Another opportunity to have a lot of fun at our annual Come & Sing day to be led by our dynamic duo, Musical Director Mark Jordan and Assistant Musical Director, Alex Aitken. This time we will be taking on Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius. Lots of singing, sprinkled with liberal amounts of insight, will help us to develop our knowledge of this dramatic and exciting music. Scores and refreshments (cake!) will be provided and the day will be concluded with a complete informal sing-through from 2.30pm, to which family and friends are invited.
This work is an oratorio based on a poem by John Henry Newman. Elgar’s setting uses most of the text of the first part of the poem, which takes place on earth. Many of the more meditative otherworldly sections of the much longer second part are omitted. It tells the story of a soul’s journey through death, and provides a meditation on the unseen world of Roman Catholic theology. Gerontius (derived from the Greek word meaning ‘old man’) is a very devout and ordinary man of faith who is dying. He is alternately hopeful and fearful but always confident. A group of friends referred to as assistants come and join him for prayer and meditation as he dies. Gerontius then passes away peacefully and a priest prayerfully sends him on his way with the assistants present. This forms the first part of the oratorio.
In the second part, Gerontius is referred to as ‘the Soul’. He awakens in a place apparently without space or time, and becomes aware of the presence of his guardian angel, who expresses joy at the culmination of his task. After a long conversation, they journey towards God’s throne of judgment. They safely pass a group of demons, and then encounter choirs of angels, eternally praising God for His grace and forgiveness. The Angel who ministered to Jesus on the cross at His crucifixion, now pleads with Jesus to spare the souls of the faithful. Finally Gerontius glimpses God and is judged in a single moment. The Guardian Angel lowers Gerontius into the refining and cleansing lake of Purgatory, with a final blessing and the promise of a re-awakening to glory.