I possess precious few words for describing music, yet I marvel at the ways composers can bring a text to life, helping us to ponder its significance.
The aforementioned Dies Irae is a perfect example. One verse in particular may help to illustrate my point.
“Tuba mirum spargens sonum, per sepulcra regionum, coget omnes ante thronum.”
“Wondrous sound the trumpet flings; through earth’s sepulchers it rings; all before the throne it brings.”
The wonderous sound is of course the voice of our Creator, and its power is that of our Judge—and Redeemer. It is a power capable of summoning the dead, and of offering them eternal life.
In Mozart’s version, the line is delivered in less than a minute, but its power is unmistakable.
Something similar and uniquely beautiful happens in this Requiem by Jan Dismas Zelenka (1679-1745). Zelenka is a Czech composer who produced a plethora of sacred works of exquisite beauty. Listen to how he evokes the trumpet of eternity:
The entire Requiem is well worth listening to!
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