Blitz Requiem

The text of Francis Warner's Blitz Requiem, broadcast on the Full Works Concert, Thursday 3 October 2013.

Poet Francis Warner experienced the Blitz first-hand as a child and his poignant account of his family’s experiences provided the inspiration for renowned organist and composer David Goode to write his Blitz Requiem

The world premiere performance of Blitz Requiem can be heard in an exclusive broadcast on Classic FM's Full Works Concert, Thursday 3 October 2013.


 

Blitz Requiem

‘… to comfort all that mourn … 
to give unto them beauty for ashes’

ISAIAH 61. vv.2-3

 

Requiem Aeternam

May souls in peace rest beyond reach of time,
Healed from the horror of their parting hence.
On these may light perpetual, sublime,
Shine and deliver from all past offence.

Absolve and Kyrie

Deliver us from menace in the dust,
Long hours in the cold waters of the sea,
The failing parachute, the bayonet thrust –
May we know our sin nailed you to the tree.

Lord have pity on us
Lord have pity on us
Lord have pity on us

For malice in revenge and cruel laugh
Teach us our own responsibility,
For those who now take life on our behalf,
Those who are dying so we may be free.

Christ have pity on us
Christ have pity on us
Christ have pity on us

From our indifference to consequence
Of our retaliation, make us pause.
Forgive us glorifying Judas’ pence.
Christ, make ourselves more fit to serve your cause.

Lord have pity on us
Lord have pity on us
Lord have pity on us

Dies Irae

What fresh terror sirens’ moaning
Heralds? Earth and heaven groaning
At near raiders’ engines’ droning,

Night sky lit with flames ascending,
Wrath and fear in ashes blending
With each dive-bomber’s descending.

Underneath a dining table
On a mattress, while the babel
Of a thousand aircraft able

To destroy a sleeping city
Streams above, a mother’s pity
Rolls her in birth-agony.

From the dog-fight high in summer
Blue, where milk streaks spread in slumber,
And small boys look up in wonder

As one youth explodes in fire,
And another flying higher
Mushrooms down from funeral pyre;

From the flame-tailed rocket’s rattle,
And the whine of bombs in battle
On civilians’ lunch time prattle;

Packed between pews sleeping, church nights,
From the dark sky probed by searchlights,
Spare us further blinding eye sights.

Flying low with high explosive
Clearly aimed by creed corrosive,
Two eyes blast dawn’s peaceful olive

On the playground; pencils scattered,
Homework, little things that mattered
Like bodies, shrapnel-shattered

In school uniforms of cotton.
Trust in mass graves dead and rotten.
Shall these children be forgotten?

Lest our true compassion deaden
Let not hate make mercy leaden.
Spare us, Lord, in Armageddon. 

Sanctus

Almighty God whose goodness fills the height,
Creator of the world shielding our sight,
We bend our eyes down in your mercy’s light.

Agnus Dei

Good shepherd’s dearest, dead in agony,
Our evil cleansed in perpetuity
May we arise with you in ecstasy.

Responsorium Bass Solo

In this red curse of combat, Lord, forgive
Each one of us who kill in hope to live –
Blind with tears. Your coming wrath must shake me
For what I do in fear. O Jesus, make me
Compassionate to captives in our power
In soul-scarred sins I choose this violent hour –
My shattering explosives leaping higher
Trembling me as you judge the world by fire.

Requiem Aeternam

May souls in peace rest beyond reach of time,
Healed from the horror of their parting hence.
On these may light perpetual, sublime,
Shine and deliver from all past offence.

In Paradisum

May saints and martyrs in this extreme time
Cry out in anguished prayer for us above
As earth’s foundations shake in shame and crime.
Crucified Jesus, pity in your love
The fireman struggling as forlorn hope dims,
Doctor and priest each doing all he could,
Nurses and teaching sorting out torn limbs,
Mothers and children digging to grow food
On their allotments with potatoes, hens;
Old journalists stumbling to find the facts-
The ordinary, descent citizens,
All of them blasted in unselfish acts:
Good people who have paid the highest price.
May angels lead them into Paradise.

Requiem Aeternam

May souls in peace rest, beyond reach of time,
Healed from the horror of their parting hence.
On these may light perpetual, sublime,
Shine and deliver from all past offence.

 

 

Taken from Beauty for Ashes: Selected Prose & Related Documents  by Francis Warner
Published by Colin Smythe Limited, 2012

 

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