Devotion: All-Encompassing Saints
In preparation for our All Saints concerts this weekend, this devotion was shared by soprano Christina Myers at rehearsal on October 22, 2013.
The All Saints concerts have consistently been my favorite concerts to perform each year – even before the most important person in my life, my mom, became a saint a over three years ago. I did a devotion years ago about my favorite idea about the saints – about being “surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses." I LOVE this idea, and I believe it to be true above most other thoughts concerning the saints. I have an adopted brother who’s Native American, and he used to be a drummer at pow-wows. He told me once of drumming in the middle of a dance, and looking up into the rafters and seeing the spirits there. That’s one of the most magical ideas I can imagine, and I like to think about it when we’re singing our programs – that the loved ones we’re missing are sitting in the audience, in the balcony, that they’re surrounding us all the time.
We’re not performing the Lauridsen “Soneto de la Noche” in this year’s program, but the text is honestly one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever read, and I’d like to read it for you now. I have to warn you that I’m 0 for about 30 in reading this and NOT crying, but I’ll do my best here…
When I die, I want your hands upon my eyes:
I want the light and the wheat of your beloved hands
to pass their freshness over me one more time
I want to feel the gentleness that changed my destiny.
I want you to live while I wait for you, asleep,
I want your ears to still hear the wind,
I want you to smell the scent of the sea we both loved,
and to continue walking on the sand we walked on.
I want all that I love to keep on living,
and you, whom I loved and sang above all things,
To keep flowering into full bloom.
so that you can touch all that my love provides you,
so that my shadow may pass over your hair,
so that all may know the reason for my song.
- Pablo Neruda, trans. Nicholas Lauridsen
Our All Saints programs are all-encompassing. We don’t just sing for the saints – we sing TO the saints, and we even sing AS the saints. At the beginning of the Lauridsen “Introit," Craig wants us to sounds like “the chanting of ancient souls." For this time that we’re singing, we are the embodiment of those souls – it’s our responsibility to sing the songs they cannot anymore, to help them live again, so that all may know, as Neruda says, the reason for their song.
Please take a few moments to think about the Saints you’ll be honoring this year.