The major theme of the Feast of Lights this year is Peace. So it seems fitting to have the last post in my Feast of Lights string be about that.
The opening voluntary performed by the orchestra sans choir, Sicilienne by Gabriel Fauré is easily one of the best musical representations of peace I have heard in my lifetime. While listening, I find it hard to think of anything that isn’t peaceful. Worries are lifted, concerns are quieted, and the background hum of life fades away leaving a tranquil, glassy sea on which to float aimlessly in my soul.
The bookend is Kyrie from Memorial by René Clausen. While the text contains the traditional Kyrie text from the Mass (Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy), “grant us peace” forms the keystone of the piece.
Between those two, the word peace rarely shows up in the music, but imagery of peace is everywhere. On example is in the first song for the full choir:
Comfort ye, my people
Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem
And cry unto her that her warfare is accomplished
That her iniquity is pardoned
Sing ye heavens and be joyful or earth
Break forth into singing ye mountains
For the Lord hath comforted His people
based on Isaiah 40:1, 49:13
In the second half, Before the Marvel of this Night by Carl Schalk is about peace, bliss, proclaiming the birth of Christ and peace, and that God is Love. Peace is somewhere in each part of this year’s Feast, appropriately on the weekend when the Church will celebrate Advent by reflecting on Peace. For me, that reflection has started early and has blended with Hope from which Peace almost involuntarily springs.
In my experience of the Feast, the four Sundays of Advent mix together. Reflection on Hope shapes the course of a week of rehearsals leading to reflection on the Second Sunday and theme of the Feast: Peace. The act of worship and fun that is Feast brings the Joy of the Third Sunday. The warmth and spirit of the choir, my friends, and family in attendance and the inevitable result of the first three Sundays of Advent give a taste of the Fourth Sunday and this year Christmas Day: Love.
If you are going, enjoy the Feast. I look forward to hearing how you liked it afterwards. If you aren’t going or can’t go, I hope that you’ve enjoyed reading these. Thanks for reading!