I was listening to this wonderful music and suddenly found my eyes wet. Don’t you think that human history is very fascinating? Yes, human history is filled with treachery and corruption. But it is also filled with greatness and heroism.
When a father who had been betrayed by his son could still say, upon hearing of his son’s death, ‘Would God that I had died instead of you, my son!’, does your heart not swell with pride, pride to be a part of this noble race called Men?
The beautifully sad song was composed by Eric Whitacre, a well-known choral composer. If you are interested about the story of the father and the son, read below. Or you can read the original, of course.
There was once a great king who ruled a fair land. He was victorious in battle, fair in appearance, in speech and in heart. The king, as was the custom of the land at that time, had several wives who bore him many sons. One of the king’s sons, the third to be born, was said to be the most handsome man in the kingdom. He was well-liked by the people, for he often listened to their troubles and complaints. Whenever anyone bowed down before him, as was the honour due to the king’s sons, the prince would take his hands, made him to raise and kiss him.
When he felt that he had won the hearts of the people, the prince rebelled against his father and declared himself king. Many supported him and he gathered a strong army around him. In an act of insolence, he openly slept with the king’s concubines. The king was forced to flee the capital with few men who were still faithful to him.
But the young prince forgot whom he pitted himself against. The king was a champion in battle, a master of arms and strategy. It was said that in his youth he could subdue a wild lion with his bare hands, and age had diminished neither his strength nor his cunning. And he was their rightful king, anointed by the prophet of God. So it came about that the prince’s army was defeated by the king’s smaller troops.
The king had a great love for his son. He commanded his troops to defeat the rebelling army, but his son was not to be harmed. “Be gentle with the young man,” he said to his commander. Yet come to harm the king’s son did. In his flight after his army was routed, he was caught by his head in the bough of a tree. His handsome head, his fair hair, tangled in a tree. The king’s commander found him hanging there. Perhaps out of his love for his king or for some other reasons, he went against his command and raised his spear. Deadly strikes he dealt the prince, and thus died the king’s son.
The king had a great love for his son. When he heard that his son was slain, he wept. Greatly he lamented his son, the son who deposed him. These were the words he spoke concerning his dead son:
“O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom!
Would God that I had died for you, O Absalom, my son, my son!”
But not even a proper mourning the king was granted. The lives of many of his faithful men had been lost in the battle against the rebelling prince. If the people were to see him lamenting, would they not think that the king priced his men’s lives cheaply? So the king arose and marched back to the city, while lamenting silently in his heart.