We 21st Centurians aren’t the only ones to identify Christian/Gospel concepts in Art. How about 19th century Austrian Romanticist composer Gustav Mahler (7 July 1860 – 18 May 1911)? Witnessing his 90 minute Symphony No. 2 “Resurrection” is probably the most spectacular musical event of my life…so far (U2 comes to Atlanta this fall). Imagine a full orchestra, 150+ choir, 2 soloists, organ, and a second orchestra located outside the hall!
“Why the second orchestra?” you might ask. The second orchestra (operating via live video feed from the conductor) represents the response of Christ being called out of the tomb by the God the Father (the main orchestra). This call and response is very clear and surprising during the middle of the 5th and final movement. It’s almost like 19th century surround sound.
Mahler came up with the idea for the ending of his majestic symphony while at a funeral. He heard a poem called Die Auferstehung (The Resurrection) by Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock.
“It struck me like lightning, this thing…and everything was revealed to me clear and plain.”
Crank up your speakers:
Some lyrics from the video:
O Schmerz! Du Alldurchdringer!
Dir bin ich entrungen!
O Tod! Du Allbezwinger!
Nun bist du bezwungen!
Mit Flügeln, die ich mir errungen,
In heißem Liebesstreben,
Zum Licht, zu dem kein Aug’gedrungen!
Mit Flügeln, die ich mir errungen
Werde ich entschweben.
Sterben werd’ich, um zu leben!
Aufersteh’n, ja aufersteh’n
wirst du, mein Herz, in einem Nu!
Was du geschlagen
zu Gott wird es dich tragen!
Okay, in (hyper-literal) English:
O Pain, You piercer of all things,
From you, I have been wrested!
O Death, You masterer of all things,
Now, are you conquered!
With wings which I have won for myself,
In love’s fierce striving,
I shall soar upwards
To the light which no eye has penetrated!
Its wing that I won is expanded,
and I fly up.
Die shall I in order to live.
Rise again, yes, rise again,
Will you, my heart, in an instant!
That for which you suffered,
To God will it lead you!
And, I might add: “Welcome, Happy Morning!” Age to age will say!