Laughter in the Middle of Sorrow

Not entirely unexpected given my recent blog post, but Johannes Somary did not overcome the stroke that felled him in late December, and I juggled my travel plans to be at his funeral this past weekend.

As a final gift to the many people who loved him, Johannes carefully planned out his funeral, and left detailed instructions for the event. A central point was the musical program, of course.

The music was a mix of plainchant, a couple of his own compositions, and selections from the Fauré Requiem, all ably sung by members of his Amor Artis Chorus. More than ably. I am not sure I’ll ever be able to listen to “In Paradisum” again without crying after hearing the amazing power of it sung live, with such love.

Amidst the great sadness there was laughter too. Anyone who’s ever sung with Johannes will remember Tye’s “Laudate Nomen Domini“. Although it wasn’t on the funeral program, right after the communion section, it rang out through the church, an unauthorized addition to the day. I had to bite my lips to keep from laughing and then to keep from signing along. 🙂 Call it the choir’s last gift to Johannes. I’m sure he would have approved.

I should write more about Johannes, but so many other people have said so much about him over on his CaringBridge site I feel like there’s nothing new left to say. I’ll hold him in my heart always though.