Sunday, 13 January 2013
|Entrance||On Jordan’s Bank|
|Sprinkling Rite||Springs of Water (Marty Haugen)|
|Gloria||Gloria de Noël (Thomas Niel)|
|Psalm||Ps 103 (Laurence Bévenot)|
|Gospel Acclamation||St Agatha Alleluia (mcb)|
|Preparation of the Gifts||Songs of thankfulness and praise|
|Sanctus, Acclamation, Amen||Missa Ubi Caritas (Bob Hurd)|
|Agnus Dei||Lamb of God II (mcb)|
|Communion||Here is my Servant (Psallite)|
|Postcommunion||Beatus Auctor Saeculi (Tarik O’Regan, 1978-)|
|Recessional||Come down, O love divine|
Tarik O’Regan’s haunting Christmas motet sets a fifth-century Latin text (the second and third stanzas of the abecedarian poem A solis ortus cardine, attributed to Caelius Sedulius) found in the eleventh-century liturgical almanac the Portiforium of St Wulstan. The music alternates moments of sparse discord with richer chordal writing, but always infused with serenity. (In rehearsal I told the choir not to wake the baby.) In the composer’s own explanation, the particular verses set were chosen apparently for the vagueness of their religious allusions:
I specifically chose to set only two of the eight extant stanzas in the manuscript as I was aware that these were the most ecumenical (sic) in their reading, referring in metaphor only to a ‘blest author’.
but the text itself (given here in the translation by J.M. Neale) looks unambiguously Christian to me:
Blest Author of this earthly frame,
To take a servant’s form he came,
That liberating flesh by flesh,
Whom he had made might live afresh.
In that chaste parent’s holy womb,
Celestial grace hath found its home;
And she, as earthly bride unknown,
Yet calls that Offspring blest her own.
I’m guessing, then, that the composer came at the work from a fairly non-religious perspective. But for all that, it makes for a beautiful reflection on the mystery of the incarnation.
There’s a sumptuous recording of the piece on this web page (and also – a little more complex to link to – on the composer’s own web site). I think it’s the choir of Clare College, Cambridge, for whom the piece was commissioned. Click the second link down on the right hand side of the page. And enjoy.