The Season after Pentecost, 2013
The inclusion of a newly commissioned piece of music at the annual Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from King's College, Cambridge is a tradition that began with Stephen Cleobury's tenure in 1982. This, of course, prevents the service from ever being the same from year to year.
It also is very fittingly incarnational. A creative response to God's greatest act of creation that we recall at Christmas.
This year's commissioned carol at the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols has been composed by Thea Musgrave.
The text she has chosen is a poem from William Blake's Songs of Experience
Hear the voice of the Bard,
Who present, past, and future, sees;
Whose ears have heard
The Holy Word
That walked among the ancient trees;
Calling the lapséd soul,
And weeping in the evening dew;
That might control
The starry pole,
And fallen, fallen light renew!
‘O Earth, O Earth, return!
Arise from out the dewy grass!
Night is worn,
And the morn
Rises from the slumbrous mass.
‘Turn away no more;
Why wilt thou turn away?
The starry floor,
The watery shore,
Is given thee till the break of day.'
William Blake (1757–1827)
There is surely no blog on the internet that geeks out as much about the annual Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols at King's College, Cambridge as this one.
Last year, we even reported that the King's website's claim that the service booklet would be available in the beginning of December was a little bit hasty. It wasn't available until slightly later.
This year, King's only goes so far as to say that the service booklet will be available "in December".
Thankfully, this once again gives Sinden.org the opportunity to make semi-educated guesses about what long-time music director Stephen Cleobury has put down for this year's service.
Open Source Liturgy Information: By the way, you may view a spreadsheet of music at previous years' services that we at Sinden.org have maintained. And see below about how you can earn your VERY OWN HOMEMADE FRUITCAKE.
There's so much music to think about.
We haven't even mentioned the commissioned carol by Thea Musgrave. We're not sure where that will go. Probably later in the service.
In some ways the service is more unpredictable than it has been in years past. This is, in our judgement, a good thing.
Also, let it be stated that if you can email service information from earlier than 1997 we will gladly bake and send you a fruitcake ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD.
It's that time of year again; the time when you can catch the webcast of the Advent Carol Service from St. John's, Cambridge, but only for a few more days.
You can also follow along in the service leaflet.
The service has certainly enjoyed its instruments lately, and this year is no exception, with harp and saxophone (not simultaneously).
Also notable is the number of commissioned works in this year's service.
This is, by my count, the sixth year in a row that the choir of St. Thomas, New York has sung Kenneth Leighton's Missa Christi at the Festal Eucharist on the Last Sunday after Pentecost (called "Christ the King" Sunday in the Revised Common Lectionary"). It is a splendid piece of music, and I am very glad that it has entered the repertoire there.
The Missa Christi, Kenneth Leighton's last choral work, was commissioned in 1988 by my mentor at Christ Church, Indianapolis, Frederick Burgomaster. I vividly remember learning the accompaniment to the Gloria for my first concert at Christ Church (I was the Assistant Organist there 2006-2010). It was a daunting, but very fruitful task. Other than the stately Solus ad victimam, I had never before accompanied any Leighton, so this was a real baptism by fire. But it led me to value this work and many others by Leighton. His compositions are marked by beautifully craftmanship, oozing with his own modern and stunningly lyrical counterpoint.
The brief organ conclusion to the Gloria reveals at the last second an untold harmonic dimension -- another world lurking beneath the surface, like the earth dropping out from beneath your feet. It makes you re-evaluate everything you've just heard and makes you wonder about what is to come.
But this year, I'm thinking especially of the bass solo that begins the Benedictus. This kinky descending line was written with special intention for a bass in the choir of Christ Church: Tom Woody. Tom died this fall.
Tom was a integral to the music at Christ Church for decades, first as a choirboy and later as a bass in the choir. And I love knowing that this little piece of the Missa Christi inspired by him, crafted by Leighton, lives on in the service of the church and in the praise of almighty God.
Father of all, we pray to you for Tom, and for all those whom we love but see no longer. Grant to them eternal rest. Let light perpetual shine upon them. May his soul and the souls of all the departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.
Advent wreaths, are one of those lovely little ways to mark the Advent season. Their light, increasing as the time draws on toward the Feast of the Nativity marks our waiting as a fruitful one – one coming to completion in a full circle of light.
They are, however, not really necessary to the liturgy, kind of made up, and relatively new to Anglicanism.
Now, thanks to painstaking research, Sinden.org is pleased to present the long-lost "Advent Wreath Rubrics" from the 1663 Book of Common Prayer
[This means that Advent Wreaths should be lit clockwise]
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