Today is All Saints Day, a day when we Lutherans remember the saints, named and unnamed, official and ordinary. “Five ways to celebrate All Saints Day at home” was published by the Living Lutheran in 2020. Singing songs or listening to music is one of the ways suggested. You might sing songs taught you by those who have died, or you might sing songs of our faith that remind us of God’s amazing grace and unending love.
For me, I listen to a recording of John Rutter’s Requiem. There are many (thousands?) of musical settings of the Requiem, what started out as the mass of the dead in the Roman Catholic tradition. The traditional mass is in Latin, but Rutter combines Latin and English in his haunting setting.
The fall after my father died, our church choir sang Rutter’s Requiem for All Saints Day. There was something so transcendent in singing that for me that I thought I had experienced the Holy in the singing. It was fleeting and I can’t well use words to describe it, but it was unlike anything I’d experienced before.
I began a habit then of listening to Rutter’s Requiem each year at All Saints as a way of honoring the ever-growing list of family and friends who had passed from this world. Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine. “Grant them eternal rest, O Lord.”
I will set aside time today to listen to Rutter’s Requiem. What music will you listen to today? Will it be a song your grandmother taught you? The favorite song of a friend? A hymn that offers comfort?
Linda Post Bushkofsky is executive director.