Duration ca. 9 minutes
for Vocal Octet or Chamber Choir
Commissioned by the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University. Vigilando was premiered on October 8, 2021 by the the Peabody Institute choirs, under the direction of Beth Willer.
Vigilando is the name of the 111 year old Johns Hopkins Nurses Alumnae Magazine. It is the Latin verb that means, “forever watchful.” The text for this work is taken from the November, 1918 issue of Vigilando, from two sources. The first is a section called ‘Our Losses’, which is the obituary section which remembers alumna who had passed away since the last issue’s publication. It is poignant to note that at least two of the nurses listed had only graduated a few months before they had succumbed to “pneumonia following influenza.” This composition is written in memory and honor of all healthcare workers, past and present, who sacrificed selflessly to care for the ill. I am grateful to Dr. Beth Willer, the director of the Peabody Institute’s Director of Choral Studies, for this opportunity to meditate on the sacrifices of nurses during times such as these.
Kareem Roustom, January 21, 2021.
I. A prayer in time of plague
Stella celi extirpavit
que lactavit Dominum
mortis pestem, quam plantavit
primus parens hominum.
Ipsa stella nunc dignetur
quorum bella plebem cedunt
dire mortis ulcere.
O gloriosa stella maris,
a peste succurre nobis.
Audi nos: nam Filius tuus
nihil negans te honorat
Salva nos, Jesu, pro quibus
virgo mater te orat.
Star of Heaven,
who nourished the Lord
and rooted up the plague of death
which our first parents planted;
may that star now deign
to hold in check the constellations
whose strife grants the people
the ulcers of a terrible death.
O glorious star of the sea,
save us from the plague.
Hear us: for your Son
who honours you denies you nothing.
Jesus, save us, for whom
the Virgin Mother prays to you.
II. Our Losses
Virginia Thomas, on Friday, October 4, 1918, at the Johns Hopkins Hospital of pneumonia following influenza. Miss Thomas was a member of the Intermediate class.
Hannah Hunt, Class of 1918, on Tuesday, October 15, 1918, at the Johns Hopkins Hospital, of pneumonia following influenza.
Olive Schureman, Class [of] 1916, on Friday, October 11, 1918, at Camp Meade, Admiral Md. [Maryland], of pneumonia following influenza.
Anna Daylor, Class [of] 1918, on Thursday, October 17, 1918, at the Johns Hopkins Hospital, of pneumonia following influenza.
–– We are saddened by the recent losses of our nurses, through the epidemic and other causes. Useful, beloved women summoned in the midst of their splendid activities. May we be granted spiritual strength to really believe “they are not dead, they do not sleep, they have awakened from the dream of life.”
 English translation adapted from The Black Death, ed. R. Horrox (Manchester, 1994), p. 124. Bold text indicates that which is set to music in this work.