Over the years I have learned that so often it is a matter of finding the “right” piece of music — for that wedding, for that funeral, for that special service, for whatever occasion you need to find music to enhance the whole experience. Of course, if you work in a liturgical church, you look for music which ties into the readings of the day (the lectionary) or the season (Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, etc.) But sometimes there are other considerations.
For a funeral, for example, if the family has not requested a specific piece, I try to find music the deceased person may have liked. Often at the Lutheran Church of Honolulu, I was asked to play the works of Bach — and I was always happy to oblige! Another request was for “Children of the heavenly father,” a favorite Swedish hymn (Tryggare kan ingen vara).
Yesterday, though, I played a funeral at Iolani School and was told “this is not a church family — there won’t be any hymns.” But at the last moment, the chaplain chose “Amazing grace,” which is frequently sung at funerals and considered the most popular hymn today. Whether or not one is a church-goer, the odds are that someone knows this hymn from movies and television.
For the prelude I decided to play Dan Locklair’s beautiful “The peace may be exchanged,” from his suite, Rubrics, which I have embedded below. It turned out to be the perfect piece to get people to quiet down for the service.
Mark Pacoe plays Dan Locklair’s “The peace may be exchanged,” at De Oude Kerk, Amsterdam
Over the years, I played this piece a number of times during communion and always had the feeling of time standing still because of its meditative mood. Dan Locklair (b. 1949) is Composer-in-Residence and Professor of Music at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. According to his website, he is” influenced by a wide variety of traditions, includes internationally performed symphonic works, a ballet, an opera, and numerous solo, chamber, vocal, organ and choral compositions.”
“Play something joyous for the postlude” was what the chaplain said to me, so I played Bach’s “Komm, heiliger, Geist” (Come, holy Ghost). This is the piece I used to play every single year at the Easter Proclamation for the the Vigil, when the organ sounds for the first time after three days of silence.
Last night I went to Evensong at St. Andrew’s Cathedral, and it was nice to be able to sit in the congregation and not worry about choosing or performing music.