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LACRYMOSA : KYRIE ELEISON

The title of this movement comes from the word for a tear, lacrima. The movement is a recognition  of Mozart’s contribution to the requiem literature and employs a  much smaller, more intimate musical ensemble then the Dies Irae, including saxophone and mbira. Under the title stands “to be or not to be”, a fragment of text from Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet. This is fragile moment and the turning point of the Requiem, the moment when the embattled soul decides to live.

Using my own text overlaid with the (Greek) ritual prayer from the mass : Kyrie Eleison/Christe Eleison (God have mercy, Christ have mercy), and an oblique reference to Christ’s words on the cross (“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”), the Lacrymosa is built up from fragments of a melodic idea (culminating in a full version in harp and celeste), and a fragmented harmonic idea (vocal quartet and choir) which gradually reaches a climax in the stretto section and then subsides, resembling a storm building up, breaking and then resolving.

 

Watery-windy images of streaming, dripping, sighing etc. are conveyed in the swirling string harmonics, vibraphone, glockenspiel, harp, celeste, pizzicato interjections, mbira figurations and temple block rhythm. Woodwind including alto saxophone lyrically complement the strings and percussion.
The fragments coming together as a whole and in diminution (celeste and vibraphone over harp) symbolize healing brought about by the prayer for forgiveness, the return of flexibility (after the rigidity of rage exposed in the Dies Irae), and the ability of the psychic layers to flow freely in the wholeness of several simultaneous dimensions.

 

Of all the Requiem sections, this is the most exacting vocally with regard to maintaining exact pitch in close harmony against the orchestral melodic strands.


                             Tears (kyrie)

Streaming
Kyrie
Like rain
Eleison
God have mercy
God have mercy
Tears (kyrie)
Falling like rain
Dripping, dripping
Christe
Across the earth
Eleison
Christ have mercy
Forgive us, forgive us
Kyrie (kyrie) eleison
For we know not what we do
(we know not)
Tears (kyrie)
(tears) like rain
Christe eleison (eleison)
Tears (sighing) (tears)
Sighing (Ah-ah)
Like rain across the earth
Kyrie eleison
Tears shim’ring, glistening
Like rain
Christe eleison
Tears washing, healing
Like rain across the earth.

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