Thursday, June 23, 2011

Selig sind, die da Leid tragen.

Today is the second anniversary of the death of Father Thomas Mulvihill King, S.J., a longtime professor of theology at Georgetown University who served as a teacher, pastor, mentor, and friend to countless Georgetown students, including myself. For more on Tom's life and legacy, read these reflections written shortly after his passing and this post sharing one of his finest short essays from The Hoya.

In observance of this anniversary, I'd like to share the first movement of Brahms' Ein deutsches Requiem, presented above in a 1988 performance featuring the Wiener Symphoniker and the Wiener Staatsopernchor under the direction of Nikolaus Harnoncourt. I first heard Brahms' Requiem while I was a student at Georgetown, and since then it has become one of my favorite works. Tom King knew this piece as well; he may not have counted it among his favorites, but I believe that he would appreciate its use in this context.

In contrast with the traditional Roman Catholic requiem text asking God to show mercy toward the departed, Brahms' Requiem emphasizes the grief and ultimate consolation of the living. Here is the text of the first movement, presented first in Brahms' original German (taken from the Luther Bible) and then in English translation:

Selig sind, die da Leid tragen,
denn sie sollen getröstet werden.

Die mit Tränen säen,
werden mit Freuden ernten.
Sie gehen hin und weinen
und tragen edlen Samen,
und kommen mit Freuden
und bringen ihre Garben.


Blessed are they that mourn:
for they shall be comforted.

They that sow in tears
shall reap in joy.
They that go forth and weep,
bearing precious seed,
shall doubtless come again with rejoicing,
bringing their sheaves with them.

May God grant consolation to all who remember Father Tom King on the anniversary of his passing, and may his good example and his prayers continue to bear fruit in our lives. Eternal memory! AMDG.


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