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... Whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends,
it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it,
and to institute new Government ...

Sunday, September 21, 2008


Composer: Henryk Gorecki

The word Amen means, "So, let it be ..."

There are few words harder to utter than the word Amen. To say "Amen," is to admit one's powerless before the trail of events that make up reality. When one says "Amen" as a prayer to God, one is bowing to His Will.

For me, this experience, of uttering Amen is fraught with anxiety.

Other perspectives on the word Amen:

Used at the end of a prayer or a statement to express assent or approval.

A liturgical acclamation used by Christians, Jews and Muslims especially
as the seal or intensification of a doxology or other prayer. In the Western
liturgies, it concludes the lesser doxology and most prayers; it is also used
after the Gloria and Credo of the Mass. Polyphonic settings of the Gloria, Credo
and Anglican Office responses often treat the amens separately. In the 17th
century fugal amens became common; they were later used in the masses of Bach,
Mozart and Beethoven and in the final chorus of Handel's Messiah. In Anglican
traditions it is often sung to a plagal cadence after hymns.

In this piece of music, by the contemporary classical composer Henryk Gorecki, the word "Amen" is sung over and over, sometimes in graceful assent, and sometimes as a cry of outrage. This is an honest prayer, offered up in the face of reality.

Lord, I believe. Please help me in my unbelief. Into your hands, I commend my spirit. In the presence of overwhelming evil, I understand that you are in control.

As the storm rages around me, and as I am drowning, You say, "Fear not. It is I."

I have no idea what you mean, so I say, "Amen."

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posted by Pastorius at permanent link#


Blogger heroyalwhyness said...

Haunting rendition. Thanks for posting the link to the video.

Coincidentally, I was playing a variety of youtube videos of music I cherished from my own childhood for my youngest child last night. One of those videos featured Sidney Poitier in the final scene of the film "Lilies of the Field" singing . . .AMEN.

Off topic, but appropos . . .In Paul Fregosi's 1998 book titled “JIHAD in the West”, midway down page 22 is this haunting reminder . . .

The Jihad originates in the Koranic teaching and was practiced by Muhammad in his lifetime against Jewish and pagan tribes in the Arabian peninsula, and soon after his death against the Persians and against the Christian peoples of the Byzantine empire, Syria, and Palestine. Hundreds of years later it terrified Europe.

“From the fury of the Mahommedan, spare us, O Lord”

was a prayer heard for centuries in all the churches of central and southern Europe.

Let us pray . . .

AMEN (link is to thread's topic 'Amen' video)

Sunday, September 21, 2008 1:07:00 pm  
Blogger Pastorius said...


You said: “From the fury of the Mahommedan, spare us, O Lord”

was a prayer heard for centuries in all the churches of central and southern Europe."

I say: I was thinking of just such an idea when I posted this, but I didn't want to confuse or irritate our readers with the idea that we have to say "Amen" in the face of Islam.

In the Christian sense, though, we do have to say "Amen", because we believe God is, ultimately, in control. Therefore, we must believe that, until we are able to destroy Islam, God is using this evil ideology - by allowing it to exist - for some greater purpose.

May I suggest also, if you like this choral "Amen" by Gorecki, that you might want to check out "On The Transbubstantion of Souls" by John Adams. It is a choral work about the victims of 9/11.

It is haunting in the extreme.

Unfortunately, there are no Google Videos of the work.

I would love to post it here.

Maybe someone could make a YouTube copy for us. I don't know how to do that.

Sunday, September 21, 2008 1:44:00 pm  
Blogger heroyalwhyness said...

On the Transmigration of Souls, Amazon sample

Interesting sample, but I think the original link you provided suits the prayer better. Thanks.

Sunday, September 21, 2008 2:26:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pastorius, this was simply beautiful and haunting, in the same vein as John Taverner's liturgical music. Henryk Gorecki also wrote the most beautiful choral work about the Holocaust, the Third symphony, or also known as The Cycle of Sorrowful Songs. Try Youtubing it with Dawn Upshaw singing. You won't be disappointed.

Sunday, September 21, 2008 3:37:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You should try out imeem, too, Pastorius. You can upload any video, photo, or music file for sharing. It is really a cool and useful tool.

Sunday, September 21, 2008 3:41:00 pm  
Blogger Pastorius said...

You will be happy to know that I do own the Gorecki Third Symphony with Dawn Upshaw.

It is one of my favorite pices of music. I also like Taverner, and in particular, Arvo Part.

In fact, I have a cat named Arvo who sits on my lap in the backyard while I listen to Arvo Part. Yes, I named my cat after my favorite composer.


Thanks for reminding me about imeem. I will post On The Transmigration of Souls soon. I think everyone who loves Classical Music and was effected by 9/11 needs to hear that piece. It is extraordinary.

Sunday, September 21, 2008 4:45:00 pm  
Blogger Pastorius said...

On the Transmigration of Souls is about 9/11 specifically. It is, in its way, a kind of Amen to 9/11, but that is not its subject really. The subject is loss and grief.

It lists the names of people who died in the WTC attacks, and it has repeated spoken motifs like

"He was my father."

"She was my daughter. I loved her."

"I see water and buildings."

"I loved him. He was beautiful."

"I love you. You will be missed."

The Choral music forms a background commentary on the main narrative which is portrayed in these simple spoken motifs.

Sunday, September 21, 2008 4:49:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think that I have ever hear the Transmigration of Souls, but I have heard Arvo Part, and his music is especially lovely.
I recently purchased one of the most sublime pieces of music ever recorded. It is the 1965 Melodiya Moscow State Choir (dir. Sveshnikon) recording of Rachmaninov's Vespers. If you can find it, buy it. I got mine straight from Russia, since the recording is not only unavailable but when it is, it costs about 50 or 60 bucks.

Monday, September 22, 2008 1:50:00 am  
Blogger Pastorius said...

Sadly, I don't have an ear for Rachmaninov.

Every woman I have ever loved loved Rachmaninov, and I could never hear what they heard in him.

Makes me an outsider in the lives of those I love.

Music is a form of spiritual communication for me, so this is a big deal.

Such is life.

Monday, September 22, 2008 1:54:00 am  

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