There Is Light Eternal Yonder

There Is Light Eternal Yonder September 20, 2016

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(image via Wikimedia Commons)

Ever hear a song that just changed you?

I heard this song, John Tavener’s Funeral Ikos, more than ten years ago, at a memorial Mass for Saint John Paul II. I didn’t know what the song was called. I couldn’t remember who wrote it. I just remembered snatches of the lyrics. They stayed with me, all this time.

Finally, a friend who actually knows her music realized what I was talking about and found the song for me. I’ve been listening to it over and over.

Listen:

Why these bitter words of the dying, O brethren,
which they utter as they go hence?
I am parted from my brethren.
All my friends do I abandon and go hence.
But whither I go, that understand I not,
neither what shall become of me yonder;
only God who hath summoned me knoweth.
But make commemoration of me with the song:
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

But whither now go the souls?
How dwell they now together there?
This mystery have I desired to learn; but none can impart aright.
Do they call to mind their own people, as we do them?
Or have they forgotten all those who mourn them and make the song:
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

We go forth on the path eternal, and as condemned,
with downcast faces, present ourselves before the only God eternal.
Where then is comeliness? Where then is wealth?
Where then is the glory of this world?
There shall none of these things aid us, but only to say oft the psalm:
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

If thou hast shown mercy unto man, O man,
that same mercy shall be shown thee there;
and if on an orphan thou hast shown compassion,
the same shall there deliver thee from want.
If in this life the naked thou hast clothed,
the same shall give thee shelter there, and sing the psalm:
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Youth and the beauty of the body fade at the hour of death,
and the tongue then burneth fiercely, and the parched throat is inflamed.
The beauty of the eyes is quenched then, the comeliness of the face all altered,
the shapeliness of the neck destroyed; and the other parts have become numb,
nor often say: Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

With ecstasy are we inflamed if we but hear that there is light eternal yonder;
that there is Paradise, wherein every soul of Righteous Ones rejoiceth.
Let us all, also, enter into Christ, that we may cry aloud thus unto God:
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

 

With ecstasy are we inflamed, if we but hear that there is light eternal yonder.

I’ve heard of light eternal. It’s usually music that makes me feel as though I can almost see it. Music like this and I feel like I’m there for a moment.

May God give us the grace to show mercy, so that we may be shown mercy there.

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