Music for Good Friday

Stephanie Martin‘s “Drop, Slow Tears” for SATB (with some divisi near the end) is stunningly beautiful, and happens to be available as a free download from her website. I particularly like the way each four lines of text is handled differently, reflecting the text. There’s a recording of it on Soundcloud:

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.

Music for Lent 1

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.

[Listen to Sicut cervus by Stephanie Martin on Soundcloud]
[Buy the sheet music for Sicut cervus by Stephanie Martin]

Music for Sunday 21st January: Epiphany 3, Year B

The readings for this Sunday are:

Genesis 14:17-20
Psalm 128
Revelation 19:6-10
John 2:1-11

The reading from Genesis is Abram being blessed by Melchizedek, and Abram giving him one tenth of everything (having just returned from rescuing Lot and his family from the enemy). The reading stops before the part where Abram is then negotiating with the King of Sodom over what, and who, he should keep, so that the central event that we hear about is the blessing.

Psalm 128 is one of the songs of ascent, believed to traditionally have been sung on pilgrimage to Jerusalem; it is very much about the blessings that will be bestowed on one who fears God. Blessings again.

The reading from Revelation begins wth a great multitude praising God, and continues with an angel’s instruction to write: “Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.”

The Gospel reading is the story of the Wedding at Cana, where at the wedding party the wine runs out (oh no!) and Jesus turns water into wine, the first public sign of his ministry.

I don’t currently have or know of any music by women specific to the Wedding at Cana: if you have a suggestion, please do use the music submission form to let me know about it! In the meantime, this might be a good Sunday for something generally Eucharistic, connecting the events at Cana to the marriage supper of the Lamb, like Stephanie Martin’s setting of ‘O Sacrum Convivium’, available from Cypress Choral Music:

[Listen to O Sacrum Convivium by Stephanie Martin on Soundcloud] [Order O Sacrum Convivium by Stephanie Martin from Cypress Choral Music]

Additionally, the Conversion of Paul is observed on 25th January, and churches dedicated to St Paul might like to include relevant music for that feast. I won’t go through the entire lectionary, but you could use the hymn tune Broomside, written for these words by Miranda Threlfall-Holmes:

1. We meet as God’s people in this holy place
And gather together across time and space
With all of Christ’s body, Christ’s building and field,
The church of all sinners Christ died for and healed.
Diverse in our gifting, no two are the same
Yet all stand united in praising God’s name.

2. The Scriptures all witness to Jesus, God’s Son,
Who died and was raised, in whose victory we’ve won.
In weakness exalted, all gains count as loss
Compared to the knowledge of Christ and his cross.
Your church down the ages proclaims and receives
This gospel rejoicing, and firmly believes.

3. Forgive us those times when we struggle to see
Beyond our conviction in some enemy.
Confront us with strangers to open our eyes,
And make us dependent on those we despised.
Then take us and use us, to build not destroy,
Co-workers together in love and in joy.

4. Fill us with your love, make us patient and kind,
To strive in your service with one joyful mind.
Send us where you veed us, like your servant Paul,
And make us receptive to hearing your call.
Inspire us to partner with all your co-heirs,
Inclusive of all in our mission and prayers.

5. Approaching our end may our faith still increase
Maturing a harvest of love, joy and peace
Rejoicing in truth and delighting in good
At last understanding as we’re understood.
For now we see faintly reflections of grace,
But then we’ll see clearly and meet face to face.

Music for Sunday 31st December: Christmas 1, Year B

This week’s readings are:

Isaiah 61:10-62:3
Psalm 148
Galatians 4:4-7
Luke 2:15-21

It’s very much still Christmas, so any of the music from the Christmas page or from the twelve days of Christmas tags would work well.

It’s also New Year’s Eve; if you wanted to focus on that a bit, “Ring Out, Wild Bells” by Stephanie Martin might well be appropriate. It’s available from Leading Note, but I haven’t been able to find a recording. The words are taken from the poem by Tennyson, but I’m not sure if it’s the complete poem or just part of it.

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.