As I’ve been on tour with The Lost Book of the Grail I’ve been showing a collage-like image of a lot of the different books, magazines, places, and even furniture that inspired details in the book. One item in that collage is a CD of John Rutter’s Requiem. I almost always get a question about this—why is Rutter a part of my book?
Because the book is set in an English cathedral, and the main character, Arthur Prescott attends many of the services and has a special fondness for listening to the choir, music was always destined to be a part of the novel. But I didn’t want to just have Arthur go to Evensong and listen to the choir; I wanted to mention the specific music he hears. My thought was not only to establish his personal taste, but also to give obsessive readers another layer to unpack. If you seek out the music I mention in the text you may find yourself saying, “Ah, I see why he chose to mention that piece here.”
The case of Rutter’s Requiem is a special one. I’ve sung the piece several times, most memorably at Carnegie Hall in New York just a couple of months after 9/11. I have felt tears in my eyes as I listened to my wife sing the soprano solo on the “Pie Jesu.” So it’s a piece which holds special meaning for me.
In The Lost Book of the Grail there is a funeral, and I could think of no better setting for the requiem mass than John Rutter’s. Though it was written more as a concert piece, I looked carefully at both the service and the movements of the Rutter Requiem to determine how one might use all of them in the context of an Anglican funeral. In the end, the “Pie Jesu” became the anthem, and during that anthem, which I describe in some detail, Arthur comes to a revelation. I think it’s the sort of music that can lead us to revelations. So, when you’ve finished the book, have a listen.