5 | Duration: 5:30

    Flute 1
    Flute 2
    Clarinet in B-flat 1
    Clarinet in B-flat 2
    Clarinet in B-flat 3
    Bass Clarinet
    Alto Saxophone 1
    Alto Saxophone 2
    Tenor Saxophone
    Baritone Saxophone

    Trumpet in B-flat 1
    Trumpet in B-flat 2
    Trumpet in B-flat 3
    Horn in F 1
    Horn in F 2
    Trombone 1
    Trombone 2
    Bass Trombone

    Percussion 1 (4 Timpani, Suspended Cymbal)
    Percussion 2 (Vibraphone, Chimes, Suspended Cymbal)
    Percussion 3 (Glockenspiel)
    Percussion 4 (5-octave Marimba, Suspended Cymbal, Crash Cymbals)

    Program Notes

    black hours we have spent is a phrase from a poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins. The text describes the helpless guilt felt by the author, trapped in a body he perceives to be flawed— inherently wicked and dark:

    I WAKE and feel the fell of dark, not day.
    What hours, O what black hours we have spent
    This night! what sights you, heart, saw; ways you went!
    And more must, in yet longer light’s delay.
    With witness I speak this. But where I say
    Hours I mean years, mean life. And my lament
    Is cries countless, cries like dead letters sent
    To dearest him that lives alas! away.

    I am gall, I am heartburn. God’s most deep decree
    Bitter would have me taste: my taste was me;
    Bones built in me, flesh filled, blood brimmed the curse.
    Selfyeast of spirit a dull dough sours. I see
    The lost are like this, and their scourge to be
    As I am mine, their sweating selves; but worse.

    The hymn tune used as the basis for the themes in the piece is a 17th-century German melody named Herzliebster Jesu (“Ah, Holy Jesus”). The words to the hymn describe the guiltlessness of Christ, contrasted with the guilt of humanity

    Ah, holy Jesus, how hast thou offended,
    that we to judge thee have in hate pretended?
    By foes derided, by thine own rejected,
    O most afflicted!

    Who was the guilty? Who brought this upon thee?
    Alas, my treason, Jesus, hath undone thee!
    'Twas I, Lord Jesus, I it was denied thee;
    I crucified thee.

    Lo, the Good Shepherd for the sheep is offered;
    the slave hath sinned, and the Son hath suffered.
    For our atonement, while we nothing heeded,
    God interceded.

    For me, kind Jesus, was thy incarnation,
    thy mortal sorrow, and thy life's oblation;
    thy death of anguish and thy bitter passion,
    for my salvation.

    Therefore, kind Jesus, since I cannot pay thee,
    I do adore thee, and will ever pray thee,
    think on thy pity and thy love unswerving,
    not my deserving.

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