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.