Could you not watch one hour with me?

by Simon Cummings

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Could you not watch one hour with me? is a conceptual work inspired by an act of worship that takes place on Maundy Thursday. The evening service of that day, which remembers the Last Supper, has no defined conclusion, instead extending into the night in the form of a vigil, to reflect on the night’s commemorations & to prepare for the events of Good Friday the following morning. This night vigil, known as The Watch, has no formal liturgy or structure, consisting solely of the silent thought, meditation, worship & prayer of the faithful. The Watch takes its name & its purpose from the events of the first Maundy Thursday, specifically the time when Jesus retreated to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray about his imminent betrayal & death. The question of the title comes directly from Jesus, aimed at the trio of disciples accompanying him who proved unable to stay awake in his hour of need.

The material heard in the work comprises a one-hour recording made during The Watch. Presented in this context, my intention in Could you not watch one hour with me? is to confront the connotations of that question, exploring notions of substance & absence, silence & sound, focus & lassitude, emptiness & the sacred. The work revisits from a fresh perspective the well-established idea that there is no such thing as silence. What one hears in Could you not watch one hour with me? might be called an ‘active’ or ‘loaded’ silence, the product of prayer & reflection, filled with feeling, remembrance, regret & hope. Furthermore, considering its original time & place—an act of solemn worship within a sacred space during Holy Week—perhaps there is something else in this silence, something altogether more vast & unfathomable. The numinous, to be sure, can hardly be defined & never captured, but possibly, in ways we cannot understand, it can be inferred, invoked, or even felt & touched.

Could you not watch one hour with me? throws down a challenge in its title, asking, even daring the listener to sacrifice an hour to an end that may appear futile or meaningless. It is my sincerest hope that, in rising to that challenge, one might discover a depth & richness that transcends the silence, & perhaps even a glimpse of the holy. In the words of a haiku that i wrote some years ago:

So: can you feel it?
absolute & everywhere,
here in this “nothing”?

Dedicated to the memory of Rudolf Otto.

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released March 28, 2013

Opus 26
Interrobang i08
© 2013 Simon Cummings
simoncummings.com/op26.php

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