Easter Break – Everyone is Invited — Again

Easter Break – Everyone is Invited — Again April 18, 2019

Editor’s Note:  I recall clergy in the interviews I conducted ten years ago now, saying how tough it could be coming up with new, interesting ways to “raise Jesus out of the tomb” every Easter.  I felt sorry for them and am glad to see so many Christian clergy since then have left the church and the yearly fantasy of bodily resurrection.  Still, I bet some of them continue to enjoy Easter music as much as I do. That’s why I’m repeating this “Holy Thursday” post from 2017. I love reviving memories of the music mentioned , as well as the great joy that we former Christians took in sharing our favorite music of the season.  Please click on this link to check out those original comments and revisit some beautiful musical memories. /Linda LaScola, Editor

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By Linda LaScola

Atheists can celebrate Easter too.

It could be a few days of school vacation,  a chocolate bunny or some colored eggs.  I celebrate by attending the beautiful Good Friday service at the National Cathedral, where I watch the afternoon sun moving across the stain glass windows while listening to the best church music performed by the best musicians, especially the incredibly beautiful and wrenching Miserere by Gregorio Allegri.

As the story goes, the music was considered too beautiful to be sung anywhere but inside the Vatican.  That changed when Mozart attended a Vatican Good Friday service and later transcribed the music based simply on his memory of it.  Here it is for everyone to enjoy.  Listen for those extra, unexpected high notes.

The boy soprano, Aksel Rykkvin, is incredible. Watch his expression when he goes for the high C!

If, like me, you love hearing this kind of music in the “proper” environment of a Cathedral, check out this link to another version, performed by the King’s College Choir in Cambridge.

My favorite Easter hymn is not one you’re likely to hear in church. It’s titled “Regina Coeli Laetare” (aka “The Easter Hymn”) and is an aria from the opera Cavalleria Rusticana by Pietro Mascagni. It’s presented beautifully in this clip from the 1982 movie that Franco Zeffirelli made of the opera.

It has special meaning for me because the movie is set in a small Sicilian village that looks like the one my grandparents are from. I can just imagine them singing in an Easter morning procession with the whole village turning out.

**Editor’s Question** What’s the story behind your favorite Easter music or way to celebrate the glorious springtime?

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Bio:  Linda LaScola is co-author, with Daniel C. Dennett, of Caught in the Pulpit: Leaving Belief Behind (2013) and “Preachers who are not Believers” (2010). They are also co-producers of a play in development, written by Marin Gazzaniga, that is based on their research.  Linda lives and works in Washington, D.C and holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work from the Catholic University of America.  She is a co-founder of The Clergy Project and Editor of the Rational Doubt blog.

>>>Photo Credits: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HmUw-zyklYQ; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2EGbMm5UqJs ; by Adele Banks, Religion news service

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  • ElizabetB.

    And thank you — again! — for the beautiful music!!

    This year listening to the Miserere I am noticing the Nordstrand Kirke itself — and the ship suspended above the sanctuary — with the central stained glass looking like a resurrection rather than crucifixion…. This setting might not have horrified a young Mason : ) Not yet able to find a description of the symbolism, I’m thinking about the old metaphor of the church as ship; and interested that the insignia on it may be Norway’s? Interesting architecture, along with the lovely chant.

    The Sicilian procession rings a familiar ‘note’ for me too (not as deep as yours, I think) — the men’s sashes across the shoulder make me think of the sash worn by the presider at our son’s wedding celebration there last summer….

    Thank you so much; tomorrow, enjoy the beauty!!!

  • See Noevo

    Linda,

    You really need some clips of your favorite inspirational music
    celebrating atheism, not Christianity. Maybe even better, your favorite anti-Catholic songs.
    What do you got?
    ………………………

    As to awesome Christian music, this is one of my favorites (and watch out for 3:48-4:10!):

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ug0PYot-mE

    • Linda_LaScola

      Atheism is not a religion and is not celebrated. Music, whether originally intended as religious or not, can be enjoyed by all.

    • Linda_LaScola

      Hey, See — Thanks so much for contributing the Laudate Dominum. It’s a beautiful arrangement, accompanied by gorgeous nature scenes.

      As a choir member who has sung the Mozart requiem a few times, it’s so hard to stop listening to the plaintive soprano solo to come in for the chorus. This time, I got to listen the whole way through!

    • ElizabetB.

      My contribution last Easter was a flash mob singing a similar-sounding secular piece — “Izar Ederrak” — “the story, in the Basque language, of a beautiful shining star surrounded by eight angels, one of whom is ‘lovesick’ for the star.”
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=63SvibwhUNU

      I observe that it’s humans who have written them all, religious and non-religious — and that the same religious themes celebrated in Country Western I don’t find quite so moving : )

      Thank you for the beautiful Mozart!

  • Linda_LaScola

    On behalf of TCP member, Gretta Vosper, who is having trouble posting:

    At West Hill, the United Church congregation I serve, we veered away from traditional beliefs regarding Easter many years ago. In its place, we hold a two-part Dream Away service – traditional Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday – that lifts up the human story around which the Easter story arose. All religious stories are grounded in human needs, loves, challenges. Peeling away the layers of religious dogma often reveals something far more significant and meaningful than the religious story offered.

    As for music, I’m very fortunate to have married a great musician and songwriter! And I often write new words to old songs or hymns. Here’s one we have sung on Easter morning. Enjoy! (My apologies for the weird code showing up!) https://www.grettavosper.ca/luminosity/.

  • Jim Baerg

    I will contribute ‘Russian Easter Overture’ by Rimsky-Korsakov, to the list