Yes, the Requiem Mass is a beautiful thing. And no, I do not wish to sound morbid about music that celebrates death. Remember, for Christians, death is not the end of the story. And would it be that we could all exit life accompanied by the comforting strains of a beautiful, masterfully composed Lux aeterna!
Composers throughout time have been inspired by the texts of the Requiem Mass, and we have gorgeous melodies of these sacred texts bequeathed to us by composers including Haydn, Mozart, Cherubini, Berlioz, Bruckner, Brahms, Verdi, Dvorák, Fauré, Howells, Duruflé, Britten, Webber and John Rutter.
Last Sunday was the Sunday after All Saints’ Day. This Sunday (Nov. 13) is sometimes celebrated as Remembrance Sunday, the Sunday observed closest to Armistice Day. In this country, of course, we celebrate the same day as Veterans Day. Remembrance Sunday is the Sunday nearest that observance.
We will use the complete Requiem of John Rutter as the music for our 10:30 morning service, slightly re-arranging some of the movements to fit our Eucharistic liturgy. Sung in remembrance of all the faithful departed from this parish this year, the service will begin and end in spellbinding, ethereal processions, accompanied by the Introit (“Grant them rest eternal, Lord our God”) at the entrance and the Lux aeterna (“Light eternal shine on them, O Lord”) at the end.
The Sanctus and Agnus Dei will be sung in their appropriate liturgical places, and two extra non-Requiem-specific movements, Psalm 130 (Out of the deep) and Psalm 23 (The Lord is my shepherd) will be sung at the Gradual and Offertory. We will use Rutter’s own chamber orchestra version, which includes beautiful solo melodies for cello, oboe, flute and harp.
When parishioners “testify” to me about the music they hear in this parish, they often say something like, “I sat there and let that music just wash over me.” The John Rutter Requiem this week will be a perfect opportunity for all to experience just this.
Come to church Sunday with no worship agenda and no high liturgical work ethic. Expect no churchmanship acrobatics or calisthenics. Come with an open heart, an open mind and open ears to receive God’s gifts through music. Pray and give thanks for those listed in our 2016 Parish Necrology and also remember your own beloved who have gone before.
Listen to “Lux aeterna,” the last movement of Rutter Requiem as sung by The Cambridge Singers, conducted by their founder and the composer himself.