Service music

Music for Quinquagesima

Since the Epistle for today is I Corinthians 13 — the most focused discourse on love in all of Holy Scripture — the hymns and motets usually experienced in our Quinquagesima mass often complement St. Paul’s description of what love is. The choir frequently sings a setting of Ubi caritas, a text long used during the foot-washing rite practiced on Maundy Thursday.

Where charity and love are, God is there.
Christ’s love has gathered us into one.
Let us rejoice and be pleased in Him.
Let us fear, and let us love the living God.
And may we love each other with a sincere heart.
Where charity and love are, God is there.

There are two settings of this in our choir’s repertoire. The best-known of these is the one by Maurice Duruflé (1902–1986), who based his short piece on the traditional Gregorian chant melody associated with this text. (For more about Duruflé’s music, read “The sound of perpetual light.”)

Here is this lovely motet performed by the Cambridge Singers, conducted by John Rutter.

Another and much more recent setting of Ubi caritas that our choir has sung is by Norwegian composer Ola Gjello (born in 1978). It is sung here by VOCES8.

The hymns frequently sung on this Sunday include “The King of love my shepherd is,” “Jesus, Lover of my soul,” and Charles Wesley’s “Love divine, all love’s excelling.” This last hymn was the latest in our Choir-in-Quarantine series; we sang it this week, accompanied by a recording that Wallace Hornady took time to make for us.