1st Sunday of Advent (Year C, 2009)

Entrance Awake, awake, fling off the night
Kyrie Lord, show us your mercy (mcb)
Psalm To you, O Lord, I lift my soul (Marty Haugen)
Gospel Acclamation Advent Gospel Acclamations (Alan Smith)
Preparation of the Gifts There is a longing in our hearts (Anne Quigley)
Sanctus, Acclamation, Amen Mass XVIII (in English) & Missal tones
Agnus Dei (Alan Rees)
Communion Wait for the Lord (Taizé)
Postcommunion Conditor Alme Siderum (Victoria)
Recessional Love divine, all loves excelling

Today’s Gospel Acclamation, from Psalm 84(85), is also found in the second form of the Penitential Rite: the former has Let us see, O Lord, your mercy, and give us your saving help; for the latter we sang, in dialogue between the celebrant and people: Lord, show us your mercy and love, and grant us your salvation.

For the Gospel Acclamation itself we sang Alan Smith’s energetic and spiky setting from the collection Baptised with Fire, very obligingly rewritten (in a small way) to make it, in my reckoning, more accessible for the singing assembly. (The rewrite involved ironing out a couple of the semiquavers in the refrain.) The remaining three Sundays of Advent will tell whether our assembly takes it to heart. I hope so: it’s a good one, and another useful addition to that slender body of work, liturgical music which both challenges the choir and properly involves the assembly.

The musical setting for the new translation of the Sanctus proposed by ICEL is an adaptation of Mass XVIII from the Kyriale. By way of laying the groundwork for introducing the new text in its proper musical garb when the time comes, we’re singing a version with the existing text during Advent. It’s slightly different from the current version in the English Missal, adapted to preserve more of the melodic contour of the Latin original, the way the proposed setting of the new ICEL text does. Hopefully it will soon become second nature for our assembly.

Christ the King (Year B, 2009)

Entrance Crown him with many crowns
Kyrie Kyrie II from Paschal Mass (Alan Rees)
Gloria Mass of the Creator Spirit (Ed Nowak)
Psalm The Lord is King (Paul Wellicome)
Gospel Acclamation Salisbury Alleluia (Christopher Walker)
Preparation of the Gifts Lord, for the years
Sanctus, Acclamation, Amen Eucharistic Acclamations (Bernadette Farrell)
Agnus Dei Mass of Christ the King (mcb)
Communion Te Saeculorum Principem (chant) & Jesus, Remember Me (Taizé)
Postcommunion The Truth From Above (Traditional, arr. R Vaughan Williams)
Recessional Hail Redeemer, King Divine

Christ’s kingship, today’s readings tell us, is characterised not by grandeur but by truth:

It is he who is coming on the clouds; everyone will see him, even those who pierced him, and all the races of the earth will mourn over him. This is the truth. Amen.

and in our Lord’s own words:

I was born for this, I came into the world for this: to bear witness to the truth; and all who are on the side of truth listen to my voice.

We sang Vaughan Williams’s haunting arrangement of the traditional This is the truth sent from above. The key to it was not to let the voice of the narrator (in this case the choir) intrude on the narrative itself, with its simple yet profound encapsulation of the whole history of salvation. We sang it unaccompanied, and began and ended with unison verses. The effect was arresting, at the end especially, I thought.

As well as our opening and closing hymns celebrating our Lord’s kingship, our hymn at the preparation of the gifts prayed for Christ’s kingdom to come on earth:

Lord for ourselves; in living power remake us –
self on the cross, and Christ upon the throne,
past put behind us, for the future take us:
Lord of our lives, to live for Christ alone.

Te saeculorum principem is the office hymn for second vespers of today’s feast. We sang it in alternation with the words from St Luke’s Gospel, addressed to the crucified King: Jesus, remember me, when you come into your kingdom.

Christ the King

Chapel of Christ the King, HMP Forest Bank, Salford

Entrance Majesty
Gospel Acclamation Easter Alleluia (chant)
Preparation of the Gifts Make me a channel of your peace
Sanctus to the tune of Amazing Grace
Communion As the deer pants
Recessional Hail Redeemer, King Divine

Daniel Bath and I led the music for the 9 am Mass in Forest Bank Prison today. Daniel and I share the direction of the prisoners’ choir, which meets one morning a week. Although the choir wasn’t performing this morning, several of its members were in the congregation, and between us we sang well. The principal celebrant was Bishop Brain of Salford, who represents the Bishops of England and Wales on the subject of prisons.

Faced with an absence of shared repertoire when it came to settings of the Eucharistic Acclamations, we devised one in last week’s choir practice, setting the words from the Missal to the tune (New Britain) of Amazing Grace. It’s a tune everyone knows, and, minus the anacruses, it’s a decent fit for the Missal text. This seemed to us a better idea than dredging up one of the old dismal paraphrased settings, and the two-minute run-through before Mass was enough to allow the willing congregation to pick it up.

33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B, 2009)

Entrance Lo, he comes with clouds descending
Kyrie Kyrie II from Paschal Mass (Alan Rees)
Gloria Mass of the Creator Spirit (Ed Nowak)
Psalm Keep me safe, O God (Paul Inwood)
Gospel Acclamation Alleluia Mode 2 (Plainchant)
Presentation of Confirmation Candidates Christ be our Light (Bernadette Farrell)
Preparation of the Gifts Let all mortal flesh keep silence
Sanctus, Acclamation, Amen Eucharistic Acclamations (Bernadette Farrell)
Agnus Dei Mass of the Creator Spirit
Communion My portion and my cup (Psallite)
Postcommunion Pater Noster (Igor Stravinsky, 1882-1971)
Recessional O Jesus Christ, remember

Today’s Gospel reading—they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory—foreshadows the early weeks of Advent, with their emphasis on the expectation of our Lord’s return. (Next week, for the feast of Christ the King, it’s the same, with two further mentions of our Lord coming on the clouds.)

There was a tough planning decision to make – whether to hold one or more musical items in reserve for future weeks, or to (so to speak) play the trump cards straight away, in opting for the clearest musical choices to chime with today’s readings.

I chose the latter course, reckoning that both Christ the King and the Sundays of Advent offer a sufficiently wide range of other musical selections to mean that we could safely use up our repertoire of “second coming” hymns today. Hence, Lo, he comes, Let all mortal flesh keep silence and O Jesus Christ, remember.

That of course leaves open the question whether it would be good to repeat one or more of these items in a week or two. I usually avoid that unless there’s a particular connection to be emphasised between different days in the calendar. Not sure that’s what we’re looking at here – rather, just several Sundays touching on the same theme. What would you do?

Today’s Communion antiphon –

I tell you solemnly, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours

linked neatly with that same theme of our Lord’s coming, in the text of the Lord’s prayer: allowing us to say both thy kingdom come and give us this day our daily bread. Stravinsky’s idiosyncratic take on Russian Orthodox chant (originally written in 1926 to the Slavonic text of the prayer, but revised to accommodate the Latin text in 1949) is austere, but charged with pent-up energy. I suggested to the choir imagining a nuclear reactor surrounded by a lead casing; or, an organ-playing member of the choir countered, like playing with the stops out but the swell box shut.

32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B, 2009)

Entrance Immortal, invisible
Kyrie Kyrie Eleison from Missa Ubi Caritas (Bob Hurd)
Gloria Missa Ubi Caritas
Psalm Ps 145 (Stephen Dean)
Gospel Acclamation Easter Alleluia (chant)
Preparation of the Gifts The cry of the poor (John Foley)
Sanctus, Acclamation, Amen Missa Ubi Caritas
Agnus Dei Missa Ubi Caritas
Communion Because the Lord is my shepherd (Christopher Walker)
Postcommunion Panis Angelicus (César Franck, 1822-1890)
Recessional Abide with me

The common thread running through Sunday’s readings was The Lord upholds the widow and orphan (from Psalm 145(146)). We had John Foley’s The Cry of the Poor, and a first outing in a couple of years for Panis Angelicus:

The bread of angels becomes bread for humankind;
The heavenly bread puts an end to prefigurations.
What a wonderful thing!
The poor and humble servant partakes of the Lord.

(Thomas Aquinas, 1227–1274)

Our opening hymn made the same connection, tenuously - to all, life thou givest, to both great and small.

For Remembrance Sunday we had Abide with Me, sung gently and solemnly, but rising to a vaguely Elgarian climax for the last verse with descant. I think we hit the spot.

All Saints, 2009

Entrance Praise we our God with joy
Kyrie Kyrie Eleison from Missa Ubi Caritas (Bob Hurd)
Gloria Missa Ubi Caritas (Hurd)
Psalm Ps 23 (David Saint)
Gospel Acclamation Easter Alleluia (plainchant)
Preparation of the Gifts How lovely are thy dwellings (Brahms)
Sanctus, Acclamation, Amen Missa Ubi Caritas (Hurd)
Agnus Dei Missa Ubi Caritas (Hurd)
Communion Come to me (Martin Barry & Diane Murden)
Postcommunion Exsultate Justi (Lodovico Viadana, c. 1560-1627)
Recessional For all the saints
Organ VoluntaryPlacare Christe Servulis, Op. 38 No. 16 (Marcel Dupré)

As well as in our recessional hymn, we had saints in the entrance hymn (Angels and saints with us, their grateful voices blending); in Brahms’s How lovely are thy dwellings, with its text from Psalm 84:

O blest are they that in thy house are dwelling:
they ever praise thee, O Lord, for evermore.

and in Viadana’s Exsultate Justi, which sets the opening verses of Psalm 33 from today’s Introit:

Rejoice, you just, in the Lord;
praise from the upright is fitting.

Come to Me combines the text of the Gospel Acclamation with a paraphrase of the Beatitudes from today’s Gospel and Communion Antiphon. With a repeated refrain and verses for the choir, we find it works well as a Communion processional song. The sheet music is available as a free download.