Alleluia…

Tonight, I rehearsed my choir in preparation for a concert on October 12th. We are re-learning (some of us for the first time) Randall Thompson’s Alleluia.

Tonight, I asked the choir if they would like to listen to the recording of the Kansas City Chorale singing it, and the answer was a resounding yes!

Kansas City Chorale–Sunday Morning: Alleluia

As I listened to this beautiful, haunting interpretation, which repeats the word Alleluia so many times I lose track, I began to think, “how appropriate for our concert which will play on themes from St. Francis’ Canticle of the Sun.”

This beautiful poem praises even “sister death” in the end.

Thompson writes about his Alleluia in similar tones:

“[the Alleluia is] a very sad piece. The word “Alleluia” has so many possible interpretations. The music in my particular Alleluia cannot be made to sound joyous. It is a slow, sad piece, and…here it is comparable to the Book of Job, where it is written, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

As I remembered this, I sat, listening to the Kansas City Chorale, and was suddenly transported to the bedside of a man named Scott who died of Aids in 1995. If he had lived another year, he probably would still be alive today, as medical developments came soon after his death. I remember the expression on his face, the smell of the trailer, the anguish of his mother, the distance of his father. I remember the steadiness of my friend Doris, as we sat by his side, letting him go to heaven.

Scott loved to tell me about his days of singing in high school choir. I know he is watching me with delight as I write this.

I sat in rehearsal, and found that I could not fight back tears welling in the corners of my eyes, as they are now.

God gives. God takes. Blessed be God.

I miss you, Scott, and I love you.

Randall Thompson–Alleluia (Woodson Select Vocal Ensemble)

Be well, and at peace,

Phil

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