Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Song of Joy

Our summer vacation is winding down.  This time next week, I will be preparing to send four of my six little darlings (and their daddy) back to school for another year.  Bedtimes will be decided by the clock, not by the sun.  There won't be any more "late movies" where they all fall asleep and get left on the couches until morning.  They will all have to actually wear shirts for at least a big part of every day.  Yes, the day-to-day will change, but what a great "last hurrah" we had Sunday evening!

We were just getting ready to send the boys up to bed Sunday night, and DH was flipping through the Classical Channel on the Roku and found a recording of Beethoven's 9th symphony with Kurt Masur conducting the French National Orchestra. He told the boys that if they would sit still, he'd let them watch it. (!?!) Of course they agreed (they'd have agreed to watch the NYSE ticker if it meant they could stay up). And so it began....

It is helpful to offer at this point that I really like Beethoven, but DH is a passionate Beethoven devote'.  He can trace the lineage of his piano teachers back to Beethoven, and has always felt a unique kinship with him.  He plays Beethoven like no one else.  No one.

The first, second, and third movements of the symphony were nice.  The littlest kids were asleep, and the older ones were enjoying the music.  Just before the beginning of the fourth movement, the wind picked up and it started to rain...it was a glorious summer rainstorm, with no thunder or lightening.  It was a perfect backdrop to what is certainly among the finest musical finales ever written or performed.  Beethoven was completely deaf when he composed what would be his final symphony.  He had become a very reclusive, and was known for his explosive temper.  His life was marked by health problems, personal struggle, and what, to most musicians, would be a devastating sensory loss.  And yet, a poem he had carried in his notes since he was a young man finally bloomed in glorious expression, premiered less than 3 years before his death.  I offer the text below, with a link to the video (just the last 10 minutes or so).  Taking it in again, surrounded by our boys and warm summer rain, DH and I were wrapped in joy ourselves, so grateful for all we have been given.

Song of Joy

Joy, beautiful spark of divinity
Daughter of Elysium, 
We enter, drunk with fire into your sanctuary.  
Your magic reunites What custom strictly divided.  
All men become brothers where your wing tarries.

Whoever has had the great fortune
To be a friend's friend,
Whoever has won a devoted wife,
Join in our jubilation!
Indeed, whoever can call even one soul,
His own on this earth!
And whoever was never able to, must creep
Tearfully away from this band!

Joy all creatures drink
At the breasts of nature;
All good, all bad
Follow her trail of roses.
Kisses she gave us, and wine,
A friend, proved in death;
Pleasure was given to the worm,
And the cherub stands before God.
Before God!

Glad, as His suns fly
Through the Heaven's glorious design,
Run, brothers, your path,
Joyful, as a hero to victory.

Be embraced, millions!
This kiss for the whole world!
Brothers, above the starry canopy
Must a loving Father dwell.
Do you bow down, millions?
Do you sense the Creator, world?
Seek Him beyond the starry canopy!
Beyond the stars must He dwell.

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