20 Apr

orisons – n.  prayers

Classic Usage:  In the incredibly poetic, but depressingly named Chapter 116 “The Dying Whale,”  Melville writes the following,  “It was far down the afternoon; and when all the spearings of the crimson fight were done: and floating in the lovely sunset sea and sky, sun and whale both stilly died together; then, such a sweetness and such plaintiveness, such inwrething orisons curled up in that rosy air, that it almost seemed as if far over from the deep green convent valleys of the Manilla isles, the Spanish land-breeze, wantonly turned sailor, had gone to sea, freighted with these vesper hymns.”

Classically Mad Usage:  The hints are all there: “vesper hymns” = evening prayers, “curling up” = let my prayers rise before Thee as incense, “ori” = the Latin root that I’ve encountered more than once in my career as a church musician always having something to do with prayer.  Seriously, how did I miss this one?  And I thought not knowing “scaramouch” from Bohemian Rhapsody was embarrassing.


Posted by on April 20, 2012 in Moby-Dick


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2 responses to “Amen.

  1. Adriana @ Classical Quest

    April 20, 2012 at 6:55 am

    Your education as a church musician is so enriching for all of us! Interesting You added meaning to that passage in MD that I missed.


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