Saturday, September 6, 2008

A Difference in Sound

Most of us who are avid listeners of sacred music can distinguish audibly between music that stimulates transcendence and music that is wholly in appropriate for a liturgical setting. In this post I share with you two distinctly different compositions that will engage some of you one way and some of you another way. Listen to both pieces if you can, folks. They're definitely worth it (Especially the second. It gets better towards the middle and the end).

The first one is the "Agnus Dei" from Karl Jenkins work The Armed Man-A Mass for Peace.

Agnus Dei - Karl Jenkins

Beautiful isn't? But wouldn't you also agree that there is something missing? Something that fails to take you beyond the sublunary and into a closer union to the Christian Mystery?

Here's the second piece by Wojciech Kilar. It is also an Agnus Dei and, I might add, the most anguished Agnus Dei I have ever heard in my life.

Wojciech Kilar: Agnus Dei - Choir of Versija

Can you tell the difference? With Kilar you can actually envision Christ on the cross drawing his last few breaths, and with the somber and repetitive "Agnus Dei" arrangement you can also gain a sense of the excruciating physical brutality that a human being endures during a crucifixion. I also have a strong dislike for Agnus Dei's with music that doesn't emotionally match a crucifixion. Something terribly incongruous about a "happy" Agnus Dei.


kritterc said...

I listened to both and I must agree with you. The first one was a beautiful piece of music, but the second piece was perfect. Peace and Blessings.

Tom in Vegas said...


The second Agnus Dei has an emotional depth that the first one lacks. It is indeed a very mournful composition.

Chris said...

That first one sounded too "American"! :D
Very interesting comparison. Thanks for sharing!