Tag Archives: Choral Music

Meditating upon Psalm 95 (“O Come, Let Us Sing unto the Lord”) – Handel

The psalm for this Sunday, the Third Sunday in Lent, is an exhortation to sing and praise God for all He is and all that He does. It might seem odd during a penitential season such as Lent to sing this magnificent psalm of praise, but it is a reminder that even in times of great sorrow and contrition we can rejoice in God and thank Him for His boundless… Read More »

Meditating upon Psalm 32 (“You are a hiding place for me”) – Wadsworth

The psalm for this Sunday, the First Sunday of Lent, is Psalm 32, the second of the seven Penitential Psalms. This intense setting by American composer Zachary Wadsworth (b. 1983) alternates the English text with the Latin. It begins with verse 3 which relates to us the consequences of remaining silent and keeping our sins to ourselves. While I held my tongue, my bones withered away because of my groaning… Read More »

Meditating upon Psalm 51 (“Create in me a clean heart, O God”) – Handel

Psalm 51, the appointed psalm for Ash Wednesday, is arguably one of the most significant for Christians in that it provides for us an example of deep and heartfelt repentance. The story involves a king who after having an adulterous affair and getting a woman pregnant, gets wrapped up in an elaborate cover-up that leads to deceit, treachery, murder, and despair. The full story is told in 2 Samuel 11-12.… Read More »

The Angelic Choir

The shepherds were “sore afraid,” which means they were completely and totally terrified fearing for their very lives. Here they were half-asleep watching sheep (some of which would eventually be slaughtered in Passover celebrations and temple sacrifices) and an angel of the Lord appeared to them with “news of great joy that will be for all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a… Read More »

Thoughts on “Silent Night”

Did you know that the beloved Christmas carol “Silent Night” originally had six stanzas and not three? We know this from an original manuscript submitted by the composer Franz Gruber (1787-1863) when an official investigation was held in 1854 on the origins of the carol. Other autographs have been discovered over the years, the most recent being by the author of the text, Father Joseph Mohr (1792-1848). When comparing the English translation… Read More »

Handel’s Messiah – Biblical, Christological, and Eschatological

In anticipation of the 40th Annual Peoria “Sing-It-Yourself” Messiah tomorrow on the Trinity Concert Series (www.trinityconcertseries.org), I would like to offer these thoughts on the work. Arguably the most popular musical work of all time, Handel’s Messiah sets to beautiful and awe-inspiring music Old and New Testament passages that proclaim the salvation story. According to one scholar,  the librettist Charles Jennens (1700-73) “intended Messiah as a statement of faith in… Read More »

The Song of Habakkuk – A Song for Our Time

On this, the Last Sunday of the Church Year, our thoughts are drawn to the end times and the prophecies regarding the Second Coming of Christ. Considering the events of the past weeks with terrorist attacks in Africa and France, threats of attacks in other parts of Europe and the United States, reports and arguments about “war,” “jihad,” “refugees,” the “silent jihad,” and other such topics, it is easy to… Read More »

Peoria Bach Festival 2015

Join the Peoria Bach Festival from May 31-June 7, 2015 for another week of celebrating the music, art, and faith of Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750). Altogether there will be eight concerts, several free lectures, two festival worship services, and an event for children. The primary work for the Peoria Bach Festival 2015 will be Cantata 147 “Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben” (“Heart and Mouth and Deeds and Life”)… Read More »

Observe Good Friday with the Peoria Bach Festival

Observe Good Friday this year by watching the Peoria Bach Festival 2010 performance of the St. Matthew Passion. You can find it on the Peoria Bach Festival YouTube page by clicking here or following the link below. Although the performance is in German, English subtitles are provided making the story easy to understand and follow. The translation is a literal one so that the original meaning of the German is as… Read More »

Thoughts on “O Morning Star, How Fair and Bright”

For the Twelfth and last Day of Christmas and for the Feast of Epiphany let us examine the “Queen of Chorales,” “O Morning Star, How Fair and Bright” (“Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern”). Composed by the Reverend Philip Nicolai (1556-1608), it is often sung as an Epiphany hymn although it can be sung on other occasions as well. For this post, I simply wish to share two settings of this hymn by… Read More »