For Us the Living: A Requiem in Memory of William & Ethel Lamere

 

Webpage by Clifford Lamere   7 Feb 2010

 

 

 

 

For Us the Living: A Requiem in Memory of William and Ethel Lamere was composed by Alfred V. Fedak.  I approached him about 2004 after a classical concert.  By that time, I had already sung and very much enjoyed his Praises with the Burnt Hills Oratorio Society, and many of his church anthems with the Blooming Grove Reformed Church choir in Defreestville, Rensselaer Co, NY.   

 

Al liked the idea of this commission, but was busy with other obligations at the time.   He started work on the requiem in 2006 and it was premiered April 22, 2007 at the Union College Memorial Chapel, Schenectady, NY.  Rand Reeves was the conductor of the Burnt Hills Oratorio Society and a 29-piece orchestra, although not all instruments played this requiem.  I honored my parents by being a member of the chorus.

 

Rand Reeves conducting the Burnt Hills Oratorio Society and orchestra.

World premiere April 22, 2007 at Union College, Schenectady, NY

Al Fedak at the organ (on left)

Photo supplied by Chris Jones

 

A second performance of the requiem took place November 22, 2010 at Westminster Presbyterian Church, Albany, NY where Al Fedak is Minister of Music and Arts.   Susan Hermance Fedak, his wife, conducted the chorus and chamber orchestra which included Al Fedak at the organ.  I was again part of the chorus of this beautiful work.  Had my father lived, he would have been celebrating his 99th birthday on that day.  The concert date was selected without knowledge of this fact.  How is that for an amazing coincidence?  

 

Many people have told me how beautiful this composition is.  I think I can explain why.  When I commissioned Al Fedak to compose the Requiem, he told me that he had been thinking about composing one for his own parents.  I told him to write it for my parents, but to be thinking about his own parents as he did so.  It is very obvious that he put much love into this Requiem.

 

 

Westminster Presbyterian Church, Albany, NY 

(2nd performance, November 22, 2009)

 

Click on a rose below to hear that section of the composition.  To the right of the title are the words for that section, and even farther to the right (possible off the screen) is the translation of the Latin and Greek portions of the text.  At the bottom of this webpage is a pronunciation guide to the Latin and Greek words, followed by notes about the Requiem by the composer.

 

After clicking on a rose below, your media player may open up and start playing.  If you minimize the player, you will be able to see the words that are being sung.  In version 26.0 of Google Chrome, player controls appear which could not be minimized. 

 

 

Music from the First Performance:

April 22, 2007

Name of Track

Length

Text

Translation

 

 

 

 

 

1

 Sentence: All We Go Down to the Dust

 3:18

All we go down to the dust,
yet even at the grave we make our song: 

Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!

 

2

 Introit: Requiem aeternam

 3:54

Requiem aeternam dona eis Domine,
et lux perpetua luceat eis.
Te decet hymnus, Deus in Sion,
et tibi redetur votum in Jerusalem.
Exaudi orationem meam:
ad te omnis caro veniet.

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord,
and may perpetual light shine upon them.  
Hymns will be sung to you, O God in Zion,
and to you will homage be paid in Jerusalem.
Hear my prayer:
to you shall all flesh come.

3

 Kyrie eleison

 1:47

Kyrie eleison. Christe Eleison.

Kyrie eleison.

Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. 

Lord, have mercy.

4

 The Lord Is My Shepherd (Psalm 23)

 4:15

The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures and leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul and guides me along right pathways for his Name’s sake.
Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I shall fear no evil, for you are with me,
Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You spread a table before me in the presence of those who trouble me.
You have anointed my head with oil, my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

 

5

 Sanctus and Benedictus

 3:25

Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus,
Dominus Deus Sabaoth!
Pleni sunt coeli et terra Gloria tua.
Hosanna in excelsis!
Benedictus qui venit
in nominee Domini.
Hosanna in excelsis!

Holy, Holy, Holy,
Lord God of Hosts!
Heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest!
Blessed is He who comes
in the Name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest!

6

 Pie Jesu

 3:24

Pie Jesu Domine, dona eis requiem.
Dona eis sempiternam requiem.

Gentle Lord Jesus, grant them rest.
Grant them eternal rest.

7

 Agnus Dei

 4:00

Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis.
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis.
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, dona eis requiem.
Dona nobis requiem.

Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, grant them rest.
Grant us rest.

8

 Valediction

 5:43

The souls of the righteous are in the hand of God,
and there no torment shall touch them.
In the sight of the unwise they seemed to die,

but they are at peace.
Come then, be joyful for the righteous,
for they shall be gathered together,
And shall praise the eternal God forever. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

Pronunciation of some of the words and phrases in the requiem

 

Introit: Requiem aeternam

IN-troyt: REK-wee-em ay-TAIR-nahm

dona eis Domine

DOH-nah AY-ees DOH-mee-nay

Kyrie eleison

KEE-ree-ay ay-LAY-ee-sohn

Christe

KREE-stay

Sanctus and Benedictus

SAHNG-toos and BAY-nee-DEEK-toos

Dominus Deus Sabaoth

DOH-mee-noos DAY-oos SAH-bah-oht

Pie Jesu

PEE-ay Yay-soo

sempiternam

sem-pee-TAIR-nahm

Agnus Dei

ON-yoos DAY-ee

qui tollis peccata mundi

kwee TOH-lees PAY-caht-ah MOON-dee

 

 

From the Composer

 


     For Us the Living was commissioned by Clifford Lamere of Albany, New York, to honor the memory of his parents, William and Ethel Lamere. But while the work was intended as a memorial to two specific individuals, its message is universal. For although it fully acknowledges the twin realities of death and grief, For Us the Living is meant to serve as a grateful affirmation of the gift of life, and as an expression of comfort, consolation, hope, and encouragement to all who have suffered loss. It is, quite literally, a requiem for us, the living.

     The title, of course, is drawn from Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, which (to paraphrase) admits that there is, in truth, very little which we the living can do to honor our departed loved ones, except to commit ourselves to the noblest principles by which they lived, and to complete the work which they left unfinished. Simply put, we best honor our dead by the way we live.

     The work's opening movement quotes the Eastern Orthodox Kontakion for the Departed: "All we go down to the dust, yet even at the grave we make our song: Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia." While this opening sentence is, in reality, a death sentence, at its heart lies a heroic existentialism: there is something persistently and joyfully defiant about singing Alleluias at one's own grave, or for that matter, at the start of a choral requiem.

     For Us the Living was conceived as a concert work, but none of its words would seem out of place at a church funeral or memorial service. To the traditional liturgical texts (Introit, Kyrie, Sanctus and Benedictus, Pie Jesu, and Agnus Dei) I have added, besides the Orthodox verse quoted above, a setting of Psalm 23, and a final section called "Valediction" (meaning a leave-taking or farewell), which includes two passages from the Apocrypha: the well-known Justorum animae ("The Souls of the Righteous") from the Book of Wisdom, and a verse from the book of Tobit. The closing measures of the Agnus Dei further underscore the work's real intent: the prayer’s final petition, "Dona eis requiem" (grant them rest) becomes "Dona nobis requiem" -- grant us rest.

 

 

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