• Service music

    The Introit, two hymns, and three cantatas for Jubilate Sunday

    The Introit for the third Sunday after Easter is from Psalm 66, which begins “O be joyful in God, all ye lands.” The first words of this Introit in Latin are Jubilate Deo, so this Sunday has traditionally been known as Jubilate Sunday. This Sunday is known as “Jubilate Sunday,” because the first word in the Introit (when sung in Latin) is Jubilate, “Be joyful.” (By the way, if you’re explaining this to your kids, remember that the initial “J” in the word is silent.) The persistent presence of alleluias reminds us that we are still in Eastertide. One Introit O be joyful in God, all ye lands, alleluia: sing…

  • Psalms,  Service music

    Psalm 23 chanted, for Good Shepherd Sunday

    One of the most frequently chanted settings of Psalm 23 is by Charles Hylton Stewart (1884-1932). The son of an Anglican organist who was also a priest, Stewart served as an organist in Rochester Cathedral and St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle. Stewart’s setting of Psalm 23 does not conform to the strict structure of Anglican chant, but is one of our choir’s favorite Psalm settings. It is sung here by the choir of St John’s Anglican Church in Elora, Ontario, directed by Noel Edison.

  • Hymns

    A hymn for Good Shepherd Sunday

    The gospel reading for the second Sunday after Easter is from St. John 10:11-16, in which Jesus proclaims himself the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep. This text invites us to reflect on Psalm 23, in which the attributes and gifts of a divine Shepherd are also expressed. In past years, we have often on this day sung “The King of love my shepherd is,” the text of which contains one of the many English-language paraphrases of Psalm 23. Here is an enthusiastic rendition of this hymn by the Cardiff Festival Choir, conducted by Owain Arwel Hughes.

  • Hymns,  Service music

    A canticle for a quarantined people

    We haven’t sung the Te Deum laudamus together since before Ash Wednesday. So to provide some encouragement for the parish to sing this canticle at home, the choir (with Wallace’s help) has made a recording of it. Be assured that social distancing was observed; the average distance between singers was probably about 60 miles, with James in Northern Virginia, Braxton in Fluvanna, and myself sequestered in the County of Greene. This permanent page also includes our humble recording, and will soon include information about many other ways this text has been and is still being sung throughout the Church’s history.

  • 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…

  • Repertoire

    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 under the Roman Catholic choirmaster Sebastian Westcott, Philips was eventually ordained a Roman Catholic priest and spent most of his life — and very successful musical career — in Italy, Spain, France, and the Low Countries. 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…

  • Repertoire

    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…