1st Sunday of Advent
This weekend, the changes in the mass translation, as well as the changes in the music will take effect. We will be using the Mass of St. Frances Cabrini, which we have been practicing before mass for the last two weeks. The tunes are memorable and very sing-able, and should aid all of us in learning these new texts.
Prelude- Improvisation: Meditation on City of God/Prepare the Way of the Lord, Jacques Berthier, (1923-1994)
Each week during Advent, the prelude will consist of a short improvised organ meditation that leads into the Taizé chant, Prepare the Way of the Lord. The organ meditation will introduce the tune of the opening hymn, as we prepare for worship, and will lead into the choir singing a simple, repetitive Advent chant in a round. This is meant to remind us of the meaning behind the change of season in our church year, that we might approach the each Eucharist with expectant hearts.
Choral Anthem- Wake, Awake (from St. Paul, Op. 36), Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847)
Mendelssohn's oratorio, St. Paul was written in 1834. Though it is not frequently performed in its entirety, it contains a movement that is very appropriate for this weekend's Gospel, in which Jesus calls us to be alert and to "watch." The text of Wake, Awake reminds us of the parable of the bridesmaids, in which we are called to readiness, waiting for our Advent hope. The music is based entirely on the hymn tune, Wachet Auf, which we sang as a congregation two weeks ago. Mendelssohn engages the hymn tune in a dialogue with trumpets, instruments sure to bring anyone to awakened readiness. The use of a traditional German chorale in this oratorio is Mendelssohn's tribute to Bach, who turned this practice into an art form.
Postlude- Improvisation: Fugue on Come, O Long Expected Jesus
I will improvise a short 4-voice fugue using the closing hymn tune as a subject, or theme. I chose the fugue as the form because its essence represents the Advent spirit. Although the subject itself is a complete idea, the momentum of the fugue is built on the expectation of all voices coming together in the end. As a fugue develops, very little resolves until the end, and it is the waiting and the anticipation that allows for something truly harmonious to result. Hopefully a fugue on Rowland Prichard's hymn tune will help us all to leave with a song of expectation in our hearts.
Catholic Composer Corner
Joseph Gelineau (1920-2008) was a Jesuit priest in France who contributed a large amount of music to the Catholic church around the world. Strongly influenced by Gregorian chant, Fr. Gelineau developed a style of psalmody that has been widely adopted throughout the western world. We often use his psalm settings here at St. Mary's, and will be employing one this weekend. He taught at the Institut Catholique de Paris, and also wrote music for the Taizé community.
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Church of St. Mary
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