Requiem – The Gift of Rest

In the midst of all the change and upheaval in my life over the last thirty days.  Of cleaning out desks, shaking hands in farewell, hugging some, and shedding a few soulful tears of departure with others.  In the midst of my ‘new life’, one of networking, calling,  having coffee after coffee, and researching hours on the web for interviews… and in the middle of nightly newscasts that report:

Markets down…  Stocks crashing…  Afghan death toll growing… Gulf Oil still spilling…  Unemployment rates rising…   Job openings falling…

In the middle of this cacophony of noise, fear, anxiety, and uncertainty there stands for us, for me, the gift of peace, of fearlessness, of hopefulness… a peace beyond this world.  Requiem!  A peace experienced not by a drug, drink or credit card spending spree, but an eternal peace centered in the certainty of our God who is without change, and who loves His children, and who is in control of all things.  The Trinity, three in One, who knew us from the beginning of creation, who walks with us each day of our lives, and who, even now, carries us in the middle of transition in tough times. 

A gift was given.      Hope cast out fear.     Certainty, destroyed doubt.

Our son Stephen, and his High School Choir, became the human voice of Divine Wisdom, young voices who offered a lyrical, musical, gift of beauty to the world last week.  They reminded everyone in the overflowing Performing Arts Center, that though the world be crumbling, stumbling, bumbling, sputtering, gasping and heaving for peace, tranquility and surety… that these things in fact, do exist.  They are with us even now, even today in this depressed world, for in God’s economy, and to those who live in the unity of the Holy Trinity, there is a peace that surpasses all human understanding.  Fear is cast out.  Anxiety is crushed, and hope is restored.  And this hope, this peace, is not in the form of a government  bailout, or a ‘restored economy’, or with a check in the mail, or with a stimulus package that will  only perhaps allow us to spend more than we make again; causing the vicious cycle to start all over again.  Maybe this time we’ll learn our lesson: to be content with what we have?

The beauty given to us last week was in the Requiem, a choral and symphonic work of beauty and theological profundity, by Frenchman Gabriel Faure.  

A Requiem or Requiem Mass, (Latin: Missa pro defunctis)  is a liturgy celebrated for the repose of the soul or souls of one or more deceased persons.  It is frequently, but not necessarily, celebrated in the context of a funeral“Requiem” is the accusative case of the Latin noun requies (rest, repose). The introit of the liturgy begins with the words “Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine” – “Grant them eternal rest, O Lord”.

That night the stage was a womb.  A protective enclosure for our souls.  We gazed upon  the faces of these young men and women, the picture of youth, health and optimism.  To know that anyone of them in a few years might be on the battlefields of war, knowing death personally made the performance even more meaningful to me.  To hear their voices, youthful, vibrant, strong, sacred and  holy.  To be bathed in the soothing, soaring voice like notes of viola, violin, cello, flute and bass.  No pumped up over amplified speakers were needed.  No smoke, and hi-tech light show, or ‘pepped-up’ super happy worship leader needed to ‘lead us’ in worship.

On this night, God’s Holy Spirit, led us.  Through words, voice, strings, and a promise.  The Requiem of Faure is a celebration.  It is a joyous tome of triumph.  The Requiem is about release.  It is a victory song.  Certainty.  Peace.  It is a reminder that this world and all its troubles and tribulations are but a momentary blip on the map of eternity.  Our son and his classmates sang the song of the Church, the triumph over death our greatest enemy.  The Requiem is a victory song as Faure himself reminds us:

“It has been said that my Requiem does not express the fear of death and someone has called it a lullaby of death. But it is thus that I see death: as a happy deliverance, an aspiration towards happiness above, rather than as a painful experience. As to my Requiem, perhaps I have also instinctively sought to escape from what is thought right and proper, after all the years of accompanying burial services on the organ! I know it all by heart. I wanted to write something different.”

No matter what happens today.  Or tomorrow.  Or next week, or next year.  These lyrics are the rock of salvation in a world reeling out of control.  It speaks of a merciful God, of light eternal, of liberation from sin and death… and the promise of Paradise for those who know, serve and follow the Son of God, the Savior of all people, the hope in every hopeless situation… Jesus the Christ.  (For a complete translation of all the movements and lyrics click here.)

Pie Jesu

Merciful Lord Jesus,  grant them rest, eternal rest.

Agnus Dei

Lamb of God, who removes the sins of the world, grant them rest. Lamb of God, who removes the sins of the world, grant them rest. Lamb of God, who removes the sins of the world,  grant them eternal rest. 

Lux Aeternum

Let Thy Light eternal shine on them, O Lord, with Thy saints forever, for Thou are merciful.  Rest eternal grant them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine on them.

Libere Me

Free me, Lord, from eternal death, on that day of dread, when the heavens and earth shall move, when You shall come to judge the world by fire.  I am made to tremble, and to fear, when destruction shall come, and also Your coming wrath.  On that day, that day of wrath, of calamity and misery.  Grant eternal rest to them Lord, and let perpetual light shine on  them.

In Paradisum

May angels lead you into Paradise. 

At your coming may martyrs receive you, and may they lead you into the Holy City, Jerusalem. May the chorus of angels receive you, and with Lazarus, who once was a pauper, may you have eternal rest. 

May these holy angels, who walk with us each day, guide us through this travail of tears, to our homeland, into the New Jerusalem, where no weeping, sighing or sickness can be found.

Thank you Caledonia Choir for giving the world a gift of beauty – the gift of rest.





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