2nd Sunday of Advent
This weekend, the changes in the mass translation, as well as the changes in the music, are in effect. We will be using the Mass of St. Frances Cabrini, which we have been practicing before mass for the last few weeks. The tunes are memorable and very sing-able, and should aid all of us in learning these new texts.
Prelude- Improvisation: Meditation on On Jordan's Bank/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.
Preparation of the Gifts- Comfort Ye; Ev'ry Valley Shall Be Exalted (from Messiah), George Frideric Handel (1685-1759)
Handel's Messiah has become one of the most popular pieces of all time in classical music. Now regularly performed throughout the U.S. during the Advent season, Messiah is a staple of pre-Christmas programming. Although this oratorio was not intended for church use originally, the libretto is biblically-based. The text of the selected recitative and aria is drawn from this weekend's Isaiah reading, in which God promises hope and comfort for His people, and in which we are urged to prepare the way of the Lord. Handel brings out the meaning of the text perfectly by basing the tenor melodies on the meanings of individual words. We are blessed to have a guest soloist with us, tenor Brad Morgan, who sings professionally at Trinity Episcopal Church downtown, and who used to serve as cantor at the parish of Christ the King in Oklahoma City.
Postlude- Menuet (from Suite Gothique, Op. 25), Léon Boëllmann (1862-1897)
The closing hymn tells us of the voice of God going out through the world, and I wanted to continue this idea of momentum through the postlude. I drew from Boëllmann's Suite Gothique, which includes a movement with a lot of forward momentum, the Menuet. Boëllmann was a French composer, teacher, and organist, originally from Alsace, who was greatly influenced by the works of Franck and Saint-Saëns. He was organist for the church of St. Vincent de Paul in Paris from 1897 until his death, and his Suite Gothique is now studied and performed by organists all over the world.
Catholic Composer Corner
Jacques Berthier (1923-1994) was a French composer best known for his contributions to the music of Taizé. He first learned music from his parents, then studied at the César Franck School in Paris. In 1955, he was asked to write music for the then-small Taizé community. In 1961, he became organist for Saint Ignace, the Jesuit Church in Paris, and in 1975, he was asked again to compose for Taizé, a community which had grown significantly at that point. Today, almost all of the Taizé chants that we sing come from Berthier.
Director of Music
Church of St. Mary
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