Music for Friday, 1st June: The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary to Elizabeth

Ordinarily the Visitation would be on 31st May, but it’s transferred this year to Friday 1st June because of Corpus Christi falling on 31st May.


Zephaniah 3:14-18
Psalm 113
Romans 12:9-16
Luke 1:39-49 [50-56]

The reading from Zephaniah is a song of joy over God’s salvation and victory.

Psalm 113 is a song of praise to God, particularly noting God’s role as helper of the poor and needy.

Romans 12:9-16 is an instruction on how Christians should behave, including but not limited to loving one another, rejoicing in hope, being patient in suffering, extending hospitality to strangers, and blessing those who persecute us. (I get tired just thinking about it but the good news is I don’t have to do it all on my own strength…)

The reading from Luke is about Mary visiting her sister Elizabeth. Elizabeth immediately recognises that something amazing is happening from the way her own child leaps within her womb. Mary’s reply is well-known to Evensong lovers everywhere, being the text of the Magnificat.

The Magnificat, then, is the obvious music to sing; so I’m going to delve into some lesser-known Magnificats in this post.

Tawnie Olson has a version for Bulgarian Girls Choir and SATB chorus which was commissioned by Karen Clute in honor of strong teenage girls everywhere. The text also includes the Ave Maria, which makes it particularly appropriate. It’s rather long, at 8:30, but I do like it. Listen to an excerpt on Soundcloud.

Jana Skarecky also has a Magnificat, I’m not sure if it’s available anywhere other than the Canadian Music Centre. She has an active page on the Book of Face showcasing her music and art.

Sarah Rimkus wrote a Magnificat to go with Arvo Pärt’s Nunc Dimittis as part of a competition, and it’s absolutely stunning: I was in the audience of the concert at which the four finalists had their pieces sung. The recording doesn’t seem to be online yet, but do contact Sarah for a score.

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.