Step into the light — the eternal light of Metallica. After all, “Lux Æterna” is Latin for “eternal light.” And on Monday (Nov. 28), Metallica released their “Lux Æterna,” the first single from the legendary heavy metal band’s newly announced album, the forthcoming 72 Seasons.
But is everlasting light what the new Metallica tune is about? Read the song lyrics here.
The term “Lux Æterna,” while used for several pieces of art over the years, originated as a section of a liturgical chant in the Catholic requiem mass to honor the dead. Subsequently, several artists have re-imagined the antiphon used in communion. It inspired the “Lux Æterna” employed as the theme of the 2000 film Requiem for a Dream, not to mention the choral “Lux Æterna” heard in 1968’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. And there have been several more similar examples.
Are Metallica taking their creative cues from Catholic communion now? Perhaps it’s more likely they’re interested in the part about honoring the dead. The influential metal group have experienced their fair share of death over the years — including this year’s death of Megaforce Records founder Jon “Jonny Z” Zazula, who first signed the band in the ’80s.
That artistic inspiration would line up with other composers who’ve written pieces titled “Lux Æterna” that were dedicated to a deceased loved one. For instance, a “Lux Æterna” from the ’90s written by onetime Los Angeles Master Chorale director Morten Lauridsen was inspired by his mother’s death.
“Lauridsen composed the requiem ‘Lux Aeterna’ in 1997, the year his mother died,” a blog post from the San Francisco Choral Society explains. “The consolation for grief offered by [the piece] is often compared to that of Faure’s ‘Requiem’ and Brahms’ ‘Ein Deutsches Requiem,’ both works inspired by the deaths of the composers’ mothers.”
Here are the English-translated lyrics of the “Lux Æterna” religious chant:
May light eternal shine upon them, O Lord,
with Thy Saints for evermore:
for Thou art gracious.
Eternal rest give to them, O Lord,
and let perpetual light shine upon them:
With Thy Saints for evermore,
for Thou art gracious.
“Lux Æterna” has also been utilized in other areas of entertainment, including as the title of a 2019 French film by experimental director Gaspar Noe.
Watch Metallica’s “Lux Æterna” music video below.