The Requiem Series – The Last Word

The Requiem Series


This 8-part series explores the contours of grief and Christian hope, and highlights the biblical passages interpreted by Johannes Brahms in his classic chorale work, A German Requiem. For a deeper dive into both the Bible and the music, see Carol Bechtel’s curriculum, Sowing Tears, Reaping Joy: The Bible and Brahms’ Requiem (Kerygma 1996; Sowing Tears, Reaping Joy ).


Study #8

The Last Word

Read: Revelation 14:13

Blessed are the dead who from now on die in the Lord.

This meditation is the last of several reflections on the biblical texts that Johannes Brahms interpretted in his Requiem. More than any other movement, this one—Movement Seven—captures the essence of the Scripture passage on which it is based.

The last word in Brahms’ Requiem is: blessed. Like a benediction, it quiets us, falling lightly on our fragile hearts, bathing them in God’s grace and peace. But remember that “blessed” was also the first word of the Requiem. We began with “Blessed are those who mourn.” Now we have come full circle with “Blessed are the dead.”

Both beatitudes would be hard to believe if it were not for the beatitude that is at the very heart of the piece: “Happy [or blessed] are those who live in your house, ever singing your praise.” This beatitude helps us to shift our focus from the grave to God and the believer’s ultimate destination.

In your journey toward that heavenly destination, may you be blessed with the assurance that whether you live or die, you are the Lord’s. May you rest in the knowledge that God walks beside you on your journey. And though you sow tears, may you reap joy.

Prayer: Bless us, dear Lord, and keep us and all those we love close to your heart.

Listening option: Brahms’ Requiem, Movement 7.