If you have a smaller choir, or two soloists, you could sing my English setting of Crux Fidelis for SA and organ. This can also be sung in unison, because the organ part effectively doubles the alto line.
If you don’t have enough lower voices to split into four parts like that, and you still want to sing Ubi Caritas, but you don’t want to do the plainchant, you could try a metrical paraphrase, set as a hymn. That’s exactly what my version on CPDL is, with words by Marnanel Thurman:
As friendship fills our meeting-place,
Jesus is here;
He dwells in every friend’s embrace,
Each smile sincere,
Rejoicing in the love we share.
Wherever love is, God is there.
As friendship fills our meeting-place
Jesus brings peace.
Divisions heal, and by his grace
Forgiven friends are one in prayer:
Wherever love is, God is there.
As friendship fills our meeting-place,
Jesus our friend
Will smile to see us face to face,
World without end,
And hold us in his loving care:
Wherever love is, God is there.
And finally, I’ve been sent a hymn for Maundy Thursday by the author of the blog Conjubilant With Song. The text is by Frances Ridley Havergal, though I’ve only been able to find it in the post on that blog; and it fits to the tune PENMAENMAWR by Sarah Geraldine Stock; there are scores of the tune, and information about Sarah Stock, at Hymnary.org, which is probably the most comprehensive online hymnody resource I know. If I can verify the text, I’ll probably put a copy of this up on CPDL; in the meantime I look forward to digging into the rest of the Conjubilant With Song blog, particularly the Voices Found tag.
I’m getting slightly behind on things again, oh dear! But I have some great recommendations for later in Holy Week, which I’ll post on Monday or Tuesday, and I’m (still) working my way through the data entry backlog, so there will be lots of new music going onto the site next week too.
In the meantime, finding music for Palm Sunday turned out to be more difficult than I expected, though in fairness most things that work for Passiontide would work for the Liturgy of the Passion, and the Liturgy of the Palms tends to have pretty stable choices from year to year, or at least it did when I was at St Andrew’s.
I did find A Song for Palm Sunday by Hazel Hudson, set for SAB or unison with piano or organ accompaniment (it looks to me like it would be slightly better on the piano). I couldn’t find a recording online, but you can download the score from the Small Choirs International website (you’ll have to scroll down or do a text search on the page to find it). If you do have a small church choir, particularly one without much going on in the lower voices, that site is invaluable, with a good selection of arrangements of well-known classics, and music written specifically for smaller choirs, all free for use in church services.
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.
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.
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.
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’m — slowly — working through my data entry backlog, and finally at a point where I can start adding music to the site again.
Today I added a hymn with words and music written by Dorothea Baker. The words are based loosely on the Nunc dimittis, making it suitable for Evensong, Compline or Candlemas; I’ve added it to the Evensong category on the site, because I figure that’s where people will be looking for Candlemas stuff anyway.
I am fond of the serene simplicity of this hymn, and it shouldn’t be hard for a congregation to pick up. Though it’s scored for SATB, it might be prudent to sing it in unison unless you have basses who can sing a bottom E comfortably.
I would really love to include more hymns on this site in general: congregations may grumble a bit about new hymns, but once people have become accustomed to the idea of not always using the same hymnal it can be a great way to introduce new music. Some of this, of course, will come down to me buying a few of the newer hymnals and making some recommendations; but if you know of hymns with music by women that you’d like to see included on this site, then please use the music submission form to let me know about them.
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.
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.