Vigil: The Intertexts of a Poem by Jennifer Agee (Part 4)


The evening and the morning are the first day. After darkness and the silence of God in the death of Jesus Christ, a new day breaks and the shadows flee away. The light shines on a great mountain that fills the new earth. The light gleams green in the garden of God and blazes on the healing leaves of the tree of life. The first Word in the new creation is a voice that speaks our own name. And all the children of God will shout for joy.


Go here for the poem entire, a suitable text on which to reflect on Holy Saturday.

The texts of Holy Saturday in Eastern Orthodoxy and Greek Catholicism include: Psalm 104 [103] (the proemial Psalm); Psalm 141 [140]; 142 [141]; Ps 130 [129]; (1) Genesis 1:1-13; (2) Isaiah 60:1-16; (3) Exodus 12:1-11; (4) Jonah 1:1-4:11; (5) Joshua 5:10-15; (6) Exodus 13:20-15:19; (7) Zephaniah 3:8-15; (8) 1 Kings 17:8-24; (9) Isaiah 61:10-62:5; (10) Genesis 22:1-18; (11) Isaiah 61:1-9; (12) 2 Kings 4:8-37; (13) Isaiah 63:11-64:5; (14) Jeremiah 31:31-34; (15) Daniel 3:1-68 (including the Hymn of the Three Youths); Romans 6:3-11 (the Epistle, on baptism); Psalm 82 [81]; Matthew 28:1-20 (the Gospel).

The texts read in churches indebted to the Latin rite include, but are not limited to (1) Genesis 1:1-2:4a and Psalm 136:1-9, 23-26; (2) Genesis 7:1-5, 11-18; 8:6-18; 9:8-13 and Psalm 46; (3) Genesis 22:1-18 and Psalm 16; (4) Exodus 14:10-31; 15:20-21 and Exodus 15:1b-13, 17-18; [Isaiah 54:4a.5-14;] (5) Isaiah 55:1-11 and Isaiah 12:2-6; [Baruch 3:9-15, 3:32-4:4 or Proverbs 8:1-8, 19-21; 9:4b-6 and Psalm 19;] (6) Ezekiel 36:24-28 and Psalm 42, 43; (7) Ezekiel 37:1-14 and Psalm 143; [Zephaniah 3:14-20 and Psalm 98;] Romans 6:3-11, Psalm 114; Matthew 28:1-10.

The intertexts of Agee's "Vigil" overlap with and extend beyond the above; a selection is offered below. Translations are my own.  

Genesis 1:5
And there was morning, and there was evening, a first day.  וַֽיְהִי־עֶ֥רֶב וַֽיְהִי־בֹ֖קֶר י֥וֹם אֶחָֽד

Revelation 22:1-2 


Καὶ ἔδειξέν μοι ποταμὸν ὕδατος ζωῆς λαμπρὸν ὡς κρύσταλλον, ἐκπορευόμενον ἐκ τοῦ θρόνου τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ τοῦ ἀρνίου ἐν μέσῳ τῆς πλατείας αὐτῆς· καὶ τοῦ ποταμοῦ ἐντεῦθεν καὶ ἐκεῖθεν ξύλον ζωῆς ποιοῦν καρποὺς δώδεκα, κατὰ μῆνα ἕκαστον ἀποδιδοῦν τὸν καρπὸν αὐτοῦ, καὶ τὰ φύλλα τοῦ ξύλου εἰς θεραπείαν τῶν ἐθνῶνe.

Then he showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, coming out from the throne of God and of the Lamb, in the middle of her boulevard; and hither and yon of the river, the tree of life making twelve kinds of fruit, giving its fruit each month, and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.

Psalm 22:2-3


My God, my God,

why have you forsaken me —

far from my salvation,

my roaring words. 

My God, I call out by day,

and you do not answer.

By night, 

but for me there is no respite. 

אֵלִ֣י אֵ֭לִי

לָמָ֣ה עֲזַבְתָּ֑נִי

רָח֥וֹק מִֽ֝ישׁוּעָתִ֗י

דִּבְרֵ֥י שַׁאֲגָתִֽי׃

אֱ‍ֽלֹהַ֗י אֶקְרָ֣א י֭וֹמָם

וְלֹ֣א תַעֲנֶ֑ה


וְֽלֹא־דוּמִיָּ֥ה לִֽי׃

Job 38:6-7


On what were its pedestals sunk,

      and who laid the cornerstone

When the morning stars sang together

     and all the sons of God let out a shout?

עַל־מָ֭ה אֲדָנֶ֣יהָ הָטְבָּ֑עוּ

א֥וֹ מִֽי־יָ֝רָ֗ה אֶ֣בֶן פִּנָּתָֽהּ׃

בְּרָן־יַ֭חַד כּ֣וֹכְבֵי בֹ֑קֶר

וַ֝יָּרִ֗יעוּ כָּל־בְּנֵ֥י אֱלֹהִֽים



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