Sacred Song Service honors loved ones with community rememberance through song

Chautauquans will have the opportunity to honor deceased loved ones at 8 p.m. Sunday in the Amphitheater, at a Sacred Song Service titled “In Remembrance: A Community Sing of Fauré’s ‘Requiem.’ ”

The Chautauqua Choir and the congregation will sing Gabriel Fauré’s “Requiem” together. The piece is based on a Christian text about the fears of death and the rewards of everlasting life.

“It’s as gentle a setting about death and dying as I know of,” said Jared Jacobsen, organist and coordinator of worship and sacred music.

Denomination houses received “Books of Memory” for members to fill with the names of loved ones who have passed away. During the service, the books will be on the stage for the congregation to fill.

“[Chautauqua] is like a big family reunion every summer, and when somebody is no longer here there’s really a void,” Jacobsen said.

The choir will also sing a choral arrangement of the poem “Vacant Chair.” The choral arrangement was originally composed by George Root in 1861 and rearranged by Ben Allaway in 2003.

The song weaves in the tune of taps, a bugle call played at military funerals. Oliver Wilcox Norton, grandfather of Chautauqua patron Paul Norton, first played the tune in June 1862.

“There is something singularly beautiful and appropriate in the music of this wonderful call,” the elder Norton wrote in a letter. “Its strains are melancholy, yet full of rest and peace. Its echoes linger in the heart long after its tones have ceased to vibrate in the air.”

Jacobsen hopes the service provides peace to anyone struggling with the inevitable question of death.

“The bottom line is, we don’t really know [what happens],” he said. “And music can help us in the not knowing.”