Monday, September 24, 2012

Monday's Mourning Ministry - Music to Pierce the Heart

Monday's Mourning Ministry

Music to Pierce the Heart

~Lamentations of Jeremiah

I have had experiences in which music has "pierced my heart" … when nothing else could---especially, perhaps, in bereavement. 
I was passionately fond of my mother's sister, my Auntie Len; I often felt she had saved my sanity, if not my life, when I was sent away from home as a child, evacuated from London during the war. Her death left a sudden huge hole in my life, but, for some reason, I had difficulty mourning. I went about my work, my daily life, functioning in a mechanical way, but inside I was in a state of anhedonia, numbly unresponsive to all pleasure---and, equally, sadness. One evening I went to a concert, hoping against hope that the music might revive me, but it did not work; the whole concert bored me---until the last piece was played. It was a piece I had never heard before, by a composer I had never heard of, The Lamentations of Jeremiah by Jan Dismus Zelenke (an obscure Czech contemporary of Bach's, I later learned). Suddenly, as I listened, I found my eyes wet with tears. My emotions, frozen for weeks, were flowing once again. Zelenke's Lamentations had broken the dam, letting feeling flow where it had been obstructed, immobilized inside me.

~Oliver Sachs, in his book, Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain

Lamentations of Jeremiah

~Jan Dismus Zelenke

arranged by Thomas Tallis

performed by The Sixteen Choir, 
directed by Harry Christophers

This is part one of his 'lamentations of Jeremiah' which sets to music the two first verses of Lamentations 1.

You will (read on the video and) hear the ensemble sing in Latin which will be translated for you below, with the English just below each Latin phrase or verse:

Incipit lamentatio leremiae prophetae

Here begins the lamentation of Jeremiah the prophet.

ALEPH: Quomodo sedet sola civitas plena populo!
Facta est quasi vidua domina gentium;
princeps provinciarum facta est sub tributo.

ALEPH: How lonely sits the city that was full of people!
How like a widow has she become,
she that was great among the nations!
She that was a princess among the cities has become a vassal.

BETH: Plorans ploravit in nocte,
et lacrimae ejus in maxillis ejus:
non est qui consoletur eam,
ex omnibus caris ejus;
omnes amici ejus spreverunt eam,
et facti sunt ei inimici.

BETH: She weeps bitterly in the night, 
tears on her cheeks;
among all her lovers she has none to comfort her;
all her friends have dealt treacherously with her,
they have become her enemies.

Jerusalem, convertere ad Dominum Deum tuum.

Jerusalem, turn again to the Lord your God.



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