Easter 2024

31 December 2012
YouTube - 12 Days of, New Year's Eve edition

Yeah, I know you're saying to yourself, "wait a minute, it's not New Year's Eve! It's the Eve of the Feast of the Holy Name!"

Well, get over yourself. While the Holy Name is one of three feasts that take precedence on a Sunday, the rationale for today's video is that you have a lot of time to watch/listen to it as you wait to ring in the new year.

Bonus: Can you name the other two feast days that take precedence on a Sunday? (for full bonus credit, can you do it without consulting your BCP?)

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30 December 2012
YouTube - 12 Days of, First Sunday after Christmas edition

So much about Christmas is new, shiny, sparkly, etc. But the real story of Christmas is 2,000 years old, and of course the love that the story proclaims is even older than that.

Prudentius's fourth century text "Of the Father's heart begotten" features in today's video. (Episcopalians know the words to hymn 82 as "Of the Father's love begotten".) I love these words, because in the midst of a society that demands the latest and greatest, this connects us with our faith -- the whole story of our faith -- and reminds us that God's love has been in place since the beginning, and will be there at the end.

I chose this particular film because

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29 December 2012
YouTube - Twelve Days of, 8-bit Irby edition

A real find today.

Composer-extraordinaire David Farrell's "8-bit" arrangement of the hymn tune "Irby".

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Nine Lessons and Carols - a Festival of, concluding organ voluntaries

A colleague recently inquired about the Duruflé Toccata at the end of the the Festival of Nine Lessons & Carols from King's College, Cambridge. I have to admit that while I had some considerable familiarity with the voluntaries at the service, I had not added them to the spreadsheet.

That omission has been corrected.

The first voluntary is always the chorale "In dulci jubilo," BWV 729 by J. S. Bach. It was played rather more imaginatively this year (by Organ Scholar Parker Ramsey) than it has been in the past.

I must, of course, note here that the value in gaining access to previous service booklets would reveal at what point this first voluntary became part of the "ordinary" of the service, or if it has literally always been this way.

The second (and third!) voluntaries are more variable, but reveal that there is some repetition. French (Belgian!) toccatas are very popular.

Pieces that have been repeated over the years include

If I had to put money on it I would say that "Carillon de Westminster" is also in this group, though it has only appeared once since 1997.

So even if it's not "Christmassy" per se, the Duruflé fits right in with the repeated toccatas, and other big French pieces played after the service:

It even fits the mold (mould?) of Francophile toccatas by Anglos: Baker & Briggs.

There are also some real oddball pieces like "Recessional on 'In the bleak midwinter'" by Lionel Steuart Fothringham.

I'm going to go way out on a limb here and guess that he's an English composer.

Actually, given the list we've examined the real outlier is the Bach Sinfonia from Cantata 29.

But Bach is always welcome at the party.

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28 December 2012
YouTube - Twelve Days of, Holy Innocents Day edition

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27 December 2012
YouTube - Twelve Days of, St. John's Day edition

Poor John. Always gets overlooked in the days following Christmas.

Here is the Choir of the Chapel of the College in Cambridge named after the disciple whom Jesus loved singing "Benedicamus Domino" by Peter Warlock.

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26 December 2012
YouTube - Twelve Days of, St. Stephen's Day edition

Given the weather in much of the country today, and the massive snow fall in the Hoosier heartland, the line "snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow" seems appropriate.

Bonus: Good King Wenceslas sung by the Choir of York Minster.

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25 December 2012
YouTube - Twelve days of, Christmas Day edition

Merry Christmas!

It's time for (a new annual tradition on the Twelve Days of YouTube.

I've enjoyed a wonderful, energetic celebration of the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ at the parish where I serve, but I'm a bit tired today. Maybe I'm not the only one?

Watch the treble in the middle at exactly 2 minutes and 7 seconds in.

I'm taking a nap.

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23 December 2012
Emmanuel - O


O Emmanuel, our King and Lawgiver, the Desire of all nations, and their Saviour: Come and save us, O Lord our God.

Isaiah vii. 14, viii. 8, xxxii. 1; Psalm lxxii; Genesis xlix. 10; Haggai ii. 7; Luke i. 71, 74, 75.

O Lord Jesu Christ, Who wast foretold as the king
in whom God would manifest his presence,
Who should reign in righteousness,
bringing peace and happiness to all peoples;
Thou art Thyself indeed Emmanuel,
the very Son and Word of God made man:
Come, we pray Thee, by Thy grace, and reign over us,
so saving us from our spiritual enemies
and from the hand of all that hate us,
that we may serve Thee without fear
in holiness and righteousness
all the days of our life.

This and following paraphrases from The Advent Antiphons, by A. C. A. Hall, Bishop of Vermont, 1914

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22 December 2012
Rex Gentium - O


O King of the Gentiles, and their Desire, the Corner-stone, Who madest both one: Come and save man, whom Thou hast formed out of the dust of the earth.

Acts xvii. 26; Ephesians ii. 14; Isaiah xlv. 22; Psalm cxiii. 6-8; xlvii. 9.

O Lord Jesu Christ, for Whom all peoples yearn,
even though they know not whom they seek;
Thou hast made of one blood all nations
to dwell on the face of the whole earth;
and Thou dost bind together Jew and Gentile
in the one body of Thy catholic Church:
Come, we pray Thee, and by Thy truth and grace
raise man whom Thou didst make out of the dust of the earth,
from his low condition,
and set him in Thy holy Church with the princes,
even with the princes of Thy people.

This and following paraphrases from The Advent Antiphons, by A. C. A. Hall, Bishop of Vermont, 1914

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21 December 2012
Oriens - O


O Orient, Brightness of the Eternal Light, and Sun of Righteousness: Come, and lighten them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.

Luke i. 78, 79; Malachi iv. 2; Wisdom vii. 26; Hebrews i. 3; John i. 4, 5; Titus iii. 4; Luke vii. 22; Ephesians v. 8-14.

O Lord Jesu Christ, Who art the outshining of Thy Father's glory,
Light streaming forth from Light:
Thou didst come in the incarnation
to our poor darkened world
as the Sun of Righteousness
bringing healing in Thy beams,
dispelling noxious influences,
and gladdening men's hearts with the good news
of their Father's kindness and love for man:
Come, we pray Thee, now by Thy grace,
and through Thy Church let Thy truth and love shine forth to all that are in the darkness
of sin or ignorance or error;
penetrate the hidden recesses of our hearts,
and enlighten the cruel habitations of the earth.

This and following paraphrases from The Advent Antiphons, by A. C. A. Hall, Bishop of Vermont, 1914

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20 December 2012
Clavis David - O


O Key of David, and Sceptre of the house of Israel, Thou that openest and no one shutteth, and shuttest and no one openeth: Come, and loose the prisoner from the prison-house, and him that sitteth in darkness from the shadow of death.

Isaiah xxii. 22, xlii. 7; Revelation iii. 7; Luke i. 32; Mark ii. 10; Matthew xxviii. 18, xvi. 18, 19.

O Lord Jesu Christ, to Whom is given the throne and sceptre of David Thy father over the house of Israel,
that Thou mighest extend his kingdom over all peoples:
Thou didst come in our nature,
as the Son of man forgiving sins,
dispelling sickness and loosing bonds:
to Thee now is committed all authority in heaven and on earth,
and the powers of hell cannot withstand Thy word:
Come, we pray Thee, by Thy grace, and through the instrumentality of Thy Church,
to loosen the prisoner from the chains of sin,
to enlighten with the glad tidings of Thy word all who sit in darkness and the shadow of death,
that they may rejoice in the deliverance which Thou hast wrought.

This and following paraphrases from The Advent Antiphons, by A. C. A. Hall, Bishop of Vermont, 1914

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19 December 2012
Radix Jesse - O


O Root of Jesse, Who standest for an ensign of the people, at Whom kings shall shut their mouths, unto Whom the Gentiles shall pray: Come and deliver us, and tarry not.

Isaiah xi. 1, 10, lii, 15; Romans i. 3; Matthew xxviii. 19, 20.

O Lord Jesu Christ, the new shoot from the hewn down stump of Jesse's line,
in whom all the promises should be fulfilled;
the champion of Thy people,
to whom the Gentile nations should turn in submission and obedience:
Thou hast come of the seed of David according to the flesh,
being born in obscurity of a maiden of the royal line;
Thou hast set up Thy holy catholic Church,
commanding Thine apostles to make disciples of all nations
and to train all peoples in obedience to Thy holy commandments:
Come now, we pray Thee, by Thy grace, and tarry not,
hasten the manifestation of Thy kingdom;
grant that Thy Church may continually be increased
by the gathering in of new children to Thee,
and perfected by the increasing devotion of those who have been regenerated.

This and following paraphrases from The Advent Antiphons, by A. C. A. Hall, Bishop of Vermont, 1914

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18 December 2012
Adonai - O


O Lord and Ruler of the house of Israel, Who appearedst unto Moses in a flame of fire in the bush, and gavest unto him the Law in Sinai: Come and redeem us with an outstretched arm.

Acts 7:30, 28; Hebrews 12:18-21, 10:16.

O Lord Jesu Christ, Who as the Angel of the Lord
didst rule and guard God's people of old; 
Who didst appear to Moses in the burning bush,
that told of Thy presence hallowing but not consuming,
and of Thy people's preservation through fiery trials;
Who didst give the Law in Sinai
in could and majesty and awe;
Thou didst come to visit mankind oppressed
and didst redeem us therefrom
by the victory of Thy Passion:
Come, we pray Thee, now by Thy grace,
and with Thine outstretched arm deliver us
from the bondage of evil habits
from the crafts and assaults of Satan,
from the tyrrany of the world,
and the disorder into which our nature has fallen
Write in our hearts by Thy Spirit
the law in obedience to which we shall find our true freedom,
Thy law of truth and purity and love.

This and following paraphrases from The Advent Antiphons, by A. C. A. Hall, Bishop of Vermont, 1914

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17 December 2012
Sapientia - O


O Wisdom, Which camest forth out of the mouth of the Most High, and reachest from one end to the other, mightily and sweetly ordering all things: Come and teach us the way of prudence.

Wisdom viii. 1, ix. 4, 9, 10; Proverbs viii. 22, sq.; Hebrews i. 1; John i. 3; Ecclesiasticus xxxiv. 3. sq.

O Lord Jesu Christ, who art the very Wisdom of God most high,
by whom He made the world, impressing on His creation
the reflexion of His own power and goodness;
Who dost uphold the world in its being and harmony,
as Thou reachest from one end to the other
mightily and sweetly ordering all things;
Who didst visit God's prophets and servants of old,
giving them ever fuller knowledge of His mind and will;
Thou in the fulness of time didst come forth in the incarnation,
clothing Thyself in our nature and living amidst our conditions,
to teach us the way of prudence--
how to use the complex nature Thou hadst framed,
how to escape the snares and temptations by which we are surrounded,
how to attain the blessedness which Thou hast prepared for us.
Blessed be Thy Name for Thy teaching by word and by example,
for the testimony of Thine Apostles and the record of the Scriptures,
for the continual guidance of Thy Spirit and the witness of Thy Saints.

Come now, we pray Thee, by Thy grace
to Thy Church and people,
and teach us in our day and need
the way of prudence--
how best to promote Thy Father's glory,
and extend Thy kingdom,
and win our perfect life,
as we so pass through things temporal
as not to lose the things eternal.

This and following paraphrases from The Advent Antiphons, by A. C. A. Hall, Bishop of Vermont, 1914

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11 December 2012
Nine Lessons and Carols - a Festival of, 2012 (preview)

Today, Tuesday 11 December 2012 the service leaflet for this year's service was posted online. Last year's leaflet was also released online about this time, Tuesday 13 December 2011.

The service will once again open with "Once in royal David's city".

We should have been more confident with our prediction that the Invitatory Carol would be "Up! good Christian folk and listen" by Woodward because it totally is that carol.

We missed the mark in regard to the first carol after the First Lesson. That carol is "This is the truth sent from above" by Ralph Vaughan Williams, which was last sung in 2010 as the Invitatory Carol. Before that, it was sung in this position in 2007.

Stephen Cleobury has thrown a curve ball with a setting of "Adam lay ybounden" by Christopher Brown, a new work first performed 9 December 2006 in Linton, Cambridgeshire. This is the first time in my records that the sung setting of this carol has been composed by someone other than Peter Warlock or a Director of Music at King's.

Philip Ledger, who died on 18 November is commemorated with two carols in this year's service: his arrangement of "Good Christian men, rejoice", and "A spotless rose". "Good Christian men, rejoice", sung after the Second Lesson, has not been previously sung at the service in this arrangement -- and we have not been aware of it before now. You can listen to a performance on the Christ's College, Cambridge recordings page. We had predicted that Pearsall's "In dulci jubilo" would be sung here, (the same tune. Likewise, we predicted Howells's a "A spotless rose" to be sung after the Fourth Lesson, the same position it held in last year's service. It returns, but in the exact same setting by Ledger. This carol was composed for the King's service in 2002, but it did not bear the distinction of being the commissioned carol that year (it was "The angel Gabriel" by Robin Holloway).

We were right in our prediction that the Sussex Carol is not being sung after the Third Lesson. It is instead, a repeat of last year's "Nowell sing we now all and some". This is one of four repeats of the internal carols from last year's service (not counting the three constant carols that bookend the service: "Once in royal", "O come, all ye faithful", and "Hark! the herald"). The four carols being repeated are:

All this repetition from last year may be meant to offset some of the extra "newness". In addition to the commissioned carol there is a carol written for the choir's last CD, and that new (shocking!) setting of "Adam lay ybounden".

The hymn after the Third Lesson. It is "Unto us is born a Son". For the 16 years for which we have records it will have been sung six times in this slot. It just edges out "It came upon a midnight clear" which has beens sung five times.

The commissioned carol by Australian composer Carl Vine, "Ring out, wild bells is heard as the second carol after the Fourth Lesson. We're standing by our prediction that it will be awesome.

The hymn after the Seventh Lesson is not "God rest ye" as we thought it might be. It's "While shepherds", one of the four repeats mentioned above.

Since 2000, Stephen Cleobury has included one of his own carol arrangements in the service. The trend continues this year with "The Cherry Tree Carol", the melancholy story of pregnant Mary and indignant Joseph that could be equally at home in an Advent carol service. It was last sung in 2004.

John Rutter's "All bells in paradise" a carol written for the recently released Lessons & Carols CD on the college's new CD label is included in the service after the Sixth Lesson.

William Mathias's "Sir Christèmas" from his carol sequence Ave Rex is the final choir carol of the service. We don't believe that it has been sung at the King's service before.

The famous spreadsheet of all the carols sung at the service since 1997 has been updated.

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05 December 2012
Vine, Carl - "Ring out, wild bells"

The commissioned carol at this year's Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols at King's College, Cambridge is "Ring out, wild bells" by Australian composer Carl Vine.

Just listen to the first four minutes in the above piano sonata, and imagine what Vine will be able to do in four minutes with the King's College Choir.

This story broke on Twitter back in October (shame on for missing this!)

Program note: "Ring out, wild bells" at

Although not directly related to the nativity, Lord Tennyson’s striking poem, Ring out, wild bells, inventively encapsulates the core Christian principles of community, generosity and kindness. Several previous musical settings of the poem exist, but they generally squeezed the words into repetitive bouncing triplet rhythms. This isn’t how I read the poem, and I thought it would be more interesting to explore the less regular rhythmic elements of the text without formulating an invariant ‘verse’ structure.

I'm particularly excited by that "less regular rhythmic elements" comment, and I think we could see some very exciting writing here.

Carl Vine at Faber Music.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson - Ring out, wild bells

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky, 
The flying cloud, the frosty light; 
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new, 
Ring, happy bells, across the snow: 
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Ring out the grief that saps the mind, 
For those that here we see no more, 
Ring out the feud of rich and poor, 
Ring in redress to all mankind.

Ring out a slowly dying cause, 
And ancient forms of party strife; 
Ring in the nobler modes of life, 
With sweeter manners, purer laws.

Ring out the want, the care the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times; 
Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes, 
But ring the fuller minstrel in.

Ring out false pride in place and blood, 
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right, 
Ring in the common love of good.

Ring out old shapes of foul disease, 
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold; 
Ring out the thousand wars of old, 
Ring in the thousand years of peace.

Ring in the valiant man and free, 
The larger heart, the kindlier hand; 
Ring out the darkness of the land, 
Ring in the Christ that is to be.

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04 December 2012
Nine Lessons and Carols - a Festival of, 2012 (predictions)
The website of King's College has proclaimed that "The 2012 service booklet will be available at the beginning of December."

Well, it's already December 4, and no such service booklet is posted!

I'm afraid that I have no recourse, except to offer my (somewhat) annual predictions for the service.

I'm at somewhat of a disadvantage here. Since this is Stephen Cleobury's 30th Carol Service at King's, it would be great to see what he selected in his first year as Director of Music, but my records only go back to 1997. So, I will once again make my (somewhat) annual appeal: if anyone has orders of service older than this, I would love to see them. I will bake you cookies and send them ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD.

So there they are, and if they're not very inspired predictions, I hope we will see the real order of service soon so that I may offer a preview and update the famous spreadsheet.

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03 December 2012
Carols - A Service for Advent with

It's time once again for the annual broadcast of A Service for Advent with Carols, sung by the very fine Choir of St. John's, Cambridge.

You can listen the service for the next six days at the BBC, and we at highly recommend that you avail yourself of this opportunity.

You can download a PDF of the service at the College website.

This service is famed for many reasons. The singing is of the highest standard, and the liturgy is very thoughtfully conceived. The service is divided into four sections (The Message of Advent, The Word of God, The Prophetic Call, and The Christ-Bearer) mirroring the four weeks of Advent. In fact, the collects at the head of each of the first three sections is the Prayer Book collect for the respective Sunday of Advent. The fourth collect, however, either must come from a different source or was specifically composed for the service.

The seven Advent "O Antiphons" are evenly distributed throughout the four sections.

Highlights this year include:

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