Lenten Reflections: Arevakal

prayer 4Often missed in the blizzard of symphonies Alan Hovhaness composed are various works for orchestra not labeled “symphony,” but which to my ear, don’t sound much different from them.

You can hear an early Hovhaness work, his first concerto for orchestra, “Arevakal” on YouTube here. The recording goes back decades to when Howard Hanson was on the faculty at the Eastman School of Music and did a number of recordings conducting the “Eastman-Rochester Symphony.”

Arevakal intrigued me and I easily found Vartabed Zaven Arzumanian’s description of the Armenian liturgy at dawn online.

The Sunrise Service is performed traditionally during Lent, on the mornings of Wednesdays and Fridays for six consecutive weeks. Here in this country for convenience we sing it on Sundays, following the closed Badarak. By virtue of its message the Sunrise Service is performed during Lent, the message being Jesus, the Light to the World, versus the sinful darkness of the World. However, the traditional title of the service prescribes that the Sunrise Service is addressed to the Holy Spirit in view of the Resurrection of Christ who appeared to the disciples.

I love this piece. It has a playful interior that at first seems at odds with the more somber outer movements. But as a whole, I think it gives a great meditation and insight into Armenian Christian devotion to Christ and the saints.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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