A Sacred Celtic Christmas

A Sacred Celtic Christmas

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A Sacred Celtic Christmas

December 20, 2019 ~ St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church  ~ 7:00 p.m.

Program Notes

Solis – Choir of the Sun

 Who are the Celts?

The Celtic tribes originated in pre-Roman central, eastern, and western Europe. There is variation in the cultures of each Celtic region; however, a distinctive “Celtic-ness” can still be detected. The name ‘Celt’ comes from the Greek Keltos, which means “barbarian.” Similarly, the Roman name for a Celt, Gallus (later Gaul), also means “barbarian.” Both the Greeks and the Romans saw the Celts as warring tribes, and unfortunately, Roman victories caused much ancient Celtic culture to disappear. However, while Latin is now considered a dead language, several variants of Celtic languages are still spoken today. Celtic culture survived primarily through the widespread growth of Christianity. The Celtic tribes were heavily inspired by early Christianity and became passionate missionaries for their newfound religion. They migrated and settled in multiple areas of Europe, sharing the gospel to far-reaching lands. Today several regions are considered Celtic because of their language, traditions, culture, and music: Ireland, Scotland, Cornwall, Manx Island, Wales, Brittany, and Spanish Galicia (Basque and Catalan regions), with some pockets of Celts having moved into Iceland, Canada, and America. Celtic music is now a worldwide phenomenon, having been spread by such groups as the Chieftains, Riverdance, Celtic Women, and Anúna. Christmas music is often at the heart of the Celts’ well-loved tunes, and we are happy to share these ancient and traditional carols with you tonight. 


 Balulalow, Medieval Scottish

Balulalow has a varied history. Martin Luther wrote the Christmas Eve carol Von Himmel Hoch, da Komm ich Her, published in the 1535 volume Geistliche Lieder. An English translation version of the carol, called I come from Hevin to tell, appeared in a 1567 publication by the Scottish Wedderburn brothers called Ane Compendious Buik of Godly and Spirituall Sangis. Now the tune is known as Balulalow, the Scottish term for the word “Lullaby.” The ancient carol has been set and passed down with a number of variants of melody, most famous being the rendition by Benjamin Britten in his Ceremony of Carols. Tonight we present the oldest published version of the Scottish medieval melody, alongside a similar but more modern version.

Jerusalem, Our Happy Home, Medieval Scottish

This Scottish Christmas chant is historically sung at the first Mass on Twelfth Day. The original version of the song is attributed to Friar Richard Shann’s transcription. The song was published in the year 1611 in The Commonplace Book, which is now housed in the British Museum. There is evidence that a Father Beenet, a Franciscan martyr and prisoner during the reign of Queen Elizabeth in the sixteenth century, originally wrote Jerusalem, Our Happy Home. The carol can also be found in the book The Kilmore Carols.

Suantraí ár Slánaitheora, Scottish Christmas Carol, arr. F. O’Carroll

In the Celtic tradition of singing a cradlesong (or sleeping song), mothers sing of brighter futures and loftier dreams than the circumstances in which they currently live. Often these lullabies will beseech the love and protection of Mother Mary as a way to comfort the mothers and the child who sleeps. In this Christmas lullaby, Mary herself sings to her Babe of the adoration she has for Him, and how she will be there with Him in His holy journey. Originally from Wexford and Waterford, Ireland, composer Fiontán Ó Cearbhaill worked as a railway clerk in Ireland for twenty-seven years before earning his degree in music through evening courses at Trinity College Dublin. Most of his compositions encompassed sacred music for the Roman Catholic Church. He took this traditional Scottish Christmas carol, Suantraí ár Slánaitheora (The Savior’s Lullaby), a lullaby from Mary to her child, and created a haunting arrangement for unaccompanied choir and soprano solo.

O Sing a Song of Bethlehem (Dives and Lazarus), Ancient Celtic Carol

Utilized as the tune for Dives and Lazarus, Kingsfold, and Star of the County Down, this old song has had a number of renditions, including an orchestral version by Ralph Vaughan Williams. The Christmas version of this carol is called O Sing a Song of Bethlehem. The tune could come from Worcestershire, Norfolk, or Ireland, although many claim Scotland as its origin. Celtic musicians now perform the tune regularly as a gorgeous addition to Christmas programs and albums. Enjoy our guest, Danielle Franlkin, as she shares her rendition of this ancient melody on her beloved harp, an instrument highly valued in Celtic music.


Sans Day Carol, Thomas Beard

St. Day, also called Sans Day, is the name of a city in Gwennap parish, Cornwall. The city, St. Day, was named after a venerated Breton saint who came to the region from Brittany. Historically, there have always been close ties between Brittany and Cornwall. Legend says that this Cornish carol comes from a nineteenth-century villager, Thomas Beard, who sang the tune and lyrics in celebration of Christmas. The lyrics are quite similar to the more familiar The Holly and the Ivy, and is likely related in melody and poetry. The text illuminates the medieval custom of decorating for the Mid-Winter Festival with evergreen plants. The tradition may come from a much older time, perhaps even reaching the ancient Celtic tribal era of pre-Saxon Yule celebrations.

Preview of Solis’ new album (to be released in 2020)

 O Salutaris Hostia – World Premiere, Richard Quesnel

In November 2017, Kira Rugen traveled to Saint-Brieuc, France for the premiere of her Magnificat, sung by the Petits Chanteurs of Saint-Brieuc Cathédrale. During that St. Cecilia concert, the choir also sang O Salutaris Hostia, a hauntingly beautiful unison motet by Richard Quesnel. Dr. Rugen contacted Mr. Quesnel about including this song on tonight’s Celtic Christmas program, and inquired if he had already composed it for SATB (harmony in four parts). While he had not arranged the pieces for SATB, he told her that it was this simple setting of O Salutaris Hostia that has been one of his most sung works. He gladly made a new arrangement for Solis, which we recorded last month for our upcoming album, to be released in 2020. Please enjoy this world premiere, which comes from a Eucharistic hymn written by St. Thomas Aquinas.

Evening Hymn – World Premiere, Tom Peterson

Evening Hymn: Lux Aeterna sets to music portion of a poem by Cecil Frances Alexander, an Irish hymn writer whose classics still sung widely include All Things Bright and Beautiful and Once in Royal David’s City. In this piece, a soloist sings of the closing of another day and the onset of another night, while the choir recites the words lux aeterna (eternal light) again and again. The constant repetitions, like waves or breaths, mirror the constant cycle in the poem: of day turning to night, of night turning to day, of year passing into year, and finally, of generation passing into generation. Through all of these beginnings and endings, it is the permanence of the stars – the eternal light – that links parent to child, and night to night. It links the narrator – and  us – to the night of the Nativity. This piece is dedicated to my grandmother, Olga. She has been gone for 19 years now, but I often find her in my thoughts, especially around Christmas. -Written by Tom Peterson, composer of Evening Hymn

Brittany, France

Kanam Nouel, 16th Century Breton Christmas Carol

The original melody of Kanamb Noël is based on an aire taken from a book for Renaissance viols. Historically, Breton children traveled from home to home singing this song as a part of their Christmas tradition. Eventually, the carol became one of the most favored Christmas tunes in the area of Brittany, France.

The Breton Carol – World Premiere, arranged by Goulven Airault

The Breton Carol (Pe Trouz War an Douar) is a very old Breton song, written in 1743 by Father Pierre Noury, a Breton priest. Over the years, it has become a popular carol in Brittany. As a young child, I attended Christmas Mass, and we sang it as a Breton story. I have composed this piece with that story in mind: As the shepherds in the Breton countryside sang the carol, they could hear the song of angels through the words Gloria in Excelsis Deo. However, the Shepherds did not yet understand the meaning of this song of joy. Fearlessly, the Shepherds asked the angels the reason for their jubilation. The angels then joined in the Shepherds’ song, in the Breton language, to explain the story. Behold, their hearts were then filled with great joy! They announced the news to all who would hear, and the angels adapted their glorious melodies to the Shepherds’ song.             -Written by Goulven Airault, composer of The Breton Carol

Spanish Galacia

Fum Fum Fum, 16th Century Villancico

This Catalan carol comes from the sixteenth century, and is made famous by its repeated text of “fum, fum, fum.” There are a number of sources that say the words could just be onomatopoeia, imitating the noise of a rocking cradle, or nonsense syllables that articulate the rhythms a guitar or drum played for certain courtly dances that originate in Catalonia. Still, other sources say that the word “fum” simply refers to the smoke rising from a seasonal fire and seen from a distance. It is now a classic Christmas tune, sung around the world.

El Cant Dels Ocells, Traditional Catalogne, arranged Pablo Casals, Oriol Martorell

This traditional Catalan folk Christmas lullaby literally translates to “Song of the Birds.” The text is similar to the Irish Curoo, Curoo, as it describes the birds’ joy upon learning of Jesus’ birth. The famous exiled Catalonian composer and cellist, Pablo Casals, made this haunting tune famous by playing it fervently at the start of every concert as a show of support for the Spanish Republican government. Casals vowed not to return to his home country until the Republican government returned to power, and he refused to perform in countries that recognized the Francoist Spanish government. Two years after his death, when the Francoist state ended, the Spanish government posthumously honored him for his politically outspoken beliefs on Spanish freedom. The earliest notation of the carol comes from the early seventeenth century, a tune that may be older than the lyrics. Some speculate that it may have come from a Catalan Sephardic origin. 

The Angel Gabriel Came Down, 14th Century, arranged by David Willcocks

This medieval tune may be based on the carol Angelus ad Virginem. The text is about the Annunciation, when the angel Gabriel tells Mary that she will give birth to the son of God, and comes from a portion of the Magnificat found in Luke 1:26-38. The tunes and words were written on a fourteenth-century minstrel manuscript from the Basque region of Spain, an area founded by Celtic tribes. This Basque carol, known in the native language as Birjina gaztettobat zegoen, was collected by the French teacher and composer, Charles Bordes, in Archives de la tradition Basque (1895). Later, the English Reverend Sabine Baring-Gould (the composer of Onward, Christian Soldiers) penned the English text. 

Riu, Riu, Chiu, 16th Century Villancico, Mateo Flecha el Viejo

Attributed to Catalan composer Mateo Fletcha, this sixteenth-century villancico has been a well-loved Christmas favorite for centuries. In the Catalan language, Riu means ‘river’ and Chiu means ‘close’ – directly translated the song title means nearby river. However, the repeated use of the words Riu, Riu, Chiu is meant to sound like the call of a nightingale. The melody is rhythmic and colorful against the antiphonal refrain sung by the chorus. In the text, the white lamb symbolizes the Mother of Christ, while the wolf symbolizes the devil. The hymn tells the story of the role of Mary from the Immaculate Conception to the Incarnation. 


 Curoo, Curoo (Carol of the Birds), Irish Christmas Carol, by Elaine Agnew

Recently made famous the sixties band the Clancy Brothers and the stories of Hans Christian Anderson, Curoo, Curoo actually dates from the eighteenth century. The text of the song translates directly as “the holiday melodies of the birds”, and it tells the story of the many birds that witnessed Jesus’ birth while shepherds knelt to adore Him and angels sang to His glory.

Lute Book Lullaby, Traditional Irish, arranged by Geoffrey Shaw

William Ballet originally wrote this as a solo song with lute accompaniment in the early seventeenth century and called it Lullaby for the Christ Child. The Ballet Lute Book, where the carol was originally published, also included many other famous Irish tunes that date back to the Elizabethan period. The manuscript is now housed at Trinity College Dublin, alongside the Book of Kells. In the 1920s, Geoffrey Shaw found the carol, then transcribed and arranged it for The Oxford Book of Carols. Since then, the piece has been performed multiple times by The Choir of King’s College at Cambridge for their Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols.

Pie Jesu, by Michael McGlynn

Irish composer Michael McGlynn, who founded Anúna, composed this setting of Pie Jesu. The words Pie Jesu Domine, dona eis requiem translate to “Merciful Jesus, grant them everlasting rest.” This simple setting is a worldwide favorite during the holiday season for its simple, unadorned adoration of Jesus Christ and tranquil, moving melodic lines. On Michael McGlynn’s website, he states that the song was “written in memory of those who died in the Troubles of Northern Ireland, this sublime setting of the Requiem text has a soaring and dramatic solo line in its third statement.”

Audience Sing-Along:

Once in Royal David’s City, by Henry Gauntlett/Cecil Alexander

This carol became famous due to Dr. Arthur Henry Mann’s arrangement being sung every year as a part of the annual Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols at King’s Chapel in Cambridge, England. However, its origin is Irish in nature. Mrs. Cecil Frances Alexander, an Irish Anglican bishop’s wife, wrote a collection of poems and hymns in 1848 entitled Hymns for Little Children. Later, English organist Henry Gauntlett wrote the now recognizable melody for Once in Royal David’s City, in which the lyrics illustrate the words of the Apostles’ Creed, an early statement of Christian belief. Sing with us on this noble carol!

Away in a Manger, William Kirkpatrick, arranged by Ola Gjielo

This gentle carol does not come from one of the Celtic regions. Rather, its origin and first publication occurred in the United States. The first printing can be found in a book published in 1885 called Little Children’s Book for Schools and Families. Yet, the history of the carol was mired in obscurity for years, with the song sometimes being attributed to Martin Luther and various American composers. Scholars now believe that the melody you will hear tonight was composed by William Kirkpatrick, who was born in the parish of Errigal, Keerogue, County Tyrone in Ireland. He moved to the United States in 1854, at a time of great immigration from Ireland to the U.S., settling in Pennsylvania to work as a professional musician and composer. Away in a Manger is arguably America’s first Celtic Christmas carol. We invite you to watch the conductor to sing along with Ola Gjielo’s version of this timeless carol!

Hallelujah Chorus, George Frederic Handel

In 1741, Handel was in significant debt. With his career in dire straits, he feared he would be forced into debtors’ prison. However, Handel received funds from several charities in Dublin, Ireland to compose a new work from a text written by Charles Jennens. That text, which we now know as the words to the Messiah, was based on lessons from the Bible about the life of Jesus Christ. On August 22, 1741, Handel began composing the Messiah, and on September 14, twenty-four days later, he completed the work. When speaking afterward about composing the song Hallelujah, he said: “I did think I did see all Heaven before me, and the great God Himself seated on His throne, with His company of Angels.” The premiere of the Messiah occurred in Dublin on April 13, 1742. By tradition, people stand during the Hallelujah chorus. Many say it started because King George II, so moved by the piece, rose to his feet in awe, and so too did the entire audience. However, there the story cannot be proven true, as there is no evidence that the king even attended the concert in Dublin. Nevertheless, it’s a good excuse to stand, stretch your legs and join us in voice for George Frederick Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus!

The Wexford Carol World Premiere, arranged by Kira Z. Rugen

On a rainy Christmas evening in December 2012, Kira Rugen sat down with her musician friend from Northern Ireland, Joel Cathcart, to play through a few tunes for their upcoming concert. On a whim, they scratched out, improvised, and wrote the basic form of this arrangement. With Joel on guitar and Kira singing, they made a simple recording of this famous tune. Kira always loved the simple recording and decided to write a choral octavo based on hers and Joel’s collaboration. The Wexford Carol, also known as the Enniscorthy Carol, is named for Wexford county, Ireland. It is one of the most well known Christmas carols from the Emerald Isle. With a melody in a Mixolydian mode, the haunting Celtic tune was likely passed down through an oral tradition over the centuries, perhaps dating back to the twelfth century. It has long been associated with Bishop Luke Waddings 1684 publication of The Kilmore Carols. In the nineteenth century, writers added the familiar text, “Good people all this Christmas time.” The text tells the story of the Nativity, from Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem, through the visitation of wise men, shepherds, and angels.

*Notes written by Kira Z. Rugen


Mary, Star of the Sea

Please see the ***starred and underlined pieces below to read program notes for the Flagstaff’s “Spotless Rose: Our Lady at Christmastide” concert.

Sacreds Concert 2018 Flyer v.2.1

Mary, Star of the Sea

Program Notes

An Advent concert by Solis Camerata, sponsored by Catholic Phoenix

(Copy write, Kira Zeeman Rugen November 2018)

December 2, 2018

Veritas Preparatory Academy – Lund Center for the Arts


The Hebrew name of the Mother of Jesus was Miriam of Nazareth. Mary is, however, honored with many symbolic titles. Some are dogmatic and official while others have sprung from popular piety or local custom. The principal sources of these names for Mary are early Christian tradition and writings, the Litany of Loreto (a prayer of supplication approved by Rome in the 16th century), Marian depiction in sacred art, and Marian apparitions—miraculous visitations of Mary such as Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico (1531) and Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal (1917).

The title Star of the Sea (Latin Stella maris) dates to Medieval times. The concept of Mary as a star guiding her children toward God actually sums up the significance of her role in salvation history. Mary’s resplendence does not come from herself and is not for herself. She is not a goddess or deity, but the human mother of the Son of God, honored and venerated for her supreme obedience to the Father and receptivity to the breath of the Holy Spirit. This obedience and receptivity are what make her full of grace and a model of Christian discipleship. In the Magnificat, Mary’s own canticle of praise—set by many a composer—she exclaims, “My soul magnifies the Lord…for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his handmaiden” (Luke 1:46-48).

Over the centuries, devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary has prompted some of the most inspiring compositions in sacred literature. Often with Scriptural texts, such works span numerous cultures and languages from both the Eastern and Western Christian traditions. They range from immensely spectacular to tenderly simple, as is fitting for a figure who encompasses both. Mary is a humble Jewish maiden who became the most influential woman in history. As matriarch of the Church, she is mother to king and peasant alike. And as the mother of Jesus, Son of God and long-awaited Savior, she experienced the most profound heights of joy and depths of sorrow.

This paradoxical mingling of joy and sorrow is reflected in many a Christmas carol. We marvel at the beauty and fragility of the babe in Bethlehem, the exaltation of the shepherds, the reverence of the magi, and especially the love between mother and child. One stanza later, the same carol may call to mind the reason this child was born: to redeem the world through suffering. The mother of Jesus, at his side from manger to tomb, embodies for us the true spirit of Advent. With her, let us enter into expectant contemplation of this season and all it holds.

Written by Claire Halbur

Director of Sacred Music

Saint Mary Magdalene Roman Catholic Church

Part I – Advent Chants and Motets through the Ages

***I- Ave Maria

The Ave Maria liturgical text originates from the Bible with the initial words of salutation from Gabriel to Mary announcing the birth of Christ. The first portion of the text can be found in Luke 1:28, with Gabriel saying: “Ave Maria, Gratiae plena, Dominus Tecum (Hail Mary, Full of Grace. The Lord is with Thee). Later in Luke 1:42, Elizabeth says to Mary, Benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Jesus (Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.) Around the eleventh century, those two verses joined together in the form of a prayer. The last portion of the prayer became finalized by the Council of Trent in the Roman Breviary, 1568. However, its roots can be traced back to the Council of Ephesus in 341 which is accredited for the phrase Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobs peccatoribus, nun et in hora mortis. Amen (Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and in the hour of our death. Amen). The full version of the prayer, including the third section, became finalized by the Council of Trent in the Roman Breviary, 1568. Of the Marian texts so often set to music, Ave Maria is the most frequently employed, and many settings are the most recognizable and memorable as a central pillar for Catholic devotion.

***Ave Maria – Josquin Des Prez

Tonight’s program includes three versions of Ave Maria in chronological order. Josquin Des Prez’s version is counted among the first polyphonic settings of Ave Maria. It includes iconic features of fifteenth century compositional methods. We hear overlapping imitative counterpoint with imitation appearing in all equal voices, compared against sections of homophony. Few composers have had higher renown or greater influence during their life than Josquin Des Prez (ca. 1450-1521). This is partially due to Ottaviano Petrucci, the first printer of polyphonic music who published three books of Josquin’s Masses to meet public demand. Additionally, Josquin’s influence stems from the praise of his contemporaries, who thought he was the best composer of their time. Even Martin Luther said “Josquin is the master of notes. They must do as he wills; as for the other composers, they have to do as the notes will.” For over a century after his death, many praised and compared Josquin to Virgil and Michelangelo as peers in artistic majesty.

***Ave Maria – Bach/Gounod

In 1853, Charles Gounod (1818-1893) improvised a new melody over J.S. Bach’s (1685-1750) Well Tempered Clavier Prelude No.1 in C Major from 1722. Gounod originally published this new melody for violin or cello with piano, but in 1859 he added a version for voice, set to the Ave Maria prayer. This, along with the Schubert melody, are among of the most famous melodies set to Ave Maria.

Ave Maria – Morten Lauridsen

Finally, Morten Lauridsen’s (b. 1943) version of Ave Maria holds similarities in construction to that of Josquin Des Prez. Both settings utilize overlapping imitation and fugal phrases that are set equally between voices. However, Lauridsen’s approach uses a language which includes the lush modern harmony, broad ranges, deep resonant chords and a brushing of dissonance. A self-proclaimed enthusiast of Josquin’s music, Lauridsen’s setting compliments the techniques found in Josquin, nicely rounding out this sampling of Ave Maria musical settings.

II -Ave Maris Stella and Ave Verum Corpus

Ave Maris Stella may be the earliest of the sung Marian chants. It originated in the eighth century, or possibly earlier, from an oral tradition. By the tenth century, worshipers sang Ave Maris Stella as a prominent hymn to honor the Virgin. Originally printed in Notker’s sequence De nativitate, the words Maris Stella refer to “Mary, Star of the Sea”, the name of tonight’s program. It is a prayer of humble devotion for peace, light, protection and the glory of Mary’s son, Christ.

***Ave Maris Stella – Gioachino Rossini

Ave Maris Stella – Carlo Rossini

Gioachino Rossini’s (1792-1868) version of Ave Maris Stella comes from a series of sacred arrangements and compositions by Carlo Rossini, a priest/organist/composer/conductor. He penned this antiphon during his twenty-seven years as the choirmaster at St. Paul’s Catholic Cathedral in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. A nearly unknown twentieth-century gem, this tranquil piece fits nicely alongside a Palestrina or Byrd motet. After each refrain, a haunting melody accompanied by compelling harmonies alternates with the original Ave Maris Stella chant.

***Ave Verum Corpus – Wolfgang Mozart

During the year 1791, when Wolfgang Mozart (1756-1791) composed Ave Verum Corpus, the church in Austria set down new compositional rules which favored a conservative approach to music, leaning toward shorter pieces with textural clarity and simplicity. Mozart, aware of the Imperial ban on elaborate church music, composed this Eucharistic hymn with that in mind. Written for and performed on the Feast of Corpus Christi, the piece has since been revered for its ethereal colors and simple yet soaring melodies. However, the motet is sung throughout the year, as the text addresses Jesus’ birth to a virgin and His sacrifice on the cross for all mankind. The sotto voce (subdued voice) motet shows restraint in its brevity and unpretentious ease, creating an atmosphere of peace.

Ave Maris Stella – Edvard Grieg

Edvard Grieg (1843-1907) wrote his version of Ave Maris Stella in Copenhagen, Norway in 1893. He originally set the piece for voice and piano and later created this version for SSAATTBB choir. He wrote the motet during a compositional period of intense exploration of Norwegian folk music. Grieg’s folk-like melody and Romantic chromaticism come through the texture in this serene and angelic setting. The history and culture of Norway is at one with the sea, mirroring the poignant text.

III – Ave Generosa and Alma Redemptoris Mater

Ave Generosa – Hildegard Von Bingen

Hildegard Von Bingen’s (1098-1179) music does not resemble other twelfth century chant because she never received a formal musical education. Instead, we see monophonic writing with extraordinarily wide ranges, ascending intervals of a fifth, soaring melodies, highly melismatic melodies and alternating soloists and choir. Her text pairs with the melodic action in the music, implying drama and narrative, which was a rarity in twelfth century compositions. Much of Hildegard von Bingen’s repertoire honors the mysticism and reverence for the Virgin Mary, such as the piece on tonight’s program, Ave Generosa.

Ave Generosa – Ola Gjielo

Ola Gjielo (B. 1971) borrows some traits found in Hildegard’s music in his version of Ave Generosa such as soaring melodies, melismas within the voices, and textual pairing with melodic action which pays homage to the mysterious story of Mary. We also hear in his joyful version a juxtaposition of sustained and moving moments that are contrasted by a modal middle section of haunting harmonic structures.

***Alma Redemptoris Mater – Giovanni Pierluigi Palestrina

Tonight’s concert wouldn’t be complete without including Giovanni Pierluigi Palestrina’s (1525-1594) best known Marian motet, Alma Redemptoris Mater. The original text of this work is a prayer to the Virgin Mary, to the “open gateway to heaven and star of the sea.” The original chant stems from a manuscript dating from the twelfth century and is mentioned in Chaucer’s Prioress’s Tale. It comes from the Liturgy of the Hours and is one of four seasonal antiphons sung to honor the Blessed Virgin Mary. Alma Redemptoris Mater is the Advent Marian antiphon in that set.

IV- Magnificat

Magnificat -Claudio Monteverdi and

***Magnificat – Kira Zeeman Rugen

The Canticle of Mary, or Magnificat, comes from the Gospel of Luke 1:46-55. It is sung as a portion of daily Vespers in the Liturgy of the Hours. The prayer is Mary’s praise to the Lord, where she proclaims the Lord’s greatness with humility and grace as she tells Elizabeth of her joy in him. We begin this set with the triumphant opening of Monteverdi’s Magnificat.

Kira Z. Rugen composed St. Brieuc Magnificat on a commission by Goulven Airault, for the Petits Chanteurs de Saint-Brieuc Cathédrale in Brittany, France. The premiere occurred in St. Brieuc, France for the Petits Chanteurs de Saint-Brieuc Cathédrale on their annual St. Cecilia’s Day celebration on November 26, 2017. Additionally, the choir performed the piece in église Saint-Malo de Dinan, église Sainte-Croix de Saint Malo, and église Saint-Martin de Janze, Sanctuaire de Rocamadour, France, and Castell de Calonge, église Saint Sauveur La Rochelle, Spain. Finally, they performed the work in Barcelona for the Congrès de Barcelone – Pueri Cantores in July 2018.

Goulven Airault asked Kira Rugen to write a piece for his children and youth choir that could both speak to the love and adoration they feel toward Mother Mary and her love for Christ. But also, Airault desired a chronicle of music that could bring the choir closer together as friends and an ensemble through their collective memories while performing a meaningful work at this juncture of their lives. To bridge the gap between the culture of America and the culture of Brittany, Dr. Rugen borrowed from the European cathedral choir sound, and then blended it with colors frequently heard closer to home. She found inspiration from multiple sources including ancient South American Catholic music, such as the Peruvian Catholic motet Hanacpachap Cusicuinin, the American film music industry, Latin rhythms such as Rumba and Bosa Nova, seductive harmony and mixed modes found in Spanish romantic ballads, and the great masters such as Bach, Beethoven and Tchaikovsky. The version tonight has been altered to fit SATB voicing instead of the original voicing for a youth choir of SAB.

Part II – Mary at Christmastide

I – Medieval Marian Carols

***Nowell Sing We – 15th Century, English, Anonymous

Medieval dance carols are often enthusiastic in their jubilation, shown through syncopated and cheerful tunes and rhythms. Nowell Sing We is a carol which mixes middle English with Latin while demonstrating dance-like rhythms and catchy melodies. It invites ‘all and sum’ (everyone) to sing in the joyful celebration.

***There is No Rose of Such Virtue – 15th century, and Benjamin Britten

Medieval Christmas tunes remind listeners of an older age as many pieces held haunting melodies and modal counterpoint. The original fifteenth century Ther is no Rose of Swych Vertu resides in that ancient sound of modal harmony. The translation of the ancient text imagines the Virgin as a healer and expresses the Virgin’s goodness and purity as rose having divine power or divine light. The text gently reveals Mary’s purity and holiness with her newborn son through the scope of a lullaby. Tonight, we’ll hear the medieval example, followed by Benjamin Britten’s famous penning of the ancient text from his A Ceremony of Carols (1942). Britten wrote the work while aboard a vessel traveling from the United States to his home in England during WWII. With the constant threat of U-boat attacks during the long journey, the ship took a stop in Halifax, where Britten came across a copy of The English Galaxy of Shorter Poems. He found several poems that shape an overarching musical telling of the Nativity.

***Angelus ad Virginem – 13th Century, English Anonymous

A mention in Chaucer’s Miller’s Tale attests to the popularity of this festive medieval Christmas carol. It likely came to Britain with the French in the thirteenth century, and is found in the Dubliner Troper of 1361. The original arrangement has the melody buried in the middle voice, surrounded by awkward Medieval counterpoint which obscured the original tune. We chose a later version of the carol to demonstrate the beauty of the famous melody.

II – Celtic and British Marian Carols

***The Angel Gabriel Came Down – 14th century Basque anonymous

This medieval tune may be based on the carol Angelus ad Virginum. The text is about the Annunciation, when the angel Gabriel tells Mary that she will give birth to the son of God, and comes from a portion of theMagnificat found in Luke 1:26-38. The tunes and words were written on a fourteenth century minstrel manuscript from the Basque region of Spain, an area founded by Celtic tribes. This Basque carol, known in the native language as Birjina gaztettobat zegoen, was collected by the French teacher and composer, Charles Bordes in Archives de la tradition Basque (1895). Then later, the English Reverend Sabine Baring-Gould (the composer of Onward Christian Soldiers) penned the English text.

***Once in Royal David’s City – 19th century by Henry Gauntlett/Cecil Alexander

This carol became famous due to Dr. Arthur Henry Mann’s arrangement being sung every year as a part of the annual Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols at King’s Chapel in Cambridge, England. However, its origin is Irish in nature. Mrs. Cecil Frances Alexander, An Irish Anglican bishop’s wife, wrote a collection of poems and hymns in 1848 entitled Hymns for Little Children. Later, English organist Henry Gauntlett wrote the now recognizable melody for ‘Once in Royal David’s City,’ in which the lyrics in the second verse state: “Mary was that mother mild, Jesus Christ her little child.” Sing with us on this timeless carol!

***What Child is This (Greensleeves – England 15th Century) Arranged by Kira Z. Rugen

Originally printed in a 1580 broadsheet under the name A New Northern dittye, Greensleeves (a Romanesca) became an unofficial anthem of England due to its popularity and distinctive folk song modalities. Contrary to popular stories, King Henry VIII did not compose this ‘dittye.’ In the Nineteenth Century, however, this famous tune received the now familiar Christmas words, What Child is This. Over the centuries, the melody has stayed largely the same with only small variations of a raised or lowered leading tone. Sing with us on this timeless carol!

***Lully, Lulla- (Coventry Carol)

The Coventry Carol is an English Christmas carol which dates from the sixteenth century. It came from a play performed in the 1530s on the steps of the cathedral in Coventry, England called The Pageant of the Shearmen and Tailors. It depicts the slaughter of the innocents at Herod’s command. The song describes Jesus with all the other infants who are threatened by Herod and the sadness of Mary with other mothers who mourned the potential loss of their children. The text “Lully, Lulla” is meant to portray what Mary and other mothers sang to their babies during King Herod’s reign of terror. This original version has only three voices, but exhibits a cross relation, or the simultaneous sounding of both the F and F-sharp, drawing attention to dissonance before the final cadence.

***Suantraí ár Slánaitheora (The Savior’s Lullaby) – Traditional Scottish Carol, arr. F. O’Carroll

Originally from Wexford and Waterford, Ireland, Fiontán Ó Cearbhaill worked as a railway clerk in Ireland for 27 years before earning his degree in music through evening courses at Trinity College Dublin. Most of his compositions encompassed sacred music for the Roman Catholic Church. He took this Scottish carol, a lullaby from Mary to her child, and created a haunting arrangement for unaccompanied choir and soprano solo. In the gentle Gaelic lyrics, Mary sings:

III – German Marian Carols

In Dulci Jubilo (Good Christian Men, Rejoice) – Heironymus Praetorius 1560-1629

This age-old German tune (also known with the text Good Christian Men, Rejoice) first appeared in a manuscript in Leipzig University Library (Codex 1305) around 1400, although some versions of the song may have existed as a folk-dance tune prior to the 1320s. The melody could be found in manuscript scores for both Protestants and Catholics. In the Lutheran tradition, it is called “a very ancient song (uraltes Lied) for Christmas-eve.” Some speculate that it is one of the Roman Catholic melodies that Luther retained due to its beauty and familiarity, often sung for Christmas Eve processions. It is a macaronic song (i.e., mixed-text German-Latin carol) and the text speaks of the nativity and Mary’s care and concern for her new born child lying in the manger. This version is by Hieronymus Praetorius. Born in 1560 in Hamburg, he served as the organist at Jacobikirche and the associated chapel of St Gertrud. His 1622 eight-voice version of In Dulce Jubilo is indicative of the polychoral school which several composers utilized in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries.

***Es is ein Rose Ensprungen (Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming) – Michael Praetorius 1571-1621

Although we don’t know the identity of the composer and poet for Es ist ein Ros entsprungen, we do know the original tune had its first publication in the Speyer Hymnal from Cologne in 1599. Ten years later in 1609, Michael Praetorius wrote his now familiar harmonization to the two original verses which were known mainly in Catholic circles at that time. In 1844, Pastor Friedrich Layriz published 3-5 additional verses that are regularly sung today. The text comes from Old Testament prophecies found in Isaiah, foretelling the coming of Jesus through lineage of the Tree of Jesse. The rose symbolically references the Virgin Mary through the words ‘ein Ros’ (rose) which in Old German is ‘ein reis’ (a shoot or sprig). The text could both refer to a spotless rose, but also symbolizing the lineage of Jesus through the line of Jesse. We hear this carol during the Christmas season due to the foretelling of Jesus’ birth.

***Resonet in Laudibus (Let the Voice of Praise Resound) – Orlando de Lasso 1532-1594

This familiar carol has been arranged, translated and discussed since the year 1360, when the oldest known form of Resonet in Laudibus (called Resonet cum laudibus) was published in the Mosburg Gradual. It quotes an older German carol by the name of Joseph, liber neve myn (Joseph, lieber Joseph mein) from the Leipzig manuscript of 1305. The tune began in the Mixo-Lydian mode at first, shifting then to Lydian and finally settling in an Ionian mode that is the melody we are familiar with now. Popular as a carol in both the Catholic and Lutheran communities, the text joyfully narrates the Immaculate Conception of Mary, and the birth of her son, Jesus. A contemporary of Martin Luther, Georg Wicel, said in 1550 that the carol is “one of the chief Christmas songs of joy.” Considered one of the Renaissance’s great composers, Lasso (or Lassus) authoritatively wrote in all genres and techniques. His music explores more chromatic and intrepid harmonies than most of his contemporaries, save perhaps Don Carlo Gesualdo.

Silent Night, Stille Nacht – Arranged by Dr. Kira Z. Rugen

Kira Zeeman Rugen roots her adaptation of Silent Night on the earliest version of the famous carol. The composition honors the original melody and harmony in the upper voices, paired against figures in the lower voices which are meant to mimic the pluck of a guitar. As the text alternates between German and English, we hear the poetry about Mary in the words, “round yon virgin, mother and child.” Each verse demonstrates familiar versions of the melody which are then answered by a haunting soprano melody. Throughout the piece, Kira Rugen’s musical expression conveys a sense of longing and nostalgia, closing with a simple soprano duet. Silent Night, Stille Nacht was composed for the Phoenix Chorale, Charles Bruffy conductor, and premiered on their 2016 program “A Chorale Christmas: Silent Night.”

***Flagstaff audiences will hear the original version of Silent Night, composed by Franz Gruber for guitar and voices in 1816 after the organ at his church broke down.

Voyage: From Spain to Colonial Latin America


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Spain is geographically situated on a peninsula that borders Europe, and a short ship journey away from Africa. Due to this unique location, people from the Mediterranean coast and Africa settled upon the Spanish peninsula and brought with them culture and music from their homeland. For centuries, African musical elements of the Moor people who lived in Spain, such as the lute, drumming and rhythmicized song, influenced both the secular and sacred music of the Christian Spanish culture. The villancico (a sacred or secular celebratory song) demonstrated more rhythmic variety and dance-like characteristics than its Euro-centric counterparts. However, Spanish sacred composers also trained with Italian and Franco-Flemish masters and honed their skills as expert creators of motet, responsories and the Mass. It is a combination of these musical elements that took a voyage across the sea.

When the Spanish explores came to the New World, they brought with them Christianity, instruments of war, and disease. However, they also brought art, philosophy and music. Additionally, they brought African people through the slave trade practice. The ancient musical traditions of Europe, along with African musical festivities and drumming, blended with time-honored traditions of South American (wind and percussion instruments), and Southwest American Indian song and dance. All of these elements found route into South America and fused into what became the music of Colonial Latin America.

Medieval Spain

Cuncti Simus and Stella Splendens – Anon. (14th Century)

These two festive songs come from medieval Catalonia at the Montserrat Abbey/Monastery (northeastern Spain and southern France) in a collection entitled Libre Vermell de Montserrat (The Red Book of Montserrat), named after its red velvet cover. A center for learning and the home of the ‘Black Virgin’ statue, large numbers of pilgrims visited the desirable Montserrat holy shrine. They often expressed jubilation upon their arrival by singing and dancing in the church area around the shrine. Although the Monks of the Santa Maria de Montserrat Monastery appreciated and understood the pilgrim’s celebratory exultation, the monks felt the secular music did not befit such a holy place. Instead, the monks assembled a collection of music more suitable to the revered shrine. Most of the pieces in the book are secular melodies of the fourteenth century, set with new religious texts.

Sacred Villancico, Spain

Nino Dios de Amor Herido –  Francisco Guerrero (1528 – 1599)

Although Francisco traveled extensively, having visited Jerusalem, Damascus, Bethlehem and Jaffa, he never set foot in the New World. However, his music lived on in cathedrals from Guatemala to San Francisco. New World musicians performed Guerrero’s music more frequently than any other composer, including Morales and Victoria, and it is in the Americas where his reputation remained assured for two centuries after his death. Composers wrote this type of spiritual Villancico for Catholic festivals such as Christmas and Easter. The settings are folk-like, humorous and often the text combined textual metaphors with counterpoint, rhythmic and instrument overlay. In “Nino dios de Amor Herido” the text compares the baby Jesus to a young child who suffers from the beauty and pain of love.

Hoy Comamos y Bevamos – Juan del Encina (1468 – 1529)

A prolific composer of sacred dramas (Eglogas) for Christmas, Shrove Tuesday, Holy Week and Easter, Juan del Encina’s propensity for drama influenced his Villancico techniques. “Hoy Comamos y Bevamos” is light hearted and humorous sacred Villancico, composed to celebrate Shrove Tuesday (also known as Carnivale or Fat Tuesday) before the beginning of Lent. It demonstrates musical textures that intersperse with spoken dialogue in a celebratory song and dance.

Sacred Villancico, Colonial Latin America

Madre, la de los Primores – Juana Inés de la Cruz (1648 – 1695), Mexico

Sometimes compared as Mexico’s Hildegard Von Bingen, Juana Inés de la Cruz stands alone as Mexico’s renowned female poet and composer. A scholar of Greek, Latin, Nahuati and Aztec languages, her public reputation originated when a panel of scholars tested her intelligence and found her astute and bright. Although many pined over her beauty, she chose to enter orders and served at the Convent of the order of St. Jeromé where she wrote poetry, plays and studied music, philosophy and natural science. She is now remembered especially for her work as an advocate for women by challenging a woman’s right to education and other societal values in New Spain. Much of her poetry focuses on the difficulties women experienced when they attempted to flourish in academic and artistic settings. This Villancico, about the virgin mother, is one of three compositions that survived from Juana Inés de la Cruz’ hand.

La Bella Incorrupta – Manuel de Zumaya (1678 – 1756), Mexico

Manual de Zumaya, the first native born composer of the Americas, served as maestro de capilla  at the Mexico City Cathedral as well as the remote Oaxaca Cathedral. He is one of just a few native born musicians in the Colonial New World, as unfortunately most music posts went to the ‘preferred’ European born and trained musicians. As one of a handful of Zumaya scores that survived, this Baroque Christmas villancico is dedicated to the Lady of Guadalupe and exhibits both the estribillo (similar to a refrain but more complex), and the coplas (similar to a verse). These sections are performed in a certain order that is understood to represent the Mexican Baroque villancico. Zumaya sets his music with the natural speech rhythms of the local Spanish language, as well as demonstrates a fair amount of word play in the prose, which he likely penned himself.

Motet, Spain

Beatus Franciscus – Jerónimo de Aliseda (1548 – 1591)

Scholars know little about the life and works of Jerónimo de Aliseda (c. 1548 – 1591) except that he was a composer working at the Toledo Cathedral in Spain. This motet about St. Francis comes from the Toledo Polyphonic Choirbooks, a large collection of illuminated, musical liturgical sources from the Toledo Cathedral between 15th and 19th centuries. The atlas-sized book, only discovered in 2002, unearthed 170 previously lost Masses, motets and plainchants intended for liturgical functions. Although scholars do not have a large body of historical information about the piece “Beatus Franciscus,” it is a representative of the glorious Spanish motets found in the late Renaissance, which crossed the Atlantic Ocean and influenced motet composition and performance in the new world.

Ave Maria a4 – Francisco Guerrero (1528 – 1599)

Guerrero comes from the domain of great Spanish composers who flourished during the late Renaissance period, but his sacred music differs from those of his contemporaries through the use of harmony and voicing. Often denser, Guerrero’s motets often exhibit greater harmonic, rhythmic and voicing complexity. He often shifted vocal textures and colors to demonstrate sensitivity to text transitions and liturgical importance. As mentioned earlier, New World musicians performed Guerrero’s music more frequently than any other composer as his music became frequently sung repertoire of the cathedrals of the Americas.

Motet, Modern Premiere

Voyage Prayer (Ave Maria) – Kira Zeeman Rugen, Arizona

The Ave Maria liturgical text originates from the bible (Luke 1:28 and Luke 1:42). At some point during the 11th Century, worshipers joined the two verses together in the form of a prayer. The full version of the prayer became finalized by the Council of Trent in the Roman Breviary, 1568. The prayer is a humble invocation of supplication, a plea for assistance in an hour of need, and is now a central pillar for Catholic devotion.  Kira Rugen wrote this motet with the title, “Voyage Prayer,” with the idea of a living journey at the heart of the piece. As sailors traveled across the sea on a voyage they encountered heavenly vistas and new lands, but also tempests, storms and unseen dangers. As indigenous people met European explorers for the first time, they exchanged language and culture, but also experienced disease and violence. As we humans live our lives, we experience love and joy, but also pain and suffering. Ave Maria is a prayer for the human voyage through life, and our humble plea to God in an hour of need.


Villancico, Colonial Latin America

Hanacpachap Cussiquinim- Anon. (16th Century) Lima, Peru

The sacred Villancico,Hanacpachap Cussiquinim,” is the first polyphonic vocal work composed and published in the Americas (1631). As the Catholic Church introduced the indigenous people of the Americas to the mass and singing in worship, distinctly native elements and native indigenous languages began to be incorporated into the music for worship. The piece “Hanacpachap Cussiquinim” (Joy of Heaven) is in the native Quechua language. Collectively the most widely spoken language of the natives in South America, Quechua was spoken by the people who lived in the Andes Mountains such as the Incas, Huancas and Amantani. Composers used music in the Americas to spread Catholicism and gain converts.

Motet, Spain

O Magnum Mysterium – Tomas Luis de Victoria (1548 – 1611)

A student of Giovanni Palestrina in Rome, Tomas Luis de Victoria became known as one of the most important composers of the Renaissance, and some argue the most consequential of all Spanish composers. His reputation stems from his adherence traditional church polyphony and chant, a strong pull toward the forthcoming major minor tonality of the Baroque period, and his themes encapsulate Victoria’s deep mystical spirituality. Widely distributed throughout the New World, his music became heavily influential to colonial composers as they learned to blend European techniques with local musical attributes. “O Magnum Mysterium,” one of Victoria’s most well-known motets, honors the new-born Lord at his birth beginning with the words “O great mystery.” The song portrays the image of the oxen and donkey next to the manger of the holy child, as found in the famous painting by Hans Baldung (1520). This image quickly became a popular symbol in the Renaissance, depicting the mystery of the humble circumstances surrounding the birth of Jesus Christ.

Motet, Colonial Latin America

Versa est in Luctum – Alonso Lobo (1555 – 1617)

Alonso Lobo composed ‘Versa est in Luctum’ during his time as maestro de capilla (director of music) of the Toledo cathedral. This six-voiced motet is one of his most well-known compositions due to the circumstances surrounding its creation. King Philip (a member of the Habsburg family, important patrons of music with close ties to the Burgundian court) died in 1598, and Lobo wrote this motet for the King’s funeral services. This motet received publication with six other motets and six masses in the collection Liber Primus Missarum (Madrid, 1602). Lobo’s compositional style combines the transparency of Palestrina, the imitative passages of the polychoral Venetians, and the luscious beauty of his fellow Spaniard, Tomas Luis de Victoria. Many consider him to be one of Spain’s finest Renaissance composers and his works traveled across the sea and became part of the domain repertoire, and performed in Cathedrals across the Americas.

Sancta Maria (Yn Il Huicac Cihuapille) – Don Hernando Franco (1532 – 1585), Guatamala

Originally from Spain, Hernando Franco began as a chorister at the Segovia Cathedral in 1542 -1549, and then records of his life are absent for the next twenty years. In 1573 he received the appointment of maestro de capilla at the Guatamala Cathedral where he likely composed this piece. He only composed sacred music with a simple polyphonic style, befitting untrained singers. Nahuatl was the primary language spoken by the tribes of central Mexico, from the Aztec Empire. This five voice motet, composed with the Sancta Maria text, honors the Blessed Virgin Mary. Although Nahuatl was not Hernando Franco’s primary language, he incorporated the indigenous tongue so that the local worshipers could understand the text.

Tristis est Anima Mea – Juan Gutierrez de Padilla (1590 – 1664), Mexico

A native of Spain, Padilla emigrated to Mexico where he became the most prolific and historically well-known Latin American colonial composer. He worked at the Puebla Cathedral in Mexico where he wrote a plethora of works which demonstrate imitation, chromaticism, cross-relations and expressive word painting. This motet is a simple four voice hymn, with three part women and one line for male voices. It comes from the period of Spanish and Mexican history known as ‘Siglo de Oro’ when Spain and Portugal took to the seas in an effort to discover lands new to them in the Americas. The harmonies and colors are distinctive to this time, and geographical location due to the juxtaposition of European colors with the native harmony in Mexico.

Negrito, Colonial Latin America

Los Coflades de la Estleya – Juan de Araujo (1646 – 1712) Lima, Peru

We complete tonight’s concert with two festive 17th Century Negritos. The first, “Los Conflades de la Estleya” comes from Lima Peru. Born in Spain, Juan de Araujo emigrated to Peru as a boy. He received musical training from composer Torrejón and Velasco and eventually succeeded him as maestro de capilla of the Cathedral of Lima. Additionally, he held the role of maestro de capilla at Cathedral of Cusco and Cathedral of La Plata (Sucre). His most complex polyphonic pieces come from Cusco where he utilized dramatic and theatrical elements in his music for the students in the seminary located at the cathedral, as they often performed elaborate programs as a part of their daily life. This piece features West African and Cuban rhythmic patterns (the basis for modern Rhumba) which stem from African slave’s traditional celebrations of the Lord’s birth. The effect is a cross-rhythmic festive dance which is playful, complex and gratifying.

Negrito, Portugal

Sa Qui Turo Zenta Pleta – Anon. (c. 1647) Combria, Portugal

The second Negrito ‘Sã qui turozenta pleta,’ comes from Combria. It portrayed a style of music from Portugal’s West-African missions in Guinea. These types of songs display multiple instruments, bold rhythms and often are composed for lavish Christmas celebrations. Negritos were some of the first examples of African music performed in Colonial Latin America. In this song, African slaves prepare to celebrate Jesus’ birth with instruments, encouraging each other to lift up their voices in song, and they sing about the freedom they have to play and dance for the holy family. Although likely written by a monk in Combria, it demonstrates the traditional African styles and lyrics that could be found among slaves from Guinea.

Tonight’s program demonstrates the vast influences Euro-Spanish, African, and Portuguese music had on Colonial Latin America. To show how music fusion can be furthered, we have chosen to fuse this Baroque Christmas Negrito with another African-inspired genre – Jazz. You’ll notice that the rhythms in this piece are ‘swung,’ meaning that pairs of eight-notes are played in unequal durations, with the first one slightly longer than the second. This gives the piece a soulful panache, as it fully displays a cornucopia of African, Portuguese, Baroque, Renaissance and Jazz rhythmic fusion. Get ready to tap your toes!


“Sounds of the Cathedrals” Program Notes

Sounds of the Cathedrals

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Vatican, Sistine Chapel

Miserere Dei, Deus

Gregorio Allegri, 1582–1652

 Composed during the 1630s, this setting of Psalm 51 perhaps has one of the most famous stories of all the pieces on tonight’s program. Gregorio Allegri worked at the Sistine Chapel in the a capella (from the chapel) choir during the reign of Pope Urban VIII. Allegri’s compositional training included counterpoint in the style of Palestrina, and the motets he composed while under Pope Urban accentuated specific acoustic properties of the highly resonant Sistine chapel. The papacy at that time preferred a musical style of simplicity and conservatism, reminiscent of the late sixteenth century, despite the growing favor for monody from the seconda pratica (the second practice, found in music from approximately 1600 forward) in church music.

Miserere Dei is shrouded in secrecy, as traditionally the papal choir only sang the piece during the Tenebrae Offices of Holy Week. If anyone transcribed, copied, reproduced, or performed the music for any other cathedral, they faced punishment by excommunication. Yet in the year 1770 a young fourteen-year-old Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart visited Rome and attended the Wednesday service during a performance of Miserere Dei, Deus. He returned to his rooms and wrote the entire motet from memory, returning again on Friday for a second hearing to double-check his work. Mozart traveled heavily during his youth, and at some point he came across Dr. Charles Burney, who took the piece to London and had it published in 1771. The pope heard of Mozart’s famed publication and summoned him to Rome. However, instead of excommunication, Mozart received praise from the Holy Father for his musical genius and discriminating ear.

The piece alternates in plainchant, and two choirs both sing the Psalm in falsobordone, a practice of harmonizing the psalm with root-position chords, similar to the fauxbordon style found in the Dufay piece later in tonight’s program. The highly specialized Renaissance ornamentation, known only to papal singers and closely guarded by the Vatican, gave the piece its longstanding mystery. Today, many consider it one of the most important and best-loved choral works of all time, due to the stunning setting of the psalm.


Worcester Abbey

Alleluia; A Nywe Werke

Anonymous, 15th Century

Found in the Selden Carol book of Worcester Abbey, this English Christmas carol comes from the fifteenth-century tradition of contenance angloise (English consonance). The merry carol continually returns to the burden (refrain) on the word Alleluia, alternating with the verses in two or three voice medieval textures. Each verse portrays a sprightly tale of the Virgin Mary and the birth of her son, Jesus Christ. The voices interweave seamlessly, making it difficult to follow any individual part. The middle voice presents the main melody, and the outer two voices sing in parallel harmony with a long succession of parallel thirds and fifths, demonstrating the distinctive “sweet” sound found in English composers of the time. This type of harmony influenced the writing styles of Dunstable and Dufay (both later in tonight’s program), who both set songs in parallel harmony, which is based on the English tradition. The language reflects the middle-English pronunciation of the early fifteenth century


Chapel Royal, Hampton Court Palace

Christe Qui Lux es et Dies 

William Byrd, 1543–1623

This ancient hymn, “Oh Christ who art the light and day,” may come from as early as the sixth century, as it can be found in the Rule for the Virgins written by St. Caesarius of Arles. The hymn may originate in the body of chants attributed to St. Ambrose, as it has a similar metrical construction to other hymns from that collection. Historically, this Office hymn is sung at Compline during Lent, and several composers have interwoven the chant in polyphonic settings.

William Byrd wrote a five-voiced version of the hymn in which he set all seven verses. The first and the last are sung by the tenor, with verses two through six sung in homophonic harmony. Beginning with the bass voice, Byrd sets the original chant (cantus firmus) in each voice, moving upward verse by verse.

Despite the political turmoil between the Church of England and Rome, William Byrd remained a Catholic at heart throughout his life. He wrote music in all styles depending on the liturgical or secular needs of the monarch he served as a member of the Chapel Royal, primarily James I and Elizabeth I. However, much of his music stems from mass services in which he and fellow Catholics worshiped privately in their homes. Thus, several compositions are meant for three to five voices, allowing a mass service to be easily sung by a small ensemble.

Byrd likely composed Christe Qui Lux es et Dies during the Elizabethan era. The hymn could have been sung as an Anglican anthem instead of a Catholic liturgical function, despite the chant’s provenance, since Queen Elizabeth officially sanctioned Latin for use in the Chapel Royal.

Chapel Royal, Hampton Court Palace 

O Nata Lux de Lumine

Thomas Tallis, 1505–1585

The Chapel Royal began not as a place, but rather as a body of priests and singers that accompanied the monarch on his or her journeys through the country, or possibly to war. Later, the name Chapel Royal became associated with several buildings at each monarch’s residence. These residences include Hampton Court, the Tower of London and St. James’s Palace, which now houses the headquarters of the Chapel Royal. Over time, the English Chapel Royale became increasingly associated with Westminster Abbey, sharing nearly all singers and staff by the mid-seventeenth century. Although the Chapel Royal still existed after the seventeenth century, much of the formal ceremony associated with the monarchy (weddings, funerals, and baptisms) occurred at Westminster Abbey.

A versatile composer, Tallis stood on the precipice of the fall of Catholicism in England and the beginning of the Anglican Church. Despite the religious turmoil, Tallis remained a favorite of each subsequent ruler due to his multifaceted skills. He served under four monarchs including King Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary Tudor, and Elisabeth I. Tallis composed in a highly adaptable liturgical style appropriate to both the Latin Catholic rite and the new English tradition. O nata lux de lumine comes from the Catholic rite, a hymn dating from the tenth century for the Office of Lauds during the morning of the Feast of the Transfiguration. He set only two verses from the hymn, highlighting the biblical setting when Jesus appears to the disciples in a mystical light and shimmering clothing. The fragment of the hymn illuminates the Christian call to be one with Christ’s “blessed body.” Tallis sets the motet in a primarily chordal format, with a compelling melody in the soprano. At specific cadential points, one can hear the sourness of “cross relations,” or the simultaneous sounding of both the F and F-sharp, drawing attention to dissonance before the final cadence.



Santa Maria de Montserrat Abbey/Monastery

Maria Matrem (fr. Llibre Vermell de Montserrat)

Anonymous, 14th Century

The original Maria Matrem chant comes from a body of melodies collected by St. Ambrose of Milan between the fourth and eighth centuries A.D. This collection eventually developed into the Ambrosian Rite, the only other Papal, divinely accepted chant beyond the Gregorian Rite. A variation of Maria Matrem appeared in medieval Catalonia at the Montserrat Abbey/Monastery (northeastern Spain and southern France) in a collection entitled Libre Vermell de Montserrat (The Red Book of Montserrat), named after its red velvet cover. A center for learning and the home of the “Black Virgin” statue, Montserrat was a desirable location for large numbers of pilgrims. The pilgrims often expressed jubilation upon their arrival by singing and dancing in the church area around the shrine. Although the Monks of the Santa Maria de Montserrat Monastery appreciated and understood the pilgrim’s celebratory exultation, the monks felt much of the music was largely secular and unbefitting to such a holy place. Instead, the monks assembled a collection of music suitable to the revered shrine, with sacred texts. Most of the pieces in the book are actually secular melodies of the fourteenth century, set with new religious texts.

Toledo Cathedral

Versa est in Luctum

Alonso Lobo, 1555–1617

Alonso Lobo composed Versa est in Luctum during his time as maestro de capilla (director of music) of the Toledo cathedral. This six-voiced motet is one of his most well-known compositions due to the circumstances surrounding its creation. King Philip (a member of the Habsburg family, important patrons of music with close ties to the Burgundian court) died in 1598, and Lobo wrote this motet for the King’s funeral services. The funeral services took place in Madrid, fifty miles north of Toledo, where the Archbishop of Toledo officiated at the Requiem. Due to the Archbishop’s presence, Lobo and the Toledo Cathedral choir performed music for the official exequies (funeral rites). However, Lobo wrote the motet at the Toledo Cathedral, and then traveled to Madrid for its performance.

Four years later this motet received publication with six other motets and six masses in the collection Liber Primus Missarum (Madrid, 1602). Lobo’s compositional style combines the transparency of Palestrina, the imitative passages of the polychoral Venetians, and the luscious beauty of his fellow Spaniard, Tomas Luis de Victoria. Many consider him to be one of Spain’s finest Renaissance composers.



Saint-Brieuc Cathédrale in Brittany

Lux Aeterna (Dorioù ar baradoz)

Goulven Airault

* This year’s commissioned composer

*World Premiere

Goulven Airault’s composition, Lux Aeterna, comes from the communion portion of the Requiem Mass and the Breton hymn, Kantik ar baradoz (the inspiration for this composition), which is sung at funerals during the last farewell in Brittany. This ancient hymn describes the joy that the soul experiences at death when it separates from the body and enters paradise. The Sanctus text accompanies the melody and comes from the liturgy of the Eucharist, when the faithful sing with the saints and angels of God’s glory.

Lux Aeterna-Doriou ar Baradoz is a short composition, but unambiguous in its expression: it addresses the question of death, not as the end, or despairing of the end, but rather the passage which drives us toward eternal light, the divine and merciful Love.

“Despite violence and terrorist attacks which have occurred in my country and in all the world recently, I want to transmit a sense of deep peace from my heart. It is through hope and faith that makes us capable of forgiveness. It is only through God’s love and the forgiveness of sins that will enable us to find peace.”

—Goulven Airault

Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris

Alleluya Nativitas (Organum)

Perotinus, 1160–1225

Musical art from twelfth-century France arose alongside the decorative architecture and sculpture of the period. Moving away from the Romanesque churches with round arches and frescos, architects of this period developed the Gothic style, seen in Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. With its soaring vaulted ceilings, pointed arches, flying buttresses, slender columns, and large stained-glass windows, polyphony of the period mirrored the architecture in its growth.

Originally associated with the University of Paris and sung in the cathedral, Notre Dame polyphony is the first polyphony composed by writing the music down, not through an oral or improvisatory tradition. Composers of this method, notably Perotin and Leonin, valued an ornate style of two or more independent voices called organum. Each piece could have three to four voices, all on a different melodic line, with the original chant most likely elongated in the tenor voice (from the Latin tenere, meaning “to hold”).

Simultaneous to these polyphonic developments, the Notre Dame school created the first notated rhythm. Called rhythmic modes, they were patterns grouped in threes, made up of long and short notes and notated by a musical symbol called a ligature. Each ligature group of three modeled the meters found in poetry; they are the first instances of notated rhythm in western music. Tonight’s example, Alleluya Nativitas, displays two male singers orating polyphonic lines of ligature groups in three, while the rest of the men sing the original chant found in the tenor line. This style of music is quite difficult for modern performers to sing due to its alien structure, as compared to modern notation and harmony.

Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris

Windows to Paradise (In Paradisum)

Dr. Kira Zeeman Rugen

*Regarding the exquisite stained glass found in Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.

*World Premiere

Kira Rugen wrote “Windows to Paradise” from the observer’s perspective inside Notre Dame cathedral which houses elongated and glorious stained-glass windows. Indirect light passes through the windows encircling the cathedral, casting diffused beams, manifesting numerous shades of color, and even blurring the visual distribution of light. The colors illuminate the interior of the stone structure, and occasionally the sun shines exquisitely and brightly through a single pane, allowing one to bask in the full glory of a kaleidoscope of light.

Notre Dame’s stained glass serves the function of telling a biblical story, expressing themes on morality, or depicting religious symbolism. Dr. Rugen draws upon the idea that the biblical story and religious symbolism is a call from God to raise our spirit to Him, both physically after death and metaphysically during life. The windows then become the passageway by which believers travel on their way to paradise to be at peace with God.

In Kira Rugen’s work, she initiates the piece with dovetailing harmony, which undulates in and out of consonance, symbolizing the blurred and colorful light reflected in the cathedral. The next section interweaves a soloist singing the In Paradisum chant, set in a reflective mode, with the choir’s exquisite chords. The song morphs into a section of tightly sonorous chords which represent the brilliant color of stained glass when the sun shines directly upon the windows. It ends simply, with a poignant hymn based on the In Paradisum chant, and a series of joyful chords which represent oneness with God and his ultimate ability to impart peace.    


Weimar Court Chapel

Fugue, BV 545 (1708-1717)

Johann Sebastian Bach, 1685–1750

Bach’s historical status has been elevated to the pinnacle composer of the Baroque period, and for some, of Western music. However, during his lifetime his renown only extended to the areas in which he resided. He composed keyboard, instrumental, and choral works for the chapels and churches which employed him. However, little of his music received publication during his lifetime.

During J. S. Bach’s time at the Weimar Chapel under Duke Wilhelm Ernst, he produced an abundance of music for the organ. Duke Ernst ruled with generous sponsorship toward court music, and in hiring Bach as Konzertmeister, he insisted that the young musician fully explore his talent on the organ. Bach not only oversaw the remodeling of the organ in the chapel, he also gave numerous recitals, and it is here that he wrote most of his major organ and harpsichord compositions. Fugue, BV 545 comes from this period of Bach’s life, and tonight Cornua Irae will perform a transcription of this organ work for horn quartet.


St. Thomas Church, Leipzig (12th century St. Thomas Monastery)

Immortal Bach

arranged by Knut Nystedt, 1915–2014

Based on the chorale “Komm Süsser Tod” (1725 by) Johann Sebastian Bach, 1685–1750

When J. S. Bach moved to Leipzig in 1723, he took on the role of chief musician at the St. Thomas Church and School, teaching private lessons, composing, copying, and rehearsing music for the church service. Yet his position grew, as eventually he became the director of music for four churches in the region, requiring him to elicit the help of his students as deputies.

While Bach alternated between churches to conduct the major cantatas, his students took on the lesser works for the opposing Sundays. He composed heavily, often one major work for church per week, as well as providing music for town ceremonies, university functions, weddings, and funerals. He worked with the finest musicians in the region, so much of his output reflects the complexity and expertise expected from professional-level players and singers.

Bach composed this chorale tune, Komm Süsser Tod (Come Sweet Death), soon after his new job began at Leipzig’s St. Thomas Church in 1725. He composed it originally as an aria (a solo song with basso continuo) published in Musicalisches Gesangbuch in 1736. Bach then regularly set the tune in subsequent organ passacaglias and fugues, cantatas, and four-part chorales meant for worship. This 2005 rendition is an atmospheric interpretation by composer Knut Nystedt from Norway, which received two Grammy nominations in 2007 on the disc “Immortal Nystedt.”

Bach’s remains were moved to St. Thomas church in 1950, 200 years after his death.


Cathedral of Cambrai

Ave Maris Stella

Guillaume Dufay, 1397-1474 and John Dunstable, 1390–1453

Guillaume Dufay had a broad spectrum of talents. In addition to his activities as a composer, he labored as a doctor of Canon Law, regularly participating in various ecclesiastical events. Much of Dufay’s output reflected his dedication to canonic duties, as it furthered the larger role that liturgical polyphony played in the Church. A wealthy, cosmopolitan, and powerful man working at the Cambrai Cathedral (northern France, Belgium region), his friendship with Dunstable furthered his compositional technique. Their practices are so similar that researchers often discuss the English and Flemish styles in terms of cousins rather than rivals.

This work, Ave Maris Stella, places Dufay at center stage as an international composer. Inspired by English harmony, Dufay applied the fauxbourdon technique in several of his hymns, antiphons, and simpler office chants. Ave Maris Stella begins with the plainchant in unison, and then during the burden (chorus) the top voice has the chant; the middle line appears consistently a fourth below the chant and was likely improvisational. The bottom voice moves similarly in a parallel sixth below the top voice, but would not have been improvised. The resulting effect sounds eerily archaic to modern ears due to the parallel fourths, and yet strangely familiar due to the relatively new fascination fourteenth-century Europeans had with the ‘sweet’ sounds of an ‘English inspired’ consonant third. Verse four comes from Dunstable’s version, and verse six comes from Dufay hand, both in sine fauxbordon (freely composed).


St. Magnus Cathedral, Orkney Islands

Nobilis Humilis

Michael McGlynn

The St. Magnus hymn, or Nobilis Humilis, celebrates St. Magnus of Orkney. Magnus, Earl of Orkney lived on the western shore of Scotland during the Norwegian invasion of 1098. The Vikings subjugated Magnus and his family, forcing them to serve under the Norwegian kings. The Norwegians saw his gentle and pious nature as weak when he refused to fight during a Viking raid. He held to his religious convictions and sang psalms as the battle surrounded him. The Viking chieftains chose to execute him for his “treachery,” and before his death, Magnus, Early of Okney prayed for his executioners. His remains now rest in St. Magnus Cathedral of the Orkney Islands, which locals built in the memory of St. Magnus, whom they venerated considerably.

The central melody and text of this song, set originally in two parts, dates from the mid-thirteenth century. Found in a thirteenth-century manuscript owned by the Uppsala University, the hymn describes St. Magnus of the Orkneys. The chant Superba namque colla, which begins this piece, was written in honor of St. Patrick and comes from a fifteenth-century Irish source.

Return to Italy

St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican Rome

O Magnum Mysterium

Dr. Anne Kilstofte

*Local Phoenix Composer

*World Premiere

“O Magnum Mysterium tells quite simply of the mystery of Christmas Eve.  I have always found Christmas Eve to be an event of quiet joy and humility. The text tells of the lowly circumstances into which Christ was born, including the stable with the animals. All of this is found in the traditional Latin text and the text painting is meant to show the difficulties of this evening as much as its wonder. 

            The cathedral that inspired this work is St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican in Rome. I spent a great deal of time there in 2006 and again in 2008. The many artworks inside and out are inspiration alone, but the fact that the dome was designed by Michelangelo, completed under the auspices of several Popes, and finished after Michelangelo’s death shows the endurance and selflessness of art.”

—Anne Kilstofte

Sistine Chapel, Vatican Rome

Missa Pope Marcellus, Agnus Dei 

Giovanni Perluigi da Palestrina, 1525–1594

Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina worked for most of his life in the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican. His music became the model revered by composers’ generations after his death. His style, synonymous with the term Stille antico (old style), characterizes the height of Renaissance polyphonic composition. He wrote predominantly in the sacred genre, and he wrote more Masses than any other composer to that point. Although the Council of Trent (held during the Counter-Reformation) made scant changes to music’s desired construction, officials did affirm that the text must always be understood in polyphonic music. As the legend goes, Palestrina saved polyphony from condemnation by the Council of Trent by composing stunning music that did not obscure the words.

His music embodied the ideas of the Counter-Reformation: music should be pure, elegant, and have an understandable text, but also vary in rhythm, melody, and sonority. His form and harmonic structure sounds transparent, yet he juxtaposes overlapping five- to six-voiced polyphony with homophonic textures, culminating as the ideal compositional perfection for Renaissance sacred music. A hallmark of Palestrina’s style includes the strict use of dissonance, where composers discreetly suspend offending notes long enough to encourage the listener to desire resolution, which he then presents with serenity and grace. Tonight we will sing the Agnus Dei from the work that “saved” polyphony, Missa Pope Marcellus


St. Marks Cathedral, Venice

Canzon Seconda a Quattro (1608)

Giovanni Gabrieli, 1554–1612

Giovanni Gabrielli worked as the Maestro de Musica at St. Marks Cathedral in Venice, Italy between 1585 and his death in 1612. He had a notable education, including instruction from his uncle, Andrea Gabrieli (also Maestro de Musica at St. Marks), and renowned German composer, Orlando de Lassus. He published his first set of Sacrae Symphoniae (sounding together) in 1597, a collection of ensemble works for instruments alone. The collection became a famed publication during his lifetime, and inspired a crop of young composers to study under him, which helped spread the “Venetian style” around Europe and the conquistador American provinces.

In the year 1568, the church established a permanent ensemble of first-rate instrumentalists (mostly of cornets and sackbuts). Due to the resources available to him at the cathedral, Gabrieli composed a number of ensemble works called Canzon (meaning song). In these first instrumental pieces, hallmark musical designations occurred for the first time in printed scores. Gabrieli is the first composer to call for instruments only instead of voices. Previously, music could have been composed for interchangeable instruments or voices. Due to that fluctuation, modern researchers find it difficult to determine which scores were for instruments, for voice, or for both. Furthermore, since the middle ages, instruments had been called by their relative volume known as haut et bas (high and low, or loud and soft). By writing pian’ e forte (soft and loud) in his score, Gabrieli became the first composer to indicate dynamics.


St. Marks Cathedral, Venice

Hodie Christus Natus Est à 8

Giovanni Gabrieli, 1554–1612

An old Italian city, second only in importance to Rome, Venice thrived as a chief port for merchants and traders and accumulated vast wealth and power. Venice’s glory lay within the method in which it displayed its riches and wealth. The Venetians spent lavishly on public music and art as a means of intimidating potential enemies and impressing other cities that might aspire to that level of glory. The enormous St. Marks Basilica housed massive eleventh-century Byzantine domes, gold-plated ornaments, tile mosaics, and stained-glass masterpieces.

Most importantly for the development of music, the church cased four vast pillars with four organs housed on the posts. Andrea and Giovanni Gabrieli composed music for multiple choirs. The Gabrielis placed those choirs, cori spezzati (divided choirs), in the pillars with the housed organs, and they sang as physically divided choirs. Sometimes they sang unaccompanied or doubled by instruments, or one choir might be an ensemble of cornettos and sackbuts, while another an ensemble of strings.

Tonight’s piece, Hodie Christus Natus Est, is a motet for eight voices separated into two choirs. French horns are not appropriate to the period of the late sixteenth century, as they didn’t appear until the mid-seventeenth century. However, they do have a beautiful brass sound that resembles the bold textures asked for during the late Renaissance. Today, most of Gabrieli’s motets are performed by brass ensembles. We end tonight’s program with this lively Christmas text to send you off with a jubilant and joyful symphony of sound!




“Origins – Tracing the Ancient Liturgical Rite” Program Notes


Origins Flyer

November 22, 2015, 7:00 p.m.

Xavier Chapel of our Lady:
4710 North 5th Street,
Phoenix, Arizona 85012



Origins Program Notes





Chants of Faith 

*Solis Camerata dedicates this multi-faith song about peace, to the victims of intolerance in Paris, Lebanon, Syria and around the world.

Collected and arranged by Joshua Haberman and David J. Xiques, these composers conceived the piece after September 11, 2001, for the choirs at San Francisco State University. The song combines five liturgical melodies about peace, healing and respect for common hope, despite diversity across cultures.


Ancient Hebrew

Psalm 23 and Psalm 122, as transcribed by Suzanne Haïk-Vantoura

As a young composer, Suzanne Haïk-Vantoura became intrigued by the teיamim (signs or accents) printed in the Masoretic Tanakh (Torah, Nevi’im and Ketuvim), the oldest known copy of the Hebrew bible. Over the centuries, numerous theories arose about the teיamim assuming they emphasized grammar or inflected meaning. After intensive research, Haïk-Vantoura felt certain that these signs (both the sublinear and superlinear teיamim) instead held musical meaning, and could be transcribed into notation. She based this theory on Hebrew verbal phrase structures as well as the seven degrees of the heptatonic scales. At the encouragement of her composition teacher, Marcel Dupré, she devoted her retirement to puzzling out the mystery of biblical notation. After six years of research, she published the book La Musique de la Bible révélée in 1976 which included most of the book of Psalms. Haïk-Vantoura surmises that Levites in the Temple of Jerusalem chanted the entire Old Testament and that her reconstructions might sound like the liturgy worshipers heard over 3000 years ago. Indeed, chanting of Jewish liturgy is an ancient practice documented in the immediate centuries after Christ’s death, as Christian chant has its roots in Jewish cantillation. Some cast doubt on Haïk-Vantoura’s research due to the appearance of signs in the text she did not include in her research, as well as some awkward leaps and intervals. Despite some doubts, the beautiful melodies are compelling historically and it provides an interesting theory to understanding ancient biblical liturgy. The scores for this performance highlight the melodies discovered by Haïk-Vantoura, but also include her contemporary triadic harmonization.

There are parallels between ancient Jewish temple rites and early Christian rituals. Singing psalms assigned to days associated with a church calendar is a central portion of both synagogue and Christian worship. Although Christian rituals vary from ancient Hebrew traditions, there is another similarity. The Christian communities’ central portion of worship lies in the Mass, a commemoration of the Last Supper Jesus participated in with his disciples that has its origins in the structure of a Passover meal.



There is very little argument among scholars that worship music from the earliest period of the Christian church was largely congruent with that of Jewish ceremonies from the same time. These Jewish roots appeared in the early church through the chanting of of cantillations (chanted sacred text), such as singing of poems of praise from the Book of Psalms by a cantor. In the Hebrew tradition, Levites (members of a priestly class, including musicians) publically read the scripture based on formulaic models and divisions in the text. Ancient Byzantine chant in the early church included chanted scriptural readings, which portrayed formulas reflecting the phrasing of the text. Similar to church modes, melodies were classified into eight modes (echoi). Byzantine hymns manifested highly developed melodies as compared to the Western Church in the same time period. Beginning in the tenth century, notated books of hymns existed and continue as a part of Orthodox worship today. Missionaries from the Byzantine Rite shared their style of worship with the Slavs, thus establishing the Russian and other Slavic orthodox divisions of the church.

Kanon for Pentekost, Ode I – transcribed by Ioannis Arvanitis

Pentecost is a feast occurring the Sunday fifty days after Easter, celebrating the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples. These Pentecost Feast chants originated at the Monastery of Stoudious in Constantinople, where chants are a part of Eastern Christian cycles of the “sung office” known as the “service of kneeling.” Pentecost is a festival in the Eastern tradition where the Palestinian morning prayer includes two complete kanons (set of structured hymns). One of the canons come from St. Kosmas of Maïouma, and the second ascribed to St. John of Damascus (also known as John Arklas). The chant in tonight’s program, Ode 1 of the Iambic Kano,n – an early Byzantine hymn in Ancient Greek, comes from the text attributed to St. John of Damascus. The music consists largely of choral psalms with refrains (antiphona), alternating with a soloist. This antiphonal psalmody form of chanting encouraged congregants to participate in worship through song. Medieval Byzantine chant contrasts with the familiar and fluid Gregorian chant style of singing. Byzantine chant employs non-western tuning, chromatic inflections, and a Middle Eastern vocal singing style decorated with ornaments, and a drone (or ison) polyphonically accompanies the melody.  *Information for these notes come from Alexandar Lingas’ program notes for his Capella Romana recording, Byzantium in Rome, Medieval Byzantine Chant.

Mother of God, Here I stand – Sir John Tavener

Mother of God, Here I stand does not come directly from Byzantine chant, but rather draws from the Eastern Orthodox school of thought. Sir John Tavener, a composer from England, found himself deeply influenced by the Orthodox tradition. Tavener thought of his music as deeply mysterious or spiritual and he said that the drone “is the acoustic representation of the silence of God in Eastern music.” In 2003 he composed an unprecedented composition, Veil of the Temple, which is a seven-hour-long vigil, performed all night. This monumental work comes from the byzantine tradition of St. John’s gospel, but also embraces Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, and the religion of the American Indians. Each cycle pinpoints singular characters, similar to how Byzantine Isons (drones) or Hindu ragas evoke spiritual meaning. Over the course of the work, the subject matter blossoms from the central points of the gospel, developing and increasing intensity through each cycle. The Byzantine work reaches its crux at the end of the seventh cycle, where there is a spiritual transformation, turning from the old temple into the new.  Mother of God here I stand is in the seventh of the work’s eight cycles, and stands alone as an independent anthem. It is a short but meaningful anthem of slow, atmospheric chords, designed to evoke devotional stillness and spiritual peace. The text comes from Russian poet Mikhail Lermontov (1814-41), a gentle tribute to mother Mary.


Georgian Sacred Chant

Da vitartsa meupisa, and Motsikuli krist’esagan – Sacred Georgian Polyphony

The Georgian region adopted Christianity in the year 337 AD. Worshipers erected monasteries and churches with schools of singing associated with them. Coinciding with the earliest Georgian translations of the Bible, the church created new hymns and liturgies. Georgia is unique in contrast to its neighbors–Armenians, Azeris and Turks–whose music is largely homophonic in texture. Georgian sacred and folk music is predominantly polyphonic, perhaps beginning earlier than other religious traditions. Much of this liturgical tradition developed through an oral tradition and experienced preservation through continuous use in worship through the nineteenth century.

A number of transcriptions of Georgian hymns exist, dating as far back as the eighth century. Some notation is undecipherable, but other manuscripts are readable and survived by being housed in Georgian monasteries. Due to the Georgian Orthodox church becoming Russianized in the early nineteenth century, and suppression of the practice by the Soviet Union in 1921, Georgians have worked tirelessly to preserve their ancient tradition from vanishing. Beginning in the 1950s, in a Soviet effort to salvage regional music and dances from various Russian territories, the government funded performing ensembles to concertize their music and tour around the world. This elevated interest of indigenous folk and sacred music, and spurred researchers to travel to remote mountainous regions, collecting historical music from older generations of Georgian people. The two most prominent types of medieval polyphony found in Georgian liturgy are Kartli-Kakhetial (eastern) and Gurian or Imeruli-Guruli (western). The eastern style is more triadic, placing more importance on the middle voice, which is more melodic. The western style is characterized by more independence between three polyphonic lines and less triadic harmony. Both examples in tonight’s program feature examples from the eastern style.


Russian Orthodox

In the year 988, Emperor Vladmir converted to Christianity, marking the beginning the Russian Orthodox Church. Yet, there is evidence of Christianity amongst the Slavs for centuries before his baptism. The Greek-influenced Byzantine Chant existed in Russia and eventually received translation into Slavonic languages as a new chant rite, Znamenny Raspev (chanting by signs). However, the liturgy of the Russian Orthodox Church has a different sound and color than its Byzantine counterpart, as melodic patterns changed based on language, resonance and cultural modal preference. Russian Orthodox music eventually altered further with the seventeenth century influence of western music. Patriarch Nikon fueled an interest in Western music, dismissing the wonders of ancient Russian chant. The liturgical Russian music from Nikon’s time became Westernized, sounding Baroque, not dissimilar to a polychoral motet by Italian composer, Giovanni Gabrieli. This westernization of Russian music caused a great schism to occur, as some felt the church music should only exhibit old Znamenny chant, while others favored harmony and polyphony.  Instead, the Russian Orthodox Church combined the two schools of thought, creating a new distinct sound different than any other regional sound. The music married the rhetoric and melody of Znamenny chant with stunning choral harmonies characterized by Gretchaninoff and Rachmaninoff in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The Russian Revolution (1915) put a quick and sharp end to the traditional Russian way of life, cutting off creative output from the Russian Orthodox religion for decades as they went into hiding during the communist regime. Now there is a resurgence in interest for the ancient ways, as Russian Orthodox musicians and professional ensembles attempt to recreate the lost art.

O Gladsome Light – Phos Hilaron

Phos Hilaron (O Gladsome Light) is the earliest known Christian hymn, originating in Cappadocia in eastern Turkey and passed down in numerous melodies through an oral tradition. Originally documented in the third or fourth century treatise Apostolic Constitutions, (from Antiochen origin), the hymn likely dates from an earlier period. St. Basil mentions in his fourth century treatise “On the Holy Spirit,” that the hymn came from an archaic tradition, saying it was “one of our oldest and most beloved hymns.” Hymnologists and liturgists consider it to be the first complete hymn not mentioned first in the Bible, although there is no documentation of the original melody. The written version hailing originally from the Greek Orthodox and Byzantine traditions, its melody changed in each liturgical branch (Roman Catholic, Aramaic, Greek, Anglican), but remains largely the same in text. Early Christians sang this hymn for the ritual of lighting the lamps documented by a fourth century nun who wrote about her journey to the Holy Land and the evening ritual of lighting a candle/lantern (lucernarium) in Christ’s tomb while singing this hymn. Early Christians lived in the natural seasonal rhythm of night and day. The darkness of the night became bearable with the promise of God’s light and the dawn of a new day, symbolized with a lantern. This hymn occurred during Vespers, and it underwent a variety of alterations in the Russian Orthodox Church, primarily through the Kiev Chant dialect. In the middle ages, this chant likely sounded as a single unison melody. The version Solis Camerata performs tonight has three-part harmony which arose in the 16th century as Russian musicians became aware of the Western technique of polyphony called strochnoi penie (line singing). The chant in the middle voice sang in harmony with two other voices, one above and one below. However, the harmony didn’t align with Western polyphony. Instead of westernized Renaissance techniques of imitation, strict control of consonance and dissonance, Russian composers of the same period wrote music similar to indigenous Russian folk song, utilizing unprepared dissonances, parallel voices in fifths, sevenths, and ninths.

Paschal Troparion and Canon – First Ode

(Traditional Orthodox hymnody attributed to St. John of Damascus)

Paschal Troparion and Canon – First Ode comes from the seventeenth period of westernization. The basic chant exhibits characteristics found in Kiev chant (a simplified form of znamenny), juxtaposed against western harmonization. Portions of this piece stem from an earlier period where asymmetric rhythm flourished. Although the song is lively and joyful, listeners may experience ‘hiccups’ in the rhythm, presenting differently in every strophe of the text. Attributed to St. John of Damascus, the text is the song of Moses after the Israelites crossed the Red Sea, escaping from Egypt.  This hymn of thanksgiving from the Old Testament celebrates God’s deliverance from death to life and from slavery to freedom, and the Resurrection of Christ. The canon is a portion of Pascha and Bright week vigil services in the Orthodox Church (the renewal week following Easter).



Ancient Greek

Greek music and its influence on early Christianity

The early Christian church found inspiration in Greek theory, philosophy and thought, which led to early traditions and beliefs, the seeds of religious thought for centuries to come. The Christian philosopher, Boethius (ca. 480-524), wrote a treatise on logic, theology, and the mathematical arts entitled De institutione musica (The Fundamentals of Music). He derived his beliefs about music from Greek resources, primarily a treatise by Nicomachus and Ptolemy’s treatise, Harmonics. He wrote about his particular interest in musica humana (human music), in which he stressed the influence of music on one’s character in harmonizing the soul. Like the Greeks, the early Church fathers (St. John Chrysostom, St. Jerome, St. Augustine, St. Basil) believed that the value of music in liturgy came from its power in influencing the ethos of worshipers. They asserted that music should not entertain, but instead existed to remind listeners of divine beauty, and share a religious message through a sense of community. St. Basil said:

A psalm is the tranquility of souls, the arbitrator of peace, restraining the disorder and turbulence of thoughts, for it softens the passion of the soul and moderates its unruliness. A psalm forms friendships, unites the divided, mediates between enemies… Singing of psalms brings love, the greatest of good things, contriving harmony like some bond of union and uniting the people in the symphony of a single choir.

Epitaph of Seikilos

Epitaph of Seikilos is the earliest known complete example of a musical composition that scholars can accurately transcribe. Found on a tombstone near the southwestern edge of Turkey dating 100 A.D., the inscription on the marker prefacing the poem states:

I am a tombstone, an icon. Seikilos placed me here as an everlasting sign of deathless remembrance.

The poem is an epigram, which combines two opposing ideas in a clever, yet poignant voice. In this case, the poem encourages its reader to be untroubled, even happy, despite the turning of time and the inevitable certainty of death. Ethos is the ancient Greek philosophy that each person’s ethical character could be effected by the type of music (including which scale or key the piece is in) or poetry one listened to. The ancient Greeks actively sought music that would cleanse one’s spirit and lead the soul to inner harmony. The ethos of Epitath of Seikilos is one of moderation between two extremes: one of sadness, and one of joy. The effect creates a moderate ethos – neither happy nor sad – instead the text encourages faith and cheerfulness in the face of sadness and the inevitability of death.

While you live, shine. Have no grief at all. Life exists only for a short while. And time demands its toll.

In Kira Rugen’s version of this song, she fuses Greek music theory with modern context and harmony. The piece begins and ends with meditative melodies, reminiscent of middle east ballads. While introducing Greek versions of Phrygian and Dorian scales, Rugen places the the Greek descending tetra chord scales (Harmonic and Melodic) within the counter melody. Greek thought considered the melody female, and rhythm male and advocated for mixed meters and tempi within a single song. This song juxtaposes meters, while exhibiting the Greek prosody of long and short rhythms. The piece suggests, through the use of a drum, rhythms that might be found in a skolion – a drinking song sung at a banquet. Each attendee, extolling the virtues of men, expressed a deep personal feeling or made comments upon daily life.  The song’s meaning and intention share characteristics with early Greek liturgical traditions that solemnly honor life’s joys and sorrows.

Oxyrhynchos Hymn – 3rd century extant  

The Oxyrhynchos Hymn, or Hymn to the Trinity, comes from the third century A.D. Discovered in 1918 on a papyrus in Egypt, it is written with ancient Greek musical notation and the poem exhibits the Greek alphabet. This manuscript is the single physical fragment of Christian music that exists from before the ninth century, and it includes both notation and lyrics. Oxyrhynchus was a prosperous Egyptian City, known for its churches and monasteries and archeologists excavated it in the late nineteenth century. On a site that for centuries had been used as a town garbage dump, researchers found numerous papyrus documents including plays of Mendander, the Gospel of Thomas, and this hymn.  Now kept at the Papyrology Room of the Sackler Library in Oxford, the notation exhibits a melody within an octave range on a hypolydian mode. The notation depicts rhythmic symbols of long and short value, primarily syllabic with some short melismas. It is in Anapaestic meter, denoting a metrical form found in ancient Greek formal poetry. Some scholars believe the melody is similar to the Sanctus melody found often in the medieval Requiem Mass.



Immar Ly’Edta – Chaldean Chant

The Chaldean Rite preserves the earliest religious chants recognized, and its simple antiquity is still practiced today. The Chaldean lineage reaches back to Mesopotamian civilizations of 7000 years ago, creating a culture suffused with millennia-old traditions. St. Thomas the Apostle introduced Christianity to the Chaldeans in the first centuries after Christ’s death, establishing the Church of the East. At that time, a sizable Jewish population existed in the land, influencing the earliest forms of Chaldean chant and developing a fusion of Judeo-Christian and Assyro-Babylonian music. Chaldeans who lived during the first through sixth centuries A.D in what is now modern day Iraq, Iran, Turkey and Syria, accounted for approximately half of the population. They considered themselves members of the Universal Catholic church until 431 A.D. when philosophical differences with the western church caused isolation and consecutively called the Nestorian Church. Moslem Arabs conquered the Chaldeans in 634 A.D, imposing their own religion upon the state, enforcing further Chaldean isolation from western Christian followers in Constantinople and Rome. For more than one thousand years, the Chaldeans remained isolated from the rest of the Church. However, they continued their practice of archaic chant, founded in the first centuries after their conversion, and established a strong oral tradition that preserved its antiquity through melodies which are still sung the same today as at their conception. The liturgical and melodic language, removed from the musical influence of the western church, absorbed scales, ragas and quarter tones found in middle eastern and Indian music.

The Chaldean Hymn, Immar Ly’Edta, occurs during the Sanctification of the Church liturgical season (mostly) during the month of November. It is a combination of rich poetry, doctrine and philosophy that interweaves a conversation between Christ’s shepherds and the church community they wish to establish. The poem introduces and compares the sun (intellectual enlightenment), moon (sensual fantasies), stars (vain glories) and mountains (mighty power) to weak worldly foundations. The text encourages the Church to rely upon faith alone as its Rock. Due to the persecution Chaldeans underwent in the Middle East region over the centuries, they hid certain visible elements of their faith as to not suffer further abuse. Chaldean liturgy never experienced written notation, persevering only as an oral tradition. Consequently, to this day Chaldean chant continues to be an exclusive oral tradition, passing the melodies on through repeated listening and singing. Father Felix Shabi shared the melody you will hear today with Dr. Rugen, and she transcribed it into music notation in order to teach Solis Camerata this sacred chant.



Roman Catholic

The early Christian Church relied upon memory, repetition and oral transmission for both composition and retention of melodies. A number of chant dialects developed in each region, such as Ambrosian Chant, Gallican Chant, Celtic Chant, Byzantine Chant, and Old Roman Chant. They held characteristics of local languages and scales, and showed preferences toward honoring particular local saints. This process continued until the eighth century when the Holy Roman Emperor, Charlemagne, and Pope Leo III attempted to codify the chant. Over time, the local chants disappeared as authorities in Rome systemized the practice into a single system now know as Gregorian Chant, absorbing the local variances found in chant dialects.  The process of chant standardization served the purpose of establishing centralized control in Rome, thus strengthening the medieval church. However, even after Gregorian chant became the official chant repertory of the Church, melodies varied from region to region as memory of melodies didn’t always travel accurately. The invention of notation in the ninth century was an attempt to stabilize melodies across the Church. The original forms of notation (called neumes, meaning gesture) only reminded the singer, who already knew the melody, the basic shape of the chant. Early neumes looked like curvy lines, and indicated the melodic outline of the melody. Eventually scribes placed neumes at varying heights over a single horizontal line to indicate relative pitch above or below the line, usually referring to either C or F. The theorist Guido of Arezzo, an eleventh-century monk, invented additional horizontal lines, each a third apart, creating the precursor to the modern five-line staff. It was not until this invention that singers had the ability to accurately replicate pitches and intervals.

Chant of the early Church began as a monophonic (single voice) utterance with specific formulas for each chant based on its feast and purpose, whether it be for the Office, or Proper or Ordinary of the Mass. Clergy and the choir sang the liturgy in responsorial or antiphonal formats and eventually the unison melodies developed into polyphony (two or more vocal parts). It is through the scope of polyphony that music of the Church blossomed.  Chant underwent continuous changes in melody, harmony and rhythmic patterns over the next centuries, creating along its path a canon of the world’s most remarkable musical compositions.

Sancte Bonifati Martyr – 10th century anonymous

Musica Enchririadis (Music Handbook), a ninth century music theory treatise intended for music students, is the first known source explaining the earliest principles of polyphonic music, called organum. It describes eight Church modes that all chants could be classified into, and it included exercises for locating the half steps in a melody. Additionally, it explains the ninth-century understanding of consonances in polyphony which prefers the parallel fourth. Until recently, scholars believed a manuscript called the Winchester Troper, written in the eleventh century, held the designation of the earliest polyphonic music outside of theoretical treatises. However, Giovanni Varelli, a doctoral student at Cambridge, recently stumbled upon an early tenth-century score that predates all other polyphonic manuscripts by a century. Written on the bottom pages of a parchment, Varelli discovered Sancte Bonifati Martyr, an antiphon chant honoring the English missionary St. Boniface who converted large areas of Germany to Christianity. Sancte Bonifati Martyr’s similarities to Winchester Troper organum include parallel movement in fourths, and holding a note in one voice while the alternate voice changes tones, eventually arriving at a cadence. The two styles differ as Sancte Bonifati Martyr exhibits a smaller mobility of range, emphasizes cadential moments in unison, and the use of thirds, considered to be a dissonance in later organum

Aeterna Christi Munera – by Tom Peterson

Aeterna Christi Munera is an Ambrosian hymn for feasts of Apostles and Evangelists. The Ambrosian chant tradition is among the most ancient bodies of Christian chant known to history, and with its age — perhaps as early as the fourth century A.D. — comes questions: variations in texts and tunes have made determining a single definitive version of Aeterna Christi Munera nearly impossible.

This work takes as its starting point St. Augustine’s assertion that such hymns were sung in “triple time,” a practice that, even if it was common, was not notated in the music. Therefore, while the tune remains more or less constant, this dichotomy — duple vs. triple — manipulates the rhythm, the meter, and even whether the chorus divides into four or six parts. *Notes written by Tom Peterson


Ave Maris Stella – Guillaume Dufay 15th Century

Guillaume Dufay (c. 1397 – 1474) had a broad spectrum of talents. In addition to his activities as a composer, he labored as a doctor of Canon Law, regularly participating in various ecclesiastical events. A wealthy, cosmopolitan, and powerful man living in the area of Cambrai (Northern France), his correspondence with contemporary composers Binchoi, Ockeghem and Dunstable furthered his compositional technique. Much of his output reflected his dedication to canonic duties, as it furthered the larger role that liturgical polyphony played in the Church.

This work, Ave Maris Stella, places Dufay at center stage as an international composer. Inspired by the English Faburden (a composition with only a cantus and tenor written out and the middle voice improvised), Dufay heard this style and copied it in several of his hymns, antiphons and simpler office chants. When referring to Dufay’s execution of the polyphonic method, the term is called Fauxbourdon. Ave Maris Stella begins with the plain chant in unison, and then during the burden (chorus) the top voice has the chant, the middle line appears consistently a fourth below the chant and likely performed in the period as improvisational. The bottom voice moves similarly to parallel sixth below the top voice with some alterations, but would not have been improvised. The resulting effect sounds eerily archaic to modern ears due to the parallel fourths, and yet strangely familiar due to the relatively new fascination fourteenth century Europeans had with the ‘sweet’ sounds of a consonant third, inspired by English music. The resulting chordal outline presents what we now understand as triadic harmony, only moving in parallel motion, contrasting to the more balanced approach of contrary, oblique, and similar choral motion in tonal harmony, developed during the Baroque period and crystalized by J.S. Bach. The most difficult task twenty-first century performers must execute is the realization of Musica Ficta rules (meaning false or feigned music). Musicians of the Medieval and Renaissance church understood basic modal rules in which singers raised or lowered notes by a semitone to avoid the tri-tone in a melody. The alterations would not have been indicated in the score, but instead singers attempted to make ‘sweeter’ sounding harmony at the cadences by avoiding the tri-tone.


Jubilate Deo – by Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina 16th Century

Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina’s (1525/26-1594) music became the model revered by composers’ generations after his death. His style, synonymous with the term Stille antico (old style), characterizes the height of Renaissance polyphonic composition.  He wrote predominantly in the sacred genre, and wrote more Masses than any other composer to that point. Although the Council of Trent (held during the Counter-Reformation) made scant changes to music’s desired construction, officials did affirm that the text must always be understood in polyphonic music. As the legend goes, Palestrina saved polyphony from condemnation by the Council of Trent by composing stunning music that did not obscure the words. His music embodied the ideas of the Counter-Reformation: music should be pure, elegant, and have an understandable text, but also vary in rhythm, melody, and sonority. Palestrina’s phrases use long singable melodic lines. His form and harmonic structure sounds transparent, yet he juxtaposes overlapping five- to six-voiced polyphony with homophonic textures, culminating as the ideal compositional perfection for Renaissance sacred music. A hallmark of Palestrina’s style includes the strict use of dissonance, where composers discreetly suspend offending notes long enough to encourage the listener to desire resolution, which he then presents with serenity and grace. Tonight’s joyful motet by Palestrina comes from the Offertory and Doxology of the Mass Ordinary, Jubilate Deo, and can be sung by a double choir of voices, or doubled with instruments.



“Songs of the Saints” Program Notes – Solis Camerata

Songs of the Saints 2014-1

November 6, 2014, 7:00 p.m.

Xavier Chapel of our Lady:
4710 North 5th Street,
Phoenix, Arizona 85012

Tickets: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/songs-of-the-saints-tickets-13613294731?aff=eac2

Ave Generosa
St. Hildegard Von Bingen (and St. Mary)
Hildegard Von Bingen (c. 1098 – 1179) is a significant figure in music and Church history. Hildegard suffered from what scholars believe were intense migraines from the age of three. The migraines brought on luminous visions that she believed were from God. At the age of 43, she began to write down these visions. With the help of male scribes who could read and write, she was able to document treatises on natural science, medicine, healing and spirituality. Her visions and treatises, originally discouraged by the Catholic Church, eventually became accepted and admired due to her distinguished holy wisdom. Hildegard received veneration during her life and after her death, but it was not until May 2012 that Pope Benedict XVI declared her a saint and, in October 2012, named her a Doctor of the Church.

She is one of the few known women medieval composers, a champion of women, their spirituality and strengths in society. Although she did not question the role of women, she was outspoken in the presence of clergymen and nobility. Her long list of appointments includes as the Abbess at the Benedictine monastery of St. Disibod in Germany. She founded two convents despite intense Church opposition. When Hildegard founded the first convent, she was forbidden to use the Church-sanctioned liturgy. Instead, she composed her own music, developing her own musical style. Although she did not have a formal music education, her exposure to music of the Church inspired her to develop her own system.

Her music is nothing like existing 12th century chant. Instead, we see monophonic writing with extraordinary wide ranges, unheard-of ascending intervals of a fifth, soaring melodies, highly melismatic melodies and alternating soloists and choir. Her text directly pairs with the melodic action in the music, implying drama and narrative, which was a rarity in 12th century compositions. Because she did not receive formal music training, she did not make use of the medieval neumatic system of notation, therefore her scores look different from those of her contemporaries. Today when we perform her music, the rhythmic durations are up to interpretation by the performer. Hildegard enthusiasts celebrate her music, which much of the body of repertoire honors the mysticism and reverence for the Virgin Mary, such as the piece on tonight’s program, “Ave Generosa.”

Salve, Sancte Pater Patriae
Guillaume Dufay (St. Peter or St. Francis of Assisi)
This hymn, traditionally attributed to St. Francis, literally translated (Sancte Pater) could be for the Holy Father, or specifically for St. Peter. St. Peter, known in the bible originally as Simon the apostle, received the name Peter when Christ said: “And I say to thee: That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church.” As the rock-like foundation, Peter became the first leader of the apostles as well as the head of the larger community who believed in Christ. He traveled to far lands proclaiming the gospel, but died as a martyr for his faith by crucifixion on an upside down cross. He was the first pope of the Catholic Church and is the patron saint of Fishermen and workers.

Guillaume Dufay (c. 1397 – 1474) had a broad spectrum of talents. In addition to his activities as a composer, he labored as a doctor of Canon Law, regularly participating in ecclesiastical events as a holder of various prebends. A wealthy, cosmopolitan, and powerful man living in the area of Cambrai (Northern France), his correspondence with contemporary composers, such as Binchoi and Ockeghem furthered his compositional technique. Much of his output reflected his dedication his canonic duties, as it furthered the larger role that liturgical polyphony played in the Church. His melodies, harmonies and plainchant compositions are an area of distinction, as well as his continued development of the iso-rhythmic technique, an older style that he perfected. The motet for this program, “Salve, Sancte Pater Patriae,” displays the iso-rhythmic aspects of medieval rhythm. The rhythm and melody repeats, and those repetitions shift over time. Each voice has its own independent line, but placed in counterpoint to the other voices, which in turn have their own repetition. Some voices have elongated and augmented rhythms, while other voices have smaller and faster diminutive rhythms. The resulting sonic structure sounds to the modern ear as if it is syncopated, and quite dissonant. However, what sounds archaic and alien to us now, was new and innovative for its time.

Missa Pange Lingua, Kyrie
Josquin des Prez ( St. Thomas Aquinas)
At the tender age of five, St. Thomas Aquinas’ (c. 1225–1274) parents gave him to the Benedictine monastery at Monte Cassino with the expectation that he would choose the life of an abbot. When Thomas reached the age of nineteen, he chose a different path against his Italian family’s wishes, and took up the Dominican habit. Shortly after, he began his career as a teacher and writer. That work later became the foundation of his faith and led to his renown as the preeminent teacher of Theology and Philosophy in the Church. His legacy lies within his writings where his main themes outline the natural order, human knowledge of the divine, the relationship between faith and reason, and the proof of God’s existence. He is the patron saint of students, schools, colleges and universities.

Josquin des Prez (c. 1450/1455 – 1521) was not a composer by trade, but rather an aristocrat who ‘dabbled’ in music. In the 15th century, aristocrats trained musicians and poets. However, it was not acceptable to brag about one’s talent as a musician, but rather be ‘asked’ – if not ‘pleaded’ – by others to ‘favor’ them with a composition. Josquin acquiesced to that ‘favor’ so often, that he is now considered a central figure in the high Renaissance and was lauded and praised during his day for his mastery of the technique. During this period, composers were unencumbered by the medieval formulaic methods of the text or rhythm, and did not have to rely upon a pre-existing melody (cantus firmus). It was a time of inventive creativity and an opening of new expressive ideas. Therefore, Josquin was able to compose freely, creating his own musical form.
Josquin’s “Missa Pange Lingua” came from a contemporary source of inspiration, the well-known hymn of the same name by St. Thomas Aquinas. Josquin set the tune as the basic melodic structure of the entire mass. As in previous compositions, Josquin turns to paraphrasing and imitation as the basis of his technique. The opening and closing Kyrie sections display imitative counterpoint defined rhythmically and melodically where each new vocal line conveys a new point of imitation. The concept of tact (or pulse) is clear in the writing of these two sections. In the middle Christe section, each new line of text conveys a new point of imitation. Some imitative motives occur in duetted pairings (the same idea which led later to antiphonal choirs). Yet, other motives trail each other with ‘question and answer’ canons. The Renaissance melodic method of horizontal lines in independent voices, combined with long chains of interlocking motives paved a path for exquisite overlapping phrases. The listener hears tension and resolution, and the long aching melodies that we have come to associate with Renaissance writing. Josquin’s genius is not only in his compelling melodies and in imitative structures, but also that he displayed a strong relationship between the text and music. This technique laid the groundwork for the Renaissance maxim: “Music is not the servant, but the mistress of the words.”

Ask Anything
Joshua Ian Elder (St. Thomas Aquinas)
*Commissioned for “Songs of the Saints” by Catholic Phoenix

I have a deep regard for the mystic poets – their poems cause us to ponder and meditate; never offering answers, but always leading to more questions, they allow us to unravel for ourselves the Divine Mystery. So, when I happened upon “Ask Anything,” I knew immediately that I would set the text to music. The poem is a beautiful reminder that we can come before God with all of our questions, doubts and fears, and that when we grapple with our issues before God, we will be rewarded by a deeper understanding of God’s nature and our own. – Notes by Joshua Ian Elder

Beatus Franciscus
Jerónimo de Aliseda (St. Francis of Assisi)
St. Francis of Assisi (c. 1181 – 1226), founder of the Franciscan order, came from the least likely background to live a life dedicated to the Church. His mother named him Giovanni after John the Baptist, but his father returned after a time in France and refused to name his son after a Christian figure. His father, a French merchant, renamed him Francesco after his own love of France. Francis lived a life of luxury and wealth, and had a reputation as a friendly and well-loved child and a natural leader. However, he tended to indulge himself in alcohol, fine food, friends, and women. As a grown man, he was much like his father, in his love for France, keen sense of adventure, business acumen, and excitement at the prospect of joining a crusade. He answered the call for knights in a war against the nearby town of Perugia. However, the war ended poorly and Francis landed in prison, suffering both physically and mentally. There he had the first of several visions from God. God told him to return home, repair the Church and live a life of poverty. A ransom from his father was accepted, but when Francis returned home, he was a different man. His transformation to man of God was not immediate, yet over time Francis lost his desire for an indulgent life. Instead, he disposed of all his possessions, devoted himself to solitude, prayer, and helping the poor. A naturally joyful man, Francis learned that he did not need possessions, wealth, or glory to be happy and at peace, but rather to be in the service of God. An important sojourn of St. Francis’ life occurred when he followed Christ’s journey through forty days of fasting and prayer. During his fast, an angel brought him a vision and at the angel’s adjourn, St. Francis became the first person to receive the stigmata, wounds similar to Christ’s wounds on the Cross.

Scholars know little about the life and works of Jerónimo de Aliseda (c. 1548 – 1591) except that he was a composer working at the Toledo Cathedral in Spain. This motet about St. Francis comes from the Toledo Polyphonic Choirbooks, a large collection of illuminated, musical liturgical sources from the Toledo Cathedral between 15th and 19th centuries. The atlas-sized book, only discovered in 2002, unearthed 170 previously lost Masses, motets and plainchants intended for liturgical functions. Although scholars do not have a large body of historical information about the piece “Beatus Franciscus,” it is clear that the reverence for St. Francis, his life and sacrifice was a topic this Spanish composer still found compelling and inspiring three hundred years after the saint’s death.

Nos Qui Sumus
Orlando di Lasso (St. Nicholas)
This 3rd century saint is the real person behind the Santa Claus story. Far from the legendary home at the North Pole, Nicholas was born in the city of Patera, on the southern coast of modern Turkey. Nicholas dedicated his life to serving the God at a young age. His parents died, leaving him a significant inheritance, which he gave to the needy, sick, and poor. He became Bishop of Myra and his paved his legacy through his generosity to those in poverty, needy children, and sailors at sea. Many stories about this Saint have been passed down, some about his kind deeds during his life and others about the many miracles which occurred through beseeching prayers to St. Nicholas after his death. One of the most famous stories led to a tradition we celebrate during the Christmas holiday today. It tells of a poor man with three daughters but no money for a dowry to prevent their being sold into slavery. On three different occasions, an anonymous person threw a bag of gold into the house through an open window giving the father money for each of the daughters’ dowries. The stories say the bag landed in stockings or shoes left beside the fire. Some variations of the story describe the contents of the bags from St. Nicholas as either three gold balls, or three oranges. Today we honor St. Nicholas, the gift giver, by leaving a stocking or shoes out for him to fill, whereby he secretly enters the house through an open window, or chimney.

Originally from Belgium, Orlando di Lasso (c. 1532 – 1594) began as a nine year old chorister soprano at St. Nicholas Cathedral choir. His famous vocal talent caused him to suffer kidnapping on three occasions, stolen away to a new cathedral. He spent many years in Italy working at the Gonzaga court in Mantua and studied singing and composition from Italian masters. After working in Italy for the Medicis and as chorus master at the Basilica of San Giovanni di Laterano (St. John Lateran), and extended travel to study music all over Europe, he returned to the Belgium. Eventually he settled in Bavaria, and Lasso received the appointment of Kapellmeister at the ducal court in Munich, Bavaria. Considered one of the Renaissance’s great composers, Lasso (or Lassus) was an authoritative writer of all genres and techniques. His music explores more chromatic and intrepid harmonies than most of his contemporaries, save perhaps Don Carlo Gesualdo. The prose for “Nos Qui Sumus” comes from the liturgical sequence for St. Nicholas’s feast day, remarking on shipwreck, despair, and rescue of sailors. The St. Nicholas liturgical sequence, attributed to Adam of St. Victor, was a popular form during the 14th century and would have been included before the gospel during medieval worship. It was only after 1570, with the introduction of the Tridentine Missal that Pope St. Pius V drastically reduced the number of sequences in the Roman Rite.

Ave Maria
Franz Biebl (St. Mary, Mary the Blessed Virgin)
St. Mary, the Blessed Virgin, is the Mother of God and wife of St. Joseph. Mary’s life is exalted and celebrated through multiple feast days and holidays across multiple Christian denominations. In life, she became the mother of Jesus Christ, saved her son from the grasp of King Herod, and raised him with her husband Joseph. Mary was present during Jesus’ first documented miracle at the wedding in Cana and she was present at his Crucifixion. In death, Mary’s body rose to heaven as celebrated in the Feast of Assumption. She is traditionally known as the first disciple and the preeminent witness to Christ. As such, she leads us to Christ and gives hope, love, nourishment, and comfort, standing by our side from birth until death. St. Mary’s legend and many miracles that occurred on her behalf led to the cult of the Virgin Mary in the Middle ages, emphasizing the relationship between her and the holy child. A popular topic for composers since the Middle Ages, thousands of choral works exist in her name. Some familiar works about the Virgin Mary are: Magnificat, Ave Marie Stella, Ave Dulcissima Maria, Assumpta est Maria, Ave Virgo Gloriosa, Ave virgo Sanctissima, Beata es Virgo Maria, Maria Matrem Virgine, and the most famous Ave Maria.

The “Ave Maria” on this program is a contemporary composition by Franz Biebl (c. 1906 – 2001) from Bavaria, Germany. A devout Catholic, Biebl served as choirmaster at St. Maria in Munich and then later taught theory and voice professor at the Mozarteum Academy in Salzburg, Austria. His most famous work, Ave Maria, quickly became popular after the American choral director, Thomas A. Sokol of the Cornell University Glee Club, came across the score music while on a concert tour in Germany. After his introduction of the work in the US, it became a staple of men’s professional choral group, Chanticleer, reaching the status of a choral “hit” after their first recording. The text comes from the ancient Angelus prayer, which is recited at three times during the day accompanied by the ringing of a bell. Scholars believe the Angelus stems from the 11th century tradition of saying three Hail Marys during the daily bell, which Pope Gregory IX ordered rung to pray for the Crusades.

Love’s Living Flame
Kira Zeeman Rugen (St. John of the Cross)
*Commissioned for “Songs of the Saints” by Catholic Phoenix

As a child, St. John of the Cross (c. 1542 – 1591) lived a life of poverty, hunger, and sacrifice, after his father died and left his family destitute. St. John of the Cross joined the Carmelite order where St. Teresa of Avila enlisted him to help establish a monastery, which would return the order to a life of prayer. Carmelite dissenters of the renewed directive kidnapped St. John of the Cross, locked him in a cell for nine months, where they beat, and starved him. During his this period of suffering, St. John of the Cross had heavenly visions, and he wrote down several works of exquisite poetry based on those visions. These poems, described as mystic poems, deal with the perpetual relationship between man’s soul and God. St. John of the Cross wrote that the soul must lose all earthly attachments before it can be united with God. Cardinal Wisemen (first Archbishop of Westminster, b. 1802) said of this journey, “St. John of the Cross gives us clearly the results of his own experience in himself and others. He presents you with a portrait, not with a fancy picture. He represents the ideal of one who has passed, as he had done, through the career of the spiritual life, through its struggles and its victories.”

In the composition “Love’s Living Flame” (Poetry title: Living Flame of Love), Kira Rugen chose to set the text both from the perspective of St. John of the Cross, during his imprisonment and his intimate struggle to find God’s light, and also in relation to the divine yet turbulent relationship between all humans and God. In this poem, St. John of the Cross emerges from the “Dark Night of the Soul,” where he experienced the absence of God’s light. He now feels of God’s presence, but it is not yet a complete reunion, and St. John finds the relationship is more painful than it is peaceful. Yet, St. John seeks more understanding, climbing higher where he attempts to partake of the Divine Nature. Instead of exaltation, he perceives the pain as a part of his cleansing to fully receive the glory and the light of God. So too in our lives do humans seek the love of God, but like Job and St. John of the Cross, in order to understand the fullness of his glory and mercy, we must first be stripped of ego, earthly materials and honor to find ourselves humbled and in need of His grace. Kira Rugen’s composition uses harmonies, colors and rhythm that present the perpetual human questioning of God’s absence, the need for his love, and the simultaneously mystifying and clarifying nature of God’s answers.

St. Crucis Mass
Josef Rheinberger   (The Holy Cross)
Although the “St. Crucis Mass” is not about a specific Saint, its name reflects the vital and the central point of focus for the Catholic Church – the Holy Cross. When examined as separate words, St. Crucis presents a deeper meaning. The Latin word for Saint (St.) is Sanctus, otherwise translated as “holy,” reflecting the sacred, consecrated, canonized or a set of descriptors recognized as good, kind, patient, of eminent piety and virtue. The definition for Crucis is cross, or crux meaning the most vital or decisive stage, a central difficulty, a crossroads of interpretation or a central point.

Scholars have not unearthed historical background for the “St. Crucis Mass,” aside from the assumption that its intended use was for worship and Rheinberger composed it in 1882 while he held the title of Bavarian court Kapellmeister (Munich). However, a possible commissioning came from a church in Germany by the same name, Saint Crucis, church of Erfurt. The size and architecture of this late Gothic building built around 1170 suggests the medieval importance of the nearby castle in Landsberg (Saalekreis). The double chapel was used for church government for the Bishop of Salain Hohenstaufen. The tapestries hung on the pillars and columns highlight a community of wealth and agricultural strength.  Alternately, Josef Rheinberger (c. 1839-1901) may have simply named the Mass for his own devotion to the Church and his convictions regarding the liturgical purpose of the Mass. A devout Catholic, Rheinberger was a member of the Caecilian Society, whose religious ideals advocated for a purity of the spirit in worship through a revival of interest in Gregorian chant. Rheinberger preferred an a capella ideal, which he considered to be “the special medium of the Church,” and drawing from 16th century fugal and canonic forms he alternated homophonic and contrapuntal techniques. Rheinberger, a strict conservative, looked to musical forms of previous centuries interspersed with a nineteenth harmonic language of traditional classical harmony and rich chromaticism. The legacy of his compositions lies in their simplicity, clarity, intricate contrapuntal harmony and soaring melodies without adhering to the overly dramatic overtures found in Wagner and Brahms. He earned a distinctive reputation as a conductor during his time as director of the German Oratorio Club (Oratorienverein) and Director of Sacred Music at the Bavarian Court. Now considered one of the great religious composers of the 19th century, his German Romantic peers largely overshadowed him in popularity for more than one hundred years. With a revival of his music in the late 20th century, scholars have discovered his long history as a harmony professor at the Royal School of Music in Munich, having taught such composers as Engelbert Humperdink, American George Chadwick and even acting as a mentor to Richard Strauss.

Hymn to St. Cecilia
Benjamin Britten  (St. Cecilia)
It is only befitting that tonight’s musical journey concludes by honoring the life and influence of St. Cecilia, the patron saint of music, who (as said in the text below) “appears in visions to all musicians” to “inspire.” Although St. Cecilia was not a musician, the tragically romantic story of her life dating from the third or fourth century says that Cecilia heard heavenly music when she was forced to marry a Pagan, Valerian. She told her husband that an angel watched over her to guard her purity, and when he wanted to see the angel, she told him he would only after his baptism by Pope Urban. After Valerian converted, Cecilia, her husband, and her brother undertook a mission of burying Christian martyrs killed by the Roman city officials. All three of them received a death sentence for their efforts, but Cecilia did not die after being struck by the executioner’s sword three times. Instead, she survived for three days while people came to her home to honor her. In the Middle Ages, her popularity as a saint flourished. Many songs, poems, stories, and compositions arose in her honor and several paintings of St. Cecilia emerged. Her feast day inspired a wealth of famous compositions bearing her name and spirit: Henry Percell’s “Ode to St. Cecilia,” George F. Handel’s “Ode for St. Cecilia’s Day,” Marc-Antoine Charpentier’s “In honorem Caeciliae,” Charles Gounod’s “Messe Solennelle de Sainte Cecile,” and tonight’s final work, Benjamin Britten’s “Hymn to St. Cecilia.”

Benjamin Britten was actually born on St. Cecilia’s feast day, November 22 (c. 1913 –1976). The poem “Hymn to St. Cecilia” written by a close friend, William H. Auden, is divided into three parts. The first section refers to the holy lady, St. Cecilia, as an innocent virgin, who constructs an organ to extend the power of her prayer. Auden likened her to Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of fertility, as she floated on a shell in the sea. The second section is the voice of music itself, carefree, innocent, playful, and joyful to all who partake of its aesthetic–for music cannot hurt or cause suffering. The third section deals with humankind offering prayers to St. Cecilia, calling upon her to help us overcome our sorrows and restore our lost innocence. Additionally, the third section offers St. Cecilia’s answer, in which she reproaches humans for overlooking sorrow, and being blind to the destruction they cause. The poem ends with hope, returning once again to artists beseeching St. Cecilia to continue inspiring musicians to create “immortal fire.” Keep in mind that this poem, written in the midst of World War II, holds meanings reflective of pre-war and wartime Europe. First, there is a happy time, joyful and blissfully unaware of pain, then a time of lost innocence and tremendous human suffering. Benjamin Britten, a leading 20th century composer, was an active pacifist, speaking out against the war-ridden Europe, who eventually gained status as a conscientious objector.

Noël À L’Ancienne: An Ancient French Christmas – Program Notes

Noel A L'Ancienne Final
Saturday, December 7th, 2013
7:30 p.m.
Christ Church of the Ascension
4015 E Lincoln Dr, Paradise Valley, AZ 85253
Ticketing: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/an-ancient-french-christmas-tickets-9206772705

1- O Come, O Come Emmanuel (Veni Emmanuel)- 8th Century French Chant                            Arranged by Kira Zeeman Rugen

This 8th century chant’s alluring melody stands out as one of the oldest of France’s Christmas melodies. Written by a priest who had a deep understanding of the bible, the Latin verses portray the full story of the birth of the Messiah, originally intended to be sung over the course of seven days, one verse per day. During the 15th Century, the chant appeared in the publication Psalteroium Cantionum Catholicarum intended as a processional in worship. Kira Rugen’s setting combines the familiar chant along side Medieval modal colors, 19th Century and 21st Century harmonies.  This carol, which has survived for over a century, is still beloved today.

2- Maria Matrem – Based on 4th Century Ambrosian Chant/14th Century Catalonian Chant
Arranged by Michael McGlynn

The original Maria Matrem Chant comes from a body of melodies collected by St. Ambrose of Milan between the 4th and 8th centuries. This collection eventually developed into the Ambrosian Rite, the only other Papal divinely accepted chant beyond the Gregorian Rite. A variation of Maria Matrem appeared in Medieval Catalonia (north-eastern Spain and Southern-France) in a collection entitled “Libre Vermell de Montserrat” (The Red Book of Montserrat) named after its red velvet cover. A center for learning and the home of the “Black Virgin” statue, Montserrat was a desirable location for large numbers of pilgrims. The pilgrims often expressed jubilation upon their arrival by singing and dancing in the church area around the shrine. Although the Monks of the Santa Maria de Montserrat Monastery appreciated and understood the pilgrim’s celebratory exultation, the monks felt much of the music was largely secular and unbefitting to such a holy place. Instead, the monks assembled a collection of music befitting to the revered shrine, with sacred texts. Most of the pieces in the book are actually secular melodies of the 14th Century, set with new religious texts. Irish composer and founder of Ireland’s National Choir, Anùna, discovered the melody from the Red Book of Montserrat and composed this setting for female voices.

3- Gaudete – From the 16th Century Piæ Cantiones Arr. by Kira Zeeman Rugen

The University of Paris (founded in 1170) and the Cathedral of Notre Dame occupied the center of Parisian musical activity during the middle ages. This influence infiltrated the development of music in Europe through polyphonic forms, melodic modes, rhythmic modes, composition, and theory. Ties between Nordic countries and Paris were strong. Scandinavian students often studied abroad in Paris and returned home with new melodies, Gaudete, perhaps being one of them.

In 1582, a collection of sacred and secular songs and chants from around northern Europe was published in Finland/Sweden. The full name, Piae Cantiones Ecclesiasticae et Scholasticae VeterumEepiscorporum (Devout Ecclesiastical and School Songs of the Old Bishops), is known in short as Piæ Cantiones.  This collection includes seventy-four Latin songs from Scandinavia and Central Europe, intended for instruction in Finnish Cathedral schools. Carols could be on any subject, but often they exhibited themes about the Virgin Mary or the Saints of Christmas. Gaudete, follows a standard pattern of that period: Four-line stanzas, each preceded by two-line refrain. The original polyphony displayed a three-voiced setting drawing upon one principle of improvisation known as fauxbourdon.

4- A Solis Ortus/Patapan- Traditional 5th Century Ambrosian Chant/Burgundian Carol

Arr. by Mike Hegeman

“I was drawn to these two melodies, even though one is free Latin (Ambrosian) plainchant and the other a rhythmic march-like dance, not only because they share the Dorian mode (though the Latin hymn ends in the Phrygian mode) and have frequent leaps of a fifth in the melodic line, but also because they counter each other well: one expresses a reverent stillness and the other a raucous celebration. The Middle Ages were alive with such contrasts of the other-worldly and the mundane. Piety and party come together well in the Christmas story that proclaims the union of the Divine and earthly; angelic choirs and shepherd bands arrive on a scene of wonder: the eternal Word made flesh, lying in a manger.”

“A Solis Ortus Cardine, a Latin hymn that was popular in France throughout the Middle Ages, dates from the early 5th century. This current setting uses only the opening stanza, of the original twenty-three, of a poem that celebrates the divine mysteries associated with the birth of Jesus. The hymn was translated by Martin Luther to German in 1524, as Christum wir sollen loben schon,and his setting exists today in Lutheran hymnals. Bach even used Luther’s translation and transcription as the basis of a cantata. Patapan was composed by Bernard de La Monnoye originally in the Burgundian dialect in 1720. Even though it was penned much later than the Middle Ages, it has the feel of a medieval dance and evokes a much more ancient scene. “

~Notes written by Composer, Mike Hegeman

5- Motet: Noel, Noel, Noel By Antoine Busnoys

This Flanders composer made his reputation as a master of melody and rhythm. However, this delicate piece draws from the simplest of melodic, harmonic and rhythmic resources while only uttering a single word.  The word “Noel,” or “Noe,” was an early French word that comes from the Latin word, Natalis, which means birth. However, at that time the word “Noel” was not always associated with Christmas. Instead, it was simply a Christian expression of joy, either shouted or sung.

In the middle ages, Christmas as we understand it did not exist and composers did not write songs specifically for the holiday. A song about Christ’s birth cropped for any time of year and occurred at several different feasts. The music for Epiphany, Easter and Christmas might sound the same, as there was not a defined set of carols connected to a single holiday. Instead, motets covering any topic popped up for any season.

6- Motet: Allon, Gay Bergeres By Guillaume Costeley

A prolific composer of Parisian Chanson, Costeley is recognized for his creative word painting and a forward way of thinking harmonically instead of polyphonically. He was the composer to King Charles IX of France as well as the organist of the court.

Historians believe Costeley’s text in this Christmas Chanson may refer to both the Christ child suckling his mother’s breast, as well as the long held French tradition called “King of the Bean.” In this ancient French ritual, usually held during Epiphany, a bean designated as “the King,” is baked inside a cake. While enjoying the cake, one person might find the lucky bean and must immediately take a drink. At that time, the entire party exclaims “The King Drinks!”  If the lucky “King” takes a drink, he is dubbed “King of the Feast”, but if he does not take a drink, he is covered in black soot. The tradition draws from the story of the Three Wise Men who meet the baby Jesus amidst suckling his mother. One of the Wise Men is thought to have said “The King Drinks!”

7 – Ding Dong Merrily on High Arr. by Charles Wood
French Renaissance Dance Melody

The dance tune, Branle de L’Official, appeared in the 1588 book Orchesographie, a 16th Century study of French dance forms, by Thoinot Arbeau—the anagrammatic pen name of French cleric Jehan Tabourot (March 17, 1519 – July 23, 1595). Written for the study of 16th Century French dances, it describes social ballroom behavior between musicians and dancers, gives detailed instructions of various dance forms, and even included various woodcuts of musicians and dancers. The dances highlighted in Branle de L’Official were intended primarily for the commoners’, however, it also found popularity within the aristocracy. In 1924, English composer George Ratcliffe Woodward set the tune to his own archaic-like text, and then Charles Wood harmonized the version for choir beloved today.

8 – Kanam Nouel Arr. by Kira Zeeman Rugen
Breton Carol based on a Renaissance Viol melody

The original melody of Kanamb Noël is based on an Air taken from a book for Renaissance viols. The carol settled as a familiar tune in the area of Brittan, France. This melody’s history tells that Breton children went from house to house singing this song as a part of their Christmas tradition. Kira Rugen’s polyphonic arrangement is based on a setting by Goulven Airault.

9 – Noel Nouvelet—15th Century French Carol Arr. by Victoria Larley

Noel Nouvelet’s tune originates from the late 15th Century, but its text may date from an earlier period. During the Middle Ages, clergy spoke the mass and scripture exclusively in Latin. As peasants were largely illiterate and spoke only a local language, they often acquired Christian knowledge primarily through the oral tradition of songs and plays. Noël Nouvelet may have begun as a play. The oldest lyrics reveal thirteen verses that tell the Christmas story of Mary, Joseph, the animals, angels and the Three Kings. As the text married with the tune, it is assumed the song was intended to teach children the elements of the Christmas Story, as the lyrics and melody are simple and sweet.

10 – Away in a Manger—Normandy Melody Arr. by Reginald Jacques

There are a number of tunes associated with the text “Away in a Manger.” Some sources claim it was an American melody, while others insist Martin Luther composed it. However, those claims may not be referencing the same melody. The tune of the song is not universal; as over forty different tunes have been placed alongside the lyrics in various hymnals. Richard S. Hill researched the origin of this carol and found that the text may have come from a poem read in 1883 for the 400th anniversary of Luther’s birth. The popular text found pairings with a plethora of melodies. The tune on tonight’s program hails from Normandy, located in Northern France. The melody came from older carol that was adapted to fit with the 19th century “Away in a Manger” text.

11 – Angels we Have Heard on High Arr. by Rev SS. Greathead
(Les Anges dans nos Campagnes)—Old French Carol

“Angels we Have Heard on High” is one of today’s best-loved holiday carols. However, one portion of the carol has been a part of Christian services since before the Roman Empire embraced Christianity. In 130 A.D., Pope Telesphorus mandated that on the day of Christ’s birth all churches would hold evening mass and the congregation should sing “Gloria in excelsis Deo” (Glory to God in the Highest).

The original version of the carol, Les Anges dans nos Campagnes, had its first publication in 1855, in the book Nouveau Recueil de Cantiques. However, church records show the song held popular appeal in mass worship services for at least fifty years preceding the first publication. Historians are unsure who originally penned the tune, however they suspect a Catholic monk or priest who had a scholarly understanding of the bible likely wrote it. The original text combined Latin and French making it Macronic, written with mixed languages.

12- The First Nowell—French/English Carol Arr. by Ola Gjeilo

Both England and France claim “The First Nowell,” or Noël, as originating from their own heritage—Thus the English spelling of “Nowell” and the French spelling of “Noël.” The origins of the tune and text continue to be a point of argument between the fair folk of each country, yet there is no evidence to prove it originated in one land or the other. The French word “Noël” means “Christmas,” and is derived from the Latin word Natalis meaning “Birth.” The French claim that their children often sang it as a round. While the English hold that the spelling “Nowell” originates in Cornwall and that after the Normans captured that part of England those living in the region adopted some French words.  Some historians say the tune may have originated as early as the 13th century, although the earliest printed versions from 16th Century hymnals use the spelling of “Nowell.”

The text in this carol lacks the scholarly language structure of other carols, which led many to speculate that a person with no formal written language training wrote it. The tune may come from an oral tradition of the common people, as the text is strongly associated with the tradition of lighting the Yule log. In the early 1800’s, an English Lawyer by the name of William Sandys published “The First Noel” in Christmas Carols, Ancient and Modern at a time when the Church of England added folk-like and popular tunes into worship. The version Solis Camerata sings on this program is a charming arrangement by contemporary Norwegian composer, Ola Gjeilo.

13 – Oh Come, All Ye Faithful Arr. by David Willcocks
Composed by French-English Catholic J.F. Wade (c. 1711–1786)

For many years, people believed St. Bonaventure penned Adeste Fideles in the middle ages. However, around the time of World War II, scholars discovered that it was actually written in 1745 by a British-Catholic Priest by the name John Francis Wade, who was teaching at a university in Douai, France. Wade lived during a time where it was not safe to practice Catholicism openly in England. Many Catholics fled to avoid prison and possible death. Wade collected sacred musical manuscripts for preservation as a part of his tasks at the university in France. As he unearthed old scores, he also found inspiration from the research and began composing his own music. He published the Latin song Adeste Fideles in a book entitled Cantus Diversi, and in 1841 Frederrick Oackeley translated the Latin into English and published the more familiar text “O Come All Ye Faithful.” However, Oackeley failed to include the name of the composer, thus causing the mystery as to the origins of the carol.

14 – Messe de Minuit pour Noël By Marc-Antoine Charpentier

Marc-Antoine Charpentier was a child of France, but had the compositional spirit of an Italian. Due to his studies in Rome with Giacomo Carissimi, Charpentier’s music always espoused a flair closer to the Italian liturgical style of his teacher than to contemporary French composers. His techniques ranged from Renaissance polyphony and Medieval fauxbordon, to counterpoint and the modern concertato style. A difference that marked Charpentier apart from his French peers was his approach to the Mass.

In the late 17th Century, King Louis XIV of France was not in favor of attending High Mass, preferring instead the Low Mass, in which the music comprised of Motets. Due to the King’s dislike of the Mass, very few Mass compositions exist from French composers after 1670. Charpentier is the exception as not only did he compose several Masses, but also he approached the Mass using the same musical language other French composers reserved exclusively for the Motet. He was adept at creating effects of mood by contrasting dark and light. Examples of this occur in Messe de Minuit Pour Noël’s Credo. The word Crucifixus (crucifix) and passus (suffered) are always set in a low, minor key. In opposition, the word resurrexit (resurrection) is painted in major, with joyful melismatic sections. Additionally, Charpentier always musically sets the words descendit and ascendit with downward or upward motion. Messe de Minuit pour Noël was likely written between 1692-1694 for use in the Christmas Midnight Mass of the main Jesuit church in Paris. This Midnight Mass is unique even for Charpentier, as he utilizes the then out of fashion parody technique, basing the composition on a pre-existing melody. Those melodies are the charming feature of the work as the carols came from large repertoire of songs dating from plainchant and folk noels to secular 16th Century Christmas melodies. There are a total of ten Noel melodies in the Mass, and a different carol forms the basis of new material for each new section of the text. The Mass is scored for two violins, two flutes, continuo, chorus and soloists. Within each section, solo, instrumental and choral forces alternate to create a pastiche of Renaissance polyphony juxtaposed against Baroque dances. The folk melodies bestow a pastoral atmosphere through the inclusion of the Baroque flute.

In this era, organists frequently interpolated short compositions between Mass movements during worship. Charpentier acknowledges this tradition by requesting insertion of the original form of three Noels, to illustrate the original melody against the interwoven melody. Those three melodies sound during the Kyrie movement in-between sections of new text: Joseph est Bien Marie, “Or Nous Dites Marie” and “Une Jeune Pucelle.” In addition to the carols that Charpentier suggest for inclusion, tonight we will present three chants routinely sung for Christmas Midnight Mass. The Introit Dominus Dixit before the Kyrie, the Offertory Laetenture Caeli before the Sanctus, and for Communion, In Splendoribus Sanctorum after the Agnus Dei. Messe de Minuit pour Noël‘s charm and simplicity helped retain its survival over four centuries. This work captures a joyous and festive spirit due to the folk-like carols, while maintaining the liturgical function of the Mass. It is this synthesis of the secular and liturgical that creates a celebratory and reminiscent atmosphere, which lends itself to the advent season.

A Shakespearean Tragedy of the Heart

A Shakespearian Tragedy of the Heart

Sung by the members of Solis Camerata

William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare

Next week Solis Camerata performs our first concert of the spring semester. I’ve really enjoyed creating a Shakespeare program, but an intriguing manifestation occurred through the study of these texts.  It became more than just a program of choral music. Instead, a gripping and heartbreaking story developed. This classic ‘Shakespearean tragedy’ of lost love also features gorgeous choral music by both modern composers, and from the bard’s time.

(Read the descriptions under the pictures below to decipher the plot. Modern English translations included through a link on the title of each song).

ASU Choral Concert “Songs of Love”  February 26, 2012, 7:30 p.m. Valley Presbyterian Church 6947 E. McDonald Drive Paradise Valley, AZ
Tickets are sold at the door only. $5 for general admission and $2 for students with valid student ID.

“Ah Robin” round by William Cornish (d. 1523)

Twelfth Night 4.2
Soloists: Margaux Fox, Rebecca Woodbury, Mariana Barboza
The Fate of love. Some love is beautiful and lasting. Yet, be warned, some love is cruel and sorrowful.
Prologue: The Fate of love. Some love is beautiful and lasting. Yet, be warned, some love is cruel and sorrowful.
*Refrain: Ah, Robin, gentle Robin,

Tell me how thy leman doth and thou shalt know of mine 
Singer 1: My lady is unkind, perdie, Iwis, alack, why is she so?
She lov’th another better than me and yet she will say no.*
Singer 2: I cannot think such doubleness for I find women true:
My lady loveth me doubtless and will change for no new.*
Singer 1: Thou are happy while that doth last but I say as I find,
That women’s love is but a blast and turneth like the wind.* 

“Three Merry Men” – anon

Found in the John Playford Manuscript (ca. 1623 – 1686)
Twelfth Night 2.3
Soloists: Eric Chapman, Noah Brown, and Caleb Boyd
Three men roam in the forest, relaxing and enjoying life.
Three men roam in the forest, relaxing and enjoying life.
Three merry men, and three merry men
And three merry men be we.
I in the wood, and thou on the ground,
and Jack sleeps in the tree.

Romeo and Juliette 1.5

Spoken by Noah Brown
Suddenly one man spies a marvel… A beautiful woman! He calls out to her.
Suddenly one man spies a marvel… A beautiful woman! He calls out to her.
Did my heart love ’til now?
Forswear it, sight!
For I ne’er saw true beauty
’til this night!

“Where the Bee Sucks” Robert Johnson (ca. 1583-1633)

The Tempest 5.1
Soloist: Joyce Yin
Dancers: Noah Brown, Elizabeth Lee
The young lady flirts with this handsome young man and finds herself intrigued.
The young lady flirts with this handsome young man and finds herself intrigued.
Where the Bee sucks, there suck I,
In a Cowslip’s bell, I lie,
There I couch when Owls do cry,
On the Bat’s back I do fly, after Summer merrily.
Merrily, Merrily, shall I live now,
Under the blossom that hangs on the Bough.

“It Was a Lover and his Lass”  by Thomas Morley (ca. 1557-1602)

As You Like It 5.3
The happy couple fall in love and plan to marry.
The happy couple fall in love and plan to marry.
It was a lover and his lass
with a hey, and a ho and a hey nonny no.
That o’er the green corn fields did pass
In Spring time, the only pretty ring time.
When birds do sing Hey ring a ding a ding.
Sweet lovers love the spring. 
This carol they began that hour
with a hey, and a ho and a hey nonny no.
How that a life was but a flower
In Spring time, the only pretty ring time.
When birds do sing Hey ring a ding a ding.
Sweet lovers love the spring.

“Fancy Bred” by Elliot Sneider (b. 1977)

(Arizona State University DMA Composition TA)
The Merchant of Venice 3.2
Soloists: Sarah Moore, and J.D. Lawson
However, she doubts and questions her love for him:
However, she doubts and questions her love for him.
Tell me where is fancy bred?
How begot how nourished?
Or in the heart
Or in the head?
It is engendered in the eyes.
And fancy dies in the cradle where it lies
Let us all ring fancy’s knell
I’ll begin it. Ding Dong Bell

“Take, O Take Those Lips Away” by Emma Lou Diemer (b. 1927)

Measure by Measure 4.1
Pianist: Elliot Sneider
In remorse and sadness, he laments about the loss of her promised love, and the loss of her sweet kisses.
In remorse and sadness, he laments the loss of her promised love, and the loss of her sweet kisses.
Take, O Take those lips away
That so sweetly were forsworn
And those eyes, the break of day
Lights that do mislead the morn
But my kisses bring again,
Seals of love, but seal’d in vain.

“Farewell Dear Heart” by Robert Jones (ca. 1577 – 1617)

Twelfth Night 2.3
Soloists: Elizabeth Lee, Brina Gerstenberger, and Noah Brown
She asks a friend for advice, unsure if she desires to stay with him, or leave.
She asks a friend for advice, unsure if she desires to stay with him or leave.
 *Girl:  Farewell dear heart,
Since I must needs be gone,
*Friend: His eyes do show his days are almost done,
*Boy: But I will never die.
*Friend: Yet Sir Toby, there you lie.
*Girl: Shall I bid him go?
*Friend: What an if you do?
*Girl: Shall I bid him go, and spare not?
*Friend: O no, no, no ,no you dare not.

“O Mistress Mine” by Matthew Harris (b. 1956)

Twelfth Night 2.3
Soloist: Noah Brown
He spins a persuasive and heart-felt narrative, trying to convince her to stay and give their love a second chance.
He spins a persuasive and heart-felt narrative,
trying to convince her to stay and give their love a second chance.
O Mistress Mine where are you roaming?
O, stay and hear, your true love is coming,
That can sing both high and low.
Trip no further, pretty sweeting,
Journeys end in lovers meeting
Every wise man’s son doth know.
What is love? Tis not herafter.
Present mirth hath present laughter,
What’s to come is still unsure.
In delay there lies no plenty,
Then come kiss me, sweet and twenty,
Youth’s a stuff will not endure.

“Loath to Depart” anon

Found in Ravenscroft’s Deuteromelia 1609
Soloists: Elizabeth Lee, Brina Gerstenberger, Rebecca Schmidt, Alexa Valencia
Nevertheless, she insists on parting despite her distaste of farewells.
Nevertheless, she insists on parting despite her distaste of farewells.
However, she justifies that their courtship was only a friendship that could not last.
She justifies that their courtship was only a friendship that could not last.
Sing with thy mouth,
Sing with thy heart,
Like faithful friends,
Sing loath to depart.
Though friends together
may not always remain
Yet loath to depart,
Sing Once again.

“Come Away Death” by Ralph Vaughn Williams (ca. 1872-1958)

From Twelfth Night 2.4

This tragic tale ends with his unrequited love.
This tragic tale ends with his unrequited love.
He mourns the loss of his love, equating it to death.
He mourns the loss of his sweet love, equating it to death.
Come away death
And in sad cypress let me be laid.
Fly away breath.
I am slain by a fair cruel maid.
My shroud of white,
stuck all with yew, o prepare it!
My part of death
no one so true did share it.
Not a flower sweet,
On my black coffin let there be strown
Not a friend great,
My poor corse, where my bones shall be thrown.
A thousand sighs to save, Lay me
O, where sad true lover never find my grave,
To weep there!

The Golden Rule / The Golden Music

Since I am a musician and fervent believer in the restorative and healing power of music, I feel compelled to share music written about and for victims. I have collected ten personal favorite events and compositions that communicate hope and a desire to overcome pain and suffering. This music challenges humanity, yet in order to heal we must face pain, and some of the pieces I included are downright tear jerking. My heart aches especially for hurt and suffering inflicted upon children, so you might notice that thread in my musical choices.

I am incredibly grateful to these composers, conductors and singers for their foresight, courage, and willingness to create art that challenges us, but also makes the world a more beautiful and gratifying place.


1- Example 1 is not a specific piece, but comes from a blog I wrote a year ago about my experiences with the Irish choir Anúna, during our concert tour in Japan. The blog outlines my observations as we visited the Tsunami stricken Fukushima region of Japan. We gave a concert to an enthusiastic crowd of primary school children and they touched my heart. It is an experience I will not soon forget. You can read it in either location listed below:

Michael McGlynn’s Blog

Paul Carey’s Blog

(Michael McGlynn also arranged one of the most famous carols about victims: the slaughter of thousands of children at the hand of King Herrod, in the bible. This version of Coventry Carol is simple, ethereal and haunting)

2-  Castle on a Cloud – Les Miserables

My favorite musical, Les Miserables, is a powerful story of cruelty, humanity and hope. The story addresses starvation, war, unfair justice, and it delves into the deep and ugly world of child abuse. This song is a bitter/sweet moment in the show where the neglected and abused child, Cosette, copes with her circumstances by dreaming of a brighter life. The beautiful tale awards her that brighter life, but not without the immense sacrifice and love of Jean Valjean, her adopted father.

3- A Child’s Prayer – James MacMillan

This composition is powerfully heartbreaking, and much harder to listen to than most of the other pieces on my list. Composed in the memory of the Dublane School Massacre in Scotland, where a man entered a primary school, shot and killed sixteen children and one adult. It was the turning point in the UK discussion about legislation for gun control. James MacMillan etches two high melancholy voices in the score, representing the lost children.

4- Prayer of the Children – Kurt Bestor

Although every sort of choir, band and soloist has sung this song, (and often not particularly well) it remains high on my list of wrenchingly beautiful music about victims. The text speaks of children living in circumstances that would turn the most jaded of us pale. The text asks God to hear the hearts and voices of those children, take them away from harm and hope for a better day amidst their world, which is ‘full of hate’.

5- Requiem – Craig Hella Johnson arranged this beautiful song, by Eliza Gilkyson for choir.

The text is a plea to Mother Mary from a population of victims who suffered from the 1996 Tsunami’s in Indonesia. Their lives changed forever as homes, belongings and families disappeared in an instant, swallowed up by the sea. Over 260,000 lives were lost in that natural disaster. The voices in the composition seek comfort for their soul from ‘Mother Mary, full of grace’. This piece holds relevance for the victims of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and the Japanese Tsunami of 2011.

6- Across the Vast Eternal Sky  – Ola Gjeilo

I listened to this piece a great deal last summer after my sister and her family endured a horrific car accident. It was a miracle that my 8-year old niece not only survived her life-threatening injuries, but now thrives. This song gave me immense hope while my niece was fighting for her life for several weeks in a coma. Blessed with awe-inspiring talent, composer Ola Gjeilo creates music that is not only beautiful and warm, but healing and transcending. This piece, in my opinion, is his shining jewel. Charles Anthony Silvestri’s text recounts the magical path of the Phoenix beginning with youth, light and soaring flight. Parallel to evolution in our own lives, over time the Phoenix turns sadly grey, losing its bright vibrancy of color. Yet even in the midst of death, the Phoenix affirms: “Do not despair that I am gone away; I will appear again when the sunset paints flames across the vast eternal sky.” Sure enough, my niece did appear again, more brilliantly painted than before her tragic injuries!

7 – The Seal Lullaby – Eric Whitacre

This piece, originally conceived as a ‘disney-esque’ lullaby, narrates the tale of a mother seal singing to her young pup assuring him safety and love. Although this piece is not specifically about victims, it most certainly pulls on the heartstrings of all parents who would do anything to protect their children from dangers beyond their loving arms. Whitacre’s portrayal is a comforting and warm tale, full of hope and peaceful innocence… something we all need a little of now and then.

8 – There Will be Rest – Frank Tichelli

Composed on a text by Sara Teasdale, she expresses that although there may not be peace in this lonely life, there is rest and beauty found in music, snow, and ultimately in the vast majesty of the stars. The harmony, texture and carefully crafted flow of the song take the listener on a journey, which slowly awakens the mind to the infinite potential of the universe.

9- Canticum Calimatatis Maritamae – Jaakko Mäntijärvi

This 13-minute work honors the victims of the 1994 tragedy, in which the MS Estonia sank in the Baltic Sea and became one of the worst maritime disasters of the 20th century. 917 lives were lost that day, only 137 survived and not a single survivor being under the age of 12. Finnish Composer Jaakko Mäntijärvi’s work begins with the haunting whisperings of the victims lost at sea, while the single plaintive voice of the lost sea captain’s widow sings a sorrowful hymn (based loosely on Irish hymn, Nearer My God to Thee. Popular rumors state that the hymn is one of the last songs played by the musicians on the Titanic as it sank into its fateful grave in 1912).  We then hear the actual news report of the disaster, spoken in Latin, which leads into choral illustrations that evoke images of thrashing waves, undulating currents, frightful activity, and finally a deep unsettling rest as the deep claims its prey.

9 – War Requiem – Let Us Sleep Now – Benjamin Britten

Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem is one of the hardest large choral works to absorb mentally, physically and emotionally due to its heavy and overwhelmingly visceral depiction of war’s devastation. However, his last movement moves away from the pain and towards rest, reconciliation and forgiveness. Yet even though there is a sense of rest in Let us sleep now, Britten casts an ironic tone, as there is no way to recover truly from the horrors of a war in which over 60 million people died.

The Golden Rule – Part 1

Part I- The Golden Rule

Today is Martin Luther King Day 2013. My kids stayed home from school and it was exciting to watch the Presidential inaugural ceremony with them now that they are old enough to understand the historical significance. I’ve been thinking about the equality of mankind recently and I am troubled by the current state of our culture. My husband and I took a trip to Alabama and Florida last June and during that trip had the opportunity to visit The Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery Alabama where Dr. King worked as pastor. I have always admired Dr. King’s work, his passion and his dreams. However, standing in the geographic location where much of the history occurred gave me a renewed perspective. His message of hope continues to touch me.

Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery Alabama
Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery Alabama
Yet, perhaps we have not gone far enough in seeking equality for all our fellow citizens. I believe the inability to empathize has become an epidemic in this country. We live in an era where the cries of victims are overridden by rhetoric, politics and overreaction. In the aftermath of the Sandy Hook massacre, we have seen an out of touch NRA casting blame largely upon the mentally ill instead of taking a serious look at how guns play a role in multiple tragedies in our communities. Gabby Giffords Takes on NRA

We have seen demented politicians suggest outrageous solutions that are dangerous, irresponsible and obtuse. Sheriff Joe launches ‘posse’ to patrol schools

We’ve even seen the ridiculous and laughable overreactions by school officials, who are so scared of public judgment that they make a case for the absurd. Kindergartner Suspended over Bubble Gun Threat

Everyone wants to cast blame and find ‘the’ culprit for these sad and depraved episodes of violence. Unfortunately, terribly few people are willing to take a good hard look inside and see the sad, sad truth: ‘society’ is the problem. I am certainly not an expert in social psychology, but I do think that if we all contemplate human nature, it’s easy to what propels behavior.  The way we treat each other, for good or for worse, has a lasting reverberation. The world is full of abuse, ignorance, indifference and the world is full of the casualties of such behavior.

In practice, I believe that most people posses a hopeful spirit, which seeks peace, social equality and compassion. However, sometimes in doing so, stories of the disadvantaged become swept ‘under the rug’ as the subject is uncomfortable. Yet, we need to be sensitive to the needs of less fortunate, down trodden and forsaken. I especially have a soft spot in my heart for those who are purposefully ridiculed, held back and persecuted by others. The appeals of those who suffer adversity happens in places where it may or may not be obvious:

  • Those who are born with impairments that make them act ‘different’, and stereotyped as unusual.
  • Individuals who suffer from a disability. Their physical impairment prevents them from taking part in everyday activities.
  • Those who suffer from peer bullying. They fear physical, social and emotional cruelty at school and through social media and digital realms.
  • Our teachers, who often have over 30 children in their classroom, receive attacks by parents, administration, legislatures and the public and are treated like glorified babysitters. Yet they are only paid a meager salary for their heroic efforts.
  • From the opposite perspective, students who struggle to pay the high cost of tuition and endure an awkward system with class sizes of over 500 students, and uncaring professors who teach through fear, manipulation and negativity, holding students to unrealistic expectations and inflict punitive consequences while lacking sufficient communication.
  • Alternately, those who cannot afford to go to college and hold dead-end, future-less jobs.
  • Peer academic and workplace bullying. The subtle passive-aggressive ‘politics’ that make or break the ability for someone to move forward in their career.
  • The ‘glass ceiling’ for women… alive and well.
  • The elderly.
  • Those who will not ever make a livable salary despite an ethic of hard work.
  • Helpless children in abusive homes who do not have an understanding of their neglect, nor a pathway to safety.
  • Domestic violence victims who have nowhere to seek safety.
  • “Majority” or ‘clique’ dynamics, where the cries of the few are ignored because they are the minority within an organization. Anyone who has been on the receiving end of this knows its nothing more than Jr.-High behavior dressed up as professional conduct.
  • Divorce settlement victims, whether that be the children or one of the parents. Surprisingly, dads are more likely to receive less time with children, pay more money on child support and suffer from court discrimination than are moms.
  • Victims of gun and hate crimes of any kind.
  • Victims of natural disasters, man made accidental disasters and terrorist disasters.
  • Active military and their families. Although most military members have pride and an ardent love for what they do, their choices and liberties are restricted due to their commitment to this country. Many have paid the ultimate price.
  • Civilizations with large populations that are dying of hunger and thirst due to corrupt governments who are more likely to kill and start wars than they are to take care of their own people.
  • Abusive churches that: discriminate against women, same-sex partners, and force a congregation into submission through a culture of humiliation, fear and shame.  By extension, church Pastors who have nasty habits of abusing their power, acting as judge and jury by threatening ‘exposure’ of a perceived ‘sin’ unless obedience occurs. Or even worse, hate groups, posing as a ‘church’, that protest in the name of ‘god’. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Westboro_Baptist_Church.
  • People who are ignored, belittled or prevented from individual progression because they are too: fat, skinny, tall, short, poor, rich, democrat, republican, blonde, brunette, talented, non-talented, dim-witted, smart, beautiful and less than beautiful.  Or because they have a different skin color, job, accent, heritage, dress code or belief system than the perceived norm.

The list of adversities humanity suffers is endless and profound. Yet, some find it acceptable to cast blame on large blankets of society, stating that their circumstances were of their own doing. Mitt Romney attacks 47% of Americans While some populations may not take the necessary steps towards self responsibility, I believe the large body of people in this country work sincerely towards a brighter future.

Perhaps modern society should take the advice of our medical community: Preventative medicine is the best antidote. Before we cast blame on those who perpetrate crime, blame mental illness, blame video games, lobby for or against guns, and administer judgment we MUST look at ourselves. We must be aware of how our actions cause others to feel, and by extension, how the long-term effects of our interaction with groups and individuals of every culture, country, stereotype and demographic impact their ability to cope with life. It assuredly comes down to one thing, and it is quite straightforward:

The Golden Rule – Do unto others as you would have done unto you.

Or as Dr. Martin Luther King said about beloved communities:

“Love is creative and redemptive. Love builds up and unites; hate tears down and destroys. The aftermath of the ‘fight with fire’ method which you suggest is bitterness and chaos, the aftermath of the love method is reconciliation and creation of the beloved community. Physical force can repress, restrain, coerce, destroy, but it cannot create and organize anything permanent; only love can do that.”
Martin Luther King, Jr., 1957

* Part Two of this blog deals with the restorative and healing power of profound music written about and for victims.