Advent Calendar: December 2

December 2nd and our next pic. This one takes us to the town of Oschatz, in the eastern part of Saxony. Here we have not only a tree in the city center, but also one surrounded by candles as a way of showing hope in times that are dark and bleek. This pic is courtesy of Thomas and Corinna Malik, who own a photo studio in town. 

A link with a surprise for the day can be found by clicking here.

Christmas Music Genre: Lux Aeterna by John Rutter

Music is a powerful instrument, one that must not be underestimated by any means. Speaking from my years of experience singing in choir during my time in high school and college as well as with a cathedral choir during the last few years, I‘ve learned that certain genres can bring out the best in each person, where it touches the soul and releases the emotions that can never be controlled, even if one tried. One of these music genres that can get a person involved and embrace it with high intensity is church music, especially if it involves the following key elements: a string orchestra, a full scale choir featuring the tenor, bass, baritone, alto and soprano sections, soloists and a conductor that can take the whole lot through the heavens for the whole concert, while we allow ourselves to embrace God and the angels, singing our hearts out and sometimes bringing us to tears- tears of joy and tears of happiness.

This Christmas Genre, Lux Aeterna, is one of those pieces. It is part of the Requiem series that was created by John Rutter and was first performed in Dallas, Texas on 13 October, 1985. The piece was later published in 1986 and it has been a popular series used in every church, school and college. Some colleges have used this piece as part of the Christmas concert, while churches and other institutions have performed the entire Requiem, which is more than 40 minutes long.

The Requiem deals with life and death with the first half focusing on the former and Lux Aeterna representing the light and the calling of life from Heaven, calling for eternal peace and eternal life. Rutter himself mentioned in an interview that the Requiem was something that was both personal and musical. You can watch this interview here:

The last installment of Lux Aeterna starts with a solo and presents a dark setting in E-flat. One has to imagine that you are in total darkness, a person who has left, when a ray of light from Heaven shines upon him and it takes you higher and higher towards that light. After passing through the clouds, you find yourself flying through different landscapes, much of it covered in mountains and forests, covered in snow, and sprinkled with houses well lit, with people singing. This can be found once the transition to G-major is completed. In closing, a sunset, eternal peace and the coming of the next day, a new life in a new era. This was the first impression I had with the piece when I listened to it for the first time in 2009 and it was confirmed when I performed it with a cathedral choir in 2018 as part of the whole Rutter Requiem.  One has to experience this alone to get an understanding of the deep and emotional meaning of the piece.

Rutter himself included the lyrics from the 1662 book A Common Prayer, yet it was formulated partially into Latin. Some further explanations can be found in the interview below, but one point that he did make clear:

This piece was created in a way that it was written over a century ago and not in 1985. It was a piece that included all the elements and when listening to it, touches the soul in ways one cannot grasp it.

And with that, the Christmas Genre: Lux Aeterna, by John Rutter:

Born in 1945, John Rutter has written dozens of music works, including two more series: Gloria and Magnificat, yet much of his work deals with Christmas pieces, one of which will be presented later in the series. More about him can be found here: https://johnrutter.com/

Happy Holidays 🎄⛄☕❄️🌨️🕯️⛪