Easter Sunday (2011)

Entrance Jesus Christ is Ris’n Today
Gloria from Mass for John Carroll (Michael Joncas)
Psalm This is the Day (mcb)
SequenceVictimae Paschali Laudes (J. William Greene)
Gospel Acclamation Easter Gospel Acclamation (Brian Luckner)
Preparation of the Gifts Now the green blade riseth
Sanctus, Acclamation A, Amen Missa Ubi Caritas (Bob Hurd)
Agnus Dei Lamb of God II (mcb)
Communion Confitemini Domino (Taizé) & psalm 117 (Laurence Bévenot)
Postcommunion Surrexit Christus (adapted from G.B. Pergolesi, 1710-1736)
Recessional (i) Go in the peace of Christ, Alleluia (chanted)
(ii) At the Lamb’s high feast

I’ve been aware for the last few weeks that we’re coming to the end of the life of some texts that have been our familiar language of prayer for a few decades. With the advent of the new translation of the Missal later in the year, the Sanctus will change slightly, and the Gloria will see a more thorough-going revision, bringing it much closer than the current paraphrase to the text of the Latin Missal. Musical settings of the new texts, we’re told, can be used from today onwards, and their use will become obligatory later in the year.

So a text we’re bidding farewell to is Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again which won’t be included in the new translation. We’ll sing it one more time next Sunday, and then move on to the new versions.

We had a new and unwelcome organ-related experience this morning, namely a cipher, or stuck note. On a pipe organ, an instant though drastic remedy is to yank out the offending pipe; when it comes to a digital instrument like ours, one’s options are more limited. The offending note related to all the manuals and the pedals, and to every stop. The solution, it turned out (after Anthony had tried switching everything off, and lots of other sensible steps) was to tap the troublesome note (a low E) on every manual (and the pedal board), until the organ got the message that it was time to stop.

Happy Easter, everyone.

The Easter Vigil (Holy Saturday, 2011)

Saturday, 23 April 2011

The Service of LightLumen Christi (chanted)
After 1st reading (Genesis 1)Send forth your Spirit (Stephen Dean)
After 2nd reading (Exodus 14-15)I will sing to the Lord (Geoffrey Boulton Smith)
After 3rd reading (Isaiah 55: come to the water)We shall draw water joyfully (Paul Inwood)
After 4th reading (Ezekiel 36: I shall give you a new heart)As the deer longs (Bob Hurd)
GloriaMass of the Creator Spirit (Ed Nowak)
Easter Alleluia + Psalm 117Plainchant, verses by Paul Inwood
Litany of the SaintsJoseph Gélineau, ed. Robert B. Kelly
Blessing of the FontSprings of Water (Marty Haugen)
SprinklingVidi Aquam (T.L. de Victoria, c. 1548-1611)
Preparation of the GiftsAlleluia, Surrexit Dominus (Jacquet de Mantua, 1483-1559)
Sanctus, Acclamation A, AmenMissa Ubi Caritas (Bob Hurd)
Agnus DeiLamb of God II (mcb)
CommunionUnless a grain of wheat (Bernadette Farrell)
DismissalGo in the peace of Christ, Alleluia (chanted)
Final HymnThine be the Glory

This year marks the 400th anniversary of the death of Tomás Luis de Victoria, and we've marked it with four pieces by him during Holy Week. But they were all staples of our repertoire anyway, which, four hundred years on, is probably all the tribute required.

Celebration of the Lord’s Passion (Good Friday, 2011)

PsalmFather, into your hands (Martin Foster)
Gospel AcclamationChristus factus est (Felice Anerio c. 1560-1614)
Veneration of the CrossThis is the wood of the cross (Missal tone)
There is a green hill far away
The Reproaches (T.L. de Victoria, 1548-1611) & plainchant
Jesus, remember me (Taizé)
CommunionAve Verum Corpus (William Byrd, c. 1540-1623)
Soul of my Saviour


Martin Foster’s psalm setting combines an ostinato refrain (alternating the words of the psalm response, and a hummed accompaniment to the cantor) with a cantor singing the psalm verses. We had cantors too in the Reproaches, two voices providing the chant verses in between repetitions of Victoria’s Popule Meus and Agios o Theos; and at the start of Jesus, remember me, a lone voice announcing the plaintive plea, before the whole assembly made it into collective prayer.

Mass of the Lord’s Supper (Maundy Thursday, 2011)

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Opening Hymn The glory of the cross (John Ainslie)
Gloria Mass of the Creator Spirit (Ed Nowak)
Responsorial Psalm The Blessing Cup (Christopher Walker)
Gospel Acclamation A New Commandment
Washing of Feet If there is this love among you (Barry/Murden)
Preparation of the Gifts Ubi Caritas (Maurice Duruflé, 1902-1986)
Sanctus, Acclamation, Amen Mass XVII
Missal Tone: Lord, by your Cross
Missal Tone
Agnus Dei Mass XVII & Missa Brevis (Antonio Lotti, 1667-1740)
Communion Take and Eat (Michael Joncas)
Procession Pange Lingua (plainchant)
Stay with me (Taizé)

We got the timing right with the procession to the altar of repose at the end of our celebration, by leaving a gap, ably filled by Anthony improvising at the organ, between the fourth verse of Pange Lingua and the fifth and sixth (Tantum Ergo). The impact of the final two verses was all the stronger for having waited for the last members of the procession to reach the end. It felt like this is how it should always be done; as indeed (if one can stretch the point to consider the organ improvisation still to be ‘supporting the singing’, as ordained by the rubrics) the liturgical books tell us it should.

The Mass of Chrism (2011)

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Opening HymnChrist triumphant, ever-reigning
KyrieKyrie Eleison from Missa Ubi Caritas (Bob Hurd)
Gloriafrom Mass for John Carroll (Michael Joncas)
Responsorial PsalmI will sing for ever of your love (mcb)
Gospel AcclamationPraise to you, O Christ (James Walsh)
Procession of the OilsO Redeemer (Paul Ford/mcb)
Preparation of the GiftsLove Divine (Howard Goodall)
Sanctus, Acclamation A, AmenMass XVIII (in English) & Missal tones
Agnus DeiMass XVIII (in Latin) & Missa O Quam Gloriosum (T.L. de Victoria 1548-1611)
CommunionO Lord, I will sing of your constant love (Christopher Walker)
Sitivit Anima Mea (G.P. da Palestrina, c.1525-1594)
Now we remain (David Haas)
Recessional HymnMy song is love unknown

I chose our entrance hymn, to John Barnard’s very fine tune Guiting Power, because of the fourth verse:

Priestly King, enthroned for ever high in heaven above!
Sin and death and hell shall never stifle hymns of love.
which seemed a good match for the entrance antiphon for today’s celebration:
Jesus Christ has made us a kingdom of priests to serve his God and Father: glory and kingship be his for ever and ever. Amen.

It was a gamble, in that the hymn isn’t necessarily one well-known to Catholic congregations. I tested the water during my five-minute rehearsal with the people before Mass, and found that, yes, at least ten people present (out of nearly a thousand) knew it well enough to sing along with me. It’s amazing what you can achieve in five minutes with a willing singing assembly, though, and we still just about managed to shake the rafters during the entrance procession.

The Mass XVIII Sanctus, with words in English, was another cautious experiment: since this is the melody we are encouraged to have at the core of our repertoire when the new Missal translation comes in, I thought I’d try it out on this occasion, in a version as close as possible – barring the words power and might in place of hosts – to the version coming in later in the year. The aim was to plant a seed or two for the future, and also to find out how good a simple chant setting like this might be at uniting a disparate congregation on a grand occasion.

I was disappointed, I have to say. In this celebration in the past we've used settings that were unfamiliar to the congregation before the event – Richard Proulx's Community Mass, or my own Spring Sanctus, for instance – and they've worked well, the melody and the meter seeming to persuade the assembly to sing an unfamiliar setting with commitment. The chant setting in comparison seemed to fall short of that target, leaving me more doubtful than perhaps I was of the merit of a simple chant version as the essential core repertoire for people’s acclamations.

But you never know: the simplest tunes can be given real strength through the familiarity that turns them into old favourites. Perhaps it won’t take long.

Palm Sunday (2011)

Entrance Hosanna Filio David (Plainchant & T.L. de Victoria, c. 1548-1611)
All Glory Laud and Honour
Psalm My God, my God (Liam Lawton)
Gospel Acclamation Praise to you, O Christ (James Walsh)
Preparation of the Gifts Crucifixus from the Mass in B Minor (J.S. Bach, 1685-1750)
Sanctus Mass XVII
Acclamation Missal Tone: Lord, by your cross
Agnus Dei Mass XVII & Missa Brevis (Antonio Lotti, c. 1667-1740)
Communion Father, if this cup (Stephen Dean)
Recessional My song is love unknown

There was, I thought, a striking affinity between the Bach Crucifixus and Stephen Dean’s atmospheric Communion song – both begin with chromatic harmonies over pulsing repeated bass notes (both in the key of E minor). I wondered whether the Bach was Stephen’s inspiration for writing the piece. They went together well, I felt.

We had more Bach from Anthony, our Communion processional song being followed by the chorale prelude Erbarm’ dich mein, o Herre Gott, BWV 721, and for a postlude after Mass, the final movement of the St Matthew Passion (Wir setzen uns mit Tränen nieder).

5th Sunday of Lent (Year A, 2011)

Entrance Out of the depths (Scott Soper)
Kyrie Mass XVII
Psalm Ps 129 (Peter Smedley)
Gospel Acclamation Praise to you, O Christ (James Walsh)
Preparation of the Gifts Thou knowest, Lord, the secrets of our hearts (Henry Purcell, 1659-1695)
Sanctus, Acclamation, Amen Mass XVII
Agnus Dei Mass XVII
Communion I will put a new spirit within you (Stephen Dean)
Recessional Praise to the holiest

From the depths to the height, in our entrance song (echoing today’s responsorial psalm) and our recessional hymn. At communion we had Stephen Dean’s I will put a new spirit within you, a new one for us. Its text was from Ezekiel 36, and echoed the same image from the following chapter, which appeared in today’s first reading:

You will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and raise you from your graves, my people. And I shall put my spirit in you, and you will live.

The responsorial psalm itself said:

O let your ears be attentive
to the voice of my pleading.

Henry Purcell set a similar plea for forgiveness from the burial service from the Book of Common Prayer:

Shut not thy merciful ears unto our prayer,
but spare us Lord most holy.

4th Sunday of Lent (Year A, 2011)

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Entrance Your hands, O Lord, in days of old
Kyrie Mass XVII
Psalm His goodness shall follow me (Chris O’Hara)
Gospel Acclamation Praise to you, O Christ (James Walsh)
Preparation of the Gifts My spirit longs for thee (John Dowland, 1563-1626)
Sanctus, Acclamation, Amen Mass XVII
Agnus Dei Mass XVII & Missa O Quam Gloriosum (T.L. de Victoria, 1548-1611)
Communion Lord, your love has drawn us near (Stephen Dean)
Recessional Be thou my vision

Today’s Gospel story of the healing of the man born blind prompted a few of our musical selections. Our opening hymn, with the lines

And then your touch brought life and health,
gave speech and strength and sight

was sung to the tune Coe Fen, and we had vision in a wider sense in our recessional hymn. The choir sang My spirit longs for thee, fitting the words of John Byrom (1692-1763) to a song by John Dowland. These words touched more obliquely on sight:

Yet has my heart no rest,
Unless it come from Thee.
Unless it come from Thee,
In vain I look around;
In all that I can see,
No rest is to be found.

For our responsorial psalm we took Chris O’Hara’s adaptation of Ps 22(23), hauntingly set to the Irish folk song She moved through the fair. We sang it unaccompanied, the cantor’s verses (beautifully executed by Rachel O’Farrell) alternating with the refrain in four part harmony, though with the people joining in too.

Plainchant and Victoria too; our trademark mix, you could say.