Published October 27, 2005
The feast of All Souls is Nov. 2, and November is a month traditionally dedicated to remembering ancestors and loved ones who have died. The Cathedral of Christ the King will once again offer a moving remembrance of the feast of All Souls in a very special liturgy.
On Wednesday, Nov. 2, at 7:30 p.m., an All Souls Day Eucharist will be celebrated featuring music from John Rutter’s “Requiem.” The solemn Mass will be celebrated by Msgr. Thomas Kenny, rector of the Cathedral of Christ the King, with the Cathedral Choir, accompanied by a chamber orchestra and Cathedral organist Timothy Wissler. Cathedral choir master Kevin Culver described the music from Rutter’s “Requiem,” composed in 1985.
“It follows in the tradition of the great requiem Masses of Faure and Durufle with unceasingly beautiful melodies supported by lush harmonies,” Culver said. “Rutter, one of the most prolific and respected composer/arranger/conductors of our age, has personally selected texts from the traditional requiem Mass for his setting. The work forms an arch-like meditation on the themes of life and death with the first and last movements expressing prayers on behalf of all humanity. The other movements are likewise woven into the fabric of the liturgy and serve to heighten and illuminate the impact of the celebration.”
The composer is known for the accessibility of his music, and all the movements display some of the most memorable melodies in all of choral literature, Culver added.
The liturgy of the Missa Pro Defunctis (Mass for the Dead), one of the most beautiful and expressive in the Roman Missal, is of very ancient origin. In pre-apostolic times the Jews prayed that the immortal souls of the just might have requiem aeternam (eternal rest). Sources from the 2nd century after Christ mention the celebration of the Eucharist for the dead.
All Souls Day was instituted in 998 by St. Odilo, an abbot of the Benedictine monastery at Cluny. In its actual form the requiem Mass can be traced back to the 8th and 9th centuries. The texts of the Mass, though ancient, continue as vital, living expressions of consolation for the present and hope for the future.
This annual Mass is celebrated with all the mystery and reverence befitting the occasion, Culver said. One of the most moving symbols, used in procession during the Mass, is the Cathedral’s death registry, which contains the names of all people who have been buried from Christ the King since the Cathedral’s dedication in 1936.
“The prayers and music for this special liturgy are filled with images of eternal rest and perpetual light, and ask more of us than mere reflection on past losses,” Culver said. “They encourage us to bring to the present those we have loved and known; to acknowledge their continuing presence in our lives; to pray for them not in the past tense, but in the present and future tenses. The entire diocesan family is encouraged to attend this profound and deeply moving liturgy.”
For more information call (404) 233-2145, ext. 470. The Cathedral is located at 2699 Peachtree Road, NE, Atlanta.