When we began talking about doing a Communion service that incorporated Fauré’s Requiem, it seemed to me that Remembrance Sunday was an entirely appropriate occasion for such an act of worship. Not only did we commemorate both All Saints’ and All Souls’ Days last Sunday, but today we are focussing our thoughts on war and all who suffer because of war. A Requiem is composed to form part of a funeral service and I believe that its three themes of mourning, remembering and hoping should be part of our Remembrance Day commemorations.
It is right that we should mourn for all who have died because of war: today we think of those who have been killed whilst serving in the armed forces and those who have died in the violence of war. We also mourn with those whose lives have been forever changed because of war: those whose bodies or minds have been broken, those who families or communities have been torn apart, those whose homes or livelihoods have been destroyed. We mourn with those caught up in wars long over and we mourn with those who are experiencing war this night.
As we look at the world today, we see a world full of brokenness and an absence of peace. A Requiem and a Communion service are good opportunities to remember the ways in which contribute to that brokenness. I know that none of us are directly responsible for a war between nations, but our acts of selfishness, the unkind words to our family and friends, those times we fail to love our neighbours, all contribute to the brokenness of the world. The Libera Me of the Requiem reminds us that one day we will face God’s judgement. So this evening we remember those sins and confess them and give thanks that Jesus’ life, death and resurrection dealt with those sins so that our relationship with God could be restored and we might know peace.
So we come before God this evening with hope: hope that those who have died in Christ are now at peace and hope that one day war will end. Fauré said of his Requiem that it ‘is dominated from beginning to end by a very human feeling of faith in eternal rest’. Unlike some other famous settings of the Requiem, Faure’s music is full of hope, it has been described as ‘a lullaby of death and it is grounded in Fauré’s unshakeable belief in eternal life’. We know that the Great War which began 100 years ago tragically was not the ‘war to end all wars’ that people hoped it would be. However, as Christians we know that one day Jesus will come again as our Gospel reading (Matthew 25.1-13)reminds us and he will establish the new heaven and the new earth. Then we are promised:
‘See, the home of God is among mortals.
He will dwell with them;
they will be his peoples,
and God himself will be with them;
he will wipe every tear from their eyes.
Death will be no more;
mourning and crying and pain will be no more,
for the first things have passed away.’ (Revelation 21.3-4)
As we wait for that great day, let us be like the wise bridesmaids and be prepared, living lives of faith and hope so that when Jesus comes he will find us ready and then we will indeed know peace for ever more. Amen.
Revd Rebecca Fardell
Talk from the Remembrance Sunday Communion with Faure’s Requiem