Saturday, March 27, 2010
grant us peace
Last evening we attended a choral concert at a local university. Among its programs offered is a degree in music, so there is some real talent there on the risers. Talent that makes it possible to sing Mozart's Missa Brevis in G so well that for the first time I wished I had a video camera to record the performance and upload it to YouTube.
The entirety of the Missa Brevis was beautiful, but my favorite was the concluding Dona nobis pacem. I confess a bias toward music with this name, thanks to the Dona nobis pacem I am posting here. In the silent Quaker worship of my youth and early days of spiritual formation, there is no music. The point of silence is to wait upon the Lord and quiet one's heart to receive the Holy Spirit. Music, much as it enhances worship in other traditions, is a distraction in this setting. We sang and made merry outside of worship, and had a wonderful music leader who brought and played her zither to accompany us.
One of the things we sang with regularity (or so it seems in my memory) was this Dona nobis pacem. Through it I fell in love with rounds. It is also one of those pieces of music that affects you by singing it--by the time the last phrase is released to the world peace has transcended the moment.
The world in which we live and move and have our being these days is full of anxiety and fear. The behavior and rhetoric birthed from that state is far from peaceful. The painful lesson that I, for one, learned from our "venture" into Iraq is that prayer is not enough to respond to the forces that so many of us recognize as harbingers of destruction, destabilization and demise of all kinds. Action rooted in peace, love and justice is demanded. Courage to act is another matter, one I feel ill-equipped to summon forth.
If I believe that this round, and other music with the same kind of subtle power can transcend a moment from uncertainty and chaos to the experience of peace, then there is hope for the likes of me. With prayer, I seek a way to act to respond with love and compassion to the forces of vitriol poisoning our world.
To quote another song:
One woman's hands can't break the barriers down.
Two womens hands can't break the barriers down.
But if two and two and fifty make a million,
we'll see that day come 'round.
We'll see that day come 'round.