This child’s innocence – his eyes, his voice, his face, his courage, his trust – takes us to our deepest selves in the presence of the Sacred. Sit back and watch Akim Camara, hand-in-hand with Carla Maffioletti, singing Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Pie Jesu”.
“Pie Jesu” means “Merciful/kind Jesus”; in its context in the Latin Requiem Mass, it calls on “the Lamb of God” to show mercy to the suffering. Kindness and mercy are at the heart of spirituality.
The text has an interesting history. The “Pie Jesu” is an ancient motet based on the last couplet of the “Dies Irae” (“Day of Wrath”) that was part of the old Latin Requiem Mass. The Vatican II liturgical reforms removed the “Dies Irae” from the Mass in order to emphasize Christian hope. A number of composers, among them Andrew Lloyd Webber – influenced by Gabriel Faure’s “Pie Jesu” – gave new musical expression to the prayer: “Kind/merciful Lord Jesus, grant them rest. Kind/merciful Lord Jesus, grant them rest eternal.” BTW, Faure’s Requiem includes the “Dies Irae” which has become part of the Good Friday period of meditation at Shepherd of the Hill, not because God is wrathful, but because we so often have reason to cry out “Libera Me!” from the depths of terror and desolation.
This sermon was preached at Shepherd of the Hill Presbyterian Church in Chaska, MN the Sunday following the bombings at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. It draws on Red Sox player David Ortiz’s nationally televised statement “This is our (expletive) city!”; Richard Rohr’s “Finding God in the Depths of Silence” (Sojourners, March, 2013), and the Epistle of James’ insight that the “tongue” (i.e., speech) is “a restless evil” ready to curse others even while it blesses “the God and Father of us all.” “Brothers and sisters,” writes James, “this should not be so!”
The sermon calls for engagement in the inner silence that moves down into the undivided reality that words so easily and quickly divide and destroy. It ends with the Pie Jesu from Gabriel Faure’s Requiem and the invitation “Be still, and know that I am God.”