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In paradisum deducant te angeli,
in tuo adventu sucipiant te martyres,
et perducant te
in civitatem sanctam Jerusalem.
Chorus angelorum te suscipiat,
et cum Lazaro quondam paupere
aeternam habeas requiem.
May the angels lead you into paradise
may the martyrs receive you in your coming
and may they guide you
into the holy city Jerusalem.
May the chorus of angels receive you
and with Lazarus once poor
may you have eternal rest.
After studying this moving text, I decided to take a different approach than previous composers have. Most of us think of this text as a prayer in behalf of those who have already died and are, presumably on their way through an afterlife.
I agree that this text is entirely appropriate for that setting, but I wondered if it would not also bring comfort to the those who are yet alive, but facing death in a very real sense. Those facing a terminal illness, coming to the end of a long life, or loved ones observing their departure must have questions about what happens when people close their eyes for the last time.
Even for those with faith in an afterlife will face tough questions: “Is there really an afterlife?” “Will I wake up with angels?” “Will I see my family and friends again?” Death can distress and perturb a person whose days are numbered. This motet is meant to be a comforting assurance to them, as best as I know how to say it.
This piece is dedicated with great love to the Brigham Young University Concert Choir, the choir that changed my life. It is also dedicated to their esteemed conductor, Rosalind Hall and her late parents, Ralph and Jane Pulman.