Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Handel: O thou that tellest good tidings to Zion (Messiah HWV 56)

Isaiah 40:9. "O thou that tellest good tidings to Zion, get thee up
into the high mountain; O thou that tellest good tidings to Jerusalem,
lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, and be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God!"

Isaiah 60:1. "Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee."

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Advent Sequence: Salus Aeterna

Salus Aeterna is an 11th-Century sequence hymn for Advent, found in the Sarum Gradual.  The video below comes from St. Michael and All Angels Anglican Church in Winnipeg; there is nothing more on the YouTube page than that, but this duo sings the entire sequence, in English.

Here's the score from Hymn Melodies for the Whole Year, from the Sarum Service Books:

Here are the words in Latin from Prosper Gueringer's The Liturgical Year: Advent, and in English from Hymn Melodies:

Salus aeterna, indeficiens mundi vita.
Lux sempiterna, et redemptio vera nostra.
Condolens humana perire saecla per tentantis numina.
Non linquens excelsa, adisti ima propria dementia.
Mox tua spontanea gratia assumens humana,
Quae fuerant perdita omnia, salvasti terrea.
Ferens mundo gaudia.
Tu animas et corpora nostra, Christe, expia,
Ut possideas lucida nosmet liabitacula.
Adventu primo justifica.
In secundo nosque libera;
Ut cum facta luce magna, judicabis omnia,
Compti stola incorrupta, nosmet tua subsequamur mox vestigia quocumque visa. Amen,

Saviour eternal, health and life of the world unfailing,
light everlasting, and in verity our redeemer.
Grieving that the ages of men
must perish through the tempter’s subtlety,
still in heaven abiding,
thou camest earthward of thine own great clemency.
Then freely and graciously deigning to assume humanity,
to lost ones and perishing gavest thou thy free
deliverance, filling all the world with joy.
O Christ, our souls and bodies cleanse
by thy perfect sacrifice, that we as temples
pure and bright fit for thine abode may be.
By thy former advent justify,
by thy second grant us liberty,
that when in the might of glory thou descendest,
judge of all,
we in raiment undefiled bright may shine,
thy footsteps blest,
where’er they lead us.

And here is Gabriel Jackson's (b. 1962) gorgeous polyphonic 20th Century setting, masterfully sung (in Latin) by the BYU Singers:

At one time there was a video on YouTube of a Benjamin Britten composition based on the Gregorian melody, too. It's straightforwardly the Gregorian tune until about 2:04 on the video, at which point a baritone solo begins - and then abruptly ends! The piece uses about half the original Gregorian tune , and was - perhaps?- written as a processional; I had found nothing about it at the time this post was originally written - but see more in the comments below.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Handel - Mesías - REJOICE GREATLY - Subtitulado en español

An absolutely splendid rendition from Sylvia McNair! The best I've heard yet. At first, I didn't like the regular tempo, but her voice is so incredibly lovely that I've been won over entirely.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Advent 1: Dominus Dabit ("The Lord will bestow")

The Communion song for today is Dominus Dabit; chant mp3 here, from Jogueschant. The text is from Psalm 85:12; here's the score:

Lovely! In English, it's:
The Lord will bestow his loving-kindness, and our land will yield its fruit.

Here's the Schola Gregoriana Mediolanensis singing this, plus a bit more:

Today's is my favorite collect of the year:
Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

From Commentary on the American Prayer Book, by Marion Hatchett:
This collect was composed for the 1549 Prayer Book. The Sarum missal provided a "stir up" collect similar to that for the third Sunday of Advent.

The collect is based on verse 12 of the Epistle (Rom. 13:8-14) presently retained in the eucharistic lectionary for Year A. This expands the old Sarum Epistle (Rom. 13:11-14). The conclusion relates closely to a postcommunion prayer in the Gelasian sacramentary (no. 1145) which was included in the Gregorian under "Other Prayers for Advent" (no. 813): "that they who rejoice at the advent of your only-begotten according to the flesh, may at the second advent, when he shall come in his majesty, receive the reward of eternal life."

The striking antitheses are remarkable: cast away darkness, put on light; mortal life, life immortal; great humility, glorious majesty. The word "now" is crucial: remembering the first advent and looking toward the second, we are now, in this time, to cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. From 1662 until the current revision this collect was to be repeated daily throughout the Advent season, a custom analogous to the use of memorials after the collect of the day in late medieval missals.

One of my favorite composers, James MacMillan, has also, it seems, written a setting of Dominus Dabit:

That's really splendid, isn't it? Here's what it says at the YouTube page about this very fine group of singers:
Hauntingly beautiful motet from James MacMillan's "Strathclyde Motets" series. Performed in the Église de Saint Merry, Paris 4e on 7th July 2010, by the Maîtrise de l'Académie Vocale de Paris directed by Iain Simcock. Singers aged 13-18.

Morgane Collomb - Soprano
Laura Jarrell - Soprano
Rebecca Winckworth - Soprano
Brian Cummings - Counter-tenor
Pierre Verneyre - Alto
Elie Enthoven - Ténor
Ivar Hervieu - Ténor
Alexandre Ducène - Baryton
Théo Bouvier - Baryton
Marco Godawatta - Baryton
Julien Godawatta - Basse
Lucas Golse - Basse
Merwan Touati - Basse

Here are all the chants for the day, from ChristusRex.org:
Hebdomada Prima Adventus
Introitus: Ps. 24, 1-4 Ad te levavi (3m29.7s - 3275 kb) score
Graduale: Ps. 24, 3. V. 4 Universi, qui te exspectant (2m00.6s - 1887 kb) score
Alleluia: Ps. 84, 8 Ostende nobis (2m41.5s - 2525 kb) score
Offertorium: Ps. 24, 1-3 Ad te, Domine, levavi (1m41.0s - 1579 kb) score
Communio: Ps. 84, 13 Dominus dabit benignitatem (51.2s - 801 kb) score

And these are posts on Chantblog for the Advent 1 propers:

If you're interested in the Introits for every Sunday in Advent, see them here:

Here's an interesting St. John the Baptist that I've never seen before; it's by Jacopo del Sellaio, painted in around 1485.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Advent Prose

"The Advent Prose" is the English name for the Rorate Coeli ("Drop down, ye heavens"), a plainsong-ish hymn with texts taken from Isaiah and sung in the season of Advent.

Drop down, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour forth righteousness: let the earth be fruitful, and bring forth a Saviour.

Be not very angry, O Lord, neither remember our iniquity for ever:
thy holy cities are a wilderness, Jerusalem a desolation:
our holy and our beautiful house, where our fathers praised thee.

Drop down, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour forth righteousness: let the earth be fruitful, and bring forth a Saviour.

We have sinned, and are as an unclean thing,
and we all do fade as a leaf:
our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away;
thou hast hid thy face from us:
and hast consumed us, because of our iniquities.

Drop down, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour forth righteousness: let the earth be fruitful, and bring forth a Saviour.

Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen;
that ye may know me and believe me:
I, even I, am the Lord, and beside me there is no Saviour:
and there is none that can deliver out of my hand.

Drop down, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour forth righteousness: let the earth be fruitful, and bring forth a Saviour.

Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, my salvation shall not tarry:
I have blotted out as a thick cloud thy transgressions:
fear not for I will save thee:
for I am the Lord thy god, the holy one of Israel, thy Redeemer.

From this page:
The Advent Prose is a series of texts adapted from the book of the prophet Isaiah, and said, or more usually sung, in churches during the season of Advent. In its Latin form, it is attributed to Aurelius Clemens Prudentius, who lived in the fourth century. The English translation is traditional. It is most common in high church Anglican or Roman Catholic churches, but no doubt known elsewhere as well. There are several ways of singing it, but a common one is for the Rorate section, shown here with emphasis to be sung as a chorus, and for the choir to take the verses, with the chorus alternating. Although the English text says 'Drop down, ye heavens...', the Latin verb rorare actually means 'to make or deposit dewdrops', a fact which evaded me when I first came to the piece. Similarly, justum in the second line means 'the just man', rather than 'righteousness'.

Here's a version in Latin:

Here's the Latin text:
Roráte caéli désuper,
et núbes plúant jústum.

Ne irascáris Dómine,
ne ultra memíneris iniquitátis:
ecce cívitas Sáncti fácta est desérta:
Síon desérta fácta est:
Jerúsalem desoláta est:
dómus sanctificatiónis túæ et glóriæ túæ,
ubi laudavérunt te pátres nóstri.

Peccávimus, et fácti súmus tamquam immúndus nos,
et cecídimus quasi fólium univérsi:
et iniquitátes nóstræ quasi véntus abstulérunt nos:
abscondísti faciem túam a nóbis,
et allisísti nos in mánu iniquitátis nóstræ.

Víde Dómine afflictiónem pópuli túi,
et mítte quem missúrus es:
emítte Agnum dominatórem térræ,
de Pétra desérti ad móntem fíliæ Síon:
ut áuferat ípse júgum captivitátis nóstræ.

Consolámini, consolámini, pópule méus:
cito véniet sálus túa:
quare mæróre consúmeris,
quia innovávit te dólor?
Salvábo te, nóli timére,
égo enim sum Dóminus Déus túus,
Sánctus Israël, Redémptor túus.

And here's the chant score with Latin words, from the Liber Usualis:

More from New Advent:
(Vulgate, text), the opening words of Isaiah 45:8. The text is used frequently both at Mass and in the Divine Office during Advent, as it gives exquisite poetical expression to the longings of Patriarchs and Prophets, and symbolically of the Church, for the coming of the Messias. Throughout Advent it occurs daily as the versicle and response at Vespers. For this purpose the verse is divided into the versicle, "Rorate coeli desuper et nubes pluant justum" (Drop down dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the just), and the response: "Aperiatur terra et germinet salvatorem" (Let the earth be opened and send forth a Saviour"). The text is also used: (a) as the Introit for the Fourth Sunday in Advent, for Wednesday in Ember Week, for the feast of the Expectation of the Blessed Virgin, and for votive Masses of the Blessed Virgin during Advent; (b) as a versicle in the first responsory of Tuesday in the first week of Advent; (c) as the first antiphon at Lauds for the Tuesday preceding Christmas and the second antiphon at Matins of the Expectation of the Blessed Virgin; (d) in the second responsory for Friday of the third week of Advent and in the fifth responsory in Matins of the Expectation of the Blessed Virgin. In the "Book of Hymns" (Edinburgh, 1910), p. 4, W. Rooke-Ley translates the text in connection with the O Antiphons:

Mystic dew from heaven
Unto earth is given:
Break, O earth, a Saviour yield —
Fairest flower of the field".

The exquisite Introit plain-song may be found in in the various editions of the Vatican Graduale and the Solesmes "Liber Usualis", 1908, p. 125. Under the heading, "Prayer of the Churches of France during Advent", Dom Guéranger (Liturgical Year, Advent tr., Dublin, 1870, pp. 155-6) gives it as an antiphon to each of a series of prayers ("Ne irascaris", "Peccavimus", "Vide Domine", "Consolamini") expressive of penitence, expectation, comfort, and furnishes the Latin text and an English rendering of the Prayer. The Latin text and a different English rendering are also given in the Baltimore "Manual of Prayers" (pp. 603-4). A plain-song setting of the "Prayer", or series of prayers, is given in the Solesmes "Manual of Gregorian Chant" (Rome-Tournai, 1903, 313-5) in plain-song notation, and in a slightly simpler form in modern notation in the "Roman Hymnal" (New York, 1884, pp. 140-3), as also in "Les principaux chants liturgiques" (Paris, 1875, pp. 111-2) and 'IRecueil d'anciens et de nouveaux cantiques notés" (Paris, 1886, pp. 218-9).

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Advent 1 at St. Thomas

It's "An Advent Procession with Holy Communion," and here's what they will be doing for that:
Celebrant: Fr Mead
Preacher: Fr Mead
Deacon: Fr Austin
Subdeacon: Fr Spurlock
Sung by: The Saint Thomas Choir of Men and Boys

Prelude: Four Advent Chorale Preludes from the Orgelbüchlein, Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
Nun komm' der Heiden Heiland, BWV 599
Gott, durch deine Güte, BWV 600
Herr Christ, der einge Gottes-Sohn, BWV 601
Lob sei dem allmächtigen Gott, BWV 602
Prelude 2: Fantasy on Veni Emmanuel, Kenneth Leighton (1929-1988)

Service: Mass for Five Voices, William Byrd (c. 1540-1623)
Works of: Palestrina, Philip Moore, Guerrero, Wood, Gabriel Jackson and Gibbons

Voluntary: Allegro Risoluto, from Symphonie no. 2 in E minor Op. 20, Louis Vierne (1870-1937)

Their Processions are always tremendous; no doubt the Palestrina will be the Advent Matins and Vespers Responsories. These are sung from the front doors of that amazing space - and the Matins Responsory (which is sung as the opening of the service, as an Introit would be) is usually followed by the Advent Prose in Procession. I love the worship here, maybe better than anyplace else anywhere - it's astonishingly beautiful and very reverent. St. Mary's is a much warmer and more friendly atmosphere, but this is really stunning; I'm always transported when I'm there.

If you're in New York on Sunday, you should definitely go.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Comfort Ye, My People

As Advent begins again, I share my own yearly way of entering the season: I listen to the first half of Handel's Messiah. It all starts this way:

Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned. . . .

The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill made low, the crooked straight, and the rough places plain.

El Greco's St. John the Baptist:

Friday, November 12, 2010

Dicit Dominus: Ego

Another Dicit Dominus for the introit for November 14, the 25th Sunday after Pentecost (see the one - a different text entirely - used as the Communion song during Epiphanytide here).

Here's JoguesChant's lovely sung version on mp3, and below is the score from the Brazilian Benedictines.

The text is from Jeremiah 29:11-12,14 and Psalm 85:1; here's Jogues' English translation:
The Lord says: "I am pondering thoughts of peace and not of affliction; you shall call upon me, and I will hear you; and I will bring you back from all the lands where you are held captive." O Lord, you have blessed your land; you have put an end to
Jacob's captivity.

Jeremiah 29 starts out this way:
This is the text of the letter that the prophet Jeremiah sent from Jerusalem to the surviving elders among the exiles and to the priests, the prophets and all the other people Nebuchadnezzar had carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon.  (This was after King Jehoiachin and the queen mother, the court officials and the leaders of Judah and Jerusalem, the skilled workers and the artisans had gone into exile from Jerusalem.)  He entrusted the letter to Elasah son of Shaphan and to Gemariah son of Hilkiah, whom Zedekiah king of Judah sent to King Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon.

Psalm 85 is about "the captivity of Jacob":
For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah. A psalm.
 1 You, LORD, showed favor to your land;
   you restored the fortunes of Jacob.
2 You forgave the iniquity of your people
   and covered all their sins.
3 You set aside all your wrath
   and turned from your fierce anger.
 4 Restore us again, God our Savior,
   and put away your displeasure toward us.
5 Will you be angry with us forever?
   Will you prolong your anger through all generations?
6 Will you not revive us again,
   that your people may rejoice in you?
7 Show us your unfailing love, LORD,
   and grant us your salvation.
 8 I will listen to what God the LORD says;
   he promises peace to his people, his faithful servants—
   but let them not turn to folly.
9 Surely his salvation is near those who fear him,
   that his glory may dwell in our land.
 10 Love and faithfulness meet together;
   righteousness and peace kiss each other.
11 Faithfulness springs forth from the earth,
   and righteousness looks down from heaven.
12 The LORD will indeed give what is good,
   and our land will yield its harvest.
13 Righteousness goes before him
   and prepares the way for his steps.

So this introit speaks of God's promise of restoration after suffering, using the Babylonian Captivity as its theme. 

Here's a very lively hymn-with-organ piece based on Psalm 85; the page is in Dutch, so that's all I know so far!

Later, both the Gradual and the Offertory will come from Psalm 130, De Profundis, ("Out of the depths have I called to you O Lord; Lord, hear my voice."). And the Gospel reading (from the BCP) for the day is Luke 21:5-19:

When some were speaking about the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God, Jesus said, "As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down."

They asked him, "Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign that this is about to take place?" And he said, "Beware that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name and say, `I am he!' and, `The time is near!' Do not go after them.

"When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end will not follow immediately." Then he said to them, "Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues; and there will be dreadful portents and great signs from heaven.

"But before all this occurs, they will arrest you and persecute you; they will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name. This will give you an opportunity to testify. So make up your minds not to prepare your defense in advance; for I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, by relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. You will be hated by all because of my name. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your souls."

So there's a bit of apocalyptic going on here on this Sunday as well; the overall theme is captivity and suffering - and then release.  And of course, this is just two weeks before the old year ends and a new one begins at Advent.   Advent for us, though, is later than it used to be; at one time it began, unofficially, after the Feast of St. Martin of Tours on November 11.  It's not surprising, then, to find these themes. 

As a matter of fact, I believe that Catholics consider this Sunday "the Last Sunday after Pentecost," although Anglicans save that for next Sunday, "Christ the King."  CtK is very much an "unofficial" holiday for Anglicans; it's not a feast day on our Calendar at all.

Here, in fact, is a video of a Catholic celebration, including Procession and Introit, on the day. It's described as "The last sunday of the church year at the Institute St. Philipp Neri in Berlin, Graunstraße 31,13355 Berlin, nearby the underground station Gesundbrunnen, http://www.institut-philipp-neri.de." (You'll hear the Kyrie, too - the one from Missa Orbis Factor.)

For Anglicans, the Collect for this day is this famous one:
Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Solemn Requiem for All Souls

Here, sung now live, at St. Thomas Fifth Avenue. The audio will be available for some time going forward.

The service is the Requiem a 6, Tomás Luis de Victoria (1548-1611). The readings for the Feast of All Faithful Departed are here.

Wisdom 3:1-9

But the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God,
and no torment will ever touch them.
In the eyes of the foolish they seemed to have died,
and their departure was thought to be a disaster,
and their going from us to be their destruction;
but they are at peace.
For though in the sight of others they were punished,
their hope is full of immortality.
Having been disciplined a little, they will receive great good,
because God tested them and found them worthy of himself;
like gold in the furnace he tried them,
and like a sacrificial burnt offering he accepted them.
In the time of their visitation they will shine forth,
and will run like sparks through the stubble.
They will govern nations and rule over peoples,
and the Lord will reign over them forever.
Those who trust in him will understand truth,
and the faithful will abide with him in love,
because grace and mercy are upon his holy ones,
and he watches over his elect.

Here is William-Adolphe Bouguereau's "The Day of the Dead" (1859):


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