Music For Remembering

Memorial Day seems as good as any day to share some music with you, dear readers. (And no, there are no Sousa marches. I don’t know whether to say “you’re welcome” or “I am sorry.” Choose the one that applies to you.)

The Christian tradition truly has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to music. It doesn’t even seem possible some days when you look at the breadth and depth of the musical tradition of the church and realize that we have everything from songs that deal with “waiting” to songs that deal with the miraculous appearance of a lost pork chop at the hands of the Virgin Mary. No, really. That is actually a real song from the Cantigas de Santa Maria.

But pork chops aside, here are some songs for this season of grieving, loving, and remembering.

“Stabat Mater” by Jean-Charles Gandrille

The “Stabat Mater” is a medieval Latin text describing the suffering of Mary at the cross of Christ. It is common to hear it during Holy Week, particularly on Good Friday. This particular setting (and recording) was sung during the final Palm Sunday mass before Notre Dame caught on fire. It is a very simple setting for 2 female voices and organ, and as it builds, the language changes from describing Mary’s pain to pleading that when we come to our own deaths, that God will grant us entrance to paradise.

“Death be Not Proud” by Audrey Assad.

I could put everything that Audrey has ever written on here. She is a fantastic “contemporary” musician out of the Catholic tradition. Her music has a depth of theology that sets it apart from what you might find from a Chris Tomlin or a Hillsong.

“Jesus, Remember Me” – Taize Community

Perhaps the “ultimate” song of remembrance, while also looking forward to our own salvation- asking Christ to remember us as he remembered the thief on the cross when he comes into the glory of his kingdom.

“Crown of Thorns” by Danielle Rose & The Notre Dame Folk Choir

Told from the perspective of the rose that was woven into the crown of thorns, yes, it may feel a little cliche, but there is an enduring power in the narrative that God uses all things for good, even when we are unable to see them.

And lastly, the “Intoitus,” or “Entrance” from Morton Lauridsen’s Lux Aeterna.

Essentially, it is Lauridsen’s Requiem Mass, renamed after the familiar Catholic communion him that recounts and recognizes the saints present among us.

Translated, it reads:

Eternal rest give unto them, O Lord,
and let perpetual light shine upon them.
A hymn, O God, becometh Thee in Zion;
and a vow shall be paid to Thee in Jerusalem:
hear my prayer;
all flesh shall come to Thee.
Eternal rest give unto them, O Lord,
and let perpetual light shine upon them.

Aside from being heart-breakingly beautiful, Lauridsen captures the plea that the human condition shares: that we be found in the light of Christ’s goodness when we come to the end of this life.