Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Evening Prayer ~ Fourteen Angels

WE KNOW THE STORY of Hansel and Gretel (re-created as a short opera by Engelbert Humperdinck in 1893) The family is desperately poor and mother has come home with a pitcher of milk. Overjoyed, the brother and sister sing and dance, the pitcher is knocked over and the milk is lost. In a fury the mother sends the children into the woods to collect wild strawberries.

Neither is paying attention to the time,  how long they've been gone or what path's been taken. They suddenly become aware of how late it is, that it is getting dark and the forest is now alien. Tired and sure they'll not find their way back home, they settle down to sleep under the trees next to each other. But first they sing their Evening Prayer, inviting angels to watch and protect  through the night - fourteen angels to be exact. They are not disappointed as a winged and mystic company gathers around them.

We can pray the prayer as well, mindful of the symbolic themes, naming for ourselves:
  • Our own inner poverty and littleness
  • Human brokenness
  • The lost path
  • Vulnerability in what we would call deep darkness
  • Our fatigue and fears of the unknown
  • The nearness of evil (the witch lives nearby)

When at night I go to sleep;
Fourteen angels watch to keep;
Two my head are guarding;
Two my feet are guiding;
Two are on my right hand;
Two are on my left hand;
Two who warmly cover;
Two who o'er me hover;
Two to whom 'tis given;
To guide my steps to heaven.

Sleeping softly, then it seems;
Heaven enters in my dreams;
Angels hover round me;
Whispering they have found me;
Two are sweetly singing;
Two are garlands bringing;
Strewing me with roses;
As my soul reposes;
God will not forsake me;
When dawn at last will wake me.

We can listen to the prayer sung right here in both English and the original German.


  1. I love this and I love you. I don't know what I would do without your inspirational thoughts. I thank you for your presence. Even from afar, it makes a difference to keep me in a path to a better spiritual life. I feel so blessed.

    1. I was talking with some Long Island folks recently and one of them asked, "Did you feel the love?" I sure did and consider it a great blessing for which I am grateful everyday.

  2. Thank you for bringing this beautiful prayer to us. How beautiful is the thought that angels surround us in our times of trouble, to comfort us when we are lost or in danger. God will provide.

  3. Someone told me, "I don't believe in God but I believe in angels." But angels are messengers from God. Angels only exist to serve God!

  4. You must be someone very special because the admiration that people who know you seem to have for you is evident even through cyberspace. That in itself is a statement.

    1. Cyberspace: the new frontier. Everything is a gift!

  5. The music is mesmerizing. It brings a flood of emotion as I meditate on the symbolic themes you present to us. I didn't know Hansel and Gretel had such depth. Enlightened I am.

    1. I forgot to mention that the children are sent to pick strawberries - which in folklore are symbols of the nearness of evil. And unbeknownst to Hansel and Gretel, they will encounter the witch.

  6. Hansel and Gretel represent our lives? Little, broken, lost, in the dark, with danger lurking.That is a spin on this fairy tale that I never knew. They don't tell us these things in English class do they? It makes so much sense. Sometimes a story is so much more than what it seems.

  7. I love this evening prayer. I have heard it sung before, but never knew it was from Hansel and Gretel. Beautifully sung on both accounts. It brings me a feeling of peace. I will listen again before I go to bed. Glad this showed up this morning.

  8. So Lovely! Thank You

  9. Dear Fr. Stephen,
    I always look forward to reading your blog posts because I never know what will await me. You bring a breath of fresh air to my Catholic faith which has grown stale and stagnant over recent years. Breadcrumbs along the trail to lead me home.

  10. "The Lord bring to completion the good begun in you!"

  11. I love what you have to say here. I find all of your posts to be filled with inspirational thoughts, but I especially like this one as it takes a commonplace story and elevates it to a higher level of meaning for us. I enjoy learning these things from you.

  12. And I enjoy sharing them. Thanks for following the posts. God be with you.

  13. It is several days later and I am still enjoying this. Thanks for putting up this beautiful prayer and music.