Music Notes: Remembering 9/11

This Sunday will be the second appearance of our young choristers in services. They have been working hard on Thomas Tallis’ “Purge Me, O Lord,” and all the service music that accompanies Morning Prayer.

I wanted to take the opportunity to share with all of you a story that relates not only to young singers, but to the anniversary that will be marked this weekend of 20 years since the 9/11 attacks. One of the civilians killed in the World Trade Center that day was the 37-year-old Robert Eaton, who among many other things was a former chorister of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London.

There exists a recording of an Evensong service from March 1977, in which the child Robert Eaton takes the solo in a movement of Brahms’ Requiem. Even without the association it now holds, this performance would stand out in its absolute beauty and maturity. Robert’s family was able to hear him again after his senseless murder once the recording was unearthed, which must have been a catharsis difficult for most of us to imagine.

Listening to this is perhaps the most ultimately redemptive way to mark the anniversary that I know of, and a reminder of resurrection hope. The link above will take you to the recording; the text, from John 16:22, Isaiah 66:13, and Ecclesiasticus 51:27, is below.

Ye now are sorrowful, howbeit ye shall again behold me,
And your heart shall be joyful, and your joy no man taketh from you.

Yea, I will comfort you, as one whom his own mother comforteth.

Look upon me; ye know that for a little time labour and sorrow were mine,
But at the last I have found comfort.