The Richness of Music in Worship: Faure’s Requiem

As Episcopalians, we are steeped in a rich, musical history that has heralded, and rightly so, much acclaim and notoriety. Thomas Tallis, George Herbert, Charles Wesley, John Merbecke, John Sheppard, Ralph Vaughan, Percy Dearmer, Margaret Street, Graham and Betty Pulkingham, George Mims, a few names that merely scratch the surface amongst the “who’s who” in Anglican/Episcopal Church music.  However, at times, and sadly so, this musical accomplishment goes unnoticed and under-appreciated.  At St. Nicholas, we work at incorporating several musical traditions, embracing the historical background and musical styes of other faith communities while implementing and basking in our unique and beautiful Anglican/Episcopal musical heritage.

On March 3, our choir endeavored and succeeded in performing a most hauntingly beautiful piece of music, “Libera Me” from Requiem by Gabriel Fauré.

Fauré’s Requiem has a much deeper and notable history; a history worth sharing.  So, without any further ado, enjoy this story — submitted by Bob DeHaven — of how Requiem came to be.
Gabriel Fauré(1845 -1924) was a composer, organist, pianist and teacher. He was one of the foremost French composers of his generation, and his musical style influenced many 20th-century composers. Among his best-known works is his Requiem, first published in 1900. The original version of Requiemcontained just four movements, and expanded several times. Part VI, Libera Me, which introduced a whiff of brimstone previously missing, was originally written as a stand-alone work in 1877. It was added to the Requiem by the time of its first publication in 1900.

Fauré was born into a cultured but not especially musical family. His talent became clear when he was a small boy. Perhaps one of the most haunting images from his life is that of the old blind woman sitting in the chapel adjoining the Ecole Normale at Montgauzy, listening raptly to the little boy playing harmonium for hours on end. At that point, young Gabriel had had no musical training, but simply loved the sound of the instrument, and so played with it, seeking those combinations most pleasing to the ear. And the old lady returned, again and again sitting in the otherwise empty chapel to listen and chat with the boy and give him advice. Eventually she told his father, who taught at the school, about his gift for music.

A lifetime later, in a letter written when he was almost as close to the end of his life as that little boy in Montgauzy had been to the beginning, Fauré recalled the famous work he’d composed in the middle of his life. The Requiem, he wrote, was created purely “for the pleasure of it.” But in taking up that work in the fall of 1887, it was natural and inevitable that his thoughts would turn to things of the spirit, to the fact of his own mortality, and especially to recollections of the loved ones he had lost. This included his father, who died in 1885 (his mother died just as he was close to completing the Requiem, though he was unable to finish it in time for her funeral).

I can’t help but feel that Fauré must have thought, too, of the old blind woman, by then long dead, whose name is now lost to posterity (had he forgotten it? Did he ever know it in the first place?), the woman who, by listening to him so intently, affirmed the value of his childhood musical explorations. What an extraordinary gift. One can’t help but wonder if Fauré sensed her hovering in the back of his imagination, listening to all the music he wrote, ever after.

Fauré himself said of the work, “Everything I managed to entertain by way of religious illusion I put into my Requiem, which moreover is dominated from beginning to end by a very human feeling of faith in eternal rest.” He told an interviewer, “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.”
>Look for our choir to sing another piece, Sanctus, from
Requiem on Palm Sunday, along with Pieta by Joseph Martin.

Clergy Corner: The Transformative Powers and Riches of Easter

2nd Sunday of Lent, Feb. 24, 2013. St. Nicholas. C Cycle.
Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18,
Psalm 27
,
Philippians 3:17-4:1,
Luke 13:31-35

Trust in God First, Foremost and Always

I knew a woman who was a frequent guest at the soup kitchen I used to run down in the city. This woman had 5 children, which is a beautiful thing. Unfortunately, and sadly, these children had different fathers. It was unfortunate because the fathers were not in the children’s lives. These ‘dads’ had little to no contact with their or their mother anymore. These kids were all young, under the age of 10 when I first met them, and this was some 19 years ago. This woman was a good Mom: she did what she could to help her children. Coming to the soup kitchen was necessary: she just could not provide for them alone and the soup kitchen was able to assist her with feeding her children. She made good use of the Case Management Department, too, as well as the clothing and laundry services that were provided. I looked forward to seeing her and she was, as I said, a regular attendee, virtually every night.

Let us allow this holy season of Lent willingly move forward toward the transformative powers and riches of Easter. We venture onward, with open hearts and receptive minds… wishing to know more of our Lord and desiring for ever more grace, strength and peace to fill and overflow our senses and bodies.

She had a very difficult job to say the least. Parenthood is the most demanding of careers. It is tough enough for two parents, but one parent managing and handling 5 children while marred in a life of poverty, barely making it; living in a neighborhood that is riddled with crime and violence? One parent, with five energetic youngsters all under the age of 10 and one of which was a mere baby in a stroller…Dear God…

I’m not a parent, I readily admit to this. However, I saw and was witness and was the beneficiary of how much work, sacrifice and energy my two beloved parents put forth to care, protect and educate my 8 brothers and sisters and I. I would like to think they did a good job and I am ever grateful and humbled for their uncompromising and unquestioned love. Yet this woman, this single parent…she seemingly had the world on her shoulders and each day, the ground appeared to be getting closer and closer as she stooped lower and lower under the pressures and burdens of doing all she could to care for her children.

My heart ached for this women. In the summer months, I would take my lunch break by taking long walks…to clear my head, to pray silently and enjoy the warmth and sunshine. I would see the woman walking around the neighborhoods near the soup kitchen, trying feverishly to keep track of where the kids were running off to. She’d call for them to stay close and they’d eventually come and walk with her. She would take them to the park and they’d play on the swings and such…until they became bored and demanded more of her. She looked defeated most days, yet she was undeterred and undaunted in her desire to provide, care and protect her children. Her situation provoked me to do more for people like her… people who had the deck stacked up against them. I opened the door of the soup kitchen at noon for people to come in, have coffee, play board games with the volunteer staff and just relax until dinner time…all in a safe and clean environment…and most importantly, these beautiful people knew they were surrounded and cared for by folks who truly and genuinely loved them.

This woman, this single parent, desperately tried to keep her children under her protective and loving care. Try as she did, in the years to come, her two sons spent considerable time behind bars for a number of offenses. The girls were unattended and poorly chaperoned and subsequently became subject to the advances of older men. I need not elaborate this point, for sadly we know what came next…

She tried and desired to keep her children under her protective wings, but they rebelled and chose otherwise. She knew better and she loved them so. Yet, they chose differently. Jesus tried, in vain, to shelter the people of Jerusalem, to protect His very people from the evils and destruction that sin creates. Sadly, the people of Jerusalem thought differently and did as they wished. They stoned and killed the prophets and anyone who spoke with authority from above. Jesus’ heart ached for His people.

He longed to care for them, just as in today’s passage from St. Luke we heard: “how often I desired to gather your children together, like a hen trying to gather her brood under her wings, and you were not willing.”

Jesus wasn’t afforded this role while in Jerusalem, was He? Jesus lamented over the apathy and ignorance of His own people in His beautiful yet lost Jerusalem. He truly did not have anyone in whom He could trust….no one except God, His father, the Creator.

The Pharisees warned Him that Herod wanted Him dead…but Jesus didn’t trust these guys in any way, shape or form. They had an agenda, these Pharisees. They wanted Jesus out of the picture and they knew if they were unable to rid themselves of Jesus, Herod would find a way. Fact is, Jesus didn’t even like the Pharisees…He called them a “brood of vipers.” Jesus wasn’t too fond of Herod for that matter, too. He, Herod was viewed as weak and a ‘mere puppet for the Roman authorities.”

Jesus couldn’t trust the Pharisees and He couldn’t trust Herod. His disciples…well, they had flaws and shortcomings and Jesus knew this when He chose them. When Jesus needed them most…sadly, they disappointed and let Him down. Ultimately, as we know, the disciples showed their true worth and strength; wearing the crown of the martyrs as they gave their lives for the Kingdom!

There are times we all feel like we are alone; that there is no one really listening to us. I certainly have those moments. I know I’m wrong thinking like this. (For goodness sake’s I have Douglas who I know cares for me and I have my sisters and brothers and a slew full of nieces, nephews, grand nieces and grandnephews who love and care for me and I have this amazing and wonderful community of St. Nicholas, who show me, daily, how much you all care.)

Yet, when we are in pain or when sorrow overwhelms us or suffering invades our very fibre, even the ones who love us most may not be enough. Sadly, pain and doubt overpower us and blinds us to the reality that WE DO INDEED HAVE SOME ONE WE CAN ALWAYS TRUST…AND THAT IS JESUS, OUR MOST HOLY REDEEMER.

IT IS JESUS WHO NEVER LETS US DOWN
IT IS JESUS WHO ALWAYS HAS OUR BACK
IT IS JESUS WHO NEVER FORGETS NOR OVERLOOKS US…ESPECIALLY WHEN WE FEEL EVERYONE ELSE HAS

St. Paul implored the people of Philippi to “STAND FIRM IN THE LORD, BECAUSE THE LORD WILL TRANSFORM US…FROM HUMILIATION TO GLORY…” Likewise, we, too, must allow the Spirit to transform us…to take us from those moments of doubt and fear, those times when pain and sorrow and suffering seem insurmountable and allow the glorious, healing powers of Jesus transform us…from HUMILIATION that is sin and suffering, to GLORY…that is found fully and solely in Jesus the Christ.

Let us allow this holy season of Lent willingly move forward toward the transformative powers and riches of Easter. We venture onward, with open hearts and receptive minds… wishing to know more of our Lord and desiring for ever more grace, strength and peace to fill and overflow our senses and bodies.

Let Jesus take us under His protective and loving wings…He is already beside us…He is already before us, leading us onward…He is ever within us to comfort and sustain us…so let’s put our full trust and faith in Him and always Him and forever in Him as we continue to place a fuller and richer faith in one another…shall we?

manny@stnicholasepiscopal.org

Manny

RUMMAGE SALE This Weekend: St Nick’s Knacks in Elk Grove Village IL

Our Annual Rummage Sale will take place on Friday, August 17 and Saturday, August 18, from 9AM to 3PM both days.

This is our major fundraiser for the year, and we need all hands on deck to make it a success.  How can you help?  We need:

  • Everyone to spread the word.  Go to our Facebook page and “join” the event and share with your friends. 
  • People to  let Manny know when they can spend an hour or two Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday of the week of the sale to continue to organize and price.  
  • Everyone to sign up to volunteer on the dates of the sale.  We simply can’t have enough volunteers.  We  need cashiers for the main table and boutique room, floor walkers, greeters, baggers/wrappers. Click this link to sign up online.

Thank you, in advance!  The sale is a wonderful community-builder, and an opportunity to welcome people to St. Nicholas.  We guarantee you’ll have fun!  Most importantly, the whole idea is that everyone participate, however that’s possible for each person.
via News from St. Nicholas Episcopal Church