Service of All the Dead: Music, Art and Literary References.


I would like to start this post as I did the previous one and thank you all for the delightful comments here and on the relevant Facebook pages and via email. It is all very inspiring.

I am also delighted at the fact that I have now surpassed the 300 followers mark. So, a big thank you to those 302 (as of 6th October 2016) who have taken the time to follow my little blog. I am so very grateful.

I know the paragraphs below have been written in the previous posts but I think it is worth repeating and of course one cannot be sure that people will read the posts in chronological order.

Once I have finished with each series I will post a downloadable excel sheet for each category; music, art and literary references. This would allow everyone who downloads said excel sheets to print them off for personal use. Hopefully, having these print outs next to you while you watch the episode will be of help in identifying your favourite pieces of music from all three series. In the same vein the downloadable excel sheets will I hope help in your enjoyment and appreciation of the art and literary references used in all three series.

Of course I am not infallible (I know I was shocked to realise that trait in myselfūüėČ ) so if you should spot an error or omission then please let me know and I will update my post with the new information.

The time of the pieces of music et cetera are based on the British DVD versions of the shows. However, the times shown should not be to dissimilar from other countries versions or should be easy to pinpoint what I am referring  to and when.

Service of All the Dead. (Series 1, Episode 3)

(Chronologically this is episode 3)

(The times are set as hh/mm/ss, i.e. hours, minutes and seconds).


The acronym BWM that is shown at the end of all Johann Sebastian Bach compositions relates to the Bach-Werke-Verzeichnis (Bach Works Catalogue). It’s the numbering system identifying compositions by Johann Sebastian Bach.


The first piece of music is played over the opening credits and the first scenes in the church. The piece is ‘Prelude and Fugue in A Minor, BMV 543‘ by the German Johann Sebastian Bach, (1685-1750). Bach is one of my favourites composers.



Next up we have Morse leaving a shop having bought a new cassette which he proceeds to play while on his way to the scene of the first murder. The piece is by the German composer Carl Maria von Weber (1786-1826) and is titled ‘Overture Euryanthe: Allegro marcato, con molto fuoco’.

I’m afraid there is no Youtube video of the Weber piece and the two that I found were unavailable in my country.



We are back in the church were we find the following piece of music being played and being accompanied by a choir. It is a beautiful piece by the Austrian composer¬†Anton Bruckner (1824-1896) ‘Locus iste‘.

Thanks to one of my regular readers A.B. ( a big thank you as always A.B.) it has been pointed out I missed piece of music titled¬†“Missa Brevis – Agnus Dei” at 00h24m20s by¬†Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (1525-1594).¬†Missa brevis is Latin for “short Mass”.



Next up we have another Bach piece being played in the church by Paul Morris. The music is called Toccata, Adagio and Fugue in C, BMV 564.



Back in Morse’s house we find Morse lying on the settee thinking about Ruth Rawlinson. On his record player he is playing ‘Acte IV: Sola, Perduta abbandonata‘ from the Puccini opera ‘Manon Lescaut’. Puccini’s full name is Giacomo Antonio Domenico Michele Secondo Maria Puccini.¬†Born: 1858 in Italy and died 1924.



The first piece of art we encounter is at 00h08m21s when Morse has just left examining the body of the first victim.


I have no idea regarding the artist but the subject matter is obviously Saint Sebastian an¬†early Christian saint and martyr.¬†¬†More often than not he is depicted in art and literature tied to a post or tree and shot with arrows. In more recent times¬†the Saint Sebastian is thought of as a “homosexual icon”. Many art critics have agreed that the homosexual subtext is perceptible in paintings since the Renaissance. This image could have been included to have the viewer that the episode had homosexual undertones in particular regarding the vicar Lionel Pawlin.


At 00h40m46s we find Morse on the telephone in his house hallway. Above him is a painting which for the moment I cannot identify. Modigliani was the obvious choice but it isn’t that. The problem is that I also cannot get a good look at it. I did quickly scan all the other episodes for a better look at the painting but to no avail.


I will keep working on trying to identify the painting as I would love to identify all the artwork in Morse’s house.


Next up is not a painting but an allusion to the wonderful paintings of Sir John Everett Millais. The scene I am referring to is where we see Brenda Josephs lying dead in a punt, (01h05m18s)


The scene I believe is in reference to Millais sublime painting ‘Ophelia‘.


The way in which Ophelia is posed in the picture, her open arms and upward gaze, is said to symbolise the traditional portrayal of saints or martyrs. Brenda is also posed in a similar way and this would correspond with the theme and content of the episode.


The next scene is when Morse is talking to the Church Warden at 01h10m55s.


Unfortunately this another one in which I cannot identify the painting. I am not a fan of art iconography so that doesn’t help. The subject is of course the Madonna and Child. I am keeping a folder of all the paintings I can’t identify in the hope I will eventually stumble upon an identification.


Literary References

The title of the episode, ‘Service of all the Dead’ probably alludes to a poem by D.H. Lawrence with the same title and in another Lawrence poem, ‘All Souls’ the first line contains the words, ‘service of all the dead’.

Service of all the Dead

Between the avenues of cypresses,
All in their scarlet cloaks, and surplices
Of linen, go the chaunting choristers,
The priests in gold and black, the villagers.

And all along the path to the cemetery
The round, dark heads of men crowd silently
And black-scarved faces of women-folk, wistfully
Watch at the banner of death, and the mystery.

And at the foot of a grave a father stands
With sunken head, and forgotten, folded hands;
And at the foot of a grave a soman kneels
With pale shut face, and neither hears not feels

The coming of the chaunting choristers
Between the avenues of cypresses,
The silence of the many villagers,
The candle-flames beside the surplices.

All Souls

They are chanting now the service of All the Dead
And the village folk outside in the burying ground
Listen – except those who strive with their dead,
Reaching out in anguish, yet unable quite to touch them:
Those villagers isolated at the grave
Where the candles burn in the daylight, and the painted wreaths
Are propped on end, there, where the mystery starts.

The naked candles burn on every grave.
On your grave, in England, the weeds grow.

But I am your naked candle burning,
And that is not your grave, in England,
The world is your grave.
And my naked body standing on your grave
Upright towards heaven is burning off to you
Its flame of life, now and always, till the end.

It is my offering to you; every day is All Souls’ Day.

I forget you, have forgotten you.
I am busy only at my burning,
I am busy only at my life.
But my feet are on your grave, planted.
And when I lift my face, it is a flame that goes up
To the other world, where you are now.
But I am not concerned with you.
I have forgotten you.

I am a naked candle burning on your grave.



Morse and Lewis are standing in the churchyard discussing what they witnessed while watching the church service. Lewis talks about putting the wine into a cup. Morse corrects him by telling him the ‘cup’ is called a chalice. Morse then says, “Poisoned chalice, indeed“.

The phrase ‘poisoned chalice‘ was first mentioned in Shakespeare‘s ‘Macbeth‘. It is from act one, scene seven;

“To plague th’ inventor: this even-handed justice
Commends the ingredients of our poisoned chalice
To our own lips.”



Lewis and Morse are discussing where the tramp Swanpole is while Morse flicks through a copy of Samuel Beckett‘s play ‘Waiting for Godot‘.


Waiting for Godot‘ involves two characters, Vladimir and Estragon, (both tramps) waiting endlessly for the arrival of someone named Godot who actually never turns up.



Next up is the scene where Morse and Lewis are searching through the diary of Harry Josephs, (01h09m30s). During there conversation¬†is the reference to ‚Äėthe curious incident of the dog in the night‚Äô. This is from the Arthur Conan Doyle Sherlock Holmes story, ‘The Adventure of Silver Blaze‘. Morse and the custody sergeant who is helping, almost quote verbatim the scene from the Holmes story;

Gregory (Scotland Yard detective): “Is there any other point to which you would wish to draw my attention?”
Holmes: “To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.”
Gregory: “The dog did nothing in the night-time.”
Holmes: “That was the curious incident.”

So that ends this post. I’m sorry I couldn’t identify more the art works but I will continue to try and identify them. I hope you enjoyed it and I hope it helps to enjoy the episode more than it already does.

Author: Chris Sullivan

After having looked after my mum for some 11 years she is now unfortunately in a nursing home. I'm afraid her dementia worsened as did her physical capabilities. So, for the first time in 21 years I find myself no longer caring for anyone. Apart from my mum I was also a single parent to two children and also looked after my dad who had Alzheimers, (he died in 2005). So, I have decided to return to University to try and get another degree this time in English Literature. (My other degree I got some 30 years ago is one in Ecological Science). After a year at college I have passed all grades and now will start Edinburgh University in September 2019. A busy time ahead made even busier by my writing a book on the TV series, Lewis.

7 thoughts

  1. Hello, Chris.

    1. The “Agnus Dei” at 24:20 is from Palestrina’s_Missa Brevis_.

    2. I think that there’s a literary allusion in the title of the episode and, of course, the novel it’s based on: D.H. Lawrence’s poem “Service of all the Dead”.


  2. What exactly is “art iconography?” The first line of the Lawrence poem reminds me of Van Morrison’s “Cypress Avenue.” You may listen to it here, if you aren’t familiar with it. And of course he also did a song “All Saints’ Day.” Connections, connections. Am I imagining it, or did Lewis say something funny with regard to Godot? Anyhow, this was a great post. So interesting.

    1. Iconography in art is where the images within the painting are studied in relation to their identification and interpretation. You may be right concerning Lewis and Godot but I can’t remember what and when. Of course Lewis in this episode mispronounces Godot. He doesn’t realise the ‘t’ is silent.

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