Friday, November 11, 2016

More Music for the End of Time

A longtime friend of the Egg, Father James of the Tonsure, responded to our post about the Dies irae.  He observes that, as the song progresses, it develops what he calls "a more evangelical tone." This is discernible in three stanzas especially:
Preces meæ non sunt dignæ;
Sed tu bonus fac benigne,
Ne perenni cremer igne.
Inter oves locum præsta.
Et ab hædis me sequestra,
Statuens in parte dextra.
Confutatis maledictis,
Flammis acribus addictis,
Voca me cum benedictis.

That is to say:
Worthless are my prayers and sighing,
Yet, good Lord, in grace complying,
Rescue me from fires undying.
With Thy sheep a place provide me,
From the goats afar divide me,
To Thy right hand do Thou guide me.
When the wicked are confounded,
Doomed to flames of woe unbounded,
Call me with Thy saints surrounded.

Another colleague points us to  Es ist gewißlich an der Zeit, AKA "The Day is Surely Drawing Near," a Lutheran hymn of the 17th century in a 19th century translation.  It works over some of the same material in a more strictly Biblical fashion.  You can read it here, and hear a MIDI of the (unimaginative and stodgy) tune. 

If your mood this week is positively apocalyptic, we recommend an album by Anonymous 4 entitled 1000: A Mass for the End of Time.  (Learn more here.) It attempts to reconstruct an Ascension Day service from the end of the first Christian millennium, and imbue it with a sense of dread.  We have owned the album since its 1999 release, and while we do not listen to it often, there are times -- notably those when we have been deliberately drinking ourselves into a stupor -- when it simply works

Or, for those with an addiction to the music written in the most recent few centuries, consider Olivier Messiaen's Quartet for the End of Time.  Few pieces of music have a more compelling backstory.  Inspired by a passage from Revelation, it was written and performed in 1941, when the composer was imprisoned in Stalag VIII-A, a German POW camp in Poland. He wrote on smuggled paper with a broken pencil, and the piece premiered outdoors, in the rain, to a an audience of prisoners and guards.  Messiaen recalled later that, "Never was I listened to with such rapt attention."

Here's a YouTube presentation:

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