The word "awesome" is spoken often enough, but we've largely forgotten what it means. No wonder, given that we have mostly either stopped fearing our gods or simply buried them, ironised our heroes and villains into identikit celebrities, and converted our mountains into playgrounds for the wealthy.
Londoners are lucky, though, because every few years the City of London festival kicks off with a performance of the Grande Messe des Morts in St Paul's. If your sense of awe lacks an existential dimension, Berlioz's great Requiem will restore it. Being enveloped by the omnidirectional swell of sound at the onset of the Tuba Mirum, or dangled on the yo-yo of hope and despair that the Lacrimosa spins with such masterful theatricality, are not experiences one forgets.
One of the wonders of hearing this piece in this space, is how the quieter sections emerge with the greatest impact. While the tumults of the four brass bands of the apocalypse are still raging, the subdued desperation of the sopranos' cry of "salva me" just manages to escape, its quiet insistence intensified precisely because it reverberates in our minds rather than in the further reaches of Wren's great dome.
It's the same with the supplications of the tenor soloist – here, the excellent Barry Banks – that ripple over the massed ranks of the choir and orchestra with fragile grandeur.
The sense of occasion was deepened by the sight of Colin Davis's increasingly frail figure, patiently stirring the acoustic consomme with a faultless sense of proper pacing. The London Symphony Orchestra played with the kind of brilliant concentration only loyalty and love can command, and the 150-strong choir, drawn from the London Symphony Chorus and the London Philharmonic Choir, sang with controlled power and beauty. Whomever you chose to thank and praise for it, this was an awesome night.
• Available on iPlayer until 3 July.
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