The blog of the Dominican student brothers at Blackfriars, Oxford.

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Dies Irae – Requiem Mass Sequence

Friday, November 16, 2012
November is traditionally the month of the dead. In our private prayers and public liturgy, this is the time when we remember especially those who have gone to the Lord. We believe their passing is not a final alienation from us, but an inevitable stage on their journey to God. We miss them and mourn for them, but we are still united with them in spirit and prayer. After all, the Church is the one Body of Christ, in which all the living are bonded together, both we who remain on earth and those who 'have gone before us marked with the sign of faith' (Roman Canon). As Jesus teaches:

'They are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection. Now that the dead are raised, even Moses showed at the burning bush, when he called the Lord the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. For he is not a God of the dead, but of the living: for all live unto him.'

Fittingly for November, then, the Oxford University Philharmonia (in which I play 1st flute) will be performing Verdi's Requiem next week at the Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford. Details are on the poster below.

In Verdi's great work, the Sequence (Dies Irae, or 'Day of Wrath') is a musically elaborate and emotionally overwhelming movement lasting more than half an hour. In its original plainsong version, however, the Sequence is musically restrained yet loses none of its plaintive passion for God's mercy. Here is our recording of the chant:

I will be giving a short pre-concert talk about Verdi's Requiem, explaining some musical, historical and theological notes. All are welcome to hear it at 5.30-6pm, Wednesday 21 November, in the Aula at Blackfriars, Oxford. I will recapitulate these themes in a later post on Godzdogz, for those who cannot join us on the day.

Matthew Jarvis OP


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