Feast of the Holy Family (2010)

 
Entrance O come, all ye faithful
Gloria Missa de Angelis
Psalm (read)
Gospel Acclamation Celtic Alleluia (Fintan O’Carroll)
Preparation of the Gifts In the bleak midwinter
Sanctus, Acclamation, Amen Gathering Mass (Paul Inwood)
Postcommunion Silent Night
Recessional Hark, the herald angels sing
 

The choir had a thoroughly well-deserved day off, even if many of us were present in the congregation. But as today’s rich bill of musical fare amply shows, who needs a choir anyway?

Christmas Morning (2010)

Saturday, 25 December 2010

 
Introit Hodie Christus natus est (chant)
Entrance O Come all ye faithful
Gloria Glory to God in the Highest (John Bell)
Psalm All the ends of the earth (Alan Johnson)
Gospel Acclamation Salisbury Alleluia (Christopher Walker)
Preparation of the Gifts See amid the winter’s snow
Sanctus, Acclamation, Amen Gathering Mass (Paul Inwood)
Agnus Dei Mass of the Angels and Saints (Steven Janco)
Communion Hodie Christus natus est (chant)
Come to the Manger
Postcommunion Child of the Poor / What Child is this (Scott Soper) – choir
Recessional Hark, the herald angels sing
 

For Christmas morning, as usual, we had the men of the choir – seven of us making a merry noise. We began with unaccompanied plainchant, the Magnificat antiphon from Second Vespers for Christmas Day, made famous in Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols. In fact we sang it twice – bold and declamatory for our Introit, and then more gentle and thoughtful at the start of Communion.

We tried out another piece by Scott Soper featuring a new tune to go with a famous old one (to follow last Sunday’s On the lips of an angel). This one features William Chatterton Dix’s What child is this to the familiar Greensleeves tune, plus new words to a tune of Soper’s own creation. On reflection, it’s a less successful combination than last week’s – the two busy sets of words cancel each other out, leaving the listener with nothing but the music. A nice combination of melody and counter-melody, all the same.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

Christmas Vigil and Midnight Mass (2010)

Friday, 24 December 2010

 
Introit O Emmanuel (chant)
Opening Hymn O Come, O Come Emmanuel
Reading Isaiah 11:1-10 (A shoot springs from the stock of
Jesse)
Choir Benedicamus Domino (Peter Warlock)
Hymn In the bleak midwinter
Reading Luke 1:26-38 (The Annunciation)
Hymn Once in Royal David’s City
Reading John 1: 1-18 (In the Beginning was the Word)
Bishop’s entrance and procession to the crib Adeste Fideles
Gloria Gloria de Noël (Thomas Niel)
Reading Isaiah 9:2-7 (The people that walked in darkness)
Psalm Christmas Psalm (Bernadette Farrell)
Reading Titus 2:11-14 (God’s grace has been revealed)
Gospel Acclamation Celtic Alleluia (Fintan O’Carroll)
Reading Luke 2:1-14 (The Nativity)
Preparation of the gifts Still, Still, Still (trad. Austrian, arr. Janet Janzen)
Sanctus, Acclamation, Amen Gathering Mass (Paul Inwood)
Agnus Dei from Mass of the Angels and Saints (Steven Janco)
Communion Lux Aurumque (Eric Whitacre)
Silent night
Postcommunion O little town of Bethlehem
Recessional Hark the herald angels sing
 

The continued sub-zero temperatures didn’t seem to deter people from attending, and the cathedral was packed for a celebration taking the form of Mass incorporating an extended vigil of Readings and Music. The people sang well too – notably in the colourful setting of the Gloria – aided and abetted by Celebration Brass. We had a solo oboe as well, ably played by Katy Cavanagh, in the choir piece at the Preparation of the Gifts.

For the Christmas Season we’ve turned to Paul Inwood’s Gathering Mass. Being so well-known, it’s ideal for a large gathering like tonight’s, when many present were not regular members of our worshipping community. The choral descants and brass arrangement made it sound just right for a special occasion too.

4th Sunday of Advent (Year A, 2010)

 
Entrance Rorate Caeli/Come Saviour, Come (chant)
Kyrie Kyrie Litany for Advent (Missa Ubi Caritas, Bob Hurd)
Psalm Let the Lord enter in (Chris O’Hara)
Gospel Acclamation Advent Gospel Acclamations (Alan Smith)
Preparation of the Gifts On the lips of an angel (Scott Soper)
Sanctus, Acclamation, Amen Mass XVIII (in English) & Missal tones
Agnus Dei Mass of the Angels and Saints (Steven Janco)
Communion (i) O Clavis David (chant)
(ii) Veni Immanuel (John Bell) & Ps 32 (John Ainslie)
Recessional O come, O come Emmanuel
 

For our entrance song today we took the proper text from the Missal – Rorate caeli desuper – and sang it to its traditional chant melody, in the excellent free translation by Luke Connaughton. At the end we sang the refrain with the Latin text, with everyone repeating it a final time with the English text:

Come Saviour, come like dew on the grass,
Break through the clouds like gentle rain.

Greater Manchester Army Cadet Force Carol Service

Saturday, 18 December 2010

 
Choir Ding Dong Merrily
All O Come, All Ye Faithful
Choir    Benedicamus Domino (Peter Warlock)
All O Little Town of Bethlehem
All Once in Royal David’s City
Choir Still, Still, Still (Austrian traditional, arr. Janzen)
All Silent Night
All While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks
All National Anthem
All Hark the Herald Angels Sing
 

If any group of people could be relied on to brave the elements, it had to be the army, and in spite of atrocious weather we had a good turnout of members of the Army Cadet Force for a festive celebration of Christmas in their 150th anniversary year. Bishop Terence presided, and there were a Lord Mayor and a Lord Lieutenant too, to say nothing of an MP and ex-minister serving the drinks afterwards.

The second group of people who could be relied on to get themselves there was the was the choir, all of whom (magnificently) made it from far and wide and (though I say so myself) were in thoroughly good voice.

In between the musical items there were readings, prayers, and a homily. There was also a reflection on the Christmas truce in the trenches of 1914, during which we sang Silent Night and prayed for peace. Plenty for the young trainee soldiers to think about.

Celebration of Christmas in aid of Age Concern

Sunday, 12 December 2010

 
Cathedral Choir & Notability: Lux Aurumque (Eric Whitacre)
All: O Come all ye Faithful
Cathedral Choir Benedicamus Domino (Peter Warlock)
All: Once in Royal David’s City
Notability: Good News! (Jay Althouse)
Mary’s Boy Child (Jester Hairston)
All: While shepherds watched their flocks
Anthony Hunt, organ: Von Himmel Hoch (Garth Edmundson)
Cathedral Choir: Still, still, still (Austrian traditional, arr. Janzen)
All: O little town of Bethlehem
Notability: Silent Night (Franz Gruber)
All: God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen
Cathedral Choir: On the lips of an angel (Charles Gounod, Scott Soper)
Notability: Jingle Bells (J Pierpoint, Arr. Ralph Allwood)
Cathedral Choir & Notability Bogoroditse Devo (Rachmaninov)
All: Hark the Herald Angels Sing
Organ Voluntary: Von Himmel Hoch (J.S. Bach) – Anthony Hunt
 

For our annual Christmas celebration for Age Concern we teamed up as usual with ace chamber choir Notability. The partnership made for an eclectic mix of music, including a chance to sing Eric Whitacre’s scrumptious setting in Latin of Edward Esch’s glimpse of the Nativity:

Light,
warm and heavy as pure gold
and angels sing softly
to the new-born babe.
Scott Soper’s On the lips of an angel is the musical equivalent of adding another blade to the twin-blade razor. It takes Gounod’s famous Ave Maria (based on J.S. Bach’s Prelude no. 1 in C from The Well-tempered Clavier) and adds a counter-melody, sung first by the male voices, and then in conjunction with Gounod’s much-loved tune. The audience, to judge from appreciative comments afterwards, were enraptured. We’re treating the regular Sunday congregation to it next Sunday, when Ave Maria is the Missal text for the Offertory Antiphon.

There were readings and reminiscences from sundry celebrities and dignitaries, and Fr Tony led us in prayer at the end. He encouraged us to be bold about Christmas: celebrating our Lord’s birth is a public proclamation of our faith in God’s existence, and his presence in the world.

3rd Sunday of Advent (Year A, 2010)

Sunday, 12 December 2010

 
Entrance Rejoice for ever (mcb)
Kyrie Dinah Reindorf
Psalm Ps 145 (Rees/Bévenot)
Gospel Acclamation Advent Gospel Acclamations (Alan Smith)
Preparation of the Gifts Rejoice in the Lord Alway (anon, c. 1600)
Sanctus, Acclamation, Amen Mass XVIII (in English)
Agnus Dei Mass of the Angels and Saints (Steven R. Janco)
Communion (i) O Radix Jesse
(ii) Be strong, our God has come (Psallite)
Recessional Come, thou long-expected Jesus
 

We had two contrasting settings of today's Entrance Antiphon Rejoice in the Lord always, the well-known anonymous polyphonic setting, and my own setting in contemporary style.

My version was originally conceived as a setting of the whole of Philippians 4:4-9, written for unison voices with piano, guitar and saxophone accompaniment. By the time it got into print the saxophone part had morphed (at the publisher’s suggestion) into a choral descant with the Latin text Gaudete in Domino (Rejoice in the Lord). The verses got chopped about a bit too. We found today that in its revised form it all works quite nicely as a ‘choir and organ’ piece; to my surprise, given how far it had come from the version I originally thought of.

We were treated beforehand to a masterful improvised toccata on the two themes from our inimitable organist Anthony. I tell him he should write it all down, but then, he rightly retorts, it wouldn't be improvised any more.

2nd Sunday of Advent (Year A, 2010)

Sunday, 5 December 2010

 
Entrance Song of Consolation (Peter Jones)
Kyrie Kyrie Litany for Advent (Missa Ubi Caritas, Bob Hurd)
Psalm In His Days (David Ogden)
Gospel Acclamation Advent Gospel Acclamations (Alan Smith)
Preparation of the Gifts Conditor alme siderum (T.L. de Victoria, 1548-1611)
Sanctus, Acclamation, Amen Mass XVIII (in English) & Missal tones
Agnus Dei Mass of the Angels and Saints (Steven Janco)
Communion (i) O Adonai
(ii) Bread of Life (Bernadette Farrell)
Recessional Hark! a herald voice is calling
 

The Agnus Dei from Steven Janco’s Mass has the option of a troped middle verse (i.e. following the medieval custom of amplifying the text, in this instance with other titles for our Lord). Since this Advent we’re following the Agnus almost immediately with one of the O Antiphons, for the troped verse we’re using the title given in the first line of each antiphon. So last week our second repetition of the Agnus began Wisdom of God, you take away the sin of the world, and today’s was Adonai (Lord), you take away.... I thought it made a neat connection, without taking an unwarranted liberty with the Missal text. Rod of Jesse and Key of David are still to come.

1st Sunday of Advent (Year A, 2010)

 


Entrance Let all mortal flesh keep silence
Kyrie Kyrie for 3 voices, adapted from Byrd (mcb)
Psalm Ps 121 (McCarthy/Bévenot)
Gospel Acclamation Advent Gospel Acclamations (Alan Smith)
Preparation of the Gifts Zion hears the watchmen’s voices (J.S. Bach)
Sanctus, Acclamation, Amen Mass XVIII (in English) & Missal tones
Agnus Dei Mass of the Angels and Saints (Steven Janco)
Communion O Sapientia (chant)
Wait for the Lord (Taizé)
Recessional Lo, he comes with clouds descending
 

As usual for us, we marked the change of liturgical season with a change in the pattern of our music-making. For Advent, we’ll keep an extended period of silence after Communion, with our choral reflection sung during the Preparation of the Gifts. Today’s was a piece much associated with the beginning of Advent, the fourth movement of Bach’s Cantata No. 140 Wachet Auf.

Each Sunday at the start of Communion we’ll sing one of the chant O Antiphons. The most arresting moment in each is the word veni (come), and week by week we’ll use it to weave a thread of prayerful anticipation into our celebration, culminating in the opening of our Vigil before Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, with the final antiphon O Emmanuel.

Christ the King (Year C, 2010)

 
Entrance Christus Vincit
Kyrie Mass of the Creator Spirit (Ed Nowak)
Gloria Mass of the Creator Spirit
Psalm I Rejoiced (mcb)
Gospel Acclamation Salisbury Alleluia (Christopher Walker)
Preparation of the Gifts The Servant King (Graham Kendrick)
Sanctus, Acclamation, Amen Mass of Creation (Marty Haugen)
Agnus Dei Mass of the Creator Spirit
Communion Te Saeculorum Principem (chant) and Jesus, Remember Me (Taizé)
Postcommunion Greater love hath no man (John Ireland, 1879-1962)
Recessional Hail redeemer, King divine
 

John Ireland’s magnificent anthem is sometimes labelled a hymn to the fallen in wars, but to my mind this is not at all what the piece is about. The copious and varied scriptural references point squarely, instead, to the Paschal mystery. The particular connection with today’s feast was in the line from 1 Peter 2:9 -

Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation [...] that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.

which chimed exactly with today’s reading from Colossians:

We give thanks to the Father who has made it possible for you to join the saints and with them to inherit the light. Because that is what he has done: he has taken us out of the power of darkness and created a place for us in the kingdom of the Son that he loves, and in him, we gain our freedom, the forgiveness of our sins.

I like Graham Kendrick’s The Servant King, for all the ungainly word stresses in the refrain, and the crunching gear change in the harmonies on the words as a daily offering of worship to… The words hands that flung stars into space, to cruel nails surrendered are superb poetry, unsurpassed in any other contemporary worship song I know of.

33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) and Remembrance Sunday 2010

 
Introit Requiem Aeternam (chant)
Opening Hymn Abide with me
Kyrie Mass of the Creator Spirit (Ed Nowak)
Gloria Mass of the Creator Spirit
Psalm Ps 97 (Eugene Monaghan)
Gospel Acclamation Alleluia Mode 2 (Plainchant)
Preparation of the Gifts Be not afraid (Bob Dufford)
Sanctus, Acclamation, Amen Mass of Creation (Marty Haugen)
Agnus Dei Mass of the Creator Spirit
Communion There is a longing in our hearts (Anne Quigley)
Postcommunion O Lord, support us (John Henry Newman, 1801-1890 & Maurice Besly, 1888-1945)
Recessional Thy hand, O God, has guided
 

We tried a different pattern for our observation of Remembrance Sunday this year. A little before 11.00 am the choir began the chant introit from the Requiem Mass, while Fr Anthony and the servers processed in. Then at 11.00 the Cathedral bell tolled once to begin two minutes’ silence. It sounded again two minutes later, and this was our cue for Abide with me. While the hymn began slowly and thoughtfully, I tried to give the final verse, with its Elgarian descant, a more uplifting feel, leading us on into our celebration of Sunday Mass.

Today’s Gospel reading had the words

Men will seize you and persecute you ... because of my name.

In his homily Fr Anthony reminded us that the answer to this is found in our Lord’s words: do not be afraid. These ideas came together nicely in our hymn, an old favourite, at the preparation of the gifts.

One of the Communion antiphons in the Missal for today, from St Mark’s Gospel, says

Whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

So we took the words of Cardinal Newman’s famous prayer for perseverance (slightly paraphrased from his sermon Wisdom and Innocence):

O Lord, support us all the day long of this troublous life,
until the shades lengthen, and the evening comes, and the busy world is hushed;
the fever of life is over and our work done.
Then Lord, in thy mercy, grant us safe lodging, a holy rest,
and peace at the last,
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C, 2010)

 

Entrance The Church’s one foundation
Sprinkling Rite Springs of Water (Marty Haugen)
Gloria Glory to God in the Highest (John L Bell)
Psalm Ps 16 (Liz Mottram)
Gospel Acclamation Alleluia Mode 2 (Plainchant)
Presentation of Confirmation Candidates Christ be our Light (Bernadette Farrell)
Preparation of the Gifts Here I am Lord (Dan Schutte)
Sanctus, Acclamation, Amen Mass of Creation (Marty Haugen)
Agnus Dei Mass of Christ the King (mcb)
Communion At your word our hearts are burning (Collegeville Composers Group)
Postcommunion The Lord is my Shepherd (John Rutter)
Recessional Love divine, all loves excelling
 

Eleven children of the parish were enrolled into the sacramental programme today, embarking on a journey leading to Confirmation at Pentecost next year, and First Holy Communion a few weeks later. We accompanied the rite, in which parent presented child with a lit baptismal candle, with Bernadette Farrell’s Christ, be our light. This hadn’t found its way into today’s congregational booklet (as a result of communication failures, mainly on the part of yours truly), but enough people knew it well enough to join in with the refrains. The same fate, and the same redemption, befell Marty Haugen’s Springs of water.

Our responsorial Psalm setting today was a piece first presented at a meeting of the Society of St Gregory’s Composers’ Group. Liz Mottram’s music, like that of several composers in and around the Composers’ Group orbit, deserves to be heard more widely.

All Saints (2010)

Sunday, 31 October 2010


Entrance Holy God, we praise thy name
Kyrie Kyrie for 3 voices, adapted from Byrd (mcb)
Gloria Mass of the Creator Spirit (Ed Nowak)
Psalm Ps 23 (David Saint)
Gospel Acclamation Salisbury Alleluia (Christopher Walker)
Preparation of the Gifts Justorum Animae (Plainchant & Richard Terry, 1865-1938)
Sanctus, Acclamation, Amen Mass of Creation (Marty Haugen)
Agnus Dei Mass XVIII & Missa O Quam Gloriosum (Victoria)
Communion Come to me (Martin Barry/Diane Murden)
Postcommunion O Quam Gloriosum (T.L de Victoria, 1548-1611)
Recessional For all the saints
 

A musical banquet for our celebration of the feast day, including movements from Byrd’s Mass for three voices, and from Victoria’s Missa O Quam Gloriosum. In both items the people had a sung role though, with the Kyrie adapted for responsorial use in the third form of the Penitential Rite, and the Agnus Dei flanked by the first and last lines of the plainchant Mass XVIII.

Richard Terry’s Justorum Animae strikes a very different tone from all the serene polyphony, with the baritone solo (beautifully sung tutti by the men of the choir) loaded with brooding Romantic expression. The choral ending on the words illi autem sunt in pace (for they are in peace), complete with gentle treble solo, brought us back to serenity.

We preceded Terry’s setting with the same lines sung to plainchant from the Graduale, sung this time by the women of the choir.

All that and the Mass of Creation too… To my mind, it’s important to programme a range of musical styles and genres: not just in the hope that everybody present might find something which speaks to them in the language of prayer, but also as a way to gently encourage people to find prayer in music which they might have found alienating if served up as an exclusive diet. All are welcome.

30th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C, 2010)

 
Entrance Dear Lord and Father of mankind
Kyrie Taizé Kyrie I
Gloria Coventry Gloria (Peter Jones)
Psalm The cry of the poor (John Foley)
Gospel Acclamation Alleluia Mode 2 (Plainchant)
Preparation of the Gifts My God, accept my heart this day
Sanctus, Acclamation, Amen Mass of Creation (Marty Haugen)
Agnus Dei (Alan Rees)
Communion Take, O take me as I am (John L Bell)
Postcommunion Jubilate Deo (Orlande de Lassus, c. 1532-1594)
Recessional Fight the good fight
 

It was a day for trying to live up to the challenges set out in the readings. Our offertory and communion songs both aimed to capture the humility of the tax collector in today’s Gospel story. Then for our recessional hymn we took up St Paul’s good fight from the second reading.

We rejoiced too, in thanksgiving after Communion, taking up the idea expressed in the antiphon:

We will rejoice at the victory of God and make our boast in his great name.

in the exuberant setting of the opening of Psalm 99 by Lassus. We may have got carried away at the end.

29th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C, 2010)

 
Entrance All ye who seek a comfort sure
Kyrie Mass of the Creator Spirit (Ed Nowak)
Gloria Mass of the Creator Spirit
Psalm Ps 120 (Claire Lee & Stephen Dean)
Gospel Acclamation Salisbury Alleluia (Christopher Walker)
Preparation of the Gifts Lord, for tomorrow and its needs
Sanctus, Acclamation, Amen Mass of Creation (Marty Haugen)
Agnus Dei Mass of the Creator Spirit
Communion I lift up my eyes (David Ogden)
Postcommunion God so loved the world (John Stainer, 1840-1901)
Recessional Be thou my vision
 

Today’s Gospel reading from St Luke talks of the need to pray continually and never lose heart. Fr Tony’s homily, on personal prayer, also followed this theme. Our hymn at the Preparation of the Gifts was an old favourite on the same subject. The words are by a Sister M. Xavier, who (internet searches reveal) was Sybil Farish Partridge (1856-1917), in religion Sister Mary Xavier of the convent of Notre Dame, in Mount Pleasant, Liverpool. The words bear a resemblance to Mon chant d’aujourd’hui by St Therèse of Lisieux, though the latter is dated 1894, twenty years after our hymn was written. Perhaps the shared simple piety of the two nuns is just an unsurprising coincidence.

Stainer’s God so loved the world was intended as a reflection on one of the Communion antiphons proposed in the Missal for today:

The Son of Man came to give his life as a ransom for many.

The piece allows for plenty of drama, but for me its still centre is formed by the words but that the world through him might be saved. The silences which punctuate the piece are as important as its musical phrases.

28th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C, 2010)

Sunday, 10 October 2010


Entrance All people that on earth do dwell
Kyrie Kyrie II from Paschal Mass (Alan Rees)
Gloria Glory to God in the Highest (John L Bell)
Psalm Ps 97: The Lord has shown his salvation (Geoffrey Boulton Smith)
Gospel Acclamation Salisbury Alleluia (Christopher Walker)
Preparation of the Gifts Domine, non sum dignus (Tomás Luis de Victoria c. 1548-1611)
Sanctus, Acclamation, Amen Mass of Creation (Marty Haugen)
Agnus Dei (Alan Rees)
Communion Now we remain (David Haas)
Postcommunion He hath filled the hungry (Felix Mendelssohn, 1809-1847)
Recessional Thanks be to God (Stephen Dean)
 

Today’s Communion antiphon, from Ps 33:

The rich suffer want and go hungry, but nothing shall be lacking to those who fear the Lord

finds an echo in the Magnificat:

He hath filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he hath sent empty away

We sang these lines from Mendelssohn’s unaccompanied setting, Op 69 no 3. This section is scored for four soloists, but it makes for a luminous and direct choir piece.

The story in St Luke’s Gospel of the healing of the lepers prompted us to pray for our own healing in the words of the centurion (in Matthew 8:8), set by Victoria, and to give thanks in our final hymn.

The second reading, from 2 Timothy, included the words

If we have died with him, then we shall live with him

The final, dramatic verse of David Haas’s Now we remain paraphrases this to

For to live with the Lord, we must die with the Lord

Inverting the two clauses like this turns St Paul’s words from consolation to challenge.

27th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C, 2010)

 
Entrance O thou who camest from above
Kyrie Kyrie for 3 voices adapted from Byrd (mcb)
Gloria Mass of the Creator Spirit (Ed Nowak)
Psalm O that today (Chris O’Hara)
Gospel Acclamation Alleluia Mode 2 (Plainchant)
Preparation of the Gifts You are the Lord of all (Daniel Bath)
Sanctus, Acclamation, Amen Mass of Creation (Marty Haugen)
Agnus Dei (Alan Rees)
Communion How good is the Lord to all (mcb)
Postcommunion Oculi Omnium (William Byrd c. 1540 - 1623)
Recessional All my hope on God is founded
 

Fan into a flame the gift that God gave you were St Paul’s words in this morning’s second reading. Our opening hymn took the same image:

O thou who camest from above
The fire celestial to impart,
Kindle a flame of sacred love
On the mean altar of my heart.

Today’s Communion antiphon came from Lamentations:

The Lord is good to those who hope in him, to those who are searching for his love.

Our music sounded the same note of reassurance with texts from Ps 144(145): firstly, our processional song (written first as a responsorial psalm for a wedding), with the words

He is close to all who call him, who call on him from their hearts

and then in William Byrd’s setting of lines from the same psalm, from Book I of the Gradualia of 1605. Having already sung verses form the psalm during the procession, we confined ourselves today to the opening section (the four-part setting of the Latin text The eyes of all creatures hope in you, Lord, and you give them food in due season). The remainder of this fine piece is an ongoing project for us, perhaps to be revisited when the psalm appears as Communion antiphon or responsorial psalm next year: respectively the twelfth and eighteenth Sundays in Ordinary time.

26th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C, 2010)

Sunday, 26 September 2010


Entrance Immortal, Invisible
Kyrie Kyrie II from Paschal Mass (Alan Rees)
Gloria Glory to God in the Highest (John L Bell)
Psalm Ps 145 (Stephen Dean)
Gospel Acclamation Salisbury Alleluia (Christopher Walker)
Preparation of the Gifts A touching place (John L Bell)
Sanctus, Acclamation, Amen Mass of Creation (Marty Haugen)
Agnus Dei Mass of Christ the King (mcb)
Communion Ubi Caritas (Bob Hurd)
Postcommunion O Quam Suavis (William Byrd, c. 1540-1623)
Recessional Lord, whose love in humble service

The Gospel story of the rich man and Lazarus, and the responsorial psalm, taken from Ps 145(146), prompted several of our musical selections, extolling God’s preferential option for the poor, and declaring our aim to live up to it. In John Bell’s words:

To the lost Christ shows his face
To the unloved he gives his embrace
To those who cry in pain or disgrace
Christ makes, with his friends, a touching place

O quam suavis is an antiphon for the feast of Corpus Christi, and it includes the line inspired by the Magnificat: esurientes reples bonis (you fill the hungry with good things). Byrd’s elaborate and extended setting finds a new musical idea for each successive image in the text, moving serenely from episode to episode and ending almost militantly – boldly, at least – on the words divites dimittens inanes (sending the rich away empty).

In our recessional hymn Lord, whose love in humble service, with words by Albert F Bayly (1901-1984) and sung to the tune Abbots Leigh, we set ourselves the same Gospel challenge of compassion for the poor:

Called from worship into service
forth in your great name we go
to the child, the youth, the aged,
love in living deeds to show;
hope and health, good will and comfort,
counsel, aid, and peace we give,
that your children, Lord, in freedom
may your mercy know, and live.

25th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C, 2010)

Sunday, 19 September 2010


Entrance Christ, be our light (Bernadette Farrell)
Kyrie Mass of the Creator Spirit (Ed Nowak)
Gloria Mass of the Creator Spirit
Psalm Ps 112 (Paul Wellicome)
Gospel Acclamation Alleluia Mode 2 (Plainchant)
Preparation of the Gifts Blest are the pure in heart
Sanctus, Acclamation, Amen Mass of Creation (Marty Haugen)
Agnus Dei Mass of the Creator Spirit
Communion Where your treasure is (Marty Haugen)
Postcommunion Laudate Dominum (William Croft, 1678-1727)
Recessional Praise to the Holiest

 

Several of our musical selections coincided with those at the Mass of Beatification of John Henry Newman, which took place in Birmingham this morning. As at Cofton Park, we had Bernadette Farrell’s Christ, be our light, Blest are the pure in heart, Paul Wellicome’s new setting of Ps 112 and Newman’s own Praise to the holiest, which tied in with this morning’s second reading from the letter of St Paul to Timothy:

there is only one mediator between God and mankind, himself a man, Christ Jesus, who sacrificed himself as a ransom for them all.

echoed by Newman’s

O generous love! That he, who smote
in man for man the foe,
the double agony in man
for man should undergo.

Yet another fine song from the prolific Marty Haugen took up the challenge of today’s Gospel reading: you cannot be the slave both of God and money:

Where your treasure is, there your heart shall be.
All that you possess will never set you free.
Seek the things that last; come and learn from me.
Where your treasure is your heart shall be.

Papal Prayer Vigil, Hyde Park

Saturday, 18 September 2010



Eight of our number joined the ranks of the choir of singers from round the dioceses, for the Vigil of Prayer led by Pope Benedict in Hyde Park. 150-odd singers joined forces with the excellent New English Orchestra and Singers, all led by the energetic and charismatic Nigel Swinford, for a day of eclectic music-making. The programme ranged from plainchant (Tantum Ergo Sacramentum) to Graham Kendrick (Shine, Jesus, Shine), with every genre of devotional song in between. The Hallelujah Chorus, Chris Walker’s Save us, Lord our God, Jacques Berthier’s Adoramus Te, Domine and Cardinal Newman’s own Lead, Kindly Light went by in a blur; and there was lots more too.

Preparations for the event had their ups and downs, and it wasn’t until the second day of rehearsals (the day before the event) that things came together as they needed to. But the vicissitudes of organisation and rehearsal were swept away during the Vigil itself, in a celebration which, to my mind, was stunningly, movingly prayerful.

24th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C, 2010)

Entrance O God, thy people gather
Kyrie Mass of the Creator Spirit (Ed Nowak)
Gloria Mass of the Creator Spirit
Psalm Ps 50 (Gélineau)
Gospel Acclamation Alleluia Mode 2 (Plainchant)
Preparation of the Gifts I will arise (Robert Creighton, 1636-1734)
Sanctus, Acclamation, Amen Mass of Creation (Marty Haugen)
Agnus Dei Mass of the Creator Spirit
Communion Give us, Lord, a new heart (Bernadette Farrell)
Postcommunion Miserere mei (Orlande de Lassus, c.1532-1594)
Recessional Praise, my soul, the king of heaven

The Gospel story of the prodigal son guided our musical choices today. The psalm response – I will leave this place, and go to my Father – and the offertory motet sang of our resolve to ask God’s forgiveness. We did so in the psalm itself and our postcommunion motet, both from psalm 50(51), and in the opening hymn.

At communion the sung refrain picked up some words from the same psalm:

Give us, Lord, a new heart;
re-create your Spirit within us.

while the verses, from Ezekiel and Jeremiah, reminded us with reassurance of the forgiveness we believe is offered to us. Our final hymn celebrated this belief:

Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven,
who like me his praise should sing?

23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C, 2010)

Sunday, 5 September 2010


Entrance When I survey the wondrous cross
Kyrie Kyrie II from Paschal Mass (Alan Rees)
Gloria Glory to God in the Highest (John L Bell)
Psalm Lord, you have been our refuge (John L Bell)
Gospel Acclamation Alleluia Mode 2 (Plainchant)
Preparation of the Gifts Be still, my soul
Sanctus, Acclamation, Amen Gathering Mass (Paul Inwood)
Agnus Dei Lamb of God II (mcb)
Communion As the deer longs (Bob Hurd)
Postcommunion Adoramus Te, no. 2 in Gm (Antonio Lotti, c. 1667-1740)
Recessional O God our help in ages past

As usual for our first Sunday back in September, the ranks of the congregation were swelled by the members of No. 1 Province of the Catenian Association, and as usual they sang wonderfully well. Our music drew a connection with our Lord’s words in the Gospel reading:

Anyone who does not carry his cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.

in the hymn at the Preparation of the Gifts:

Be still, my soul, the Lord is on your side.
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.

Two other pieces – our opening hymn, and the choir’s postcommunion motet – spoke of our Lord’s own greater cross. Lotti sets a slightly embroidered version of the text of the ancient and well-known antiphon:

We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,
for by your holy Cross and your passion you have redeemed the world.

Bob Hurd’s As the deer longs was new to us, and a perfect fit for the Communion antiphon from Psalm 41(42). We’ll certainly be singing it again.

The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Entrance Holy light on earth’s horizon
Kyrie Kyrie II from Paschal Mass (Alan Rees)
Gloria Glory to God in the Highest (John L Bell)
Psalm Ps 44 (Stephen Dean)
Gospel Acclamation Advent Gospel Acclamation (Andrew Wright), with chanted verse
Preparation of the Gifts Ave Maria (Sergei Rachmaninoff, 1873-1943)
Sanctus, Acclamation, Amen German Mass (Schubert, arr. Proulx)
Agnus Dei Hurd Mass (Bob Hurd)
Communion The Almighty works marvels for me (Peter Jones)
Postcommunion Magnificat Octavi Toni (Orlande de Lassus, c.1532-1594)
Recessional Hail Queen of Heaven

We took a break from our summer break, to sing for today’s feast. A good turnout, and a little bit of thinking ahead in rehearsals in July, meant that we took both Rachmaninov’s Bogoroditse Devo (sung to the Latin text of Ave Maria) and the Lassus Magnificat in our stride.

Peter Jones’s very different setting of the Magnificat, with its gentle ostinato refrain and verses for cantor, was just right as a realisation of today’s Communion antiphon. Hail, Queen of Heaven, on the other hand, seemed not to rouse the assembly to full throat the way it often has in the past: I'm not sure whether that reflects a dwindling of it in popular memory, or just that the summer holiday congregation was a bit smaller than for a regular Sunday.

17th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C, 2010)

Entrance Praise to the Lord, the almighty
Kyrie Taizé Kyrie I
Gloria Coventry Gloria (Peter Jones)
Psalm On the day I called (Daniel Bath)
Gospel Acclamation Advent Gospel Acclamation (Andrew Wright), with chanted verse
Preparation of the Gifts Seek ye first
Sanctus, Acclamation, Amen German Mass (Schubert, arr. Proulx)
Our Father (Estelle White)
Agnus Dei Hurd Mass (Bob Hurd)
Communion Blest are they, the poor in spirit (David Haas)
Postcommunion Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring (J.S. Bach)
Recessional Holy God, we praise thy name

With the Lord’s Prayer at the heart of today’s Gospel reading, we gave the prayer greater prominence during the Communion Rite by singing it to the well-known and much-loved setting by Estelle White. There's an irony here — we don’t normally sing the prayer, precisely because of our Lord’s words in St Luke’s Gospel: Say this when you pray. There are prayers which are incomplete if you don’t sing them: the words Alleluia, Hosanna, Gloria for instance, are, biblically speaking, all parts of songs. The Lord’s Prayer, however, is inherently prose rather than song.

It made sense to sing it today, though, reinforcing the link between the words we had heard during the Liturgy of the Word, and the same words uttered in prayer, when sometimes we might rattle them off without pausing to make the connection.

16th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C, 2010)

Sunday, 18 July 2010


Entrance All are welcome (Marty Haugen)
Kyrie Kyrie Eleison from Missa Ubi Caritas (Bob Hurd)
Gloria Missa Ubi Caritas (Bob Hurd)
Psalm Ps 14 (Stephen Dean/Laurence Bévenot)
Gospel Acclamation Advent Gospel Acclamation (Andrew Wright), with chanted verse
Preparation of the Gifts Will you come and follow me (John L Bell)
Sanctus, Acclamation, Amen German Mass (Schubert, arr. Proulx)
Agnus Dei Hurd Mass (Bob Hurd)
Communion Forget not what God has done (Marty Haugen)
Postcommunion O Sacrum Convivium (Giovanni Croce, 1557-1609)
Recessional O Christ the same (Timothy Dudley-Smith)

Today’s Mass was the occasion for a diocesan celebration, led by Bishop Terence, in thanksgiving for the work of the Sisters of the Holy Family of St Emilie, soon to leave the Diocese after thirty-seven years. Sr Anne O’Shea has been in Salford for thirty-six of those thirty-seven years, for the last twenty-five as Parish Sister and Sacristan here in the Cathedral parish. Timothy Dudley-Smith’s O Christ, the same, set to the tune of Danny Boy, is a favourite of hers. ‘Retirement’ probably isn’t the right word for Sr Anne’s move to Ireland, but we wish her peace and long happiness.

The Gospel reading featured our Lord being welcomed into their home by Martha and Mary, and this prompted the choice of opening hymn, and, indirectly, Croce’s O Sacrum Convivium. It was sung by the choir under the able direction this week of Sabine von Hünerbein, while yours truly had the weekend off to attend a conference.

15th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C, 2010)

Entrance Lord enthroned in heavenly splendour
Kyrie Kyrie Eleison from Missa Ubi Caritas (Bob Hurd)
Gloria Missa Ubi Caritas (Hurd)
Psalm Ps 68 (Stephen Dean/Ian Forrester)
Gospel Acclamation Advent Gospel Acclamation (Andrew Wright), with chanted verse
Preparation of the Gifts The Servant Song (Richard Gillard)
Sanctus, Acclamation, Amen German Mass (Franz Schubert, arr. Proulx)
Agnus Dei Hurd Mass (Bob Hurd)
Communion Eat this bread (Taizé)
Postcommunion Love Divine (Howard Goodall)
Recessional Father, Lord of all creation

The second line of our opening hymn was first begotten from the dead, the title accorded to our Lord by St Paul in today’s second reading. The Gospel reading, the story of the good Samaritan, gave us several other of our musical selections, including the hymn at the Preparation of the Gifts, our recessional hymn (Give us grace to love as brothers / All whose burdens we can share) and – reflecting the love which the disconcerting lawyer reluctantly finds written in the Law – Howard Goodall’s setting of Charles Wesley’s Love Divine.

This latter is a scrumptious piece, showcasing the composer’s copious gifts as a melodist. If I were Howard Goodall’s music teacher, though, I might want to make him write it out again with all the barlines in the right place.

14th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C, 2010)

Entrance When I survey the wondrous cross
Kyrie Kyrie for 3 voices adapted from Byrd (mcb)
Gloria Mass for John Carroll (Michael Joncas)
Psalm Ps 65 (Monaghan/Steel)
Gospel Acclamation Advent Gospel Acclamation (Andrew Wright), with chanted verse
Preparation of the Gifts Make me a channel of your peace
Sanctus, Acclamation, Amen German Mass (Schubert, arr. Proulx)
Agnus Dei Hurd Mass (Bob Hurd)
Communion Taste and See (Richard Proulx)
Postcommunion Jubilate Deo (adapted from the Stabat Mater by Joseph Haydn, 1732-1809)
Recessional Forth in the peace of Christ we go

The first reading – Rejoice, Jerusalem – and the Responsorial Psalm – Cry out with joy to God, all the earth – gave us our postcommunion piece, adapted from Haydn. It sets a hybrid text from Psalms 65(66) and 99(100) to the finale (Paradisi Gloria) of his Stabat Mater. To my mind the psalm-based text is perhaps better suited to the exuberance of the music – a rollicking choral fugue – than the text originally set by the composer.

The second reading’s the only thing I can boast about is the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ gave us our opening hymn, and the sending out of the seventy-two in the Gospel reading, with their message of peace, prompted the choice of our recessional hymn.

In fact, all three readings mentioned peace, and this suggested our hymn at the preparation of the gifts, sung in the charming arrangement by William Llewellyn published by the RSCM in the excellent collection Sing With All My Soul.

13th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C, 2010)

Today the Year 3 children of the parish primary school celebrated First Holy Communion. Music was provided by the children of the school, and the cathedral choir had the day off. We’re back next Sunday.

12th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C, 2010)

Entrance Praise to the holiest
Kyrie Kyrie for 3 voices, adapted from William Byrd (mcb)
Gloria Coventry Gloria (Peter Jones)
Psalm Ps 62: For you my soul is thirsting (author unknown)
Gospel Acclamation Salisbury Alleluia (Christopher Walker)
Preparation of the Gifts Your love is finer than life (Marty Haugen)
Sanctus, Acclamation, Amen German Mass (Franz Schubert, arr. Richard Proulx)
Agnus Dei Hurd Mass (Bob Hurd)
Communion The eyes of everyone (mcb)
Postcommunion Oculi Omnium (Charles Wood, 1866-1926)
Recessional At the Lamb’s high feast

We heard the words of Psam 62(63) twice, once in Marty Haugen’s fine setting with three-part close harmony for the women’s voices in the verses, and once in today’s responsorial psalm.

We sang the latter to an Anglican psalm tone - a rare venture for us into a sound-world quite different from our more usual style, namely tones by, or in the style of, Laurence Bévenot. Bévenot’s psalm tones are inspired by the Gregorian modes, though with a simpler termination (cadence) at the end of each line than in the Gregorian tones themselves. Anglican chant, by comparison, is both more elaborate and more formulaic at the ends of the lines, and the task in rehearsal was to make light of the cadences, so as not to find ourselves repeatedly subordinating the natural speech rhythms to those of the music.

I’m not sure who wrote the tone we used. We were singing from a manuscript copy found gathering dust in the choir’s music library. Choir members who move in the right circles said it was a well-known Anglican tone, but between us we weren’t able to pinpoint it.

The setting of the Kyrie was an adaptation by me of the Kyrie from the Byrd Mass for Three Voices, expanded (chiefly by repetition) to accommodate the third form of the Penitential Rite. Click here to download a copy, which you’re most welcome to print out and make use of.

The first reading today from Zechariah, and the Gospel reading, both talked of our Lord’s suffering. The stark prophecy: they will look on the one whom they have pierced prompted the choice of our final hymn of thanksgiving –

At the Lamb’s high feast we sing
Praise to our victorious King,
Who hath washed us in the tide
Flowing from his pierced side.

[update 26/6/10: fixed the link to the Kyrie.]

11th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C, 2010)

Entrance Remember your mercy, Lord (Paul Inwood)
Kyrie Lord, show us your mercy (mcb)
Gloria Missa Ubi Caritas (Bob Hurd)
Psalm Ps 31 (Stephen Dean/Harry Bramma)
Gospel Acclamation Salisbury Alleluia (Christopher Walker)
Preparation of the Gifts Lord, hear my voice (mcb)
Sanctus, Acclamation A, Amen German Mass (Franz Schubert, arr. Richard Proulx)
Agnus Dei Hurd Mass (Bob Hurd)
Communion There is one thing I ask (Chris O’Hara)
Postcommunion Adoremus in aeternum (adapted from Gregorio Allegri, 1582-1652)
Recessional Rejoice, the Lord is King

We were compared favourably with the Sistine Chapel choir this morning by Fr Tony, freshly returned from a trip to Rome to celebrate the end of the Year for Priests. His approbation was for our singing of the chant verses in Adoremus in Aeternum, adapted from Allegri. The spirit of the chant, it seems to me, is in aestu temperies: coolness. There’s no room for ‘personality’ in the singing of it; rather, the voices of the singers, like the notes of the melody themselves, are a vehicle for the text, and the musical pace and dynamic contour are those of the rise and fall of breathing.

I’ve looked hard for a source for the Allegri. We were singing from photocopies of a crumbling original long out of copyright, marked with the phrase from Gregorio Allegri but not revealing who the adaptation was done by, nor from what original source. At a guess, I’d imagine it was Richard Terry. Can anyone shed any more light?

Our music today led us through an unfolding reflection on God’s mercy. We began with pleas for forgiveness in our opening song, Paul Inwood’s setting of Psalm 24(25), and in the Responsorial Psalm (31(32)); our song at the Preparation of the Gifts (which was actually a setting of the Entrance antiphon) combined the same plea with the yearning for God’s presence articulated in Psalm 26(27). The latter psalm also furnished the text for the Communion antiphon, sung to Chris O’Hara’s gentle tuneful setting. Then in the Allegri we sang quoniam confirmata est super nos misericordia eius (for his mercy is confirmed over us), and our final hymn took up the injunction we’d sung earlier in Psalm 31(32) to rejoice in the Lord.

The Body and Blood of Christ (Year C, 2010)

Entrance Sweet Sacrament divine
Kyrie Taizé Kyrie I
Gloria Coventry Gloria (Peter Jones)
Psalm Ps 109 (Geoffrey Boulton Smith)
Gospel Acclamation Salisbury Alleluia (Christopher Walker)
Preparation of the Gifts Ave Verum Corpus (Charles Gounod, 1818-1893)
Sanctus, Acclamation, Amen German Mass (Franz Schubert, arr Richard Proulx)
Agnus Dei Hurd Mass (Bob Hurd)
Communion Take and Eat (Michael Joncas)
Postcommunion O Sacrum Convivium (mcb)
Recessional O Jesus Christ, remember

Lo, round thy lowly shrine with suppliant hearts we come seemed fitting words for our gathering hymn; more so, perhaps, than to sing a much-loved hymn of Eucharistic adoration such as this one during Communion. At Communion we echoed the words of today’s second reading: this is my body, in Michael Joncas’s Take and eat. Our Lord’s command entails something deeper than adoration: an encounter with Christ from which it is impossible to emerge unchanged.

I wrote my setting of O Sacrum Convivium the week I joined the cathedral choir, in November 1990. It’s my attempt to sound French, I think: not Messiaen, but maybe somewhere around Ravel. Have a listen here if you have the Scorch plugin installed on your computer.

Michael Milnes RIP

We learned today of the unexpected sad death of Mike Milnes, organist here at Salford Cathedral from 1986 to 2000. May he rest in peace.


 

Trinity Sunday (Year C, 2010)

Entrance Holy, holy, holy, Lord God almighty
Kyrie Taizé Kyrie I
Gloria Coventry Gloria (Peter Jones)
Psalm Ps 8 (Sebastian Wolff)
Gospel Acclamation Salisbury Alleluia (Christopher Walker)
Creed Credo III
Preparation of the Gifts A Hymn to the Trinity (P. I. Tchaikovsky, 1840-1893)
Sanctus, Acclamation A, Amen German Mass (Franz Schubert, arr. Richard Proulx)
Agnus Dei Hurd Mass (Bob Hurd)
Communion God beyond all names (John Bell) & Benedicta sit sancta Trinitas (chant)
Postcommunion Tibi Laus (Orlande de Lassus, c. 1532-1594)
Recessional Holy God, we praise thy name

Trinity Sunday marks a return to the misleadingly-named Ordinary Time in the Sunday liturgical cycle (though of course strictly it resumed last Monday), and our musical fare changed accordingly. Bob Hurd’s Lamb of God goes nicely with Richard Proulx’s adaptation of Schubert’s Deutsche Messe, and Jacques Berthier’s Kyrie might have been written to precede Peter Jones’s now-venerable setting of the Gloria.

Tchaikovsky wrote four settings of the Cherubic Hymn from the Liturgy of St John Chrysostom. A short hymn of five lines plus the Alleluias, it comes in the Orthodox liturgy at a point corresponding to the Preparation of the Gifts in the Roman Mass. Russian settings usually have a slow and elaborate treatment of the first four lines, and then a separate, more animated last line, with the alleluias following. We sang the English version by W.G. Rothery published in 1906, which amplifies the text to fill the verses (of Tchaikovsky’s setting No. 1 in F) with less repetition and melisma than in the Slavonic original. Rothery’s inspiration seems to have been the Te Deum, with the image of the saints and martyrs joining with the angels to sing Holy, holy, holy. Our final hymn, too, was a Te Deum, and the opening hymn painted the same picture of the angels and saints singing the Trinity’s praises.

Pentecost, 2010

Entrance O Spirit All-embracing
Gloria from Beneath the Tree of Life (Marty Haugen)
Psalm Ps 103 (David Saint)
Gospel Acclamation Pentecost Sequence (arr. Richard Proulx); Easter Alleluia
Rite of Confirmation Breathe on me, breath of God (Evelyn Brokish)
Spirit of God (Bernadette Farrell)
Veni Sancte Spiritus (Taizé)
Preparation of the Gifts Hymn to the Holy Spirit (Randolph Currie)
Sanctus, Acclamation, Amen Spring Sanctus (mcb)
Agnus Dei from Beneath the Tree of Life (Marty Haugen)
Communion Spirit of the living God & Psalm 103 (John Ainslie)
Recessional Come Holy Ghost

Evelyn Brokish OSF, the internet reveals, is a Franciscan nun living and working in Highland, Indiana in the USA: a golden jubilarian this year, she combines her musical ministry with that of sweet shop proprietor and purveyor of her creation, the ChocoNutty Trio. Her Breathe on me, breath of God clothes an adaptation of the familiar hymn text in a prayerful chant-like setting with a recurring refrain. It worked well as a gentle accompaniment to the procession of the candidates in today’s rite of Confirmation.

We followed it with Bernadette Farrell’s Spirit of God, having begun our celebration with the powerful and beautiful O Spirit, all embracing, with words by Delores Dufner OSB, to the music of Gustav Holst’s Thaxted. The final verse runs

Come, passion’s power holy, your insight here impart,
And give your servants lowly an understanding heart
To know your care more clearly when faith and love are tried,
To seek you more sincerely when false ideals have died:
For vision we implore you, for wisdom’s pure delight;
In prayer we come before you to wait upon your light.

Are all the best songs to the Holy Spirit written by women, I wonder?

We had the traditional chant melodies for the two great Pentecost hymns. Randolph Currie’s choral anthem sets the chant melody Veni Creator Spiritus with Latin and English words, and then, surprisingly and skilfully, puts the two together in canon. We sang the sequence Veni Sancte Spiritus in its dancing 6/8 guise, in Richard Proulx’s effervescent arrangement. Both the texts came up a second time too, the latter accompanying Jacques Berthier’s meditative ostinato refrain, and the former in Thomas Tallis’s hymn setting, with which our celebration ended on a properly joyful note.

The Ascension, 2010

Entrance Praise him as he mounts the skies
Gloria from Beneath the Tree of Life (Marty Haugen)
Psalm Ps 46 (Shaun MacCarthy)
Gospel Acclamation Easter Alleluia (chant)
Preparation of the Gifts New praises be given
Sanctus, Acclamation D, Amen Spring Sanctus (mcb)
Agnus Dei Lamb of God II (mcb)
Communion I will see you again (Psallite)
Postcommunion Ascendo ad Patrem (G. P. da Palestrina, c. 1525-1594)
Recessional Alleluia, Sing to Jesus

James Quinn SJ, who died in April at the age of 90, was a prolific writer of fine hymn texts. Among his best known perhaps are Day is done, but love unfailing and Forth in the peace of Christ. Like the latter hymn, Praise him as he mounts the skies reworks a familiar traditional hymn, in this case offering an alternative Ascension Day text to Charles Wesley’s Hail the day that sees him rise; one perhaps with greater theological depth too?

Palestrina’s five-part motet Ascendo ad Patrem is a serene reflection on our Lord’s ascension, and the promise of his Spirit. Angelic alleluias in elaborate counterpoint give way to momentary, arresting bursts of homophony at crucial places in the text: especially mittam vobis Spiritum veritatis (I will send you the Spirit of truth), with repeated articulation of the word Spiritum by several of the voices at once. The piece leads us nicely on to next Sunday’s great feast of Pentecost.

Feast of St. Matthias, apostle and martyr, 2010

Friday, 14 May 2010


Entrance Ecce Sacerdos (Edward Elgar, 1857-1934)
Christ is made the sure foundation
Kyrie Missa de Angelis (Mass VIII)
Gloria Missa de Angelis
Psalm Ps 112 (mcb/Steel)
Gospel Acclamation Easter Alleluia (chant)
Preparation of the Gifts My soul proclaims the Lord my God
Sanctus, Acclamation A, Amen Missa de Angelis & Missal tones
Agnus Dei Missa de Angelis
Communion Come to me (Martin Barry/Diane Murden)
Ave Verum Corpus (William Byrd, c. 1540-1623)
Postcommunion O Bread of Heaven
Recessional Hail Queen of Heaven

The cathedral was packed with priests and people for a farewell visit from Bishop Mark Davies, of these parts, recently appointed as Coadjutor Bishop of Shrewsbury. We greeted him and Bishop Terence with Elgar’s Ecce Sacerdos. It’s a delightfully understated and thoughtful setting – surprisingly so for Elgar – of what could simply be a moment of bombast. I’d have felt much less comfortable greeting the new Bishop with Bruckner’s version, trombones and all.

The feast of St Matthias perhaps isn’t at all a bad day to greet someone summarily appointed to high office. The responsorial psalm from the Lectionary gave us pause for thought at the planning stages: should we stick with the Lectionary response The Lord sets him in the company of the princes of his people, or go with the response appointed for this psalm when it occurs on a Sunday (the twenty-fifth in Ordinary time of Year C) Praise the Lord, who raises the poor? We stuck with the response of the day, but we still had to sing the verse

From the dungheap he raises the poor
to set them in the company of princes.

The lesson, I'm sure, was not to take any of it too personally.

Many of the musical choices were those of Bishop Davies. The people sang the Missa de Angelis with gusto, showing that it’s by no means extinguished from popular memory.

Credit, finally, to the new bishop, in his priestly days a refusenik from the celebrant’s sung role, but now counting the requirement to sing among the responsibilities of office. And turning out, what’s more, to have a fine singing voice.

6th Sunday of Easter (Year C, 2010)

Entrance Christ is made the sure foundation
Gloria from Beneath the Tree of Life (Marty Haugen)
Psalm Ps 66 (Cumberland/Forrester)
Gospel Acclamation Easter Alleluia (chant)
Preparation of the Gifts Let nothing trouble you (Bernadette Farrell)
Sanctus, Acclamation D, Amen Spring Sanctus (mcb)
Agnus Dei from Beneath the Tree of Life (Marty Haugen)
Communion My peace (Taizé) & Ps 84(85) (Murray)
Postcommunion If ye love me (Thomas Tallis, c. 1505-1585)
Recessional Come down, O love divine

To mirror our Lord’s promise of peace in today’s Gospel reading, we had Jacques Berthier’s My Peace, interspersed with the psalm verses speaking of peace in Ps 84(85). Bernadette Farrell’s setting of words from St Teresa of Avila fitted well with our Lord’s words Do not let your hearts be troubled from the same Gospel reading.

Both the Gospel reading and today’s communion antiphon recall the promise that the Father would send the Spirit, and so our closing hymn looked forward to Pentecost in two weeks’ time.

The second reading, from the book of the Apocalypse, described the heavenly Jerusalem and its foundations, and this prompted the choice of our opening hymn.

As with last week’s This is the Day, it was nice to be able to play around in rehearsal with the tempo of Tallis’s beautiful If ye love me. We settled on a slower pace than I’ve taken it in the past, which made for challenges of breathing and phrasing, but heightened the piece’s serene intensity, especially on the final word truth, sung to its arresting bare fifth chord.

5th Sunday of Easter (Year C, 2010)

Entrance Bring to the Lord a glad new song (Perry/Parry)
Gloria from Beneath the Tree of Life (Marty Haugen)
Psalm Ps 144 (Martin Hall)
Gospel Acclamation Easter Alleluia (chant)
Preparation of the Gifts A new commandment
Sanctus, Acclamation D, Amen Spring Sanctus (mcb)
Agnus Dei Lamb of God II (mcb)
Communion I am the vine (John L. Bell) & Ps 80 (Laurence Bévenot)
Postcommunion This is the Day (anon, c. 1600)
Recessional Christ triumphant

It’s ironic that (at least as far as I’m aware) there aren’t very many good congregation-friendly settings of the text of today’s entrance antiphon from Psalm 97: Sing to the Lord a new song.

A couple of years ago I took the instruction literally, and we sang Darlene Zschech’s Shout to the Lord, which we hadn’t done before. I don’t think we could get away with that every time, though, and this year, as last, we sang Michael Perry’s excellent reworking of Parry’s Jerusalem. Are there any other settings of this text you’d recommend?

I’d never heard of Osbert Parsley until I saw his name as a suggested composer of the more usually anonymous 16th century anthem This is the Day. I’m still not convinced it isn’t a prank.

4th Sunday of Easter (Year C, 2010)

Entrance All people that on earth do dwell
Gloria from Beneath the Tree of Life (Marty Haugen)
Psalm We are his people (mcb)
Gospel Acclamation Easter Alleluia (chant)
Preparation of the Gifts Jubilate Servite (Jacques Berthier)
Sanctus, Acclamation D, Amen Spring Sanctus (mcb)
Agnus Dei from Beneath the Tree of Life
Communion Because the Lord is my shepherd (Christopher Walker)
Postcommunion Surrexit Pastor Bonus (Michael Haller, 1840-1915)
Recessional Praise we our God with joy

As well as a fine assortment of musical sheep and shepherds, we had three different versions of the opening line of Ps 99(100): Cry out with joy to the Lord, all the earth was in my setting of the Grail translation of the Psalm, All people that on earth do dwell, sing to the Lord with cheerful voice was in our opening hymn, and Jacques Berthier’s Jubilate, Servite set the text in Latin:

Jubilate Deo, omnis terra
Servite Domino in laetitia

We had lots of fun with the Taizé piece: firstly in unison with just the women's voices, then repeated by all; then a couple of goes in two-part canon, and two more in four-part canon; then we switched to the two-part counter melody, and finally (via a modulation up a semitone) combined the original melody and the counter melody for a grand finale, just as the people rose to be incensed at the conclusion of the Preparation of the Gifts. I love it when we get the timing right like that.

3rd Sunday of Easter (Year C, 2010)

Entrance Crown him with many crowns
Gloria from Beneath the Tree of Life (Marty Haugen)
Psalm I will praise you, Lord (Daniel Bath)
Gospel Acclamation Easter Alleluia (chant)
Preparation of the Gifts Let all the earth cry out (Psallite)
Sanctus, Acclamation, Amen Spring Sanctus (mcb)
Agnus Dei Lamb of God II (mcb)
Communion Come and eat this bread (Marty Haugen)
Postcommunion O Sons and Daughters (traditional, arr. C.V. Stanford)
Recessional At the Lamb’s high feast we sing

My flight’s been cancelled because of the volcano has got to be the all-time best excuse from a missing choir member; at any rate, I can’t imagine what’s going to beat it. But the rest of us made it for our first sung Mass since Easter Sunday.

Our Eastertide music as usual aims for a lighter, brighter touch than our more austere Lenten fare. This year Marty Haugen’s Gloria and my own Spring Sanctus are the staples. There seems to be something irrepressibly cheerful, and eminently Paschal, about 6/8 time.

The Entrance and Communion antiphons were both there, our piece from Psallite at the preparation of the gifts setting the Entrance text, and a second look in for Marty Haugen in his reflective Communion song, building on our Lord’s words in the Communion antiphon.

The choir sang Stanford’s arrangement of O Filii et Filiae, with words by the fifteenth century Parisian friar Jean Tisserand, in J.M. Neale’s translation, and the well-known melody – apparently composed to fit this text – whose earliest source seems to be a collection published in 1623. It mainly uses unison voices, the men and women alternating to tell different parts of the resurrection narrative, with drama added by the florid organ part, and unaccompanied choral harmonies lending moments of graceful reflection. It’s a tune which should feature more centrally in our Easter repertoire.

11.30 Mass at St Nameless’s: 2nd Sunday of Easter (Year C, 2010)

Sunday, 11 April 2010


Entrance Alleluia, alleluia, give thanks to the risen Lord (Donald Fishel) [2 vv.]
Gospel Acclamation Easter Alleluia (chant) with spoken verse
Preparation of the Gifts Take our bread (Joe Wise)
Memorial Acclamation He is Lord
Sign of Peace Peace, perfect peace (Kevin Mayhew)
Communion This is my body (Jimmy and Carol Owens)
Recessional This is the day (traditional)

The cathedral choir had the weekend off, so I went to the principal Sunday Mass in my home parish. For a large and prosperous parish they have limited ambitions when it comes to liturgical music. The hymns chosen probably all have their place in a Sunday Mass in Easter time, but it’s a shame to find them included at the expense of, say, a sung version of the Holy, holy, or the Responsorial Psalm, or the Gloria. I haven’t heard a ‘song at the sign of peace’ in any other parish in the last twenty-five years, but in my parish they sing this particular song every Sunday, at the expense of a sung Lamb of God.

All in all, it’s a neat indication that there are mountains to be climbed in liturgical formation.

Easter Sunday (2010)

Entrance Jesus Christ is Ris’n Today
Gloria from Mass for John Carroll (Michael Joncas)
Psalm This is the Day (mcb)
SequenceVictimae Paschali Laudes (J. William Greene)
Gospel Acclamation Easter Alleluia (chant)
Preparation of the Gifts Now the green blade riseth
Sanctus, Acclamation (A), Amen Spring Sanctus (mcb)
Agnus Dei from Beneath the Tree of Life (Marty Haugen)
Communion Confitemini Domino (Taizé) & psalm 117 (Laurence Bévenot)
Postcommunion Haec Dies (Lodovico Viadana, c. 1564-1645)
Recessional (i) Go in the peace of Christ, Alleluia (chanted)
(ii) Battle is o’er

Something went wrong in the preparation of our service sheet for this morning, so that we had the traditional text for the first two verses of Now the green blade, followed by two verses in inferior doggerel:

Up He sprang at Easter, like the risen grain,
He that for three days in the grave had lain;
Up from the dead my risen Lord is seen:
Love is come again, like wheat that springs up green.

Ouch.

A happy and holy Easter to readers, whom, since Christmas, I know to number at least six. The choir has a break next Sunday, and we’re back in action in two weeks.

The Easter Vigil (Holy Saturday, 2010)

Saturday, 3 April 2010


The Service of LightLumen Christi (chanted)
ExsultetPlainchant
After 1st reading (Genesis 1)Send forth your spirit (Stephen Dean)
After 2nd reading (Exodus 14-15)I will sing to the Lord (Geoffrey Boulton Smith)
After 3rd reading (Isaiah 55: come to the water)We shall draw water joyfully (Paul Inwood)
After 4th reading (Ezekiel 36: I shall give you a new heart)Like the deer (mcb)
GloriaMass of the Creator Spirit (Ed Nowak)
Easter Alleluia + Psalm 117Plainchant, verses by Paul Inwood
Litany of the SaintsJoseph Gélineau, ed. Robert B. Kelly
Blessing of the FontSprings of Water (Marty Haugen)
SprinklingVidi Aquam (Tomás Luis de Victoria, c. 1548-1611)
Preparation of the GiftsAlleluia, Christus Surrexit (Felice Anerio, c. 1560-1614)
Sanctus, Acclamation, AmenSpring Sanctus (mcb)
Agnus Deifrom Communion Rite: Take and Eat (Michael Joncas/Gary Daigle)
CommunionTake and Eat (Michael Joncas)
DismissalGo in the peace of Christ, Alleluia (chanted)
Final HymnThine be the Glory

For a musical banquet as rich and complex as tonight’s, the fare needs to change slowly from year to year. This year we returned to Paul Inwood’s irrepressibly joyful We shall draw water. Anerio’s Alleluia, Christus Surrexit was brimming with the same spirit.

We remembered the bells at the Gloria this year, as we did on Holy Thursday: Bishop Terence intoned the opening of the Gloria from the Missa de Angelis, and then the bells and the organ rang out Easter joy before we eased seamlessly into Ed Nowak’s fiery setting.

We’ve sung Geoffrey Boulton Smith’s simple and bold setting of the Exodus canticle every year for the last twenty years and doubtless more. I don’t know of another setting to rival it.

Celebration of the Lord’s Passion (Good Friday, 2010)

Friday, April 2 2010


PsalmFather, into your hands (Geoffrey Boulton Smith)
Gospel AcclamationChristus factus est (Felice Anerio c. 1560-1614)
Veneration of the CrossThis is the wood of the cross (Missal tone)
The Reproaches (Brendan Curley)
Vinea mea electa (anon. Spanish, 16th century)
O come and mourn with me a while
Jesus, remember me (Taizé)
CommunionAve Verum Corpus (William Byrd, c. 1540-1623)
Soul of my Saviour

Our setting of the Reproaches was written (if I remember right) in seminary by Fr Brendan Curley, Administrator here at the cathedral just before the job title got changed to ‘Dean’. It mainly uses simple chant melodies, with people’s refrains for My people, what have I done to you? and Holy is God, holy and strong. It deserves to be more widely known.

Vinea mea electa was a happy find via the CPDL web site. We sang it as a brisk dance flanked by stately repetitions of the opening declamatory rebuke. Sung that way it positively fizzed with energy, the phrase ut me crucifigeres (that you should crucify me) leaping out at the listener in sudden aggrieved reproach.

But, as usual, the most prayerful musical moment in the whole liturgy was the whole congregation taking up the refrain Jesus, remember me in an unstoppable tide of sound. It was moving.

Mass of the Lord’s Supper (Maundy Thursday, 2010)

Thursday, 1 April 2010


Opening Hymn The glory of the cross (John Ainslie)
Gloria Mass of the Creator Spirit (Ed Nowak)
Responsorial Psalm The Blessing Cup (Sue Furlong)
Gospel Acclamation A New Commandment
Washing of Feet If there is this love among you (Barry/Murden)
Preparation of the Gifts Ubi Caritas (Maurice Duruflé, 1902-1986)
Sanctus, Acclamation, Amen Mass XVII
Missal Tone: When we eat this bread
Missal Tone
Agnus Dei Mass XVII
Communion O Sacrum Convivium (Thomas Tallis, c. 1505-1585)
Ubi Caritas (Bob Hurd)
Procession Pange Lingua (plainchant)
Stay with me (Taizé)

John Ainslie’s hymn text The glory of the cross we sing fits well with today’s entrance antiphon We should glory in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. We sang it in procession, to the tune Gonfalon Royal. The reponsorial psalm was the Irish composer Sue Furlong’s setting from the first volume of Music for the Mass, and with that and both If there is this love during the washing of feet, and Ubi Caritas at the preparation of the gifts, we had a fair proportion of the proper texts from the Missal forming our sung prayer.

For the procession to the altar of repose, we had Pange lingua as usual, with the men’s and women’s voices alternating for the first four verses, then coming together for Tantum ergo, which made its impact all the stronger.

There’s nothing prescribed in the Missal to be sung during the adoration, but walking away in silence would feel more like an end than a beginning to the period of watching. Jacques Berthier’s Stay with me, sung unaccompanied in semi-darkness, was, I thought, an effective way to lead us into the heart of prayer.

The Mass of Chrism (2010)

Thursday, 1 April 2010


Opening HymnPraise to the Lord, the Almighty
KyrieKyrie 2 from A Community Mass (Richard Proulx)
GloriaGlory to God in the Highest (John Bell)
Responsorial PsalmI will sing for ever of your love (mcb)
Gospel AcclamationPraise to you, O Christ (James Walsh)
Procession of the OilsO Redeemer (Paul Ford/mcb)
Preparation of the GiftsThe Beatitudes (Bob Chilcott)
Sanctus, Acclamation, AmenSpring Sanctus (mcb)
Agnus DeiMass XVIII & Missa Brevis (Antonio Lotti, c. 1667-1740)
CommunionO Lord, I will sing of your constant love (Christopher Walker)
O Sacrum Convivium (Thomas Tallis, c. 1505-1585)
Taste and See (Richard Proulx)
Recessional HymnPraise to the Holiest

The Mass of Chrism is the celebration that feels most like an annual gathering of the whole diocese. The rain held off, to allow us to process through the courtyard and along Chapel Street into the Cathedral, while Anthony gave us the Te Deum by Jean Langlais. (He played Bach’s Great Fugue in G Minor at the end, with a little competition from someone with a very poor sense of timing trying to make an announcement over the PA. Anthony won, I’m very pleased to say.) We were joined by Celebration Brass as usual, and the musical fare was our trademark mix of ancient and modern, choral and congregational.

Thomas Tallis’s O Sacrum Convivium seems to have started life as a piece for instrumental consort, with the addition of the text a later adaptation. I think it shows, in a positive way: in place of the long intricate lines that characterise his earlier Latin church music, here Tallis gives us something much more direct, the five-part counterpoint still allowing the text to speak with transparency. For Tallis, it’s quite Byrd-like.

Cardinal Newman’s majestic Praise to the Holiest, its famous text taken from The Dream of Gerontius, and sung to Sir Richard Terry’s tune Billing, was an obvious choice for an occasion like today’s, in this of all years especially.

A year of blogging


It isn’t, strictly speaking, this blog’s first birthday yet, but with today’s post we’ve now covered a whole liturgical year. To celebrate, here’s a Word Cloud (from the splendid Wordle web site) covering a whole year’s posts. Click to enlarge.

Palm Sunday (2010)

Entrance Hosanna Filio David (Plainchant & T.L. de Victoria, c. 1548-1611)
All Glory Laud and Honour
Psalm Ps 21 (John Ainslie)
Gospel Acclamation Praise to you, O Christ (James Walsh)
Prayers of Intercession Lord, in your Mercy (mcb)
Preparation of the Gifts Stabat Mater Dolorosa (G.B. Pergolesi, 1710-1736)
Sanctus Mass XVII
Acclamation Missal Tone: When we eat this bread
Amen Missal Tone
Agnus Dei Mass XVII & Missa Brevis (Antonio Lotti, c. 1667-1740)
Communion Father, if this cup (Stephen Dean)
Recessional My song is love unknown

Some of the hymns for Palm Sunday choose themselves. I can’t imagine not singing All glory, laud and honour during the procession into church after the blessing of palms. If we hadn’t had a choir piece at the preparation of the gifts, I’m sure we’d have had Ride on, ride on in majesty. And our recessional hymn every year is My song is love unknown. The words, written by Samuel Crossman in 1664, vividly recount the Passion narrative, and coupled with John Ireland’s beautiful melody, it’s one of my favourite hymns. As the verses unfold, we move from addressing our Lord as Saviour, Prince and King, to the simple claim: this is my friend. For me, the phrase brings the events of Holy Week into inescapable close-up.

Our brightest musical gem today was the haunting opening movement of Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater, sung beautifully by the women of the choir. I wonder what masterpieces the composer might have created, if he had lived beyond the age of twenty-six?

5th Sunday of Lent (Year C, 2010)

Entrance Lord Jesus, think on me
Kyrie (Dinah Reindorf)
Psalm Ps 125 (Romuald Simpson)
Gospel Acclamation Praise to you, O Christ (James Walsh)
Prayers of Intercession Lord, in your mercy (mcb)
Preparation of the Gifts Lord, for thy tender mercy’s sake (attr. John Hilton, d. 1608)
Sanctus, Acclamation, Amen Mass XVII & Missal tones
Agnus Dei Mass XVII
Communion Unless a grain of wheat (Bernadette Farrell)
Recessional Praise we our God with joy

An odd fact about some of the best known Tudor anthems in English is that their authorship is unknown. In our music library, both This is the day and Rejoice in the Lord alway are filed under “Anon, 16th c.”. Lord, for thy tender mercy’s sake, which is filed under the name of John Hilton the elder, probably ought to be in the same category. It is usually attributed either to Hilton or to Richard Farrant, but as far as I can tell both attributions first appear at least a hundred years after the piece was written, and there’s no good reason to believe either.

Whoever the composer, this well-known and much-loved setting of a text from Prayers commonly called Lydley’s prayers published in 1568 is a simple and heartfelt prayer for help in meeting today’s Gospel message of forgiveness and repentance.

Special mention today for Anthony our magnificent organist, who had eye surgery a few days ago and yet played faultlessly—and mainly from memory!—this morning.

4th Sunday of Lent (Year C, 2010)

Entrance Our Father, we have wandered
Kyrie Mass of the Creator Spirit (Ed Nowak)
Psalm Taste and See (Richard Proulx)
Gospel Acclamation Praise to you, O Christ (James Walsh)
Prayers of Intercession Lord, in your mercy (mcb)
Preparation of the Gifts I will arise and go to my Father (Robert Creighton, 1636-1734)
Sanctus, Acclamation, Amen Mass XVII & Missal tones
Agnus Dei Mass XVII & Missa Brevis (Antonio Lotti)
Communion Lord, your love has drawn us near (Stephen Dean)
Recessional Praise my soul, the King of heaven

We were joined today by Revd Canon Gilly Myers, Canon Precentor at Manchester Cathedral. She gave a short address after Communion, talking about her work, and about her hopes for her church and for the future of ecumenical relations. By coincidence the choir sang a piece by Robert Creighton, who was a remarkably long-lived Canon Precentor of Wells Cathedral. His setting of the prodigal son’s penitent words provided a simple but direct vehicle for the text, in the form of a three-part canon (at varying intervals) between soprano, alto and bass, plus the tenor part supplying missing harmonies. The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography almost glows with praise (but doesn’t quite manage it): As a composer of church music he was not markedly inferior to many of his professional contemporaries.

For the Psalm we took Richard Proulx’s setting, and slimmed it down by removing the organ interludes, and the last verse (which doesn’t feature among those selected in the Lectionary for today). This transformed it effectively from a thoughtful and somewhat meandering processional piece (which has worked well for us during Communion) into a more tightly focused, and still musically interesting, responsorial Psalm setting.

3rd Sunday of Lent (Year C, 2010)

Entrance Attende Domine
Kyrie Mass for John Carroll (Michael Joncas)
Psalm Ps 102 (Geoffrey Boulton Smith)
Gospel Acclamation Praise to you, O Christ (James Walsh)
Prayers of Intercession Lord, in your mercy (mcb)
Preparation of the Gifts The Crown of Roses (P.I. Tchaikovsky, 1840-1893)
Sanctus, Acclamation, Amen Mass XVII and Missal tones
Agnus Dei Mass XVII
Communion Forget not what God has done (Marty Haugen)
Recessional How great thou art (Carl Boberg, tr. Stuart K. Hine)

The arrangement by the late Richard Proulx of the Lenten penitential hymn Attende Domine sets Latin and English versions of the refrain, interspersed with verses in English. The men of the choir sang the Latin refrain, and everyone responded with the English one; the women’s voices supplied the verses in between. It felt like it worked well: sometimes when the people aren’t given enough to do, they seem reluctant to join in at all; but the strong refrain in this piece made it feel as though the assembly was being given a proper and dignified role, even if it was a limited one.

Tchaikovsky’s Legend tells of the young Jesus being crowned with thorns grown from the roses lovingly tended in his garden. It fitted, after a fashion, with the parable of the fig tree in today’s Gospel reading. It’s the kind of piece the choir thrives on: ample scope for drama and pathos, in a musical setting that, with simplicity and directness, tells a story. I think we did it justice.

To judge from internet discussions, the hymn How great thou art arouses a certain amount of strong feeling over the theology implicit in the words sent him to die. I don’t think the words really amount to heterodoxy from a Catholic perspective. In any event, it was clear that it was a song much loved by our singing assembly. Lex orandi, lex credendi notwithstanding, an old friend of mine said to me recently: it doesn't always make sense to dissect hymn texts right down to the bare bones. Sometimes images and metaphors are just that.

2nd Sunday of Lent (Year C, 2010)

Sunday, 28 February 2010

Entrance Be still for the presence of the Lord (David Evans)
Kyrie Mass for John Carroll (Michael Joncas)
Psalm Ps 26 (Paul Inwood)
Gospel Acclamation Praise to you, O Christ (James Walsh)
Prayers of Intercession Lord, in your mercy (mcb)
Preparation of the Gifts Thou knowest, Lord (Henry Purcell, 1659-1695)
Sanctus, Acclamation, Amen Mass XVII & Missal tones
Agnus Dei Mass XVII & Missa Aeterna Christi Munera (Palestrina)
Communion Eye has not seen (Marty Haugen)
Recessional Immortal, Invisible

Plainchant, Palestrina, Purcell, Marty Haugen, Paul Inwood, Michael Joncas… A normal Sunday at Salford Cathedral.

Memorial Service for Maggie Jones

Thursday, 25 February 2010


Hymn Praise my soul, the King of heaven
Reading (Anne Kirkbride) Wisdom 3:1-9
Poem (Malcolm Hebden) When I have fears (Noël Coward)
Jon Christos & Jenny Williams Panis Angelicus (César Franck)
Tribute (Tony Singleton)
Poem (Sue Nicholls) If I should go before you (Joyce Grenfell)
Caroline Fields I’m going to see you today (Joyce Grenfell)
Tribute (William Roache)
Hymn I vow to thee, my country
Poem (Anthony Cotton) I’m free (Linda Jo Jackson)
Jenny Williams Tears in Heaven (Eric Clapton)
Jon Christos & Jenny Williams Ave Maria (Franz Schubert)
Hymn Faith of our Fathers
Jon Christos & Jenny Williams You raise me up (Rolf Løvland and Brendan Graham)
Leos Quartet Sheep may safely graze (J.S. Bach)

The cast and crew of Coronation Street, and two hundred-odd fans of the programme, came to pay tribute to the life of Maggie Jones who played the inimitable Blanche Hunt. I’m afraid I’m not enough of a Corrie watcher to have recognised all the famous names who were there. (But I did once explain acoustic spectrograms to Anne Kirkbride on Songs of Praise.)

There was a rich and varied programme of hymns, songs, poems and reminiscences. The pick of the crop was William Roache’s tour d’horizon of Blanche’s best put-downs over the years, part of a heartfelt tribute to a character (Maggie, I mean, rather than Blanche) it’s clear they miss.

There were prayers and a blessing too, led by Fr Tony. The choir had a limited role to play, in leading the hymns and (I suspect our chief purpose) giving the celebrant someone to process in and out with. Our ample reward was to rub shoulders with the stars over refreshments afterwards.