Thursday, March 10, 2011

The World Beloved

There is an unusual Mass composed by Carol Barnett with libretto by Marisha Chamberlain that I was privileged to sing last weekend. It is a Bluegrass Mass, an oxymoron at first glance, but brilliantly crafted. The music moves gracefully from the classic Mass feel to the joyousness of Bluegrass harmonies and rhythms. The more we rehearsed it, the more I came to love it and appreciate the tremendous talent of the composer and lyricist.

Part of the power of the piece comes from the way Chamberlain compiled the texts. Her theme came from 1 John 4:7-21:    

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.  This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
     This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. 

      God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

       We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.

The Mass opens with a theme that resurges four more times in movements 5, 8, and 12:
They say God loved the world so dear
He set aside His crown
And cloaked Himself in human shape;
They say that He came down,
And dwelt awhile among us here.
He came on down.
Simple words. Profound thought.

It takes me to Philippians 2:5-11
...Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God,

did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;

 rather, he made himself nothing

by taking the very nature of a servant,

being made in human likeness.

And being found in appearance as a man,

he humbled himself

by becoming obedient to death—

even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

From Kyrie to Benediction, this Mass celebrates the magnificent love of God, who, out of love for us, became one of us, in order that we may have fellowship with Him.
It is more than my puny mind can comprehend, but I am grateful for His great love.

1 comment:

Simone said...

It sounds like it was so wonderful. I would have loved to experience that. xoxo