The Crowder Requiem Review: Sequence, Part II

We’re still in the Sequence of the Requiem mass, as set by the David Crowder* Band. “Sequence 4” is a paraphrase of the next few stanzas of the Sequence:

Remember, gentle Jesus
that I am the reason for your time on earth,
do not cast me out on that day.

Seeking me, you sank down wearily,
you saved me by enduring the cross,
such travail must not be in vain.

The song begins with the more visual description of red blood hitting the dirt as Jesus died on the cross. It reflects on Christ’s coming to earth for wretched sinners, which fits with the wider theme of the Sequence text. The Band uses finger-picked guitar, strings, some banjo, and light percussion to evoke tenderness and gratitude.

“Sequence 5” has a radically different tone. Much heavier percussion, electric guitar, synthesizer, and growling vocals set a tone of distress and agony. The lyrics (“Have you left me in the cold?”) express the fear that God has left the speaker because of his sins, reflecting the agony of the speaker in the next stanzas of the Sequence text:

I groan as one guilty,
my face blushes with guilt;
spare the suppliant, O God.

An abrupt change of texture matches a change in tone from despair to hope. The distorted electric guitar, the percussion, everything ceases except for some synthesized sounds, stretching out beneath the new melody. The speaker now asks God to reserve a place for him at His right hand, as in this stanza of the Sequence:

Give me a place among the sheep…
placing me on Thy right hand.

“Sequence 6” continues in the sublime humility of the Sequence. We have returned to the simplicity of a single guitar and a single voice, singing only the words “I bow low with all my heart.” This is a paraphrase of the Sequence text “I pray, suppliant and kneeling, a heart as contrite as ashes…”

“Sequence 7” is the “Lacrimosa” of the David Crowder* Band Requiem. Other composers, who generally set the Dies Irae Sequence as a single movement, have sometimes set these final two stanzas as a separate movement. (Mozart is one such composer.) The string riff is beautifully appropriate for “Lacrimosa,” which means “weeping.”  The Latin text tells us that the final judgement day is a day of weeping, and begs God to spare the speaker. Although the Band has retained the first-person speaker for Sequences 1-6, they return to the collective in this song, singing “spare us, O God.” The texture includes piano, percussion including lots of cymbal use, distorted electric guitar, and the string riff.

As a whole, the generally minor tone of the Sequences set them apart from the majority of the album. The Latin text corresponding to the Sequences is, after all, pleading, humble, and fearful of God’s wrath.

When Brahms wrote his Requiem (which you simply must hear, it is glorious), he did not include the Dies Irae Sequence; he included scripture mentioning the final judgement day, but left out any mention of God’s wrath. The David Crowder* Band includes the fear and humility suggested by the original Latin Requiem text, as well as image of God’s terrible wrath. Remembering God’s wrath gives us more reason to be grateful for our salvation from it, and remembering our humility and unworthiness before God gives us more reason to be grateful for His love. We ought never to forget what God has given us and how undeserving we are of His gift.

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