Evensong for Atheists

2017-05-21, a new project. WIP = work still in progress
2017-07-02 — I decided to rewrite this into two versions, 1 traditional and 2 modern - stick with me ...

NOTICE: Sometime in 2017, I intend to start a gathering in Albuquerque to be called Evensong for Atheists.
Maybe with a potluck supper gathering & discussion afterward, say once a month?. Would you like to help?
I am looking for a venue. Maybe we start at my apt, or outside ? Maybe the first Sunday of each month?

Evensong for Atheists 

In the Episcopal tradition, I have always treasured Evensong, the quiet time at the end of the day with its contemplative, reflective music - a time for calming our hearts and lowering our blood pressure. Evensong seems to have a universal appeal - to atheists and agnostics, to churched and unchurched alike. Actually, most of us are really atheists today by the standards of society’s religions - stone  and bronze age imperial religions from the past with myth, magic and miracles, and yet we still find something meaningful here. Maybe this quiet time will help us rescue our valuables from religion.


Here we build a new Evensong, for our day.

[WIP = work in progress, more to come]


From Islam - the sufi Rumi:

Rumi lived in the 1200s and knew nothing of modern atomic physics.

Now the Angel’s Prayer - Ave Maria.
Not the Schubert version we all know with full text,
this one is by Vavilov, sometimes mistakenly attributed to Caccini.

INTROIT - entrance HYMN and CHANT: 

ubi caritas et amor deus ibi est - where charity and love are, god is there:

Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est                  Where charity and love are, God is there.

Congregavit nos in unum Christi amor.        We are gathered as one in Christ's love

Exultemus, et in ipso iucundemur                Let us rejoice and be glad in Him.

Temeamus, et amemus Deum vivum           Let us fear, and let us love the living God.

Et ex corde diligamus nos sincero               And from our hearts love with sincerity.

Amen.                                                          Amen. [so be it]

A LESSON: ________________________________________________

From the Baha’i founder Bahá'u'lláh:

"O SON OF SPIRIT! My first counsel is this: 
Possess a pure, kindly and radiant heart, 
that thine may be a sovereignty 
ancient, imperishable and everlasting”

from the Bahai:

Possess a pure, kindly and radiant heart

A HOMILY, SERMON or SPEECH: ________________________________________________



If ye love me,

keep my commandments,

and I will pray the Father,

and he shall give you another comforter,

that he may 'bide with you forever,

e'en the spirit of truth.

  —  John 14:15–17 

DISMISSAL: The Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis


The Magnificat, Mary’s Song, comes from the Gospel of Luke [1:46-55], who sings this while visiting her cousin Elizabeth. Mary is pregnant with Jesus while Elizabeth is pregnant with John the Baptist.
This version is from the 1500s by Thomas Tallis, mostly in plainsong.

BTW The Magnificat has been banned from time to time, in the British Empire, Guatemala and Argentina. 
This little pregnant Jewish teenager is a real threat to empires and the rich.!!

Koine Greek - Μεγαλύνει ἡ ψυχή μου τὸν Κύριον

Latin - Magnificat anima mea Dominum

English - Book of Common Prayer:

My soul doth magnify the Lord.

And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.

For he hath regarded : the lowliness of his handmaiden:
For behold, from henceforth : all generations shall call me blessed.

For he that is mighty hath magnified me: and holy is his Name.

And his mercy is on them that fear him: throughout all generations.

He hath shewed strength with his arm:
    he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.

He hath put down the mighty from their seat: and hath exalted the humble and meek.

He hath filled the hungry with good things: and the rich he hath sent empty away.

He remembering his mercy hath holpen his servant Israel :

As he promised to our forefathers, Abraham and his seed for ever.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son: and to the Holy Ghost;

As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be : world without end. Amen.


The Nunc Dimittis, or Song of Simeon, comes from the Gospel of Luke [2:29-32],
sung by an old man who had been promised that he would see the Messiah before he died.

Latin - Vulgate:

Nunc dimittis servum tuum, Domine, secundum verbum tuum in pace:

Quia viderunt oculi mei salutare tuum

Quod parasti ante faciem omnium populorum:

Lumen ad revelationem gentium, et gloriam plebis tuae Israel.

English - Book of Common Prayer, 1662:

Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace according to thy word.

For mine eyes have seen thy salvation,

Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people;

To be a light to lighten the Gentiles and to be the glory of thy people Israel.


Another dismissal - Lux Aeterna by Elgar - performed by the superb Voces8 ensemble

Lux aeterna luceat eis, Domine, cum sanctis tuis in aeternum, quia pius es.

Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine,

et lux perpetua luceat eis.

May light eternal shine upon them, O Lord, with Thy saints forever, for Thou art kind.

Eternal rest give to them, O Lord,

and let perpetual light shine upon them.

POSTLUDE — More quiet meditation time:

Barber’s wonderful adagio, also set as Agnus Dei:
Like the miserere dei, once heard never forgotten

“I don’t think we were thrown out of the Garden of Eden. 

Just look around. We’re still in it ...” 

— Alan Bean,  Apollo 12


More at: Across the Great Divide

© Gareth Harris 2016       --------        Contact email: garethharris@mac.com        --------         see also: GarethHarris.com