The Resurrection, by Gustav Mahler, was the choice Kenson Li made for a poem about Easter to be read at Vespers in Eastertide. Kenson remarks:
This poem concludes Mahler’s monumental 2nd Symphony, “The Resurrection”. (Listen to the symphony here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4MPuoOj5TIw, watch from 1:07:00 for the chorus singing the poem)
Listening to Mahler’s 2nd Symphony, especially live in a concert hall, is always a profound experience. Gustav Mahler takes the audience through a journey of life, death, and resurrection in 90 minutes of extraordinary music. One can really feel that one has gone through the darkest valley, and at last, as if led by the very hands of the composer, into the glorious light of Easter. I still remember the first time I heard the symphony was in St David’s Hall, Cardiff, some years ago. I was simply overwhelmed by the transcendence of the music. I did not just listen to 90 minutes of music, I experienced the beauty and meaning of life by immersing myself in the beauty of God’s creation. I believe that in the strange times we currently live in, we too can make life colourful and beautiful by making time to listen to music, reading, and perhaps, admiring paintings on online galleries.
This poem is very poignant for me. My grandfather passed away when I was in my second year in university, and because of assignments and exams, I could not go home for the funeral. It is very upsetting that I could not be there to see my grandfather off, and it does sometimes seem to me that he simply vanished. I had this poem read in his funeral in lieu of my presence. Many people who attended the funeral remarked how touched they were by the words of the poem.
To this day this poem, and this symphony, is still my comfort, and to me, the most appropriate music to signify and celebrate the immeasurable Easter Joy we experience every year as Christians. I know many people are experiencing this because of the restrictions on attending funerals. I hope this poem and the music Mahler wrote will also become for them a source of strength, to journey on with hope, knowing that through Christ’s resurrection, we have been promised that death on earth is not final, and we will meet again on the day of universal resurrection.
“The Resurrection” by Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock (first two verses) and Gustav Mahler