Lux Aeterna

This was All Souls Sunday, and the chamber choir I recently joined performed Faure’s Requiem during the service. It was quite an experience — quite moving. Words don’t do well to describe music, but there were a few chill-causing moments for me. One of my favorite parts is when the sopranos come in all alone singing “lux,” held on a C for two measures until the other parts join. The music paints an image of pure light.

The world outside the church cooperated with painting images of pure light this weekend. Fall colors have hit their peak. Driving down the road is itself enough to take one’s breath away. We went on two hikes through an area park with some ruins of old mills, a stream, and gently falling leaves. I snapped these photos there. Then, on Sunday afternoon, I went for a 7.5 mile run along the Schuylkill River Trail, which was also gorgeously colored. The thin light cut through the gray clouds and made the reds brighter, the mottled yellows a study in contrast.

These colors, this light is fleeting. In another week or two all these leaves will be on the ground. The bare branches will be like ghosts against the sky. By Friday, night will bring frost. A hard one. I suspect the remaining flowers will be dead in the next week. The requiem turns thoughts toward that too. During the service, the ministers read the names of church members who passed away during the year, accompanied by the church bell ringing. One tolling after each name.

And then, after the service ended in silence, I went out to find my children. They played on the playground and in general spent the weekend living life. My daughter went to her first sleepover. The two older boys sat around our fire pit with us last night. The 2-year-old was tiring, and woke up at 5:15 a.m. with the time change, but he is growing up in some ways. He managed to walk a lot on our two hikes. He would run and run, and then trip on the wet leaves and branches and rocks. Then he would pick himself up, and start to run again.

Photos: The first has a filter, but not the others! 

5 thoughts on “Lux Aeterna

  1. So jealous of the fall colors! We need to do a fall PA/New England trip sometime. It’s definitely something missing down here!!!

  2. I love that work (Faure)! C is the “key of the Earth” and when it resolves at that point you are describing, it is indeed a sublime moment. Our fall colors in the south are not quite so pronounced, but I got to return this weekend to one of my favorite marathons — a fantastic rural course in Arkansas that moves from delta farmland to foothills with with beautiful trees with the leaves that have just turned.

    Thank you for inspiring us with your descriptions of sound and light!

    1. @Phil- that marathon sounds lovely in fall weather. And I’m glad to find someone else who appreciates that sustained and solo “lux” moment! It is indeed a wonderful piece. I’m so glad I got to experience it.

  3. I’m in a chamber choir, too, and first sang and studied Fauré’s Requiem while at school 32 years ago. It is a beautiful work and I know just what you mean about the Lux Aeterna (I’m a soprano!). Thank you for reminding me of it.

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