Requiem aeternam

Here are two people walking across a bridge through the rubble of Nagasaki. Smoke hangs in the air and fire is everywhere. A bent tree leans over the scene.

Photo by Yosuke Yamahata (Nagasaki, August 10th, 1945)

This is a recording of Oppenheimer (1997), by the British composer Jocelyn Pook. The voice that you hear at the beginning is Robert Oppenheimer, in an interview many years after the war, talking about his thoughts at the Trinity test of the atomic bomb, on July 16th, 1945.

In the interview, Oppenheimer said:

We knew the world would not be the same. A few people laughed, a few people cried, most people were silent. I remembered the line from the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad-Gita. Vishnu is trying to persuade the Prince that he should do his duty and to impress him takes on his multi-armed form and says, ‘Now, I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.’ I suppose we all thought that one way or another.

The Hebrew prayer repeated throughout the song is Adon hakol mehayyeh kol neshamah (Lord of all, reviveth our souls), sampled from a UNESCO recording of the devotional songs of the Yemenite Jews.

The Latin chant is from the liturgy of the Roman Catholic Requiem mass.

Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine
Et lux perpetua luceat eis.

Grant them eternal rest, Lord
And let everlasting line shine upon them.

Kyrie eleison.
Christe eleison.
Kyrie eleison.

Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.

Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine
Et lux perpetua luceat eis.

Grant them eternal rest, Lord
And let everlasting line shine upon them.

Te decet hymnus
Deus, in Sion,
et tibi reddetur
votum in Jerusalem.

You are worthy of praise,
O God, in Zion,
and to you are made
vows in Jerusalem.

Exaudi orationem meam;
ad te omnis caro veniet.

Hear my prayer.
To you all flesh shall come.

Kyrie eleison.
Christe eleison.
Kyrie eleison.

Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.

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