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“The Vision”

By: Ardis E. Parshall - July 20, 2008

THE VISION
A Sacred Historical Cantata

For Tenor solo, Women, Men and Mixed Choirs and Orchestra

Words and Music by Evan Stephens

Dedicated to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Written and composed especially for the centennial of The Vision
given to the boy prophet Joseph Smith,
in which the Father and the son appeared in person,
restoring to earth the everlasting gospel,
and opening The Dispensation of the Fullness of Times.

Time of Performance: 45 minutes

Written at the special request of
President Heber J. Grant and Presiding Bishop Charles W. Nibley
December 20, 1919 – January 8, 1920, at “Pine Lodge,” Salt Lake City, Utah

Prelude, “Morning Gently Wakes”

Women’s voices

Morning gently wakes the songsters of the grove,
With its gentle touch of living light and love:
And with whisp’ring breezes stirring at their wings
Bids the choirs give voice to all they feel and sing.
Join in harmony the rustling of the leaves,
As they wave their welcome to the rising sun,
While in eastern skies a victory bright he cleaves
Through the mists of night: his resurrection won.
Bend, with graceful arching, O ye forest trees;
Bend, and greet with courtly grace this royal morn,
With whose heavenly light the night of man shall cease,—
With whose rays anew the world again is born.

Men’s voices.

And ye stars of morn, that modestly withdraw,
Stay, and join again, as once in that great song
When the sons of heaven shouted as they saw
Man redeem’d from sin, in happy, joyous throng.

Women’s voices

And, O earth, that hast in sin and darkness lain,
Hidden deep from His revealed word and smile,
While thy sons and daughters filled with doubts and pain
Turned and wandered from the light of truth awhile:
Wake thy myriad sounds from all created things,
Bid them tune to themes of joyous songs divine,
Shake to life from silence all thy trembling strings
As the morn of morns o’er all creation shines.

Full chorus

And thou, Grove, how blest are all thy hallow’d shades,
Blest and consecrated for all time to come.
Blest each leaf and flow’r, thy moss or waving blades,
And the insects that within thee make their home.
Thou’rt the chosen spot of all upon the land
Where the Father and the Son shall both descend
To restore to sweet communion God and man:
Where the night of mortal error is to end.
Here the trusting youth, on bended knees, shall call
To the Father to reveal his holy will.
Here the sacred answer from his Son shall fall;
Here the sacred promises of old They shall fulfil.

(“Morning gently wakes the songsters of the grove,” etc., repeating the first twelve lines of the poem in full chorus to end of the prelude.)

“My Soul is Athirst”

Solo (Joseph)

My soul is athirst – athirst for knowledge:
Knowledge of God – the living God.
Where can I find it?
Where can I find it?

The learned and the wise cry out:
“Lo, here is Christ, lo, there is Christ.”
The multitude turn here and there for guidance,
But there is none. Strife instead of peace:
Hatred in place of Love,
Darkness instead of Light!

Chorus, heard in the distance, during the solo.

We are sinners poor and needy,
Ever wand’ring in the night:
Ever straying, ever doubting,
Groping blindly for the light.
Hasten, Lord, thy Spirit send us:
Show thy face, and wond’rous might.

Solo with chorus (Joseph and “Powers of Good”)

My soul is athirst—athirst for knowledge,
Knowledge of God—the living God.
Where can I find it?
Where can I find it?

“Seek and Ye Shall Find”

Male chorus (“Powers of Good”)

“Seek, and ye shall find,
Knock, and it shall be opened unto you.”

“If Any of You Lack Wisdom”

Recitative (Joseph, as if reading)

“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God,
That giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not,
And it shall be given him.”

“To the Sweet Shelter of the Grove”

Aria (Joseph)

To the sweet shelter of the grove,
Where mortal footsteps never rove,
There will I go.

There will I supplicate, and prove
(Craving His favor and His love)
If I may know:

Know that He liveth, and can hear
Even a child who need not fear
On Him to call:

Know that He answers mortal pray’rs,
Know that He loveth me, and cares
For mortals all.

“O Sweet Simplicity and Trust”

Chorus (“Powers of Good”)

O sweet simplicity and trust!
The boy bends lowly in the dust.
Up through the grove and vaulted sky
His voice ascends to God on high,
Upborne by simple faith.

And, “nothing doubting,” void of fear,
He asks for Wisdom — guidance clear —
What path to take to find His grace,
To do His will, and see His face.
His Father and his God.

“Wisdom I Lack”

Solo (Joseph)

Wisdom I lack, my Father and my Lord;
My gracious Savior, guide me by thy word.
Out of the strife encircling me around,
Out of the darkness gloomy and profound,
Lead me to peace and light.

Which is the path that leads, O Lord, to thee?
Which is the path that sets the doubter free?
Thou bid’st me ask, and promise I shall find:
Answer me now, my gracious God, and kind:
Thy child, I come to thee.

Chorus of Angelic Narrators (“Powers of Good”)

But see!
The powers of darkness round about him rush!
They overcome! His pleading voice they hush!
Lord, send him aid! His fainting soul revive,
Yet, unafraid, his terrors to survive.

(Joseph) Feebly

Out of the strife encircling me around,
Out of the darkness, gloomy and profound,
Lead me to peace and light.

Chorus (Narrators). Ladies’ Voices

And now!
Brighter than noon-day sun,
Glows, through the air and sky,
A pillar pure, of light!

Male Voices

And there
The Father and the Son,
Descending from on high,
In splendor bright!

All

The powers of darkness flee!
The trusting boy beholds
Two Beings, pure and bright.

While he,
Still there, on bended knee,
His quest once more unfolds,
And pleads again for light.

Solo (Joseph)

“Which is the path that leads, O Lord, to thee?
Which is the path that sets the doubter free?
Thou bid’st me ask, and promise I shall find,
Answer me now, my gracious Lord, and kind,
Thy child, I come to thee.

Chorus (Narrators in Unison, pp)

The Father’s gracious voice
In tender tones replies:
“Joseph, this is my Beloved Son,
Hear him.”

(A silent pause. In harmony)

And O! rejoice!

The Blessed One who died,
And victory won,
Answered the prayer of faith
In words of clear intent,
Of power and love.

The Message — He Speaks: “They Have All Gone Astray”

Chorus (Men Narrators in Unison)

He speaks!
They all have gone astray,—
Astray from Truth and Light.
Join none of them, for lo,
In God’s most holy sight
Their creeds, false and impure,
Abominations are:
And men, who teach for hire,
Mislead their hearers far.
The godliness they claim
Is but a form, and vain,
Its power they deny,
And holiness they feign.
Commandments made of men
They teach for doctrines true:
Draw near me with their lips,
Their hearts afar I view.
Join none of them, but seek,
As thou this day hast done,
The Father’s holy will.
With prayerful heart, and meek.
Keep what thy faith has won —
The heavens open still.

(Pause. During which soft music dies away, representing the heavenly Beings receding heavenward.)

“As the Youth in Wonder Gazed”

Chorus (In harmony)

And as the youth in holy wonder gazed,
The light withdrew, and soon he, all amazed,
Found himself gazing at the distant sky –
Distant – but nearer than it was before.

For lo! The Master left an open door
To close no more: those portals hung on high
Through which “A Mighty Angel” soon should fly
And bear the “Everlasting Gospel” unto men,
Restored, to be withdrawn no more. Amen!

“O Blessed Communion”

Chorus or Trio (Women’s voices)

O blessed communion, ‘tween mortals and heaven,
Light and revelation again have been won,
To guide us and save us, this hour has been given,
Through loving, a wondrous mercy of Father and Son.

O blest dispensation in which we are living
When Christ and the Father descended to earth,
To bear the glad tidings to mortals, and giving
This last dispensation its glorious birth.

O blessed communion, whereby we may enter
Where the Holy Spirit our footsteps may guide,
And lead to where knowledge and certainty center,
In everlasting progress and love to abide.
O blest dispensation, etc., etc.

Postlude – “The Voice of God is Heard Again”

Chorus (Congregation and Chorus)

The voice of God is heard again,
The silence has been broken,
The curse of darkness is withdrawn,
The Lord again hath spoken.
Rejoice, ye living! — And, ye dead,
Rejoice! for your salvation
Begins anew this happy morn
Of final dispensation.

Finale — “Shout Ye Hosanna”

Solo (With full Chorus)

Shout ye Hosannas! Shout again!
Till all creation blending
Shall join in one great, grand Amen
Of anthems never ending.
Amen.



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