Music for Lent 1

In haste, still, as Past Me is writing this before going away — please forgive the lack of lectionary — some music for Lent 1.

One way or another the theme for Sunday is going to be about Jesus being driven out into the wilderness to be tempted.

In my own, urban/semi-suburban existence, the idea of going out into nature and getting away from it all sometimes seems rather appealing; but that’s mostly because I can come back to a safe, warm house. I’m not sleeping outside; I’m not fending off wild beasts at night, and desperately thirsty during the day.

Real engagement with wilderness can leave us wrung out and exhausted, and longing for support and reassurance, and most of all, the comfort of God’s presence with us.

Stephanie Martin’s setting of Sicut cervus — lines from Psalm 42 — would be one way of expressing this longing for God.


[Listen to Sicut cervus by Stephanie Martin on Soundcloud]
[Buy the sheet music for Sicut cervus by Stephanie Martin]

Music for Ash Wednesday

I’m not ready for Lent. I’m also not really ready for the trip to Jerusalem I’ll be making tomorrow morning. But the thing about Lent, and wilderness in general, is that it doesn’t wait until we’re good and ready; it doesn’t work according to our earthly timelines and conveniences and purposes.

So, in some haste, as I schedule various posts to go up while I’m away, set my e-mail auto-reply and so on —

— Ally Barrett wrote a hymn text for Ash Wednesday, which I set in 2016.

1. Dust to dust, we mark our repentance,
entering a guilty plea,
Ash to ash, we face our sentence,
Sin writ large for all to see:
Bearing signs of all our falls from grace,
Yearning for your strong embrace.

2. Dust of earth once shaped and moulded,
human form from Godly hand,
Male and female both enfolded,
part of all that you had planned.
Now O Lord reshape our damaged form,
Hold us till our hearts grow warm.

3. Dust that fuels the lights of heaven,
Stars and planets passing by,
Atoms of creation’s splendour,
Earth to earth and sky to sky,
Now our dust, redeemed, may sing along
with that universal song.

You can download the sheet music from CPDL.

11th February 2018: Sunday Next before Lent, Year B

The readings for this Sunday are:


2 Kings 2:1-12
Psalm 50:1-6
2 Corinthians 4:3-6
Mark 9:2-9

2 Kings 2:1-12 is the ascension of Elijah into heaven, with poor Elisha following him around and then eventually left behind.

Psalm 50:1-6 is God calling to the heavens and earth to gather the faithful together.

2 Corinthians 4:3-6 is about how it is that some people seem to see the light of the Gospel and others don’t; about the way in which Christians should not “proclaim ourselves” but rather proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord.

Mark 9:2-9 is the Transfiguration.

One of my own pieces, a setting of a poem by Marnanel Thurman, would be appropriate for this Sunday. It’s for flexible choir, it can be sung unison with or without solos or up to SAB. The music is available from CPDL and there is a demo recording on Youtube.

What’s seen is seen, and cannot be unknown;
and so he turned my soul, and turns it still.
We’d walked a while, just him and us alone;
we’d wandered up some ordinary hill.
The air was cold. The conversation died.
I wondered if I’d left the stove alight.
The curtains of the world were torn aside,
and naked glory overwhelmed my sight;
and oh, the voice, that called to him by name,
so comforting, so terrible to hear:
that man I knew, the same, yet not the same,
touches my arm, and tells me not to fear;
but as I raise my eyes, the light is gone,
and life, and something more, must carry on.

If you’re after something more traditional, any setting of O Nata Lux would be good. I don’t currently have one in the database, though, so if you know of one composed by a woman, do use the submit music form to let me know about it.


Administrivia:
Some non-Cecilia’s List deadlines and a winter bug slowed me right down, and I ended up skipping Candlemas (2nd February) and the Sunday afterward (4th February) here, both of which I actually have some good recommendations for. I’m trying to get caught up this week before going away so that I don’t get further behind and end up feeling even more overwhelmed. So far I’m about halfway through the easy part of my data entry backlog. And I do have music of my own for Ash Wednesday, at least.

Signal Boost: This Day — Blossom Street Singers

In 1918, women (or some of them, anyway) in Britain got the right to vote.

In celebration of the 100th anniversary of this, Blossom Street Singers are recording an album with Naxos which will consist entirely of music composed by women, and sung by upper voices. There will be several pieces, old and new, that have never been recorded before. Composers include Elizabeth Maconchy, Judith Weir, Elizabeth Poston, Judith Bingham, Kerry Andrew, Roxanna Panufnik, Cecilia McDowall and many more.

Blossom Street Singers was founded by Hilary Campbell whilst studying at the University of York, and later relocated to London. The choir is excellent and I am sure the CD will be as well.

You can read more about the CD, and sponsor the recording project, at the crowdfunding page for This Day.