• Posted on 10 May 2010 at 1:48pm
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[An article by Howard about writing the music for the first Enchanted Voices CD]

There are eight so-called ‘Beatitudes’ in St Matthew’s telling of Jesus of Nazareth’s sermon on the mount, the English word ‘beatitude’ coming from the Latin word ‘beati’ meaning blessed, as it appeared in the medieval Bible. As told by Matthew, they comprise a list of people whose actions or burdens single them out for special tribute, in Christ’s eyes – some are those whose suffering will be alleviated in heaven, like those who grieve, or those who are persecuted for their faith. Others are those whose actions ameliorate the suffering of others, like the merciful or the peacemakers. The Beatitude passage in Matthew’s gospel is one of the Bible’s most memorable and moving, for many it is the perfect summation of the aspirations of Judeo-Christianity for the way human beings should behave. Honouring the peacemakers, the meek and the merciful has never been more necessary nor urgent as in our own time, nor has compassion for the bereaved, the poor or the persecuted. Yet the Beatitudes have not been set to music as frequently as other parts of the Bible. I am not quite sure why this should be the case and when discussing with my colleagues at Classic Fm how best I might realise my role as Composer-in-Residence I immediately suggested a set of Beatitudes that would allow me to explore a modern approach to the style of ancient chants (though none of the ‘chants’ on this CD are in fact old – I have composed them all myself). But I felt strongly that 2000 years since the original list was uttered had allowed us to reflect on who might be added to the list in any contemporary musical setting. I do not suggest that the original list is in any way lacking, nor do I claim my four new ‘Beatitudes’ should have been there in the first place, but I hope instead to pay homage to the original concept by offering in all humility these new groups: Like those in Matthew’s description they are chosen both for the burdens they bear, like the ‘stateless’ (Pro eis sine domo – literally, for those without a home, since neither Jesus nor the later writers of the Bible had such a word) and also for the selfless service to others they perform, such as the ‘carers’ (Pro alios curantibus, for those that care for others). To differentiate my four new ‘Beatitudes’ from the originals, they are titled, for example, ‘for the cared for’, rather than ‘blessed are the cared for’. I chose passages from both Old and New Testaments to express, I hope, the meaning and resonance of these four new groups, to sit alongside the original, flawless Beatitudes.


1. Pro curatis (FOR THOSE THAT ARE CARED FOR) Blessed are they that are cared for, A light will be shone on their path Plorans ploravit in nocte et lacrimae eius in maxillis eius non est qui consoletur eam ex omnibus caris eius omnes amici eius spreverunt eam et facti sunt ei inimici Weeping, she hath wept in the night, and her tears are on her cheeks: there is none to comfort her among all them that were dear to her: all her friends have despised her, and are become her enemies. [Lamentations 1:2] Non relinquam vos orfanos veniam ad vos I will not leave you orphans, I will come to you. [John 14:18]

2. Pro alios curantibus (FOR THOSE THAT CARE FOR OTHERS) Samaritanus autem quidam iter faciens venit secus eum et videns eum misericordia motus est But a certain Samaritan being on his journey, came near him; and seeing him, was moved with compassion. [Luke 10:33] Quomodo si cui mater blandiatur ita ego consolabor vos As one whom the mother caresseth, so will I comfort you [Isaiah 66:13]

THE BEATITUDES [Matthew 5: 3-11]

3. BEATI PAUPERES (BLESSED ARE THE POOR) Beati pauperes spiritu quoniam ipsorum est regnum caelorum Blessed are the poor (in spirit), for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4. BEATI MUNDO CORDE (BLESSED ARE THE PURE OF HEART) Beati mundo corde quoniam ipsi Deum videbunt Blessed are the pure of heart, for they will see God.

5. BEATI QUI ESURIUNT (BLESSED ARE THE HUNGRY) Beati qui esuriunt et sitiunt iustitiam quoniam ipsi saturabuntur Blessed are those that hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.

6. BEATI QUI LUGENT {BLESSED ARE THEY THAT GRIEVE) Beati qui lugent quoniam ipsi consolabuntur Blessed are those that grieve, for they will be comforted.

7. BEATI QUI PERSECUTIONEM (BLESSED ARE THE PERSECUTED) Beati qui persecutionem patiuntur propter iustitiam quoniam ipsorum est regnum caelorum. Beati estis cum maledixerint vobis et persecuti vos fuerint et dixerint omne malum adversum vos mentientes propter me Blessed are those that are persecuted for seeking righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they shall revile you, and persecute you, and speak all that is evil against you, untruly, for my sake.

8. BEATI MISERICORDES (BLESSED ARE THE MERCIFUL) Beati misericordes quia ipsi misericordiam consequentur Blessed are the merciful, for they will obtain mercy.

9. BEATI MITES (BLESSED ARE THE MEEK) Beati mites quoniam ipsi possidebunt terram Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

10. BEATI PACIFICI (BLESSED ARE THE PEACEMAKERS) Beati pacifici quoniam filii Dei vocabuntur Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God.

11. Pro eis solitariis (FOR THOSE THAT ARE LONELY) Hanc misericordiam facies mecum in omni loco ad quem ingrediemur dices quod frater tuus sim Thou shalt do me this kindness: In every place, to which we shall come, thou shalt say that I am thy brother. [Genesis 20:13] Et auferam de spiritu tuo tradamque eis ut sustentent tecum onus populi et non tu solus graveris And I will take of thy spirit, and will give to them, that they may bear with thee the burden of the people, and you will not be burdened alone. [Numbers11:17]

12. Pro eis sine domo (FOR THE STATELESS) Blessed are the stateless, Blessed are the homeless They will find shelter, They will find comfort Et tabernaculum erit in umbraculum diei ab aestu et in securitatem et absconsionem a turbine et a pluvia And there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the daytime from the heat, and for a place of refuge, and for a covert from storm and from rain. [Isaiah 4:6] Tu es protectio mea ab hoste custodies me laus mea salvans circumdabis me semper Thou art my refuge from the trouble which hath encompassed me: my joy, deliver me from them that surround me. [Psalms 31:7]