Feast of the Holy Family: Our Lady of Ransom, Rayleigh

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Entrance Unto us is born a son
Sending out of the children to LotW We are marching (Siyahamba)
Gloria Isobel Kennedy
Psalm Ps 83 (Paul Simon, adapted)
Gospel Acclamation Isobel Kennedy
Preparation of the Gifts O little town of Bethlehem
Sanctus St Anne’s Mass (James MacMillan)
Acclamation B St Columba (Irish melody)
Amen Missal tone
Agnus Dei Isobel Kennedy
Communion In the bleak midwinter (Harold Darke)
Away in a manger
Recessional What child is this?

The Cathedral choir had its customary week off for good behaviour, and I visited the parish where I spent my teenage years. Music in the parish is in the immensely capable hands of Isobel Kennedy, who with her husband Tom was today celebrating forty years of marriage. The choir did them proud, especially in the Darke In the bleak midwinter and in an energetic rendition of the MacMillan Sanctus. The responsorial psalm was cheekily adapted from Bridge over troubled water (a favourite song, I’m told, of the celebrating couple) and performed with panache by Mark Kennedy. Parish priest Fr Martin Joyce sang his part with confidence in the Eucharistic Prayer.

In all, this is a parish that knows what it’s doing.

Christmas Morning Mass (2012)

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Entrance Hodie Christus natus (chant)
O Come all ye faithful
Gloria Psallite
Psalm All the ends of the earth (Alan Johnson)
Gospel Acclamation St Agatha Alleluia (mcb)
Preparation of the Gifts See amid the winter’s snow
Sanctus, Acclamation, Amen Mass of Creation (Marty Haugen)
Agnus Dei Lamb of God II (mcb)
Communion In the bleak midwinter
Postcommunion A noble flower of Juda (choir)
Recessional Hark, the herald angels sing

Men’s voices as usual for Christmas morning, and the seven of us were in good voice. The music was mainly bright and bold, but the chant introit and the songs during and after communion had a gentler touch.

Christmas wishes to everyone!

Christmas Vigil and Midnight Mass (2012)

Monday, 24 December 2012

Introit O Emmanuel (chant)
Opening Hymn O Come, O Come Emmanuel
Reading Isaiah 11:1-10 (A shoot springs from the stock of
Choir Wake, O wake with tidings thrilling (Phillip Nicolai & J.S. Bach)
Hymn It came upon the midnight clear
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)
Choir All my heart this night rejoices (J.G. Ebeling/Paul Gerhardt, tr. C. Winkworth)
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 St Agatha Alleluia (mcb)
Reading Luke 2:1-14 (The Nativity)
Preparation of the gifts Angels we have heard on high (trad., arr. Eric Paździora)
Angel voices, richly blending
Sanctus, Acclamation Missa Ubi Caritas (Bob Hurd)
Agnus Dei Lamb of God II (mcb)
Communion My Lord has come (Will Todd)
Silent night
Postcommunion O little town of Bethlehem
Recessional Hark the herald angels sing

The choir tonight numbered just twelve plus yours truly, so we had to work hard. But there was something for everyone in the mix of music, from plainchant and Bach to Bernadette Farrell and Will Todd, and Celebration Brass added their usual sparkle.

4th Sunday of Advent (Year C, 2012)

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Entrance Come Saviour, Come
Kyrie Missal Chant
Psalm Ps 79 (James Walsh)
Gospel Acclamation Advent Gospel Acclamations (Alan Smith)
Preparation of the Gifts Ave Maria (Edward Elgar, 1857-1934)
Sanctus, Acclamation, Amen Missal Chant
Agnus Dei Missal Chant
Communion (i) O Clavis David
(ii) Veni Immanuel (Bell)
Postcommunion Rorate Caeli (Francisco Guerrero, 1528-1599)
Recessional O come, O come Emmanuel

Today’s entrance antiphon begins

Drop down dew from above, you heavens
and let the clouds rain down the Just One;

Two of our musical choices were based on this text. Guerrero’s polyphonic setting uses a composite text that no other composer, to my knowledge, has also set, namely the entrance antiphon text (in Latin) followed by a verse from Ps 84(85) and the words veni Domine, et noli tardare (come Lord, and do not delay). Our entrance song, on the other hand, was Luke Connaughton’s translation of the so-called Advent prose, a seventeenth-century French composition which also takes the beginning of the antiphon text as its refrain, interspersed with penitential verses loosely (I think) derived from Isaiah and others.

3rd Sunday of Advent (Year C, 2012)

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Entrance Rejoice for ever (mcb)
Kyrie Missal Chant
Psalm Isaiah 12 (Laurence Bévenot)
Gospel Acclamation Advent Gospel Acclamations (Alan Smith)
Preparation of the Gifts Adam lay ybounden (Boris Ord, 1897-1961)
Sanctus, Acclamation, Amen Missal Chant
Agnus Dei Missal Chant
Communion O Radix Jesse
Be strong, our God will come to save us (Psallite)
Postcommunion Rejoice in the Lord alway (anon. c. 1600)
Recessional Hail to the Lord’s anointed

Plenty of rejoicing for Gaudete Sunday, in keeping with St Paul’s instruction in the entrance antiphon:

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice.

repeated in the second reading. Musical offerings on this theme included our opening song, our motet after Communion, and the responsorial psalm with its response Sing and shout for joy, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.

There was rejoicing too in Boris Ord’s setting of the famous macaronic poem from the Sloane Manuscript of c. 1400, the concluding Deo Gratias extolling Adam and Eve’s felix culpa that brought about not only the fall but also our redemption.

Christmas is Coming!

Music and Readings for Advent and Christmas

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Cathedral Choir & Notability The truth from above (Traditional, arr. R Vaughan Williams, 1872-1958)
All Come, thou long-expected Jesus
Notability Mirabile dictu (Carol Ann Duffy/Sasha Johnson Manning)
Jesus child (John Rutter)
All Once in royal David’s city
Cathedral Choir My Lord has come (Will Todd)
All While shepherds watched their flocks
Anthony Hunt (Organ) Nun komm der Heiden Heiland (J.S. Bach)
Notability Mary, Mary (Mary Donnelly/George Strid)
All O little town of Bethlehem
Cathedral Choir All my heart this night rejoices (J.G. Ebeling, tr. C. Winkworth)
All God rest ye merry, gentlemen
Cathedral Choir Angels we have heard on high (trad., arr. Eric Paździora)
All Hark the herald angels sing
Cathedral Choir & Notability O magnum mysterium (Morten Lauridsen)
All O come, all ye faithful
All O come, O come Emmanuel
Anthony Hunt Vom Himmel Hoch, (J.S. Bach)

Our usual partner charity AgeUK (formerly Age Concern) was unable to join us in mounting this year’s event, so instead we teamed up as usual with ace chamber choir Notability and put the show on ourselves. Speakers came from our two chosen charities, and there were scripture readings, and words of welcome, a prayer and a blessing from Canon Tony.

Overall my aim in compiling the programme was to give the event a more nuanced Advent feel, compared with the usual full-on Christmas celebration of previous years. This was probably more evident from the readings (Luke 1:26-38, Isaiah 40:1-5;9, John 1:1-5; 9-14) than from the music, though beginning and ending with Advent hymns seemed to set the tone successfully.

From a musical point of view, the high point was undoubtedly the two choirs joining together to sing Lauridsen’s stunningly beautiful setting of the famous Christmas text. It was a joy to sing.

2nd Sunday of Advent (Year C, 2012)

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Entrance Song of Consolation (Peter Jones)
Kyrie Missal Chant
Psalm Ps 125 (Romuald Simpson, 1930-2012)
Gospel Acclamation Advent Gospel Acclamations (Alan Smith)
Preparation of the Gifts Lucis Creator Optime (Plainchant & G.P. da Palestrina, c. 1525-1594)
Sanctus, Acclamation, Amen Missal Chant
Agnus Dei Missal Chant
Communion (i) O Adonai
(ii) There is a longing in our hearts (Anne Quigley)
Postcommunion Hierusalm Surge (Heinrich Isaac, c.1450-1517)
Recessional Come, thou long-expected Jesus

Plenty of chant this morning, in the Missal chants for the ordinary of the Mass, the alternate verses of Palestrina’s vespers hymn, this week’s O antiphon and the incipit from Isaac’s setting of the Communion antiphon. But we maintained our trademark mix, with Peter Jones and Anne Quigley in particular both providing elements that were more direct and accessible.

Greater Manchester Army Cadet Force Carol Service

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Choir Angels we have heard on high (trad., arr. Eric Paździora)
All O Come, All Ye Faithful
Choir    The Truth From Above (Traditional, arr. R Vaughan Williams, 1872-1958)
All O Little Town of Bethlehem
Choir My Lord has Come (Will Todd)
All Silent Night
All While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks
All National Anthem
All Hark the Herald Angels Sing

We followed the same pattern as for the last two years, with Celebration Brass joining us in a cathedral packed with young army cadets and an array of visiting dignitaries. The programme was slightly slimmed down from previous years, with one fewer reading and one fewer carol, and the running order in between the musical items more or less conformed to the template of readings–reflections–prayers. I thought in this form it made for a highly effective celebration.

Our musical highlight was undoubtedly Will Todd’s enchanting offering from Carols for Choirs 5. I'm not completely convinced by Todd’s text: no place for them but a stable sounds like it ought to refer to the holy family, but in fact he’s referring to the shepherds and wise men (and later me as well), and I don’t know what he means. Musically, though, it’s irresistible: I expect it to become a Classic FM favourite in no time.

1st Sunday of Advent (Year C, 2012)

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Entrance Awake awake, fling off the night
Kyrie Missal Chant
Psalm To you, O Lord (Marty Haugen)
Gospel Acclamation Advent Gospel Acclamations (Alan Smith)
Preparation of the Gifts Let all mortal flesh keep silence (Edward Bairstow, 1874-1946)
Sanctus, Acclamation B, Amen Missal Chant
Agnus Dei Missal Chant
Communion (i) O Sapientia (chant)
(ii) Wait for the Lord (Taizé)
Postcommunion Zion hears the watchmen’s voices (J.S. Bach)
Recessional Love divine

Let all mortal flesh keep silence, derived from the Cherubic Hymn of the fourth-century Liturgy of St James, is inherently an Advent text. In the familiar words of the hymn setting:

Christ our God to earth descendeth
our full homage to demand

The text in Bairstow’s atmospheric choral setting is closer to the ancient liturgical text:

For the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Christ our God,
cometh forth to be our oblation,
and to be given for food to the faithful.

though in comparison to Moultrie’s hymn text, this version perhaps conjures a more abstract image of the incarnation in favour of a more direct connection to the eucharist.

We had two pieces – the opening hymn and our postcommunion rendition of the famous fourth movement of Bach’s cantata Wachet auf, BWV 140 – reflecting our Lord’s instruction to stay awake in today’s Gospel reading.

We’re singing the O antiphons again this year, one per Sunday. These too are ancient Advent texts, ascribing a succession of names to the coming Saviour – today’s was Wisdom – and dramatising the one-word plea come. The text is of course better known as the hymn O come, O come Emmanuel, which we’ll come to in three weeks’ time.