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

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.

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 Thursday, 31st May: Corpus Christi

This year, Corpus Christi falls on the same day as the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary to Elizabeth, so the latter is transferred to 1st June.

The readings for Corpus Christi are:
Genesis 14:18-20
Psalm 116:10-17
1 Corinthians 11:23-26
John 6:51-58

In Genesis, King Melchizedek of Salem brings out bread and wine, and blesses Abram, who gives him one tenth of everything.

The portion from Psalm 116 is about how to repay the Lord for his bounty and goodness: the psalmist commits to lifting up the cup of salvation, paying vows to the Lord in the presence of his people, serving God and offering a thanksgiving sacrifice.

1 Corinthians is about the institution of the Lord’s Supper.

John 6:51-58 is Jesus saying he is the Bread of Life, but he doesn’t mean ordinary life but eternal life: “Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them.”

This feast is about the Body of Christ as present in the sacrament of Holy Communion, in the bread and the wine; or about thanksgiving for said sacrament, if the Real Presence makes you theologically uncomfortable — but it’s also about the Church as the Body of Christ.

My own SATB setting of Christ Has No Body Now On Earth But Ours, words attributed to Teresa d’Avila, would be appropriate for this — and also might work well for the first Eucharist of new priests ordained at Petertide, which isn’t so very far off. You can listen to a demo recording of it on Youtube, and download it from the Choral Public Domain Library.

If you want something a little more traditional, there is quite a bit to work with!

O Salutaris Hostia is one traditional text for Corpus Christi.

There’s a setting by Mel Bonis for four voices and organ, but you’ll have to scroll or search the page it’s listed on to find it, and as the O is typed as a 0 it isn’t that easy to find!

There’s also a setting by Stephanie MacMillan, with a recording on Soundcloud.

O sacrum convivium is another good Corpus Christi text, and I like this setting by
Natalie Goossens.

And, of course, a good Ave Verum Corpus always works for Corpus Christi. Here’s one by Andrea Ramsey.

Music for Sunday, 27th May: Trinity Sunday, Year B

This week’s readings are:

Isaiah 6:1-8
Psalm 29
Romans 8:12-17
John 3:1-17

Isaiah is the writer seeing the Lord, and angels worshipping him, and being purified by having a live coal pressed to his lips by an angel. THen the Lord says “Who shall go for us? Who shall I send?” and the writer says “Here am I; send me.”

Psalm 29 is about God’s greatness and power and glory, with particular reference to earthquakes, storms and floods; and it ends with a prayer for strength and peace.

Romans 8:12-17 is about how being led by the Spirit of God means we are children of God, and therefore joint heirs with Christ.

John 3:1-17 is Nicodemus visiting Jesus for a nocturnal conversation about being born of flesh and also of water and the Spirit, which Nicodemus doesn’t quite follow despite being a teacher himself. The conversation ends with the assurance that God loved the world so much that he sent his Son into the world, so that whoever believes in him might have eternal life; this is not to condemn the world but to save it.

Hilary Campbell has a setting of O Lux Beata Trinitas in the composition list at her website. I haven’t been able to find a publisher so it’s probably best to contact her for the score.

There’s also a two part setting by Carlotta Ferrari of the same text on CPDL.

If you prefer something in English, I have a two-part accompanied setting of Herbert’s poem “Trinitie Sunday”.

No recordings for any of these I’m afraid!

Some administrivia: later today I’ll be making a few changes to the site because of the EU GDPR laws. I aim not to keep any personal information about composers or other people who communicate with me, with the exception of e-mail addresses; what goes on the site and into my database is either information that’s already public (who wrote which piece and so on) or my own opinion, so this shouldn’t be onerous, but in the interests of simplicity I’ll be removing the music submission form and asking people to e-mail me with submissions instead.

Music for Sunday, 20th May: Pentecost (Whitsunday)

The readings for this Sunday are:

Ezekiel 37:1-14
Acts 2:1-21
Psalm 104:24-34, 35b
Romans 8:22-27
John 15:26-27, 16:4b-15

…you still have to use Acts as the first or second reading.

The reading from Ezekiel is one of my favourites: the valley of dry bones, put back together when Ezekiel prophesies to them as instructed by God, and brought back to life when Ezekiel prophesies to the breath, the wind, to go into them. The bones are, of course, a metaphor for the people of Israel — and some would say for the church today, waiting for God’s spirit to bring us back to life too.

Acts is a description of the coming of Holy Spirit at Pentecost, when the followers of Jesus began speaking in many different languages. Some of the onlookers are amazed, others scoff that they’re obviously drunk. Peter sets them right, explaining that this is part of the prophecy from Joel about the last days.

The portion from Psalm 104 is about how great God is, and particularly the way in which living things depend on God’s spirit or breath for life.

Romans 8:22-27 is about waiting for the redemption of our physical bodies, about not knowing how to pray but the Spirit praying within us in “sighs too deep for words”.

The reading from John is Jesus promising to send the Advocate (that is, the Spirit of truth), who will speak truth and tell the disciples the rest of what he has to tell them.

A good hymn for Pentecost would be “O Breath of Life” by Bessie Porter Head, to the tune SPIRITUS VITAE by Mary Jane Hammond:

1 O Breath of life, come sweeping through us,
revive your church with life and power.
O Breath of life, come, cleanse, renew us;
and fit your church to meet this hour.

2 O Wind of God, come bend us, break us,
till humbly we confess our need.
Then in your tenderness remake us;
revive, restore, for this we plead.

3 O Breath of love, come breathe within us,
renewing thought and will and heart.
Come, love of Christ, afresh to win us;
Revive your church in every part.

There are a bunch of anthems that would be suitable, too. Carol Barnett’s SATB (with divisi) setting of Veni, Sancte Spiritus is fairly long at seven and a half minutes, but would work in a setting where you expect a large number of people coming up for Communion, or perhaps if you’re allowing extra time for healing prayer.

Andrea Ramsey also has a setting of Veni Sancte Spiritus, for SSAA + djembe or TTBB + djembe, which might suit better if you’re looking for something shorter (four minutes) and more energetic. Here it is on YouTube.

If you want something in English, and quieter, my own SATB setting of verses from Herrick’s Litany to the Holy Spirit, Sweet Spirit, Comfort Me is available to download from CPDL, and there’s a demo recording on YouTube. I tend to think of it as suitable for Evensong rather than a main service.

And finally, Libby Larsen has an organ prelude on Veni Creator Spiritus which looks from the sample page as if it would be worth playing.

Music for Thursday, 10th May: Ascension Day

The readings for Ascension Day are:

Daniel 7:9-14
Acts 1:1-11
Psalm 47 or Psalm 93
Ephesians 1:15-23
Luke 24:44-53

It’s still Easter, gotta use the reading from Acts, you know the deal by now if you’ve been reading along…

Daniel 7:9-14 is a vivid, awesome vision of God, and of the “one like a human being coming with the clouds of heaven” being given all dominion and kingship.

Acts 1:1-11 is a description of Jesus promising the disciples that they would receive the Holy Spirit, and then being taken up to heaven.

Psalm 47 is about praising God, and about God’s kingship; and of course there is the verse “God has gone up with a shout”, or, as the Coverdale version has and Common Worship has retained, with a “merry noise”.

Psalm 93 is about the kingship and mightiness of God.

Ephesians 1:15-23 is the letter writer praying that the Ephesians might receive the spirit of wisdom and revelation so that they can know the hope they are called to, the inheritance of the saints, and the kingship and power of Christ.

Luke 24:44-53 is another description of the Ascension of Jesus.

The traditional text for Ascension Day is Psallite Domino, and in 2010 Cecilia McDowall wrote a setting of it for SSATB. I haven’t found it available to purchase online so the best thing to do would be to contact the composer via her website.

Alternately, there is also this German hymn for SAB by Sigrid Schultz-Kokerbeck.

When I asked about German translations I got a number of them back, but the one by Rosemary Riepma stands head and shoulders above the rest, because it fits the metre of the original:

Let every child of God rejoice
The Lord ascends triumphantly
So sing his praise with hearty voice

The Lord himself prepares a place
To keep us in eternal grace
So sing his praise with hearty voice

Now may he send the Holy Ghost
To bathe sore hearts that need it most
And comfort us with his own word
And guard us from the Devil’s sword

Although we’re living in this world
Our actions do not satisfy
The world, but we obey God’s word
And live as he has told us to

So let’s give thanks to our dear Lord
And offer him our heartfelt praise
Sing praises with the angels’ choir
Sing praises for the heavens to hear

In the German, the final line of the first two verses is repeated, and it would make sense to do this in English too.