Veni, Veni is a fantasy on two verses of the medieval Advent hymn
“Veni, Veni Emmanuel,” one of the oldest such hymns still in regular
use. The luminous original is a French processional of obscure
origin, and the text is based on the ninth-century “O” Antiphons;
seven chants sung one per night in the week preceding Christmas.
Songs for midwinter in all traditions use the idea of light in literal
and metaphorical ways. Most are filled with hope for the renewal of
the world from the apparent death of a physical or spiritual winter. I
chose to set two verses of the original chant: invocations of light (“O
Oriens”) and wisdom (“O Sapientia”). The piece invokes the light by
which we recognize the divinity in all things and the wisdom to live
according to the knowledge of that divinity. The soloist’s closing
phrase “the light in me greets the light in you” (translated from the
Indian greeting namaste) is for me the fulfillment of the desire
infusing the verses.