Every year, I look forward to All Saints’ Day, and the Requiem Mass at St. James. Most often, it is Mozart, but occasionally we sing another setting. This year, it is Fauré, utterly beautiful, and absolutely comforting. Mozart’s Requiem leads us through the horrors of hell, past the slobbering, salivating mouth of the lion, into the profound pit of darkness, and finally into the eternal light and the merciful arms of Pie Jesu, but the trip is terrifying. Fauré, on the other hand, is confident from the beginning that the heavenly light is there waiting for him. The music is all light and love.
Many, many years ago, I attended this Mass at St. James, and was looking forward to being exquisitely moved by the beauty of the service itself, and by the silken music of Fauré. Unfortunately, there was a little old lady sitting behind me, and she was chattering throughout the whole Mass. I will give her the benefit of thinking that possibly she was praying aloud. However, I doubt that that was it. She was pretty annoying, to say the least. During one of the most beautiful and solemn parts of the Mass, I turned around and scowled at her. She glowered at me, and then popped me on the head with her prayer book. I tried to shrink into a mere nothing, but I daresay, I failed.