Wednesday 18 May 2011

Laid to rest

Today we laid to rest our Carmelite brother and friend Hugh Anthony Pelan, O.Carm. The Relic Chapel was full of those who wished to express gratitude to God for the life and ministry of Fr Tony. He was laid to rest in the Priory Cemetery. May he rest in peace.

Funeral Ikos was written in 1981 when Tavener was 37. It is a serene setting of words which are probably unfamiliar to most of us and which a simple statement of the reward in Paradise for the Righteous Ones. The words come from the Orthodox Rite of Funerals for priests.  The music shows the influence of Stravinsky, who used a similar homophonic style for some of this religious settings, but Tavener's music is, in this piece, much simpler harmonically. Indeed much of it is in unison allowing the full impact of the words to shine through. Nevertheless there is no doubt that the sensitive musicality, in which the sounds are almost just an accompaniment to the words, can only have been achieved by an extraordinary sensitive composer of deep religious conviction
Funeral Ikos (1981)
Why these bitter words of the dying,
O brethren, which they utter
as they go hence?

I am parted from my brethren.
All my friends do I abandon,
and go hence.

But whither I go, that understand I not,
neither what shall become of me yonder;
only God who hath summoned me knoweth.

But make commemoration of me with the song:

But whither now go the souls?
How dwell they now together there?
This mystery have I desired to learn,
but none can impart aright.

Do they call to mind their own people,
as we do them?
Or have they forgotten all those
who mourn them and make the song:

We go forth on the path eternal,
and as condemned, with downcast faces,
present ouselves before the only God eternal.
Where then is comeliness?
Where then is wealth?
Where then is the glory of this world?
There shall none of these things aid us,
but only to say oft the psalm:

If thou hast shown mercy
unto man, o man,
that same mercy
shall be shown thee there;
and if on an orphan
thou hast shown compassion,
that same shall there
deliver thee from want.
If in this life
the naked thou hast clothed,
the same shall give thee
shelter there,
and sing the psalm:

Youth and the beauty of the body
fade at the hour of death,
and the tongue then burneth fiercely,
and the parched throat is inflamed.

The beauty of the eyes is quenched then,
the comeliness of the face all altered,
the shapeliness of the neck destroyed;
And the other parts have become numb,
nor often say:

With ecstasy are we inflamed
if we but hear
that there is light eternal yonder;
That there is Paradise, wherein
every soul of Righteous Ones rejoiceth.
Let us all, also, enter into Christ,
that all we may cry aloud thus unto God:

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