May 16 2008

Give us Peace

I love the song Dona Nobis Pacem. I always have. Though it is a hymn, and was originally a separate, final movement of Bach’s Mass in B Minor, I find nothing religious about it. It’s a beautiful, simple sentiment sung to a beautiful, simple melody, and, sung as a round, is somehow more than the sum of its parts.

It’s interesting to me that it is a hymn and was originally in a religious context, because I have always felt, as I sang it, that it was like a mantra or, for lack of a better word, a prayer. But it’s a humanist prayer when I sing it- a wish for Peace for all beings in the world, and a Peace that we can give to each other, not one handed down from a god.

When I sing it, I feel as if I’m singing a protective blanket into being, as if no un-peaceful thing can happen in the time that I am singing to those who can hear my song. It’s a beautiful feeling, and I often sing to myself in times of stress or discomfort. It is both the prayer and the answer to it in one.

But, as I sang it to Cole the night before last (as it is his favorite night time song), something happened that made the song more beautiful to me than any song has ever been; made my “prayer” stronger than I’ve ever felt it. It was so strong, in fact, that it almost took my breath away and made it difficult for me to continue singing.

Cole sang with me.

He did not sing well, but he sang earnestly, and it was one of the most wonderful and glorious things I have ever heard. And I’d like to believe that, for those few moments anyway, all was right with the world.


(Not great, because she doesn’t sing all the parts, but the strings should give you an idea of this song, if you didn’t know it before. Maybe one day I’ll record myself and Cole.)

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