From: Leah Knowles
German composer Johannes Brahms wrote A German Requiem in the 1860s, the 2nd movement of which borrows from today’s scripture passage: 1 Peter 1:24-25 as well as from James 5:7 and Isaiah 35:10. The piece was said to have been inspired by the composer’s grief over the loss of his mother and his mentor/fellow composer, Robert Schumann.
I performed the entire requiem with my college choir about a decade ago and it remains one of the most passionate and captivating pieces of music I have ever had the joy to experience. I’ve included a link to a recording of the second movement below.
In English, the text translates:
For all flesh is as grass,
and the glory of man like flowers.
The grass withers and the flower falls.
Therefore be patient, dear brothers,
for the coming of the Lord.
Behold, the husbandman waits for the delicious fruits of the earth
and is patient for it, until he receives the morning rain and evening rain.
But the word of the Lord endures for eternity.
The redeemed of the Lord will come again,
and come to Zion with a shout;
eternal joy shall be upon her head;
They shall take joy and gladness,
and sorrow and sighing must depart
The music begins in Bb minor and moves to Bb major as the tempo becomes quick and lilting and the text reflects the progression from pain to joy.
The entire requiem focuses on the living (as opposed to the dead) and their experience with grief. If I fight against the tendencies in which I have been socialized to fret and worry over my own private health, safety, and strong desire to live a long and happy life, I can find comfort in knowing that though our lives are fleeting and I have very little control over when my own will end, something much greater (God’s word) will live on.
And when I remember the loved ones I’ve lost in a spirit of pain, anguish, or anger, I can meditate on the long-term, transcendent joy of the Lord, which happily exists regardless of me/my life/my ego. And it is mightily, thankfully eternal.
I live on the beautiful North Shore with my husband Ryan, daughter Aurelia, Hermes the pug, and a new little guy coming this spring.