Lacrymae / Tears (2005-2007) is a set of 6 a cappella motets for mixed choir based on six biblical episodes which deal with grief. Inspired by late Renaissance polyphony, these works explore the human side of the biblical narrative. The 6 motets are:
Absalom was King David’s favourite son, and greatly popular with the Israelites. Eventually he revolted against his own father, forcing David to flee. A crucial battle was fought and Absalom’s forces were routed. While he was escaping his long flowing hair got caught in a tree and the now defenceless Absalom was murdered by Joab, King David’s loyal commander. On hearing of his death, David wept bitterly and ordered a national mourning, despite having just overcome an uprising instigated by his own son.
Job was a devout man who enjoyed great prosperity. In the book of Job we find the parable of how Satan challenged Job’s faith, and God allowed Satan to take away Job’s happiness and prosperity (but not his life). A series of great misfortunes befall him in quick succession, and although beset by grief Job falls short of blaming God for any injustice.
The prophet Jeremiah lived through some of Jerusalem’s darkest days. His harsh criticism of the monarchy got him into trouble, and nearly killed him. He saw Jerusalem devastated by the Babylonians, and most of its population carried into slavery. The Book of Lamentations were written by him as a dirge over the destruction of Jerusalem.
The apostle Peter’s journey throughout the Gospels is one of the most intense of the twelve apostles. Despite his genuine faith in Jesus, he struggles to understand the full meaning of His message. In the last few days of Jesus’ life, Peter emerges as one of his most faithful disciples, swearing loyalty at the Last Supper. Jesus’ reply was that he would deny him before the cock crows, a fact which Peter vehemently denies. After Jesus’ arrest, Peter follows him all the way to he High Priest’s house, but when he is interrogated he denies being one of His followers, and soon after the cock crows, upon which Peter realises what he has done and bursts into tears.
The figure of Jesus Christ is a complex character, with His divinity and divine mission often overshadowing His human side. The raising of Lazarus from the dead is one of Jesus’ most important miracles. However, before Jesus resurrects him, the Gospel mentions that he wept. This tiny, but significant, detail shows Jesus’ human side.
Lacrymae Iesus was premiered by The New Choral Singers on 27th October 2006 at the Metropolitan Cathedral of St Paul in Mdina, Malta.
Prece Sancti Stephani
The final piece in this set of Lacrymae dwells on the martyrdom of Saint Stephen as told in the Acts of the Apostles. This motet departs from the idea of grief in the face of loss, and instead is a peaceful acceptance of death through the act of forgiveness. As Saint Stephen is being stoned to death, he forgives his executioners.
Prece Sancti Stephani was premiered by The New Choral Singers on 3rd December 2011 at the Church of Our Lady of the Grotto , Rabat, Malta.