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The four movements of the work are linked through the use of two contrasting ideas announced at the outset of the first movement: a sombre motif associated with death (Requiem aeternam dona eis Domine) and a luminous one associated with salvation (et lux perptua luceat eis).
The famous plainchant melody of the Dies irae, is utilized as a cantus firmus in the complex and dramatic evocation of the Day of Judgement that constitutes the second movement. It is followed by the Domine Jesu, an anxious prayer for salvation, in which the motifs of light and darkness are juxtaposed.
The work ends with the Lux Aeterna, in which the luminous harmonies float around an unchanging falsetto note, symbolizing the eternal light of salvation.
-H. Hofmeyr

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