• Service music

    Two Propers (& two anthems) for Low Sunday

    Within the Anglican Communion, the first Sunday after Easter day is traditionally called Low Sunday. The origins of that name are at best obscure. It is often suggested that the name alludes to the relative inferiority of this Sunday to the Great Sunday that we celebrated last week. The term “Octave of Easter” is used to designate the eight-day period that starts on Easter Sunday, so the “Octave Day of Easter” — Easter’s eighth day — is also used to designate the Sunday after Easter. The Offertory for today is from St. Matthew’s Gospel: The Angel of the Lord descended from heaven,and said unto the women:He whom ye seek is…

  • Repertoire

    Choral music for Easter, Part V — Bach, Easter Oratorio

    “Come, hurry and run, you nimble feet; reach the cavern that sheltered Jesus! Laughing and jesting attend our hearts, for our Salvation is raised.” The first chorus in Bach’s Easter Oratorio (BWV 249) captures the joy unleashed by the Resurrection. As Bach tells the story of the discovery the empty tomb, Easter joy is revealed to be complex. It is more than excitement; it comprises comfort, consolation, hope, love, praise, and thanksgiving. Below — at the bottom of this post — is a complete performance of Bach’s Easter Oratorio by the Netherlands Bach Society. But the first embedded video is a helpful 6-minute introduction to the work, featuring comments by…

  • Repertoire

    Choral music for Easter, Part IV — Jean l’Héritier, Surrexit pastor bonus

    Many of the most memorable musical compositions that celebrate the fact of the Resurrection are — fittingly — thrilling and extravagant. Bring out the brass, unleash the timpani, pull out all the stops on the organ! But there are also works that contemplatively and with humble austerity reflect on the mysteries of the event which is the turning point of history. Such is the case with this setting of Surrexit pastor bonus (The good shepherd has arisen) by a little-known French Renaissance composer. Jean l’Hértier was born in northern France around 1480, and died sometime after 1551. He studied with the great master of the early Renaissance, Josquin des Prez,…

  • Repertoire

    Choral music for Easter, Part III — Guerrero, Maria Magdalena et altera Maria

    In 2018, our choir had the pleasure of bringing into our celebration of the Resurrection a wonderfully delicate and evocative composition by the Spanish composer Francisco Guerrero (1528-1599). Well, we actually only sang the first half of the work, as the complete work takes around 7 minutes to sing, which makes it a bit long for an Offertory in our service. The work is called Maria Magdalene et altera (Mary Magdalen and the other Mary). It describes the visit to the tomb of the women who were the first people to learn about the Resurrection. Here is the text of the first part of the motet: Maria Magdalene et altera…

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    Choral music for Easter, Part II — Philips, Christus resurgens

    Last year, on Easter Sunday, our choir sang a setting of Christus resurgens by Peter Philips (1561-1628). A boy-chorister at St Paul’s Cathedral in London, Philips refused to convert to Protestantism at the time of the English Reformation, and spent most of his life — and very successful career — in Catholic European regions. The text to Christus resurgens is one that we were planning on singing this year, in a setting by a different composer. Christus resurgens ex mortuis, jam non moritur, mors illi ultra non dominabitur.     Christ, rising again from the dead, dieth now no more. Death shall no more have dominion over him.Quod enim mortuus est peccato,…

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    Choral music for Easter, Part I — Richafort, Christus resurgens

    Back in the pre-quarantine era, the choir had begun work on an anthem for Easter Sunday morning. It has been my habit to find some of the most wondrous, most elaborate, most effusive music in the repertoire for us to share with the congregation as we celebrate the Resurrection together. And the choir has always worked hard — and remarkably, without complaining — to try to master the pieces I have selected. This year, we had planned on singing a piece by a composer whose work was new to us. Not much is known by anyone about Jean Richafort, who was born sometime around 1480, somewhere in the Netherlands. He…

  • Hymns

    Hymns for Easter

    Enjoy singing along with these hymns at home this Easter. If you don’t have one of our Hymnals at home, here is a pdf of the hymns included on this page. (The words sung on these recordings may differ slight from what is in our Hymnal, and all of the stanzas may not be sung.) Jesus Christ is ris’n today (#85) This week, each member of the All Saints choir recorded themselves in their own homes, singing the hymn with which we usually open our Easter service. The recordings were then mixed together, along with an organ track recorded by Wallace Hornady (safely in Alabama). Here is the result, in…

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    Music for Passiontide XI — Holy Saturday responsories

    The first of the three nocturns in the Holy Saturday Matins begins with a reading from Lamentations 3:22-30. It is of the Lord‘s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord. It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth. He sitteth alone and keepeth…

  • Hymns

    Music for Passiontide, X — “Ah, holy Jesus”

    One of the hymns that we often sing at Good Friday services is “Ah, holy Jesus.” The hymn powerfully combines an expression of grief at the horrible suffering of the innocent Jesus with the sorrowful recognition of the guilt of each individual believer, whose sin was the occasion for Christ’s death. Our hymn is an English translation of a German hymn inspired by a passage of devotional prose written in Latin by an an Italian-Norman Benedictine monk. Leaving most of the genealogical details aside for now, the German hymn — known as Herzliebster Jesu — was written in 1630 by Johann Heermann (1585-1647), a Lutheran pastor and poet. Our Hymnal’s…

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    Music for Passiontide IX — Good Friday responsories

    Yesterday’s post explained the structure of the Maundy Thursday Matins in which the Tenebrae responsories were placed. The structure for the Matins on Good Friday is the same: three nocturns (groups of readings and chanted or sung responsories). Each nocturn contained three readings and a following responsory. As was the case on Maundy Thursday, the traditional readings in the first nocturn on Good Friday were all from Lamentations, the first being from 2:8–11. The Lord hath purposed to destroy the wall of the daughter of Zion: he hath stretched out a line, he hath not withdrawn his hand from destroying: therefore he made the rampart and the wall to lament; they…