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The Melody of Mourning

October 3, 2010

  I’m being haunted by Eric Whitacre.  Well, not exactly by Eric Whitacre himself, but by one of his choral works from the 2006 “Cloudburst” album, When David Heard, based on the biblical text from 2 Samuel 18:33: 
When David heard that Absalom was slain he went up into his chamber over the gate and wept, and thus he said:  My son, my son, O Absalom my son, would God I had died for thee!”

I’ve been inescapably gripped by this song for weeks now, just can’t get it out of my mind.  It captures a human drama and emotion so raw and real that beyond tears, I’m not sure how to respond to it yet.  

Composed for a friend whose son died (you can read some of the backstory here), this song vocally runs the gamut of the grief experience: the bone-crushing waves, the feathery wisps, the unchartable emotion that comes out of nowhere and bowls you over as quickly as it disappears again… 

Thankfully, my experience with gut-wrenching grief has been minor and minimal up till this point in my life.  But the day will come when I lose someone whose absence will alter my heart forever.

So, when I listen, maybe I listen with an ear of anticipation.  Or maybe it’s as simple as allowing myself to taste the song of lament, roll it around inside me, and sense a miniscule clench of grief’s pain just so I can have a more compassionate response towards people walking through their own dark night of the soul.

But the piece, oh, the piece is devastatingly good.


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