Sunday, April 24, 2011

Where, O Death, is now thy sting?

Last night, I got the chance to go to see the Utah Symphony at Abravenal Hall in Salt Lake City.

My cousin Mike sings in the Utah Symphony Chorus.

First of all, I felt very posh going to the symphony.

A view of the sculpture in the lobby, looking out the huge glass windows toward Temple Square.
It reminds me of a bunch of squid or red peppers.

The inside of the concert hall. The chandeliers were beautiful. Looking up at the ceiling made me nostalgic for elementary school field trips to opera houses in Wilmington with painted ceilings.

The piece was Michael Tippett's 1944 oratorio A Child of Our Time.

Tippett was inspired by the 1938 assassination of a German official by a young Jewish teenager, which was a catalyst for the Kristillnacht pogrom.

While inspired by this event, A Child of Our Time draws on Jungian themes and expresses the universality of human suffering.

It was stunning. What I found most inspirational was that Tippett blended African American spirituals into the oratorio, which pointed the mind to the similarities between oppressed peoples.
Just when the dissonant music and hopeless lyrics left you on the brink of despair, the choir would swell in the bittersweet glory of a spiritual.

Steal away, steal away, steal away to Jesus!
Steal away, steal away home, I hain't got long to stay here.

Nobody knows the trouble I see.
Nobody knows but Jesus.

The final piece was "Deep River."

Deep river,
My home is over Jordan.
I want to cross over into campground.

I like that it ended on a spiritual note, while still melancholy.

The performance was in interesting way to lead into Easter.

Especially after church today.

I realized something about the pain I'd been feeling and the pain expressed in the oratorio.

It has been really sad and lonely as the semester has ended and we've had to say goodbye. Especially as everyone else gets to return home to family while I stay in Provo.

But during Sacrament Meeting in my aunts' family ward, I felt the assurance that I would get to live an unending eternity of bliss with my family after this mortal life.

Then the Relief Society lesson was on Elder Kent F. Richards's talk from this month's General Conference, The Atonement Covers All Pain.

I realized that Jesus doesn't always take away the pain we feel. But because of His resurrection and His promises to us, our pain makes sense. The pain I feel makes my sweet moments sweeter. Without Him, there would be nothing but pain and darkness and loneliness, with no relief. But He can make even my pain, and the pain of slaves and Jews and anyone else, feel sweet.

He is Relief.

I know He lives! I know He is our Savior, mine and yours. I know that He is the source of sweetness. I know that He helps us make sense of pain when nothing else can.

Where, O Death, is now thy sting?
The sting of death is swallowed up in Christ! (Mosiah 16:8)

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful Rachel. I completely agree. And that's funny because I had a similar lead-up-to-Easter experience, but it wasn't as posh as the symphony. I was sitting on my couch watching all of the extended Lord of the Rings movies so that I'd study for finals. It's a good story though.