Until recently, the word rapture resided in a camel-back trunk in the dusty recesses of my psyche. Notwithstanding Paul’s reference to it in his letter to the Thessalonians 4:16-17, its significance became garbled in tent revivals and flooded by emotionalism and end-time scenarios of death and destruction. Lost was authentic conversion of heart, in my perception, central to Christine teaching.

Christopher RouseNew York2007

However, a chance discovery of Rapture (2000), by the neo-romantic composer, Christopher Rouse corrected my bias of this word. This eleven-minute piece sketches the dimensions of rapture, opening with gentle sounds of muted French horns and percussion. A new world is about to emerge with the solo clarinet evoking a sense of longing in the listener. Strings open this realm further to warbling sounds, clear-running streams. A pair of horns dance around each other and create simple harmonies. Wonder mounts. The listener, now become a participant, yearns for more.

More instruments, including flutes and oboes, serve as variegated pigments to fill out this realm, hospitable to all who seek entrance. None are excluded.

As the piece develops, images as if caught in a whirlwind, expand in further dimensions and tone until the climax: seized in the arms of Love, in my experience.

Rouse never intended Rapture to be viewed as sacred music, but I differ. For eleven minutes I shimmered with LOVE—certainly an antidote to the dark specter of death that awaits us.