Signal Boost: A Mother’s Christmas

For those of you in or near Pasadena, California: The Pasadena Master Chorale is putting on a concert of Christmas music composed by women, including Caroline Mallonée, Katherine Beggs, Dale Trumbore, Amy Gordon, Abbie Betinis, Kira Dawn, Emily Feld, Jen Wang, and yours truly.

The concert is at 8pm on Saturday, 15th December, at St Philip the Apostle Church, 151 South Hill Avenue, zip code 91106.

It’s presented on a Listen First, Then Give basis. At the end of the concert, make a donation, as you are moved, as you are able.

They expect it to sell out, so you may want to register via EventBrite. There is also a Facebook event to share.

Music for Sunday 9th December: Advent 2, Year C

Baruch 5:1-9 or Malachi 3:1-4
Canticle: Benedictus (Luke 1:68-79)
Philippians 1:3-11
Luke 3:1-6
.

Baruch 5:1-9: an exhortation to Jerusalem to leave off sorrow and affliction, because the Lord will come to save Israel

Malachi 3:1-4: a prophecy of the coming of the messenger who will prepare the way for the Lord — who will come to his Temple and purify his people.

Benedictus: careful with this one, it’s the song of Zechariah, not the bit of the Mass setting that comes after the Sanctus! The backstory here is that Zechariah didn’t believe the angel Gabriel about his wife bearing a son, and so he was made mute until the birth, and these words are the first thing he said after the birth of the child — who was John the Baptist.

Philippians 1:3-11: Paul’s prayer for the Philippians, that their love may overflow with knowledge and insight so that at the return of Christ they may be pure and blameless.

Luke 3:1-6: A brief description of John the Baptist proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, and quoting Isaiah.

Kathryn Rose, COLWALL
SATB hymn tune, 87 87 887, to words “Lo in the wilderness a voice” by Percy Dearmer. Download from CPDL: http://www.cpdl.org/wiki/index.php/Colwall_(Kathryn_Rose)

Thea Musgrave, Hear the Voice of the Bard
English text by William Blake
TrATB a cappella, challenging, 3min.
Available from Music Room: https://www.musicroom.com/product-detail/product1097973/variant1097973/
Recording: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3mDUg8HQIDc beginning at 19:00

Signal Boost: LFCCM Call for Scores

Okay, okay, I’ve been quiet longer than I intended, and even let St Cecilia’s Day pass without much note. It turns out that the thing one does after passing one’s MPhil upgrade is not, in fact, spending several weeks catching up on everything else, but getting further behind while composing a substantial piece of music.

More on that later. On Sunday I had the pleasure of attending a Cecilia-tide Evensong at St Pancras Church, highlighting the London Festival of Contemporary Church Music. In some previous years the music at the Festival hasn’t had a great gender balance, if I’m honest, but the music on Sunday included works by Miriam Mackie and Deborah Pritchard. I tried to find a recording of the Pritchard, a beautifully haunting a cappella setting of Psalm 121, I Will Lift Up Mine Eyes Unto The Hills. Not only was I unable to find a recording, I’ve also not been able to find anywhere that you can buy the sheet music. I guess your best bet is to get in touch through her twitter account.

And if you’re a composer of church music and you’re reading this, or you know a composer of church music and you’re reading this, it’s well worth submitting new music to LFCCM before the deadline, which is Friday 30th November.

I aten’t ded

I’ve had my head down for several weeks, preparing for my MPhil upgrade.

I passed, which means I hope to do a bit of catching up in the next few weeks. Watch this space!

Music for Sunday 9th September: Trinity 15, Year B

Time got ahead of me and I didn’t get back to this after my summer break quite as quickly as I wanted to. Never mind: better to start from where I am. I had a lovely summer that included two weeks of cathedral singing: in Ely with a Canadian choir, and in Ripon with the University of London Church Choir, which included one of my psalm chants and my Nunc dimittis.

So, anyway, the readings for, er, yesterday, were:


Proverbs 22:1-2, 8-9, 22-23 (continuous)
Psalm 125 (continuous)
Isaiah 35:4-7a (related)
Psalm 146 (related)
James 2:1-10 [11-13] 14-17
Mark 7:24-37

Proverbs: The Lord is on the side of the poor and afflicted

Psalm 125: Those who trust in the Lord are safe like mountains that cannot be moved

Isaiah: Do not be afraid! God will come with vengeance, heal people, and transform the land from desert to oasis.

Psalm 146: Happy are those who trust in the Lord, who executes justice, feeds the hungry, opens the eyes of the blind, frees the prisoners, watches over the strangers, upholds the orphan and widow, but brings the wicked to ruin.

James: A warning against showing favouritism or partiality toward the rich; faith without works is dead.

Mark: The healing of the Syrophoenician woman’s daughter; the restoration of hearing and speech to a deaf man.

Music:

Kate Keefe, Psalm 125
Responsorial psalm using the NRSV; cantor or unison choir and congregation, with keyboard and recorder (the recorder part looks optional to me).
PDF: https://www.musicformass.co.uk/episcopal/music/psalm-125-us-16th-after-pentecost-year-b.pdf
mp3 (robots): https://www.musicformass.co.uk/episcopal/sound/psalm-125-us-16th-after-pentecost-year-b.mp3
(and do read Kate’s recent blog post on women being given a voice by Jesus.)

It’s well worth looking at Kate Keefe’s other responsorial psalms and canticles, too; mind that the numbering for the psalms is slightly different for Roman Catholics.

The Syrophoenician woman’s challenge to Jesus, to heal her daughter even though they are Gentiles, is a strong one. Along those lines, Elizabeth Alexander’s No Other People’s Children is a good reminder that the divisions we find it so easy to make between people are false. Whether it’s appropriate for liturgical use will depend on your own church, though; written for a Unitarian context, the text doesn’t refer to God at all.

If you’re planning music ahead, I do have advance music recommendations available for December 2018 (£3.50) and January 2019 (£2.50), and I hope to have February online before the end of this month, PhD work allowing. If you’re not planning your music that far ahead but you want to support my work on this site, buying the music recommendations PDF is a great way to do that.

Advance Music Recommendations are here!

You can now purchase a PDF of the Cecilia’s List advance music recommendations for December 2018. It costs £3.50 and includes all four Sundays of Advent, Christmas Eve/Day, and the First Sunday of Christmas.

Featured composers include Bonnie Duckworth, Thea Musgrave, Gwyneth Walker, Melissa Dunphy, Patricia Van Ness, Helen Williams, Rhian Samuel, Rosephanye Powell, and more.

There are anthems for resources from SSAATTBB a cappella to SAB and organ, and a fair amount of SSA. There are also two hymn tunes, which could work as unison anthems for a smaller choir. Where I could find them, I’ve linked to recordings of the works, as well as to appropriate places to purchase or download the scores.

We should, of course, be including music by women in as many services as possible: it’s out there, we just have to sing it. But at Christmas it’s especially important to sing it and to ensure it’s credited properly in the order of service or pew slip, because people come to church then who don’t at other times of year. How will a young woman feel, exploring faith for the first time since childhood, to go along to a carol service and hear beautiful music, only to look it up later online and find that all of it is composed by men?

If you’re involved in planning music for worship, please use this resource. If you’re not involved in planning music for worship, please tell someone who is. Thank you.


Purchase the PDF

Frampton Saint Cecilia -- St Cecilia and several angels (?), all with gold halos, gather around an organ

Coming Soon: Advanced music recommendations!

I’ve been rather quiet here for the last few weeks, and haven’t been providing the usual music recommendations for Sundays.

That’s partly because I’ve been fairly busy with other work: singing in two choirs, trying to keep things going as a freelance composer, organist deputy work, and doing a PhD all at once means that sometimes all the things happen at the same time and something has got to slide.

But it’s also because I’ve been working behind the scenes on Cecilia’s List. I’m adding new composers to my offline database all the time (though I’m still pretty far behind on actually updating the site with new music). I’m also switching to a more powerful database than I had been using, which will make it easier to find what I’m looking for and make appropriate recommendations.

More excitingly, I’m going to be offering the recommendations a few months in advance. A number of people have told me the music recommendations would be a lot more helpful if they were earlier, and I know from my own experience that this is true.

The new structure will be as follows:
Before the end of July, I’ll release music recommendations for December, in a .pdf document you can buy and download from Payhip.
Before the end of August, I’ll release music recommendations for January.
Before the end of September, I’ll release music recommendations for February.
And so on and so forth; I’d like to be further ahead than that, as I know some people plan an entire programme year at once, but it will probably have to wait until after my PhD. In the meantime, I hope this will still be useful for people who look at a month in their plans and realise they don’t have any music by women.

In the interests of not getting overloaded, and of leaving myself time to iron out any wrinkles with the advance recommendation pdfs, I’m taking the summer off from doing weekly recommendations. This is only a temporary break, though: I’m aiming to resume the weekly, three-days-in-advance recommendations from the beginning of September.

While I’ve given myself an end-of-the-month deadline, I’m actually finishing up the December recommendations this afternoon; so, watch this space and they should be available today or tomorrow.

Caecilia2

Music for Sunday, 17th June 2018: Third Sunday After Trinity, Year B

The readings for this week are:

1 Samuel 15:34-16:13 (Continuous)
Psalm 20 (Continuous)
Ezekiel 17:22-24 (Related)
Psalm 92:1-4, 12-15 (Related)
2 Corinthians 5:6-10 [11-13] 14-17
Mark 4:26-34

1 Samuel 15:34-16:13: Samuel anoints David, son of Jesse, at God’s instruction.

Psalm 20: A prayer for victory. Some take pride in horses and chariots, but we trust in the Lord.

Ezekiel 17:22-24: The Lord will plant a shoot on top of a high mountain and all the birds and winged creatures will shelter in it. All the other trees will know that the Lord is God.

Psalm 92:1-4, 12-15: A song of thanksgiving for the longevity of the righteous.

2 Corinthians 5:6-17: Christ died for all, so that those who live might live for him; if anyone lives in Christ there is a new creation.

Mark 4:26-34: The Kingdom of God is like the sower, who sows seed, doesn’t really understand how it turns into grain, and eventually goes in with the sickle when it’s time for harvest. Also the Kingdom of God is like the tiny mustard seed that grows into the greatest of all shrubs.

As it is in heaven by Dale Trumbore sets text from Leo Tolstoy’s meditation on the Lord’s Prayer, excerpted from his essay “On Reason, Faith and Prayer.”

Do listen and buy sheet music via her site.

Music for Sunday, 10th June 2018: 2nd after Trinity, Year B

The readings for this Sunday are:


1 Samuel 18:4-11 [12-15] 16-20 [11:14-15] (Continuous)
Psalm 138 (Continuous)
Genesis 3:8-15 (Related)
Psalm 130 (Related)
2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1
Mark 3:20-35
.

http://www.cpdl.org/wiki/index.php/Category:Pentecost_IV

1 Samuel: Saul is getting pretty jealous of David’s military victories and the resulting praise from the Israelites.

Psalm 138: a song of thanksgiving and praise to God, for preservation from and victory over one’s enemies.

Genesis 3:8-15: The man and the woman (that’s Adam and Eve), having eaten of the tree God told them not to, know that they are naked, and hide from God when he calls them. The man blames “the woman who you gave to me” for tricking him into eating the fruit; the woman blames the snek serpent. God curses the serpent.

Psalm 130: a song of waiting for divine redemption, waiting on God’s word in hope.

2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1: waiting in faith for the glory of resurrection — the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus.

Mark 3:20-35: Pharisees saying that Jesus has demons in him and that’s why he can cast them out; Jesus’s denouncement of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit; relationship to Jesus through doing the will of God: ‘Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.’

The connection is a bit tenous, but Cecilia McDowell’s De Profundis (Night Raid) does draw on Psalm 130. It’s really a commemoration of WWI, though, so probably only suitable if you happen to be looking at that this Sunday.

Also using the Related set of readings, you could go with a Salve Regina — particularly for the reference to humankind as “poor banished children of Eve”, and the sense of waiting for redemption. Here’s one by Jocelyn Hagen.

Another piece which focuses on this faithful waiting for God is As the Pauper Waits for Plenty by Rosalie Bonighton.

Music for Sunday, 3rd June 2018: 1st after Trinity, Year B

This week’s readings are:


1 Samuel 3:1-10 [11-20] (Continuous)
Psalm 139:1-5, 12-18 (Continuous)
Deuteronomy 5:12-15 (Related)
Psalm 81:1-10 (Related)
2 Corinthians 4:5-12
Mark 2:23-3:6

(You can use the related readings or the continuous ones, but not both, and it’s best not to mix and match from week to week either but stick with one or the other.)

1 Samuel is the story of Samuel’s calling and prophetic activity, where he hears the Lord calling in the night but mistakes it for Eli — until old Eli wakes up sufficiently to realise what must be going on.

Psalm 139 is about the ubiquity and inescapability of God.

Deuteronomy is about remembering the Sabbath day and keeping it holy, on account of the Lord having brought Israel out of slavery in Egypt.

Psalm 81 is singing a song in praise of God — who brought the people out of slavery in Egypt.

2 Corinthians is about being the light of Christ, but also about being imperfect, “treasure in clay jars”, that it might be obvious that the light we have comes from God, not from ourselves.

In Mark 2:23-3:6, the disciples pluck heads of grain from a field while they are walking, and the Pharisees take issue with it because it’s the Sabbath; then Jesus heals a man in the synagogue and the Pharisees are pretty scandalised about it.

Christ Be Our Light by Bernadette Farrell springs to mind as appropriate, given the combination of the emphasis on light in the epistle, and healing in the Gospel. I have a soft spot for this rendition by the University of Notre Dame Folk Choir, which seems to me to be rather like some of the West Gallery choirs and bands Thomas Hardy wrote about; but it’s in a few hymnals, too, and perfectly acceptable accompanied by organ alone.

Other than that, I’m drawing a bit of a blank for thematically-appropriate music this week, so have a Missa Brevis by Ruth Watson Henderson. There’s a recording on Youtube.