Do you have a piece of music that makes you want to weep?
I’m not talking some fru-fru melody that makes you feel happy or sad. I’m talking gut-wrenchingly beautiful music that fills you with so much longing that you’re crawling out of your skin, and the only visceral reaction you can afford to express is tears.
For me, that music is Antonin Dvorak’s New World Symphony, or Symphony No. 9. Specifically, I mean the second movement, the largo movement. It is without a doubt one of the most beautiful and fascinating pieces of music I have ever heard. In high school I had a very beloved teacher who began every single history class with music. It was mostly classical, although he was known to throw an occasional pop or country song in there.
For him, classical music expressed inward longings of the soul toward God. It is evidence, data-gathering, of our need for God, or rather our craving of Him.
Dvorak wrote this symphony based on Native American and African American spirituals. He wrote it because America inspired him. I was thinking about this country, specifically after the observance of 9/11 yesterday, and I was thinking about all the love and passion and freedom we have here. And so this symphony makes sense when you listen to it and think of America.
This movement is called the “Going home” song, and it is often played for funerals and memorials. Both my grandparents requested this song to be played at their funerals. And it is achingly perfect for a home-going. It reminds the listener both that this world is not home and that home awaits us. Thus the longing in it…