Agnus Dei


Agnus Dei is the Christian prayer for peace, and is often a high point of music composed for the mass; it has however seldom been the basis of literary or visual improvisation. My very contemporary, technologically-oriented version is based on the tragico-ridiculous story of a washing machine caught in a terrible flood. When the water rose to a certain level, the washing machine launched into a spin cycle, in a valiant effort to wash away the sins of the world. A woman’s voice recites the story. In the background, we hear a basso profundo singing simply, “Agnus Dei.” His voice shades into a rumble that might be a building falling, might be a bomber plane, and might be a washing machine. While the soundtrack tells of a disaster caused by water, the monitor shows first fire, then abstract images composed of the blues of the burka, the fire department, and the sky over New York on 11 September.

Agnus Dei expresses horror, repentence, grief and the heartfelt desire for peace.