Saturday, March 2, 2019

Thoughts on Rutter's Requiem

John Rutter wrote a Requiem in 1985.  I think in 2005, I sang it with Dr. Cierpke's choir at Trevecca.  It's one of the greatest oratorios I've known and I listen to it often on YouTube.  I loved it enough to hear a choir sing it in Gastonia, NC in the spring of 2009 just before I served an internship at First Presbyterian Church that summer. 

Historically, requiems are funeral masses.  Correct me if I'm wrong, but they are prayers for souls who have died and are possibly in Purgatory and are to help them through that process.  As a Protestant, I don't believe in Purgatory.  Christ finished the atonement for those who will be saved once and for all on the cross.  There is nothing left to be done.  If you are saved in this life, all your sins are taken care of, yea, were taken care of before you were even born.

Also, as a Protestant, I love the Requiem composed by John Rutter.  Perhaps because in this life there are lost souls still living that God has called us to pray for unto salvation.  We pray they will come to Christ and escape God's judgment before it's too late.  Perhaps, I like the Requiem because even as a saved believer, I still have sin, and I suffer for my sins and the original sins of Adam and Eve.  If ever there is a soul purging, it's here in this life and not after.  Anyway, I'd like to explore three movements within the Requiem.

The first is the second one, "Out of the Deep."

It's Psalm 130 set to music.  The tune speaks to the agony within one's soul as they go through living nightmares.  Maybe they've lost jobs.  Loved ones are going through cancer.  People they cherish are turning their backs to the Lord.  The opening cello part tears through my soul as I listen to it and just long to cry over all that is wrong with the world. 

It is also comforting to know that in Holy Scripture, God has included Psalm 130 so that out of the deep we can cry to him for comfort and anxiously wait for him to come and correct everything.  We know Jesus is coming back and that injustice will not slide as he comes to judge the living and the dead.  And it's a judgment we will not dread if we know him as our Savior, but without that salvation, nothing is more horrifying.  You must turn to the Lord, and out of your anguish, you must cry to him whenever there is tragedy, even if it seems to come from the Lord himself.  He can or could have stopped it.  You must go to him.

Next is movement 4, "Agnus Dei."

"Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, grant them rest."  Salvation is found in no other than Jesus, and he must completely save anyone who is lost.  This prayer is no use for people who have already died, but it is imperative for those who are still living yet still away from the Lord.  And then, there is Jesus, who did not spare his own life to save such as those.  There is no more loving being in the universe than our Lord, yet the only one who is truly just.  Even if you are in dread of what is to come, don't dread, because our gentle Savior knows what he's doing and he came specifically for all who will be redeemed by name.  He is the resurrection and the life and those who believe in him will never perish but have eternal life.  And there will be no sadness in that life.

Finally the fifth movement, "The Lord is My Shepherd."

Rest in knowing that your shepherd will leave you behind to go after that lost sheep that you love.  Even when you walk through the valley of the shadow of death, you will fear no evil, for Christ is with you (and seriously, that part of the movement in its minor key is so chilling), and not only Christ, but all the rest of the Church, past and present.  Even at your lowest, you are never alone.  Rest in that.