English/Music Vespers: As Evening’s Shadow Falls
On the evening of Jan. 22, dozens of students and staff from the English and Music departments of Andrews University made the trek across the frozen campus to gather in the Howard Performing Arts Center to warm their hearts with an evening of artful reverence and relaxation. With the skillful collaboration of professors Beverly Matiko and Trina Thompson, “As Evening's Shadow Falls: A Vesper in Music and Poetry” was successfully transformed from a hopeful vision to an inspirational reality. The program was centered on performance art, alternating between musical selections and verbal recitations of literary works. The audience was also provided the opportunity to participate, singing hymns at various times throughout the evening.
To me, the program was a beautiful reminder about the inclusiveness and unity that art creates. You see, the world is currently in a state of confusion and discomfort. The church is no exception to this discord. Differences on standpoints and beliefs about controversial issues have created a disconnect and tension between generations. The state of the church community as a whole is, to say the least, damaged. There are, however, elements still present and working, which draw humans together, such as the mutual appreciation of music, poetry, art and beauty. Programs such as “As Evening's Shadow Falls” offer students the opportunity to recognize the fact that despite all the disagreement and discord we experience, there can also be agreement and accord.
This was especially made apparent to me as I relaxed in my seat, let the music overwhelm me, and looked around the auditorium to see if there were any faces reflecting the emotions I was so intensely reveling in. Sure enough, I was not alone. However, it was not the sheer fact that I was not alone in how I was feeling that most encouraged me. The thing that truly overwhelmed and broke my heart was the community that I saw. I realized that despite all of the generational struggles we face every day, we have opportunities to transcend our disagreements and controversies and sinful realities. I realized that at our core, whether an undergraduate or a Berrien retiree, we all have a desire to seek art and beauty and, ultimately, truth. This program, as I experienced it, was an opportunity to put our disagreements and misunderstandings for a small while, and revel in that beauty together. “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Phil. 4:8