Saturday, October 19, 2013

Lux Aeterna

A little over ten years ago the music above entered my life. From the first measure, I loved it. It is Morten Lauridsen's "Lux Aeterna," and we sang it in the Rhodes Mastersingers Chorale.

Here is my music, placed in front of my preludes and fugues, one of the first books of music I bought when taking piano lessons from Mrs. White back in high school. After I got a CD of the Lauridsen music, I took it to her house on a visit home, and told her she was going to love it. As we listened, during that very first long, high/low note you see above, she whispered, "I already love it!"

The night we performed it, with Lauridsen himself present, I thought about my high school English teacher, Ray Wright, and how much he would love this music. He was in a coma at the time, though I did not know it, and a few days later I attended his funeral.

I've written a whole article on that year, so I won't go into detail here. But over the next six months, my grandmother died, a precious young cousin died by suicide, an old friend was murdered, and a close friend my own age unexpectedly died shortly after giving birth.

It was a very hard year. I found odd comfort in Hopkins' comfortless sonnet:

No worst, there is none. Pitched past pitch of grief,
More pangs will, schooled at forepangs, wilder wring.
Comforter, where, where is your comforting?
Mary, mother of us, where is your relief?
My cries heave, herds-long; huddle in a main, a chief
Woe, wórld-sorrow; on an áge-old anvil wince and sing —
Then lull, then leave off. Fury had shrieked 'No ling-
ering! Let me be fell: force I must be brief."'

    O the mind, mind has mountains; cliffs of fall
Frightful, sheer, no-man-fathomed. Hold them cheap
May who ne'er hung there. Nor does long our small
Durance deal with that steep or deep. Here! creep,
Wretch, under a comfort serves in a whirlwind: all
Life death does end and each day dies with sleep.

Of course, with time and a lot of love, hearts can heal, and mine did.

Last year, nine years after that beautiful music came into my life, and those beautiful people left my life, I was working on a paper for school, and I found a way to work this Hopkins poem into it (only partially cited here):

Man, how fast his firedint, | his mark on mind, is gone!
Both are in an unfathomable, all is in an enormous dark
Drowned. O pity and indig | nation! Manshape, that shone
Sheer off, disseveral, a star, | death blots black out; nor mark
                           Is any of him at all so stark
But vastness blurs and time | beats level. Enough! the Resurrection,
A heart's-clarion! Away grief's gasping, | joyless days, dejection.
                            Across my foundering deck shone
A beacon, an eternal beam. | Flesh fade, and mortal trash
Fall to the residuary worm; | world's wildfire, leave but ash:
                            In a flash, at a trumpet crash,
I am all at once what Christ is, | since he was what I am, and
This Jack, joke, poor potsherd, | patch, matchwood, immortal diamond,
                            Is immortal diamond.

Well, the marks these people left on my mind were not gone, but I was able to find great comfort and joy in the hope of resurrection.

While working on that paper, my beloved piano teacher was in a coma, and this time I did know it. I so hoped to see her once again, but did not. Tomorrow will be the anniversary of her death.

And thus this post, as tonight I reflect and remember these beautiful people and the blessings they have been to me and to many others.

Music is everywhere, so I trust they are enjoying beautiful music even now, as we wait for the flash and the trumpet crash and the Day when all immortal diamonds will shine in splendor in the presence of the Lux Aeterna.