Music for Sunday, 18th March: Lent 5 (Passion Sunday), Year B

Passiontide already!

The readings for this Sunday are:

Jeremiah 31:31-34
Psalm 51:1-13 OR Psalm 119:9-16
Hebrews 5:5-10
John 12:20-33

Jeremiah — foretelling a new covenant, one in which the law is written on people’s hearts, and in which people know the Lord by his forgiveness of sins
Psalm 51 — Miserere mei. I have sinned; cleanse me from my sin, create within me a clean heart and a right spirit
Psalm 119 — Teach me your ways, Lord; delighting in the statues of God
Hebrews — the high priesthood of Christ, and eternal salvation through Him
John — Some Greeks want to see Jesus, and Jesus is alluding to his death.

One possible piece for this Sunday would be “A New Heart” by Melissa Dunphy.
The text, from Ezekiel 36:26 (“A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh”) is particularly suitable if you are using or wish to allude to Psalm 51. The setting is for SAB and piano, and easy to sing and play. I love the directness and sparse simplicity of this piece; there’s nothing extraneous or distracting. It’s available to purchase from MorningStar Music Publishers and a pdf perusal score and mp3 are available.

Music for Sunday, 11th March: Lent 4 (Mothering Sunday), Year B

There’s a choice of two lots of lectionary readings in Common Worship this Sunday, depending on where you want your focus to be; but if you’re in England it’s pretty likely that mothers or mothering will be the theme in some way or other.

This is a theme that’s not easy for everyone, and which can bring out strong feelings. These are not neatly or easily sidestepped, but it can help, I think, to focus on mothering more than on mothers, and on the mothering qualities of God.

‘Mothering God, You Gave Me Birth’ is an ideal hymn text for this, and the setting of it by Carolyn Jennings is both simple enough to be used as a congregational hymn in some contexts, and lyrical enough to stand as a simple choir anthem in others. The words, by Jean Janzen, are an adaptation of words by Julian of Norwich, so this is really a collaboration between three women.

Listen on YouTube.

The hymn is in the following hymnals, according to
Evangelical Lutheran Worship #735
Glory to God: the Presbyterian Hymnal #7
With One Voice #769

If you don’t have any of those, though, it’s available to buy (in an arrangement by Zebulon Highben) from JW Pepper.

Many thanks to Jo Kershaw for pointing this one out.

New music this week: Sheena Phillips

This week I’ve added four pieces by Sheena Phillips to the Easter page. The site already had some of her work, but it’s good to be able to add some more, and fill out what was a rather sparse-looking Easter page. They’re very definitely on the “special occasions” side of things, involving not only organ but also brass.

A word to the wise: if you’re going to have some brass join you for Easter Day, and you want them to play at the same time as the organ, do check your organ is at A440 first. The one I used to play at St Andrew’s Leytonstone isn’t, it’s about 18 cents sharp, and it would have sounded absolutely dreadful to add an instrument tuned to standard pitch.

Music for Sunday 4th March: Lent 3, Year B

The readings for this Sunday are:

Exodus 20:1-17
Psalm 19
1 Corinthians 1:18-25
John 2:13-22

The reading from Exodus is the Ten Commandments.

The Psalm is about the glory of God, as displayed both by the heavens and by God’s law.

The reading from 1 Corinthians is asking some questions about wisdom, and noting that to those called, Christ is both the power and wisdom of God, rather than the foolishness it might seem to others.

The Gospel reading is Jesus driving the money-changers out of the Temple — and his disciples recognising his actions as prophesied by Scripture. He then claims that he will raise the Temple (meaning his body, this time) in three days, and his disciples remember that, later.

If you’re up for a challenge, there’s Hilary Campbell’s SATB setting of “The spacious firmament on high”, Joseph Addison’s paraphrase of Psalm 19, titled “The Hand That Made Us Is Divine” and available from Jeremy Dibb music. I sang this myself in around 2009, I think — I was still studying at Trinity College of Music at the time, so it must have been around then. The piece has extensive divisi and plenty of challenging rhythms. And yes, that’s the same Hilary Campbell who is the director of the Blossom Street chamber choir, whose album crowdfunder I posted about previously; there are four days left so do support them if you’re going to!

I promised another Ave Regina caelorum, and Carlotta Ferrari’s setting of the Ave Regina caelorum for SSA fits the bill.