Last night I heard Brahms' Requiem performed by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and choir. The first, short part of the programme were some Schubert and Brahms songs sung pleasantly enough by a Danish soprano with piano accompanist (interesting to watch his technique), and the Requiem was the main course. Rather than use the standard Catholic liturgy, Brahms instead chose passages from the Bible, mainly the Psalms and other consoling verses to bring peace to the bereaved, rather than battering them over the head with visions of hell and damnation.
Indeed, the piece begins with the words Blessed are they that mourn, and ends with Blessed are the dead. It was taken at a good pace, and was well performed by everyone. If I had a criticism it was that at a couple of points the sopranos seemed a little insecure of pitch, and the trumpet/trombone section a little cracked-sounding as they had been the last time I heard them at the Philharmonic Hall; but these are small carps and didn't detract from the enjoyment of the piece.
As an accompaniment to this Lent's meditations, it was excellent. The final passage was indeed extremely moving and I will admit to shedding a few quiet tears as I left the hall. When I walked outside into the dark night, I looked across to see the spiked crown-like top of the Metropolitan Cathedral, with its stained glass partly lit up; it seemed to speak to me of comfort.
The morning meditations are proving successful; today I was up early and had got quite a lot done by 7.30am. So far, so good.