Music for Sunday 25th February: Lent 2, Year B

The readings for this Sunday are:

Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16
Psalm 22:23-31
Romans 4:13-25
Mark 8:31-38

In the reading from Genesis, Abram and Sarai get their new names of Abraham and Sarah, as a sign of God’s covenant. God’s end of the covenant, as it happens, is to make Abraham and Sarah the ancestors of many nations.

Psalm 22:23-31 is what I think of as the “cheerful” section of Psalm 22 (verse one, for contrast, begins “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”). This psalm mentions the offspring of Jacob and Israel, who of course are themselves descendants of Abraham; and it goes further, saying all the nations, all the ends of the earth, will worship the Lord. But the idea of a covenant spanning generations is still there, too: future generations will be told about the Lord, and proclaim his deliverance to a people yet unborn.

In this portion of the letter to the Romans, St Paul makes the point that the inheritance of Abraham did not come through the law but through faith, and that we all, through faith, are heirs.

In the Gospel reading, Jesus foretells his death and resurrection, Peter tries to tell him off and Jesus rebukes him for thinking of human rather than divine priorities. Then Jesus calls the crowd to follow him, and he doesn’t sugarcoat the costs of this, or the importance of it.

An anthem that might work well for this Sunday is Thus Far Did I Come by Helen Williams, with words by John Bunyan. It’s the point in the Pilgrim’s Progress where, on seeing the Cross, the burden falls from Christian’s back.

It being Lent, it might also be appropriate to sing the Ave Regina caelorum, particularly late in the day as it’s the concluding antiphon to the daily office from Candlemas to Holy Week. The Choral Public Domain Library has a version by Isabella Leonarda for ATTB with optional basso continuo, which you can also hear at Youtube:

There are other settings of the Ave Regina caelorum available, too, which I’ll include in coming weeks.

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