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The choir has been rehearsing Vaughn Williams' "Dona Nobis Pacem" for months now, and we will finally share the fruit of our labors on Sunday afternoon at the choir concert. I am looking forward to this, as this is a stunningly moving example of 20th-century music that is as relevant today as it was when it was composed in 1936.
During the volatile inter-war period, when the Nazis were already on the rise in Germany, Vaughn Williams wove together the poignant poetry of Walt Whitman and John Bright with evocative biblical passages from the prophets, the psalms, and a few other texts.
I have been especially moved by a passage from Jeremiah that we were rehearsing shortly after I had been translating that same passage in my seminary studies. It helped me to connect more deeply with the text, just as the music helps to paint pictures of the devastation of war and the terrible price that is paid by all.
The piece begins in prayer, builds in a cacophony of terror, falls into mourning and despair, and ends in prayer and hope. The hope persists, yet it has been elusive. Unimaginable horrors came on the heels of the debut of this piece, and there have been wars and genocides since. Yet the hope persists, and we sing this piece. We sing this peace.
I hope to see you at the concert on Sunday.
Dona Nobis Pacem.