Da Pacem, Domine: A Soundtrack for Boston

Staring at the coverage of the tragic events at the Boston Marathon over the past few hours, I have found myself groping for a prayer. The normally reliable Anglican Collects seem to rush too quickly to closure, the Psalms of Lament are not quite fitting, I am impoverished of the Catholic and Orthodox liturgies, and the prayers of my own heart are too jumbled right at the moment. My search finally turned up “Da Pacem, Domine,” a first-millenium Gregorian Chant that cries out for peace in turbulent times.

Da pacem, Domine, in diebus nostris
Quia non est alius
Qui pugnet pro nobis
Nisi tu Deus noster.

Give peace, O Lord, in our time
Because there is no one else
Who will fight for us
If not You, our God.

The original melody looks something like this:



Estonian composer Arvo Part (who I’d never heard of before today, but who Wikipedia says writes in a “holy minimalist” style, which is my new favourtie term), wrote a contemporary setting for “Da Pacem, Domine,” and the electro-acoustic string collective ACO Underground (whom I also had never heard of until my prayer-search today) recently performed it live in Sydney and were gracious enough to share the music on YouTube. With CNN on mute, but the amateur footage of the explosions flickering from my television, I listened to Da Pacem Domine and found my prayer. So I thought I’d share it here, in case you are looking for a prayer, too.

Let’s pray it not only for Boston, but for all those places in the world where explosions and shrapnel and chaos are part of the weather.  Da pacem, Domine, in diebus nostris.  Only you, o God, can give us peace.


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