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.

Music for Sunday 17th December: Advent 3 (Gaudete), year B

The readings for this week are
Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11
Psalm 126 OR Canticle: Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55)
1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
John 1:6-8, 19-28

Gaudete Sunday, hurrah! Rejoice!

Now it gets interesting. There’s enough imagery in Isaiah alone to last several weeks: the focus on justice and good news for the poor and downtrodden, or the rejoicing as a bride, or the earth bringing forth its shoots.

To complicate things further, you could have the Magnificat as a canticle instead of the psalm this week, or next week instead. Psalm 126 is one of the Songs of Ascents, and it’s about a harvest of (guess what?) joy and thanksgiving.

1 Thessalonians is short and sweet, rejoice in the Lord always, and some other instructions and benedictions from the letter-writer. And “the one who calls you is faithful”.

And then we have John the Baptist, again, this time as told by John rather than Mark.

If you are using the Magnificat this week, check out the Evensong page for a couple of recommendations. If you’re really going all-out for Gaudete you could also consider Isabella Leonarda’s Magnificat, but it does require two violins and a basso continuo as well as the choral parts and it lasts a good nine or ten minutes, so this is not a good substitute for the psalm at your average Parish Eucharist! Here’s a recording:

Isabella Leonarda’s Magnificat on YouTube

The hymn I wrote for last week would work well again this week, but… well, probably not if you used it last week.

New music this week, and administrivia

This week I added some music by Isabella Leonarda, Leanne Veitch, Susan Partlan, and Helen Williams. Check out the pages for Advent, Christmas, Lent and Eucharist to have a look.

I’m also changing the format of the listings slightly, using H6 (heading six) tags within the lists to make individual works easier to find for people using assistive screenreaders. I haven’t updated absolutely everything just yet, so please bear with me while the site looks a bit mis-matched.

Finally, please do use the music submission form if you’d like to suggest music for me to include on the site. I’ve updated it slightly to allow for you to submit someone else’s work.

Music for Sunday 3rd December: Advent 1 (Year B)

The readings for this Sunday are:

Isaiah 64:1-9
Psalm 80:1-8, 18-20
1 Corinthians 1:3-9
Mark 13:24-37

Serious stuff. Repentance is a theme in Isaiah and the Psalm; 1 Corinthians is more encouraging, and the Gospel reading is about keeping awake.

If you’re of a Marian bent you could use the Alma Redemptoris Mater, which is the Marian antiphon used from Advent to Candlemas. There’s a setting by Isabella Leonarda available on CPDL; here’s a Youtube recording of it sung by women, rather than the SATB:

[external link: Alma Redemptoris Mater by Isabelle Leonarda, on Youtube]

If Advent carol services and processions are more your thing, you could sing Stephanie Martin’s Legend of the Bird, a carol in the form of a conversation with a robin about the return of Christ. It’s available to order from Cypress Choral Music, and here it is on Soundcloud:

[external link: Legend of the Bird by Stephanie Martin, on Soundcloud]

Finally, my own setting of “Advent” by Christina Rosetti is available from Lulu or CPDL, and here’s a demo recording of it on YouTube:

[external link: Advent by Kathryn Rose, on Youtube]

There are also arrangements by women of various traditional Advent tunes; these are in some ways beyond the remit of Cecilia’s List, but the two that spring to mind are O Come O Come Emmanuel arranged by Sheena Phillips, and Es kommt ein Schiff, geladen by Sigrid Schultz-Kokerbeck. I’m intrigued by the text for the latter — there’s more information at good old Wikipedia but no English translation there, and my German is pretty shaky; however, I did find this blog post from 2013 with an English translation.