Monday Musical Moment: MMM: Musical Comfort

Justin Langham   -  
Happy Monday!
As we all know from going about our daily lives, music can affect our emotions in a variety of ways. When we’re feeling sad, we can loudly sing along to a favorite song to help cheer us up. We can listen to music from times past to take us back to another time and place. We can listen to whatever the newest pop or hip-hop song is to get us through a workout. Music can intensify a gruesome horror movie, romantic love story, or even ridiculous acts of physical comedy (think of any Mel Brooks movie!).
Yesterday, First UMC observed All Saints Sunday, where we took time to remember those who walked the path before us. Losing a loved one can be difficult, as can the remembrance of them and the void they leave behind. I’ve lost a grandmother and an aunt just in the last year, but because of the lingering pandemic that we all continue to live through, I have still found it difficult to process without it feeling like some sort of dream. Sometimes we need to make conscious efforts to remember those who have passed and continue to allow their legacy to shape us, and in times of grief, we can turn to things like music for messages of hope and healing.
Renown composer Eric Whitacre’s poignant “The Sacred Veil” is a 12-movement work that chronicles the journey of Julie Silvestri, the wife of Whitacre’s close friend and collaborator Tony Silvestri, who died of ovarian cancer in 2005 at age 36. In yesterday’s All Saints service, the chancel choir sang the final movement from this work called “Child of Wonder,” the text of which centers on Julie’s completion of the earthly journey and offers a peaceful and comforting message for us remaining here on earth. The text of the final movement alone, written by Whitacre himself, can elicit tears, even without the music:

Child of wonder

Child of sky
Time to end your voyage
Time to die.
Weary waters beckon
Dark and deep
Child of soft surrender
Child of sleep.
Child of sorrow
Child of rain
There is no tomorrow
No more pain.
Turn your silvered sails
Toward the light
Child of mourning
Child of night.
Child of iridescence
Child of dream
Stars and moons will guide you
Down the stream.
Stretched on ocean waves
Of endless foam
Welcome home my child

Welcome home.


You can hear this work HERE, but to spare an added emotional toll, I would also like to leave you with another piece for today that is more uplifting. It can be like a “choose your own adventure!” 🙂 
Brahms’ timeless work from his Ein deutches Requiem, Op. 45, was composed in the late 1860’s as a requiem of comfort for those who are living, instead of focusing on grief like many Catholic mass settings before. The texts of the individual movements are drawn from German text of the Luther bible rather than the traditional Latin mass texts, hence the name “A German Requiem.” Although Brahms avoided any explicit Christian dogma like “Lord” or “Christ,” striving to make the work foundationally humanistic, the central theme of the Lord being a source of comfort persists throughout each movement of the work, and none more so than the fourth movement, “How lovely are Thy dwellings.” 
Originally written for full orchestra, Brahms also composed other versions, including one for piano duet. I hope you enjoy this wonderful recording of the latter version.
Have a great week!