Ash Wednesday (2010)

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Entrance Lord Jesus, think on me
Psalm Ps 50 (Stephen Dean)
Gospel Acclamation Praise to you, O Christ (James Walsh)
Imposition of Ashes Lord, Cleanse my heart (Psallite)
Sanctus, Acclamation, Amen Mass XVII & Missal tones
Agnus Dei Mass XVII
Communion Miserere Mei (Antonio Lotti, c. 1667-1740)
Recessional Our Father, we have wandered

We sang the opening chorus from Lotti’s first setting of Psalm 50(51), dating from 1706. It’s just a fragment of the complete work, but with moments of drama in the alternation between counterpoint – especially the overlapping discords at the beginning, recalling the composer’s more famous Crucifixus – and the block harmonies in the final imploring phrase dele iniquitatem meam.

Lord, cleanse my heart has a simple repeated ostinato refrain and verses for cantor, once again from Psalm 50(51). We began simply, with a unison refrain accompanied by the organ, and the choir then added harmonies busked from the organ part. The organ dropped out as the choir joined the end of the procession, singing as they went, and the cantor stayed at the front of the church declaiming the psalm verses. I thought it worked rather well, though by the end, as often happens when the music is simple but beautiful, the members of the assembly seemed to prefer participation in the prayer through listening rather than joining in. I don’t think it mattered.

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