Monday, April 06, 2015


Giclee Prints from Private Collection
Hymn of Christ and the Apostles
Only one incident of hymn singing is recorded in the Gospels. Following the Last Supper Jesus and his disciples sang a hymn before they proceeded to the mount of Olives and the Garden of Gethsemane. Blake pictures two female and four male musicians with Jesus. Judging from the expressions on the faces, each is feeling the sadness occasioned by Jesus' announcement that he expects to be betrayed by one of the twelve disciples. None of his followers is able to understand why Jesus has offered his Body and Blood as he passed the bread and wine. The hymn is a pause between the celebration of the Passover and the drama of the arrest, trial and condemnation of Jesus.

Mark 14 
[22] And as they did eat, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake it, and gave to them, and said, Take, eat: this is my body. 
[23] And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them: and they all drank of it. 
[24] And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many. 
[25] Verily I say unto you, I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of God. 
[26] And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives. 
[27] And Jesus saith unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered. 
[28] But after that I am risen, I will go before you into Galilee.

In the Four Zoas Blake wrote a transitional passage in which music is the metaphor for preparation for the birth of Orc. Blake echoed the interlude of music which introduced the ordeal which Jesus faced as Orc became dominant in his myth.  Orc, the generate form of Luvah, released repressed sexuality and violence as Urizen was 'bound in chains.' There is a pause in the Four Zoas as there is in the Gospel of Mark before the destructive forces take sway. 

Four Zoas, Night V, Page 57, (E 339)
"Los from the furnaces a Space immense & left the cold           
Prince of Light bound in chains of intellect among the furnaces
But all the furnaces were out & the bellows had ceast to blow

He stood trembling & Enitharmon clung around his knees
Their senses unexpansive in one stedfast bulk remain
The night blew cold & Enitharmon shriekd on the dismal wind      
PAGE 58 
Her pale hands cling around her husband & over her weak head
Shadows of Eternal death sit in the leaden air

But the soft pipe the flute the viol organ harp & cymbal
And the sweet sound of silver voices calm the weary couch
Of Enitharmon but her groans drown the immortal harps           
Loud & more loud the living music floats upon the air
Faint & more faint the daylight wanes. The wheels of turning darkness
Began in solemn revolutions. Earth convulsd with rending pangs
Rockd to & fro & cried sore at the groans of Enitharmon  
Still the faint harps & silver voices calm the weary couch      
But from the caves of deepest night ascending in clouds of mist
The winter spread his wide black wings across from pole to pole
Grim frost beneath & terrible snow linkd in a marriage chain
Began a dismal dance. The winds around on pointed rocks
Settled like bats innumerable ready to fly abroad            
The groans of Enitharmon shake the skies the labring Earth
Till from her heart rending his way a terrible Child sprang forth
In thunder smoke & sullen flames & howlings & fury & blood

Soon as his burning Eyes were opend on the Abyss
The horrid trumpets of the deep bellowd with bitter blasts      
The Enormous Demons woke & howld around the new born king    
Crying Luvah King of Love thou art the King of rage & death
Urizen cast deep darkness round him raging Luvah pourd       
The spears of Urizen from Chariots round the Eternal tent
Discord began then yells & cries shook the wide firma[m]ent" 

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