Tuesday, 16 September 2014

My brother Martyn, my friend Pam, Dvorak, and thoughts about dying.

My brother Martyn recently introduced me to the Norwegian singer Sissel.
 
See this for more information about her.
 
 
 
Thanks to Martyn I listened to some of her recordings on You Tube.  I was so glad to hear them. I believe that she has a remarkable and versatile voice.
 
One of the songs I listened to is the famous "Going Home".
 
 
I decided to introduce my friend Pam to the music of Sissel.    I sent her the "Going Home" link.  I did not know what I was doing.
 
For you see, two months after her daughter Sheila died, Pam was asked to play the organ at a funeral at St. Christopher's Church in Chicopee MA.  ( I had once been the Vicar there, which is how Pam and I met). Pam, trooper as she is, played that song for the funeral, all the while weeping for her daughter.  You'll understand when you read the words of the song (below).
 
(The Vicar at St. Christopher's at the time of this funeral was mortified when he realised the stress he had placed on Pam.  But as I said (and he knew) she is a trooper.)
 
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The tune we often know as "Going Home" is taken from the second movement  (Largo) of  a Symphony by the famous Czech composer Antonin Dvorak  (1841-1904). Symphony "From the New World, Dvorak, 1893).
 
Dvorak was a great admirer of the music of Negro Spirituals, and his music was intended to evoke the spirit and beauty of such songs. (He composed the theme -  he did not adapt it from an existing Spiritual as some folks have claimed).
 
A pupil of Dvorak, one William A Fisher took this Largo theme in 1923 and set it some words he had written (?)   - the words "Going Home". 
 
Lyrics to Going Home (Dvořák / Fisher)

Going home, going home
I'm just going home
Quiet like, some still day
I'm just going home

It's not far, yes close by
Through an open door
Work all done, care laid by
Going to fear no more

Mother's there expecting me
Father's waiting, too
Lots of folk gathered there
All the friends I knew
All the friends I knew

I am going home

Nothing lost, all is  gain
No more fret nor pain
No more stumbling on the way
No more longing for the day
Going to roam no more

Morning star lights the way
Restless dream all done
Shadows gone, break of day
Real life yes begun

There's no break, ain't no end
Just a living on
Wide awake with a smile
Going on and on

Going home, going home
I'm just going home
It's not far, yes close by
Through an open door
I'm just going home

Going home, going home.
 
 
Perhaps these words are a wee bit sentimental.  But I believe that they have power.  I can imagine being on the point of death and hearing them again, especially these words which speak so deeply to my soul.
 
Nothing lost, all is  gain
No more fret nor pain
No more stumbling on the way
No more longing for the day
Going to roam no more
 
and
 
Morning star lights the way
Restless dream all done
Shadows gone, break of day
Real life yes begun
 
I believe that I could die at peace were these to be  the last words I ever heard in this life:
 
Going home, going home
I'm just going home
Quiet like, some still day
I'm just going home

It's not far, yes close by
Through an open door
Work all done, care laid by
Going to fear no more.
 
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Sissel's rendition of the song is superb.   More tear-jerking is the version by "Libera" , a choir of boys based in south London.
 
 
I dare you to click on this link and hear the song without weeping.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 

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