O Gracious Light (Phos hilaron)
Craig Phillips

Composer Craig Phillips
Text Phos hilaron, ancient Greek, para. Book of Common Prayer, 1979
Voicing SATB, organ
Topics Evening, Light, Praise and Adoration
Price $2.25 (U.S.)
Length 3' 15" Released 1/2020
Catalog no. 410-618
Difficulty Mod. diff.

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Craig Phillips's English-language setting of the "Phos hilaron" evening canticle begins with mystery, gradually building to evoke God being "praised by happy voices." The work ends in glorious splendor.

O gracious Light,
pure brightness
of the ever-living Father in heav’n.
O Jesus Christ, holy and blessed!
Now as we come to the setting of the sun,
and our eyes behold the vesper light,
we sing thy praises, O God:
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Thou art worthy at all times
to be praised by happy voices,
O Son of God, praised by happy voices,
O Son of God, O Giver of life,
and to be glorified through all the worlds.

Phos hilaron, ancient Greek, para. Book of Common Prayer



"AAM-member Craig Phillips is at his most melodic and harmonically innovative in this flowing setting of the invitatory canticle for Evensong. Phillips's penchant for building melodies with significant quartal/ quintal blocks brings an expansive feel to the images of sunset. The organ accompaniment roots the harmonies in stable left-hand chords while the treble introduces countermelodies that punctuate longer-held notes in the voices. As such, the organ part does not double voices, requiring singers to take responsibility for their lines. Homophonic textures predominate, with an extended passage of soprano melody against lower voice homophonic accompaniment. The setting is tuneful, engaging, and highly effective. Divided parts in each section and an active harmonic landscape necessitate a choir of some skill and size, yet most ensembles that regularly sing Evensong will find the setting within the norms of the standard repertoire." -AAM Journal, March 2021


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