MMC Presenter AnnaMarie Hoos is Congregational Communications and Program Manager at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco and a member of St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church. She has been involved in the MMC project since the very beginning.
AnnaMarie led Night Has Fallen at our MMC event at the Bishop's Ranch in California in January, 2016. See the listing for Night Has Fallen in our Resources database here.
I spent a year living in community on Iona, an island off the west coast of Scotland. That far north, in the winter, the dark comes early and the sunrise late. Also the island, even now, has few lights at night; you can see the light of every home and the headlights of cars cresting the arch of the hill two miles away as they come into the town of Fionnphort, across the sound on the nearby Isle of Mull. Once the power on the island went out in a storm, and we waited a couple of days for someone to come from the mainland to restore it. Night is something to take seriously there.
The darkness also creates intimacy. We would crunch across the gravel paths to the chapel where we worshipped in the winter, clutching flashlights or trusting moonlight to find our way. Even though we had electricity in the chapel, we preferred low light and candles as we prayed and sang. The light was gentle and warm, and this shaped our singing and our gaze. We sat close to one another as well, so we could sing softly and listen well.
One of my favorite songs to sing at the close of Night Prayer is, “Night Has Fallen.” This is a call-and-response piece: the cantor sings a line which the people echo, and then everyone sings a refrain together. The tune, “Dzuwa Lapita”, is from Malawi, and was arranged and harmonized for publication in the UK/US by John Bell. The words in English are by Tom Colvin, but also you can make up your own calls and responses.
This works best as a closing song, and if the people gather close to one another and to the leader. Invite the people to sing the last time through very softly, and it will send everyone home quiet, breathing deeply, and ready for rest.
You can find other songs for evening worship and night prayer using the tags Evening (under "Contexts and Gatherings) and Lamplighting (under "Liturgical Use") on our Resources page. Here are some of my favorites:
Da Pacem Cordium
God Bless Every Step
Guide Us Waking
Peace, Perfect Peace