Places and Music 1

Music is a powerful memory trigger. In this case, I caught the memory but could not place what it was, exactly, not until the second time I prepared the composition for performance. Then I realized what my mind had begun to replay. It was . . . an interesting combination.

The piece is “The Risen Sun.” There is a recording on YouTube { https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vxx3eUNY9Tg } but it is locked and I cannot link to it. You might go look/listen, then come back, paying close attention to the lyrics in the middle section.

I first performed the piece about 5 years ago, in a concert centered on the idea of light. We started with Whitaker’s “Lux Arumque.” After that, anything had to be easier, and it was, mostly. But this piece made me think of something, something vaguely white and gold and cream, with soft clear lighting and quiet. No music, just quiet. But I couldn’t place it, and I was sweating the “Lux Arumque” and didn’t think too much more about it.

We are doing the piece again, with some others that I half-way know, and one I know very well indeed: Lauridsen’s “O Nata Lux.”

And again, I thought of that room. This time I knew it was a room, still silent, still white and gold, with a gold and white table or altar in the middle.

This past rehearsal, when we ran through the piece, I knew where I was seeing. It is the uppermost room in the Latter day Saints Temple in Florence, Nebraska, aka the Winter Quarters Temple. Before it was dedicated, about 15 years ago or so, it was open to Gentiles to tour, and so I took time off of work to go look. I learned a great deal about the Latter Day Saints, and saw some of the best modern stained glass I can recall.

Add snow and make the sky grey and that's what I saw.

Add snow and make the sky grey and that’s what I saw.

A L.D.S. (Mormon) temple is not like a cathedral in that instead of a large central open space for lots of people to meet, it is made up of a number of rooms of varying sizes, for different purposes. Some are a bit like lecture halls, others small meeting rooms, and so on. All are very nice, because this is the place where you show G-d your gratitude by giving Him the best. I have never, ever walked on carpet so thick and plush. The woodwork was lovely, and I could certainly understand why having a letter from your bishop that allows you to go to the temple is a very major thing for Mormons.

As you progress upwards, and learn more about what it means to be a Mormon, the meeting rooms grow smaller and paler, until you reach the uppermost room. It was pure white, with amazingly rich white carpet, white and gold chairs, and diffuse light from everywhere and nowhere. And it was quiet, the soothing, restful quiet I sometimes feel after finishing and especially moving piece of music, the hanging hush that you wish would last forever, but it can’t.

That’s what I was remembering during the central section of “The Risen Sun.” Standing within a softly lit place without shadows, almost outside of time, a place dedicated to light and peace and holiness where the outside can not intrude – that’s the song, and the sense of the room.

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3 thoughts on “Places and Music 1

    • It really was. I need to scrub some numbers off the essay I wrote about it and post it, since I suspect most of us have not been into a Mormon temple.

  1. Only been in one. I went in on the same type of opening you went to. The one I got to see was in Brigham City, Utah. The architecture and construction is quite amazing.

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