To the Final Notes
The performance of Fauré’s Requiem, Op. 48 with which the Portsmouth Institute ended its conference on “The Catholic William F. Buckley, Jr.” doubled as a celebration of the completed restoration of the Church of Saint Gregory the Great, in which the concert took place.
This particular requiem is among my favorite works in the classical canon — certainly among choral works — and the setting and temporal context made it a magnificently fitting culmination of my three-day glimpse of a life of the mind. The horns punching into the “Sanctus” finally pierced the gauze with which the necessities of daily life tend to wrap our spirits. Stream, download (3 min, 17 sec).
Holy, Holy, Holy
Lord God of Hosts
Heaven and earth are fully of thy glory
Hosana in the highest. Holy.
Thus struck, I scattered my nearly illegible scrawl as notes in the margins of my program:
Think of the divine order that brings together these people, each of whom believes his or her present task to be the most important thing to be doing at this time (ipso facto) — even extending the performance back to the piece’s composer, adding in the engineering of the instruments over centuries, the honing of talents, the skill: all for the glorification of God and to request His mercy, His intercession in the cold workings of nature’s machine. Even if the music were not created or presented for that purpose, I defy you to explain that it was randomness and pure human preferences that brought it to be.
I defy it because I shall not believe it and will think you tragically deprived of grace by Satan himself.
The performers needn’t believe themselves to be doing otherwise than singing pretty music. Even Fauré — when it comes to it — could have had other intentions for all it matters. A librettist, try as he might, could not deprive the Maker of this sort of praise. Even constructing the archetype of all that is disgusting and base — destroying all marks of the beauty that is divine inspiration — the devil would by that very act prove an order and thereby point to the One whom he detests.