Music for 24th November: Advent 4, Year B


2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16
Canticle: Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55) OR
Psalm 89:1-4, 19-26
Romans 16:25-27
Luke 1:26-38

Christmas is very nearly upon us, but Sunday morning is still Advent.

2 Samuel: King David lives in a house of cedar but the Ark of God dwells in a tent; David finds this disconcerting but God seems to have very particular ideas about it, and makes a covenant with David.

Psalm 89, or bits of it: very much about God’s anointed and the covenant with David. But you could use the Magnificat instead here.

Romans: So many ideas touched upon in only one sentence! Strength and faith in Christ; mystery and prophecy and wisdom. But the main idea is to give glory to God.

Luke: The Annunciation. An angel appears to Mary and tells her she’s going to get pregnant despite being a virgin.

The obvious choice of music here is Mary’s Whys by Helen Williams. There’s a recording online and you can download the score for free from Canossa Choral Music. Sarah Lutton’s poem imagines Mary’s response to being asked to bear the Son of God.

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.