All Souls' Day

After the all-important Halloween on Monday, and the, for some, even more important Ognissanto (All Saints' Day) yesterday, how about a brief tribute to today's lesser-known holiday, All Souls' Day. If Halloween is the day the dead are permitted to walk the earth, and Ognissanto is the day we celebrate all the saints in heaven, All Souls' Day is the day to reflect upon and remember those we have personally lost, and (if you're Catholic) pray for their speedy passage through Purgatory and onto Paradise.

All Souls' Day,  William Adolphe Bouguereau,  [ Source ]

All Souls' Day, William Adolphe Bouguereau, [Source]

Every All Souls' Day, I cannot help but think of the achingly moving Allerseelen (All Souls) by Richard Strauss. I know this has nothing to do with Rome, or Italy, or Italian culture, art, history or music, but I couldn't help myself. This song is the epitome of perfect German Romantic understatement.

I dedicate this song to my great-grandmother Faith, whom I never met, but who adored the German language.

Stell auf den Tisch die duftenden Reseden,

Die letzten roten Astern trag herbei,

Und laß uns wieder von der Liebe reden,

Wie einst im Mai.

Gib mir die Hand, daß ich sie heimlich drücke

Und wenn man's sieht, mir ist es einerlei,

Gib mir nur einen deiner süßen Blicke,

Wie einst im Mai.

Es blüht und funkelt heut auf jedem Grabe,

Ein Tag im Jahr ist ja den Toten frei,

Komm an mein Herz, daß ich dich wieder habe,

Wie einst im Mai.


Place on the table the fragrant mignonettes,

bring in the last red asters,

and let us speak again of love,

as once in May.

Give me your hand, that I may secretly press it,

and if anyone sees, that matters not to me.

Give me only one of your sweet glances,

as once in May.

Every grave bloom glows tonight:

one day in the year belongs to the dead.

Come to my heart, that I may hold you again,

as once in May.

Allerseelen, op. 10, no. 8

Music by Richard Strauss; Poetry by Hermann von Gilm; Jessye Norman, soprano; Geoffrey Parsons, piano

MusicTiffany ParksComment