Lacrimosa (Tearful)

Here is a wonderful article about a man who is able to hear music for the first time. The song to reach his ears before any other was, apparently, the Lacrimosa from Mozart’s Requiem. Mozart died when he was nine bars into the Lacrimosa section of the Requiem, and it was completed by his friend Franz Xaver Süssmayr. Those nine bars were crucial and informative however, and Süssmayr’s completion feels pretty seamless (to me).

Given the text, the Lacrimosa sections of Requiems frequently bring out the most tender work a composer can muster. It’s a call for mercy on judgement day. The latin translates to:

Full of tears shall be that day
On which from ashes shall arise
The guilty man to be judged;
Therefore, O God, have mercy on him.
Gentle Lord Jesus,
grant them eternal rest. Amen.

Here is what Austin Chapman, the young man in the article, has to say about hearing it (and music) for the first time:

“When Mozart’s Lacrimosa came on, I was blown away by the beauty of it. At one point of the song, it sounded like angels singing and I suddenly realized that this was the first time I was able to appreciate music. Tears rolled down my face and I tried to hide it. But when I looked over I saw that there wasn’t a dry eye in the car.”

The picture below is of the beginning of the Highline (abandoned elevated railroad tracks that were turned into a public park). I went out to read, because I needed to get out of the house, and I needed to do something other than drown in my missing-Buddy-sorrow.

I started what is turning out to be a perfect, magical book. It’s called Jim the Boy and it’s the coming of age story of a ten year old boy in North Carolina during the depression. Seriously, it’s a treasure. Lucky me to have Howard hand this book to me at this particular point in time. It is soothing my heart. I’m going back to curl up on the couch and finish it now.

Highline, New York City

Stacy Horn

I've written six non-fiction books, the most recent is Damnation Island: Poor, Sick, Mad, and Criminal in 19th-Century New York.

View all posts by Stacy Horn →

2 thoughts on “Lacrimosa (Tearful)

  1. I’ve always loved Requiems too…one of my favorites has always been Faure’s. When I was in college, I used to play it pretty frequently on my record player (remember those?) and earned the sobriquet “Maudlin Mavis”. I do have Mozart’s Requiem on a CD and will have to listen to it again soon. Thought I’d pass along one of my favorite coming-of-age book titles too…”Growing Up” by Russell Baker.

  2. The Faure is a beautiful Requiem, I agree. My choir sang it a week or so after 9/11. And then again on the 1st anniversary. It’s a lighter requiem, I think, and sometimes that’s what you need. (Not lighter in import or depth, just a lighter touch.)

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