Category Archives: Choral

“Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” and the Advent Season

“Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” is one of most popular musical works of all time. However, what are its origins? Interestingly, it has a connection to the Church Year and the Season of Advent. Let’s begin in the little village of Nazareth in the region of Galilee around the year 1 AD.

“Wolcum Yole”: A Carol for the Seasons of Christmas and Epiphany

On this, the Twelfth Day of Christmas, I thought you might enjoy the carol “Welcome Yole!” It is one of the few that mentions the Twelve Days of Christmas and its Feast Days specifically. The text is relatively simple enjoining us to celebrate Christmas, its Feast Days, and the New Year together. The most well-known setting is the second movement of A Ceremony of Carols by Benjamin Britten (1913-76). Below… Read More »

Beati quorum remissae (Psalm 32) – Wadsworth

“Beati quorum remissae” by American composer Zachary Wadsworth (b. 1983) is a setting of portions of Psalm 32, the second of the seven Penitential Psalms. This intense setting 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 awaybecause of my groaning all day long.… Read More »

Christmas and the Spectacular Music of Michael Praetorius

In 1994 Paul McCreesh and the Gabrieli Consort released an absolutely stunning recording of sacred music. In the previous years they had released three recordings: A Venetian Coronation, a recreation of a coronation that took place in Venice, Italy in 1595 (released 1990); Christmas Mass in Rome featuring the music of Palestrina (released 1993); and Venetian Vespers, a recreation of an evening service as it might have been celebrated at… Read More »

Create in Me a Clean Heart, O God” (Psalm 51) – Handel

The importance of Psalm 51 in Christian music and faith cannot be underestimated. It is significant in that it provides for us an example of deep and heartfelt repentance which is at the heart of our faith. 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… Read More »

Fanfare on “Christ is Arisen” (SATB w/ Organ, Brass, and Timpani)

Just completed a new piece for Easter: Fanfare on “Christ is Arisen” for mixed choir, brass quartet, timpani, and organ. Hope you find it useful. It begins with a theme that my Associate Pastor said reminded him of Aslan, you know the great and powerful lion from the C. S. Lewis book The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe who as a character has many similarities to Christ. That theme serves… Read More »

Handel’s “Messiah” for Children

A Blessed Easter to all of you! Children love picture books. Now it is possible to introduce children to Handel’s Messiah, one of sacred music’s most beloved and frequently performed works. In so doing, you will not only introduce them to a great piece of music, but also teach them the Biblical story of salvation (see my previous blogs Handel’s Messiah – Biblical, Christological, and Eschatological and Text Study –… Read More »

I Will Lift up Mine Eyes (Psalm 121) – Walford Davies

Having grown up in the mountains of Papua New Guinea, Psalm 121 has always been a favorite: “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills.” We were literally surrounded by mountains. In the distance on either end of the valley the mountains cascaded over each other in infinite shades of blue and green. As we looked southeast towards Mt. Hagen, we could see the rugged mountain range over which the… Read More »

Lamentations of Jeremiah – Tallis

The scenes of the empty streets in our cities these days reminds me of the first verse of the Lamentations of Jeremiah written thousands of years ago: “How lonely sits the city that was full of people!” (Lamentations 1:1) These laments take on new meaning during this Coronavirus pandemic. Christians have also used these laments during Holy Week as they grieve over the suffering and death of Jesus Christ. The… Read More »

Lord, Thou Hast Been Our Refuge (Psalm 90) – Vaughan Williams

Below is a link to a video of “Lord, Thou Has Been Our Refuge,” a setting of Psalm 90 by Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958). In this setting Vaughan Williams combines an original setting of Psalm 90 with the great hymn “O God, Our Help in Ages Past,” a paraphrase of Psalm 90 by Isaac Watts (1674-1748). The complete text of Vaughan William’s setting is below the video. You will note… Read More »