Mark Camphouse (b. 1954) is an American composer and conductor. He has written more than a dozen emotional works for wind band. He also directs the bands at George Mason University. He is the creator and editor of the series Composers on Composing for Band, published by GIA publications. He coordinates the National Band Association’s Young Composer Mentor Project which matches emerging composers with experienced professionals.
Watchman, Tell Us of the Night was first published in 1996. The score comes with an anonymous program note:
A hymn for all children, Watchman, Tell Us of the Night portrays the loneliness, loss of innocence and yet enduring hope of the survivor of child abuse. The work is a musical tribute to survivors, often dreamlike in nature, as seen through the eyes of a child.
With this work, Mr. Camphouse responds to the shockingly widespread national tragedy of child abuse. Victims often suffer life-long effects mentally, physically, and socially. This shameful societal illness must be faced openly, honestly, and compassionately.
The title, taken from John Bowring’s 1825 text setting of George Elvey’s church hymn, “Watchman, Tell Us of the Night”, is also known as the Thanksgiving hymn, “Come Ye Thankful People Come”.
Watchman, Tell Us of the Night was commissioned by the St. Louis Youth Wind Ensemble, Milton Allen, Conductor and is dedicated to the composer’s twin daughters, Beth and Briton.
Interview with Camphouse in the George Mason University Gazette.
The child abuse statistics in the US are alarming indeed.
The Greater Gwent Youth Wind Symphonia does great justice to the piece in their performance:
The hymn tune and words don’t seem to coexist online in video form, but here is a version of the tune to the words of “Come Ye Thankful People Come”. You’ll hear the Watchman melody right away:
Finally, the words that inspired Camphouse, as quoted in the score:
Watchman, tell us of the night,
For the morning seems to dawn.
Traveler, darkness takes its flight,
Doubt and terror are withdrawn.
Watchman, let thy wanderings cease;
Hie thee to thy quiet home.
Traveler, yes; it brings the day.
Healing wholeness now has come!