December night --
the rise and fall
of chanting voices

—Jane Wilson

This haiku is based on an association that I have with this time of year -- the "Evensong" services held during the Advent season in the Episcopal Church. The atmosphere of evening prayer, candlelight, and chanting voices on a cold December night is quite beautiful.

About the author: Jane Wilson (jw_nightowl at

I live and work in Richmond, Virginia, where I was born. My haiku have been pulished on, the Asahi Haikuist Network, The Heron's Nest, and in Acorn: A Journal of Contemporary Haiku. I also enjoy writing short poems in the style of Japanese tanka.

Responses to the haiku for 5 December 2002 by Jane Wilson

    bob richardson (orgbob at webtv dot net)
    2003-03-30 13:46:31

    i can relate to jane's explanation of the inspirations which generated this piece.

    sadly, something was lost in the transition.

    first line, hmmm, just the word "december" causes one's, or in this case mine, receptive literary juices to flow.

    the second line was where i first sensed some vibration, but there was still hope.

    it was the third line, "chanting voices" that left me out in the cold. regressing, jane's explanation left me warm and assured; however, the third line initially conjured up something "barbaric", that caused me to go on the defense.
    i could relate to the overall piece reviewing the evening services, but without the explanation it is doomed.

    perhaps some working of the explanation into the haiku would have been worthwhile.

    case in point:

    december evening
    psalms, twilights, intone voices...
    advent season

    the piece felt somewhat harsh to me, but it caused me to think, and there-in, i was able to share this time with jane.

    2003-04-02 17:45:18

    My feeling is haiku should be spare, pared of all redundancy and then some. To me,
    the rise and fall
    tells me the same thing as
    Chanting voices rise and fall, that's what they do, right? So, stripped down, I reckon what we have here is:

    December night --
    chanting voices

    which is a tad thin on content. Perhaps Bob's right, this would have benefited from inclusion of an image from the poet's explanation, in order to help convey the scene which is obviously vivid in Jane's mind.

    However Bob's 'case in point' seems guilty of even more redundancy than the original, while managing to say even less:
    december is the same as advent season
    evening and twilights mean the same...
    Stripped it might read:

    december evening
    voices chant


    2003-04-02 17:46:13

    If I may make a 'case in point':

    Cold stone --
    chanted evensong
    by candlelight

    Jane, do you think I've lost anything of the original? The season, though not explicit as in Jane's haiku, should be clear from the combination of cold, evensong and candlelight. I hope moving the candlelight into the haiku adds some warmth and atmos, and contrasts with the cold of the night and of the building.

    bob richardson (orgbob at webtv dot net)
    2003-04-02 22:57:22

    norman norman, yes, redundancy within my first two words.

    1. candle light is akin to twilight.

    2. december evening, i ponder, this time of the year is not automatically synonymous with advent season, for there are a world of other things on-going.
    my understanding of advent season is, it's four sundays preceding christmas.

    case in point:
    four sundays may cross over into november, but the author is selecting the time in december, a december evening.

    stripped further, you could say:


    brevity does not suggest cutting one's words to the bone.

    if one follows your assumption of one accepting only one particular set of meanings for one's words, then all you say is true, but such is not the case.

    "broaden horizon...
    land's end
    not tip of one's nose"

    Vasile Moldovan (vasilemoldovan at yahoo dot com)
    2004-07-15 08:49:01

    Evening prayer -
    the candlelight moved
    by the chanted evensong

    bob richardson (orgbob at webtv dot net)
    2004-12-19 12:34:27

    not laughing at jane's word, but how quickly time flies; one year, then two ...

    norm did we(i) say all of the above

    little cold
    sun rising --
    hand dispersing my sneeze