BRIDGEPORT – A song by composer Julian Revie, who has “been performing pretty much weekly” as a church organist since he was 11, was presented at the closing Mass of the World Meeting of Families Sept. 27 in Philadelphia.
Mr. Revie, the composer in residence at the Center for Music and Liturgy of St. Thomas More Chapel at Yale University in New Haven, created the choral-orchestral work “The Love of God” as a meditation on Christ’s ultimate sacrifice. The song was sung by a choir of more than 300 adults and a children’s choir and was accompanied by the Philadelphia Orchestra under the direction of conductor Yannick Nezet-Seguin.
A few days later, he described the feeling of hearing his music performed at a Mass celebrated by the pope.
“Of course, it was an awesome experience. It is a tremendous honor that is still sinking in,” he wrote in an email to the Transcript.
“On Sunday, though, I was preoccupied with practical issues which made it difficult for me to really savor the moment. I have been watching replays of the Mass on YouTube, and that is helping me appreciate that yes, this really did happen,” he wrote.
The selection performed at the Mass is part of the Mass of the Divine Shepherd, which Mr. Revie composed, and is the first major setting of the Mass in the revised English translation. It premiered at Carnegie Hall in June in front of a nearly sold-out crowd. In attendance was Bridgeport Bishop Frank J. Caggiano, who called the concert a “graced moment” for the audience. “The music was magnificent” and people “were clearly moved on many levels,” he told the Fairfield County Catholic.
Archbishop Leonard Blair of Hartford, who also attended the premiere, said, “As a concertgoer of many years, I found the June event at Carnegie Hall to be exceptional in every respect. It was not only spiritually uplifting, but also opened up a new dimension to my musical appreciation.”
Mr. Revie, who lives in Monroe and is part of the Catholic community at the St. Thomas More Chapel at Yale, said that performance alone “would have been a once in a lifetime experience.” And then his song was picked to be performed at the papal Mass on Benjamin Franklin Parkway, which drew close to 1 million people, according to some estimates.
He said the piece was written “to assist the congregation in worthy preparation for Communion. It begins with the chorus singing alone; then they are joined by the orchestra.” At Carnegie Hall, there were more than 650 choristers; for the final part of the piece the children’s chorus enters, he said, adding that the children “to me represent the pure of heart, who shall see God.”
“The real point of the piece, at least for me (is about) radical, sacrificial love, which the children’s chorus was echoing through all humanity,” he explained.
“That this moment, the very moment when my music is being sung and played coincides with Pope Francis as (the) celebrant receiving the Eucharist ... this intimate moment of communion between our Eucharistic Christ and his vicar on earth ... that’s just awesome to me,” Mr. Revie told the Fairfield County Catholic in an interview before the pope’s visit to Philadelphia.
He also said Pope Francis inspires him, especially with his recent environmental encyclical “Laudato Si’.”
Mr. Revie said that in his hundreds of hours composing music and walking trails, he feels he has grown closer to God.
“Perhaps, by my music, I can share some of the inspiration of the lakes, birds and trees of Monroe with Pope Francis and with the whole church,” he said.