Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Lenten choral music of note at my parish

Ash Wednesday: Godfrey “Lord, who hast formed me”

1st Sunday: a choral arrangement of (control yoourselves!) “On Eagle’s Wings”, my English congregational adaptation of the communion proper

2nd Sunday: J. Varley Roberts “Seek Ye the Lord”, Gregorian communion antiphon

3rd Sunday: Farrant “Lord, For Thy Tender Mercies’ Sake”, Gregorian communion antiphon

4th Sunday: Mark Hayes “Grace”, Gregorian communion antiphon

5th Sunday: Bach cantata 131 mvt. 1, “Aus der Tiefe” (up to the allegro), Gregorian communion antiphon

6th Sunday: David Ashley White “O Love Divine”, my English congregational adaptation of the communion proper

A few comments:
Godfrey is another great find from the St. James Music Press “Sunday By Sunday Collection II”.

Yes, I know. OEW. I know. I’m doing it partly because the parish already owns the copies (and I was strongly encouraged to use already-purchased music this season). And partly because it’s an easy arrangement that I know some of the singers will enjoy. Mostly, though, I want to associate Psalm 91 with Lent, particularly the 1st Sunday of Lent - since all the chant propers do the same.

Roberts and Farrant (score, recording) are standards that we did last year.

The Hayes is a great piece - a wedding of the popular idiom with good choral writing. The accompaniment is very idiomatic for the piano, so I suppose were my parish a “liturgical clean room” I might not want to do it, but given the prevalence of the piano otherwise in the music program, it’s not at all inconsistent. Anyway, it’s the “Amazing Grace” text sung to variations on the O Waly Waly tune. Very good choral writing with some nice harmonies. Here is a link to a (very beautiful) recording.

“Aus der Tiefe” is our second foray into Bach this year. This definitely is much easier than most Bach - a bit pithier than “Jesu, joy”, but very accessible for the average SATB church choir. You can find a score here.

The White is a piece the parish had before I arrived. I’d not heard of it. It’s not a bad piece, but honestly, I’d rather be doing either the Lassus or the Cannicciari “Improperium exspectavit” (the Palm Sunday offertory text). Maybe next year, when I’ll be that much more able to “sell” the polyphony to the singers.

On 1st Sunday and Palm Sunday we’re doing my original English-language adaptations of the Gregorian propers for communion. 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th Sundays will have a single singing of the Gregorian communion propers themselves. Men will do 2nd and 4th Sundays, while women will do 3rd and 5th. This arrangement should avoid overloading anyone with “too much Latin/chant” while accommodating our women’s apparently superior ability to sing it.


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