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Here is some music for a pre-election Sunday. Listen to Michael Praetorius’s Der Tag vertreibt die finster Nacht, a motet in four parts, from the Muses of Zion (Musae Sioniae), pt viii (1610), here in a performance by the Huelgas Ensemble, directed by Paul van Nevel. The text, beginning “Day dispels the dark night” is derived from Psalm 139. It is a work of stark but deceptive simplicity, crafted according to what Praetorius called the principle of varietas, or differentiation. Each stanza assumes a different tonality suited to its specific sacred sense, the variations are both in voice and instrumentation. The spirit of the piece is filled with pious and attentive awakening as the darkness of a period of sadness and failure gives rise to a new day filled with hope.
More from Scott Horton:
Six Questions — October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm
Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.
Mark Denbeaux on the NCIS cover-up of three “suicides” at Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp
From the June 2014 issue
Estimated total calories members of Congress burned giving Bush’s 2002 State of the Union standing ovations:
A fertility scientist named Panayiotis Zavos announced that he had created human-cow embryos that were theoretically viable, but denied that he planned to allow such a hybrid to be implanted in a woman’s womb. “We are not trying to create monsters,” he said.
A statistician determined that the five most common first names among New York City taxi drivers are Md, Mohammad, Mohammed, Muhammad, and Mohamed.
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“I hope that after reading the following pages the leaders of the Y. M. C. A. will start a campaign to induce good young men to do nothing. If so, I shall not have lived in vain.”