Vicente Borras Abella (1867–1945) is one of those Spanish painters who attained their full artistic maturity in the first half of the twentieth century. His family is from Valencia, a seaside city where the golden sunlight on the Mediterranean inspired so many artists.
The painting at the top of the page, full of colors and action, shows a choir rehearsing shortly before Christmas. It is painted with strong and vigorous strokes, but that moment is caught as sharply as a picture taken with a camera.
Choir members in red cassocks and white mantles rehearse songs for the upcoming feast of Our Lord’s Nativity. They are accompanied by several musical instruments. On the imposing and elaborate stand, large musical scores with metal buckles are open.
The rest of the church is in penumbra. A large crucifix hovers over the scene. Traditional songs rise up suavely in the expectation of Christmas night.
The choir leader is the soul of all these efforts. Does he perhaps realize that in less than a century later the militant secularism of a neo-pagan world will have almost succeeded in chasing away that special and blessed atmosphere enveloping that most joyful night?