Of anger, loss and hope……………Easter
Late last year I watched the first performance of Cantata Memoria, a musical work composed by Karl Jenkins, broadcast from the Millenium Centre in Cardiff . The cantata commemorated the 50th anniversary of the disaster at Aberfan when the school was swamped by an avalanche of slag from the nearby coal tip. The music ensures the disaster will not be forgotten as it is performed far and wide, receiving its debut in the USA in New York.
The Cantata Memoria sung in both Latin and Welsh takes its basic structure from the ancient Requiem Mass, the mass for the dead. The musical piece interweaves grief and hope. The Latin sings of the dies illa, dies irae – those days of anger. Yet in the Cantata we are not left with the grief we are moved forward to recognise change, and hope.
A requiem mass looks to death but also presupposes resurrection to new life. The Cantata traces this looking back and also looking forward and in doing so speaks to that sense of loss, change and hope which is part of the human soul, the human psyche. The analytical psychologist Jung recognised this part of the human constitution.
In Christianity Lent is the overture to Easter. We are in the school’s Easter term and having entered the forty days of Lent we look forward to Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Forty days many Christians now use in preparation for sharing that sense of loss suffered by Jesus’ first disciples when he was arrested and put to death on that Friday long ago. We prepare to move to the celebration of Easter, the resurrection, the return of Jesus to the company of his followers.
Some years ago the late Bishop of Durham, David Jenkins, caused a furore in the tabloid press when he said the resurrection was “more than a juggling trick with bones”. He was right of course. It was much more. It was something which led men who had been fearful and locked away hiding in an upper room after his death to new courage, new enthusiasm to spread his message across the world, across the centuries.
Easter for the Christian Church is one huge performance of a Cantata Memoria as we tell and sing of days of grief and anguish which give way to hope and newly invigorated faith. The trust in God of a truly “Easter People”