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    Ye Now Have Sorrow

    Brahms’s German Requiem

    By Marianne Wright

    April 14, 2017
    • Erna Albertz,

      Thank you for reading and listening to this selection. What other sacred music is important to you during the Holy season?

    The Plough Music Series is a regular selection of music intended to lift the heart to God. It is not a playlist of background music: each installment focuses on a single piece worth pausing to enjoy.

    “Ye now have sorrow,” Jesus tells his friends on his final evening (John 16:22). The sorrow of the separation of death is an inevitable part of the human experience, and images of the worldwide sorrows resulting from war, disease, or accident are likewise inescapable. This devastation is captured by Gerard Manley Hopkins in his sonnet “No worse, there is none:”

    …Pitched past pitch of grief,
    More pangs will, schooled at forepangs, wilder wring.
    Comforter, where, where is your comforting?
    Mary, mother of us, where is your relief?

    Relief, for believers, comes from the resurrection: Jesus goes on, “I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice.” – Brahms, grieving his own mother, used these words for the fifth movement of his German Requiem, a song of sorrow and comfort so tender that it could be a mother’s lullaby (if the range were something an untrained voice could sing).

    Ihr habt nun Traurigkeit;
    aber ich will euch wieder sehen
    und euer Herz soll sich freuen
    und eure Freude soll niemand von euch nehmen.

    Sehet mich an:
    Ich habe eine kleine Zeit Mühe und Arbeit gehabt
    und habe großen Trost funden.

    Ich will euch trösten,
    wie Einen seine Mutter tröstet.

    These passages translate as:

    And ye now therefore have sorrow:
    but I will see you again,
    and your heart shall rejoice,
    and your joy no man taketh from you (John 16:22).

    You know that for a little while,
    labor and sorrow were mine.
    Yet at the last I have found comfort (Sirach 51:27).

    As one whom his mother comforteth,
    so will I comfort you (Isaiah 66:13).

    While listening to Barbara Hendrick’s exquisite 1986 recording, pray for mothers and children everywhere.

    Photograph by Fathi Nezam, Tasnim News / Wikimedia Commons

    a mother hugging her child
    Contributed By MarianneWright Marianne Wright

    Marianne Wright, a member of the Bruderhof, lives in southeastern New York with her husband and five children.

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