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.

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.