O Death, Where is Thy Sting?

Anastasis_at_Chora

Let us contemplate our own mortality and ‘refute’ the nihilism of ‘mercy’ killing with artworks of Beauty. Classic Christian art such as ‪Purcell’s Elegy for the Funeral of Queen Mary can be so uplifting! Let us also draw upon all Art that has something of God in it, or that through it something of God can be refracted, such as Kurosawa’s Dreams and Rumi’s poetry.

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Purcell’s Elegy

Man that is born of a woman

hath but a short time to live, and is full of misery.

He cometh up, and is cut down like a flow’r.

He flee’th as it were a shadow,

and ne’er continueth in one stay.

In the midst of life we are in death:

of whom may we seek for succour,

but of thee, O Lord, who for our sins art justly displeased?

Yet, O Lord God most holy, O Lord most mighty,

O holy and most merciful Saviour,

deliver us not into the bitter pains of eternal death.

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For sublime Purcell please go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AYELAu9hqdU

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Kurosawa’s Dreams ends with a funeral procession for an old woman in a village that plays like a wedding. Instead of mourning, the people celebrate joyfully as the proper end to a good life. The whole village turns out for her funeral. Kurosawa stages the funeral procession as a celebration of a life. Music is played, a song is sung, people dance in the procession as if it is a parade, and it’s a joyous scene. At the end, the traveler picks and places his own flower on the rock like the children before him.

For Kurosawa’s last Dream, watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rEEOfJdGzcQ

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As for Rumi, the mystic poet and Spiritual Sufi Master, let the ecstatic vision of his hauntingly beautiful ‘Death’ poem speak of itself!

When I die …

When my coffin

Is being taken out

You must never think

I am missing this world.

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Don’t shed any tears,

Don’t lament or feel sorry

I’m not falling

into a monster’s abyss.

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When you see

My corpse is being carried

Don’t cry for my leaving,

I’m not leaving,

I’m arriving at eternal love.

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When you leave me

In the grave

Don’t say goodbye.

Remember a grave is

Only a curtain

For the paradise behind.

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You’ll only see me

Descending into a grave.

Now watch me rise.

How can there be an end?

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When the sun sets or

The moon goes down

It looks like the end,

It seems like a sunset,

But in reality it is a dawn.

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When the grave locks you up,

That is when your soul is freed.

Have you ever seen

A seed fallen to earth

Not rise with a new life?

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Why should you doubt the rise

Of a seed named human?

Have you ever seen

A bucket lowered into a well

Coming back empty?

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Why lament for a soul

When it can come back

Like Joseph from the well?

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When for the last time

You close your mouth,

Your words and soul

Will belong to the world of

No place, no time.

For Rumi’s “When I Die”, please watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SEwJm-RPhNE

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  • Icon on top: Harrowing of Hades, fresco in the parecclesion of the Chora Church, Istanbul, c. 1315;  raising Adam and Eve is depicted as part of the Resurrection icon, as it always is in the East.
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Celestial Cadences

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Mystical, monk-like, reclusive — those are a few words often used to describe Arvo Pärt. His music gets labeled as timeless, spiritual and meditative. The Estonian composer, born 80 years ago today, is perhaps all of these things … and maybe none of them.

Recently, Pärt allowed a film crew follow him for a year. The result is a new documentary by Günter Atteln called The Lost Paradise, an excerpt of which the producers at Accentus Music are sharing prior to its fall release. The excerpt here finds the composer at his piano, at a rehearsal of his music with his wife and musing about a healthy kind of pain in art.

Whether you are an Arvo Pärt first-timer or a fanatic, here’s a short list of things to know about this singularly fascinating artist.

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He may be the most performed living composer

If you accept Bachtrack, the online database tabulating classical music events worldwide, Pärt is popular. For the fourth consecutive year he’s been named the world’s most-performed contemporary composer. Why? It may have to do with the amount of appealing vocal music he’s written. And when you consider that there are an estimated 42.6 million adults and children who sing in choirs in the U.S. alone, that can lead to many Pärt performances. Also, his slow-moving music seems to soothe an increasingly frenzied world.

His reputation as a recluse is not quite true

While he likes his private moments for composing and his walks in the Estonian forests, Pärt let these documentary filmmakers trail him for an entire year. He’s also been an eager participant in recording sessions and rehearsals of his music. And, on a more personal note, when the composer visited Washington, D.C. last year, he didn’t hesitate to invite me to his hotel for an interview.

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His music, since the mid-1970s, is inspired by bells

Pärt found his current compositional voice after a period of struggle and silence. In 1968, he turned away from the complex, atonal music he was writing and nearly stopped composing for eight years. He returned with something completely different— music based on triads of notes, the simplest building blocks of Western music. The result was music of slow, spacious grace, with hints of Gregorian chant. He called his new style “tintinnabuli,” a reference to the ringing of bells.

His music isn’t always meditative and spiritual

Pärt sometimes gets labeled, along with John Tavener and Henryk Górecki, as a part of the “God Squad,” the so-called “holy minimalists” whose music is simply too simple for some tastes. But Pärt’s music wasn’t always ethereal and slow-paced. His early works were in a neo-classical style, and then came a period of atonal and serial worksthat was followed in 1971 by the compelling Symphony No. 3, a bridge between Pärt’s old and new styles.

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He’s often called mystic, but that’s not how he sees himself 

True, Pärt is a devout Eastern Orthodox Christian who writes a lot of spiritual music. And when he talks, his deep thoughts tend to come out as maxims for living a meaningful life. When asked about the silence in his music he told me: “Silence is like fertile soil, which, as it were, awaits our creative act, our seed.” Still, he doesn’t see himself as any kind of prophet. “A mystic!?” he said. “Well, that is the last thing I want to be.”

Source:http://www.npr.org/sections/deceptivecadence/2015/09/11/439247120/get-to-know-one-of-the-most-performed-living-composers

For a glimpse into this rare person, who strikes at my core each time, a true rarity in this world, a composer who captures people always because he radiates with light and no one can resist that,  watch the following mini-documentaries at:
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For a taste of his celestial music, listen to
 
Or Silencio, a meditative collection of 20th-century works for string orchestra, including works by Arvo Pärt, Philip Glass, and Vladimir Martynov, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O_GnWMH5MAQ
Or watch the mesmerising Homemade music video for Salve Regina https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f1CNNf9iU9Y
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