Our annual Remembrance Sunday service is on 13th November and begins earlier than usual at 10:50am with the traditional two-minute silence at 11am after the playing of the Last Post.
Remembrance Sunday is one of the most solemn services in the church’s year as we gather, along with others across the country, to pay tribute to those who lost their lives fighting for their country in a tradition that began over a century ago in 1919.
The service will include a liturgical performance of Fauré’s Requiem Mass sung by St Bride’s Choir and accompanied by the St Bride’s Orchestra, which begins with the Pie Jesu from the mass whilst commemorative wreaths are laid on the altar steps.
Gabriel Fauré’s Requiem was first performed at the church of the Madeleine in Paris in 1888, and was composed for a liturgical performance in a very similar context to our Remembrance service.
The orchestration, which is largely for violas, cellos and organ, with just one solo violin in the Sanctus and a pair of horns to support the loudest passages, also follows the composer’s original intentions.
The intimacy of the scoring was a deliberate reaction against the massed forces of Berlioz’s setting of the Requiem, which Fauré hated because of its emphasis on the horror of the sufferings of Purgatory – there is much more awareness here of giving comfort to those who mourn. Even the Libera me, set for baritone solo and choir, and originally composed as a separate piece ten years before the other movements, deals only fleetingly with the themes of judgement and the fear of death.
The music in general reflects Fauré’s particular skills as a composer of songs and chamber music, with some memorable melodies, particularly for the tenors in the Kyrie and the Agnus Dei. The Pie Jesu for soprano solo (which we regularly perform as a standalone piece in memorials) has often been copied, but never surpassed.
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