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DYING, DEATH and SOULS; ANOTHER NOVEMBER

N. B. Andrews

November 04, 2016

November began yesterday with All Saints' Day; today is All Souls' Day.

And there is one thing that is certain- we all have an appointment with death.

Death, the last taboo, has been brought into the mainstream and there are important rational and emotional lessons to be learnt.

Our frequently used phrases include, "time of our lives" or "living life to the full" but yet we often try to push back how it will all end; but death is part and parcel of what it means to live as a human.

Dignitas has been thrust into our consciousness by it's promotion of choice with respect to the concept of "death with dignity". This has been cemented by legislation in parts of Northern Europe and Archbishop Desmond Tutu has announced his full alignment.

However, in many other parts of our contemporary world- Yemen, South Sudan, on the Mediterranean Sea, Syria, France and Black Lives (also) Matter- death did come brutally and unannounced.

The Yoruba sages tell us enigmatically, "Women in charge of birth; men in charge of death".

But hope we are told springs eternal!

"Hope springs eternal in the human breast;
Man never is, but always to be blessed:
The soul, uneasy and confined from home,
Rests and expatiates in a life to come."

(Alexander Pope, An Essay on Man Epistle I, 1733.)

If you are a strict secularist then hope will probably have a more limited meaning; it possibly will not include a "feeling of trust" that has faith as it's anchor.

So it is that faith, hope and charity led today to the 2nd Annual All Souls' Day Service hosted by the Lashibi Funeral Home at its premises in Accra.

The funeral home continues to offer unparalleled undertaker services and it remains the premier funeral home in Ghana. In addition to the modern crematorium, there is a verdant cemetery - a walled veritable Elysian field replete with blooming flowers and manicured walkways.

Choral Music was once again the prime focus of this ecumenical commemorative event. It was held within the soaring minimalist architecture of the appropriately named All Souls' Chapel which is conveniently located on the lush grounds of the funeral home.

Gloria in Excelsis Deo, indeed- as said the sign high above the nave of the chapel.

Did anyone say "song ministrations"? Well, fine.

But let me assure you that there were no clap offerings.

Nor were there groveling introductions or acknowledgments of the usual hopelessly tired and uninspiring suspects with their grandiose titles which they almost always honor in the breach. Albeit with misplaced pleasure to themselves and to the awful detriment of their countrymen and nation.

And there was no dancing whatsoever!

In attendance was the 30 strong Harmonius Chorale (mixing US and British usages can be cool) under the direction of James V. Armaah. At the pipe organ was Robert Avafia, the resident organist of the funeral home.

The program was produced by the Guildhall alumnus, Mrs. Joy Arkutu.

The choir performed the pieces with vigorous attention to detail and without any major slips of intonation. On the whole they blended beautifully.

When two soloists were featured, both had outstanding clean tones.

Each piece performed was sung with the purity and sincerity we have come to expect from one of Ghana's most treasured and respected vocal ensembles.

By the time the choir sang Crossing The Bar (the stirring words written by Alfred Tennyson and sang to a tune by Joseph Barnby) they were in full stride and clearly having fun.

Their rendition of Mozart's 12th Mass- Kyire, sprinkled stardust on the emotions bidding us to raise our thoughts to where all goodness emanates.

Quite a number of the congregation were no longer dry eyed.

Kwame Appiah was at the pipe organ for this piece and both his and the choir's modulation and overall technical competence bordered on the superlative.

May all the faithful departed rest in peace assured that we shall always remember them with great affection.


N.B. ANDREWS
Blebo We-Sakumo
Nov 2 2016.

 

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 Review, Nov 04, Ghanadot - November began yesterday with All Saints' Day; today is All Souls' Day.

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