This morning we looked out our bedroom window and noticed the Catholic Church across the street was reenacting the last hours of the life of Christ. I was pondering how much the Savior's atonement means to me, personally, as I went downstairs to work in the office.
It seemed the music that would be most appropriate for Good Friday was Beethoven's Missa Solemnis-one of the most compelling pieces of music ever written. I found a great version of it on youtube and fought back tears as I recalled the familiar feelings I've had every time I have listened to it.
When it was performed in Beethoven's day, audiences thought the Agnes Dei was inappropriate and war-like, so they simply left it out of the performance. It's my favorite movement, because I have studied the agony of Beethoven's life and know this must represent his own personal Garden of Gethsemane, put to music. I was told once by a beloved church leader that none of us would go through our mortal probation without a Gethsemane experience-one geared to our mortal capacity to endure.
If you could write that kind of pain into a piece of music, it would be the Agnes Dei. When I listen to it, it summons up all the feelings of grief, longing and disappointment that I have endured during my lifetime. There is so much therapeutic value in the music of Beethoven, because it is filled with conflict and resolution. It makes for wonderful healing. Did Beethoven know the healing power of the Savior's atonement? I think he did. He points us to the capability of Jesus Christ to consecrate the sorrows of our life for our eternal gain.
Here is a link to the Benedictus, the prelude to the Agnes Dei. It represents the Holy Ghost descending to the earth as a gift from Jesus Christ:
Thank you, Beethoven, for writing music worthy of our contemplation on Good Friday. Don't stop listening with the Benedictus, or you will miss the view into Beethoven's anguished soul and his pointing us to the peace that only Jesus Christ can bring. Every movement of the Missa Solemnis has its own voice. I highly recommend listening to it in its entirety, alone, and with tissues.