Music for the Soul

Saturday 20th November 2021, 1pm
at St Thomas of Canterbury Church, Goring-on-Thames

Conductor: Frances Brewitt-Taylor
with Steve Bowey – organ and piano

Free admission by advance booking

Tickets available from a choir member
or through our contact page.

Programme

Locus isteAnton Bruckner
Never weather-beaten sailThomas Campion
O nata luxThomas Tallis
CrucifixusAntonio Lotti
Lay a garlandRobert Pearsall
A Celtic prayerBarry Peters
Holy is the true lightRichard Shepherd
Ubi caritasOla Gjeilo
Upon your heartEleanor Daley
AlleluiaRandall Thompson

Programme notes

This programme explores the strength and beauty of the soul—enduring, reflective, uplifting. It is often coping with and accepting sadness that leads to solace and comfort; pain may lead to peace. Most of this music was written to be performed in churches, where many people go to seek for help in times of distress. So we have music for the weary looking for rest, we see the importance of light in the darkness, we are moved by Jesus' crucifixion and by the death of an unknown lady (Lay a garland ). But the strength and power of love overcomes grief, and we finish with a hymn of praise (Alleluia )

The motet Locus iste was composed in 1869 for the dedication of the votive chapel at the new Cathedral in Linz, Austria, where Bruckner had been organist. As an early 17th century physician as well as poet and composer, Campion may have encountered much suffering—certainly in Never weather-beaten sail he looks to the next life as better than this one. The office of Lauds, when Tallis' O nata lux would have been sung, takes place at dawn in the monastic cycle of services, a time of quiet and stillness.

Two eight-part settings explore the emotional depths as we hear of two deaths: Jesus' crucifixion and a loyal, true lady whose beloved deserted her. The Venetian composer Lotti was Maestro di Cappella at St Mark's Basilica in the mid-18th century. In his setting of Crucifixus each voice enters in turn from the lowest basses upwards, the dissonances building up an incredible intensity of emotion, gradually relaxing into a sense of calm and peace. Pearsall, in contrast, was an amateur composer of the romantic period, though he chose a text by the early 17th century poets and playwrights Beaumont and Fletcher. But he shows a comparable mastery of the technique required to make a moving lament. Pearsall is best known today for his setting of the carol In dulci jubilo.

The next four contemporary pieces speak straight to the heart. Peters and Daley (both Canadians) write with apparent simplicity in A Celtic Prayer and Upon your heart. But Daley in her texts from the Song of Solomon and John ch.15—‘love is strong as death’—has an awesome command of harmony and scoring, creating a beautiful and rewarding piece to sing. Holy is the true light has words from the Salisbury Diurnal whereas Ubi caritas draws inspiration from Gregorian chant, whilst being completely original. The final item, composed in 1940, sets only the word ‘Alleluia’ (Praise the Lord) but it depicts a vast range of emotions.

Texts and translations

Locus iste : Gradual for the annual celebration of a church's dedication

Locus iste a Deo factus est inaestimabile sacramentum irreprehensibilis est.

This place was made by God an inestimable sacrament; it is irreproachable.

O nata lux : Office hymn for Lauds on the feast of the Transfiguration

O nata lux de lumine,
Jesu redemptor saeculi,
Dignare clemens supplicum
Laudes precesque sumere.
Qui carne quondam contegi,
Dignatus es pro perditis,
Nos membra confer effici,
Tui beati corporis.

O light born of the light,
Jesus, redeemer of the world,
with loving-kindness deign to receive
suppliant praise and prayers.
Thou who once deigned to be clothed in flesh
for the sake of the lost,
grant us to be members of thy blessed body.

Crucifixus : from the Nicene Creed

Crucifixus etiam pro nobis,
sub Pontio Pilato passus et sepultus est.

He was crucified also for us,
under Pontius Pilate he suffered and was buried.

Ubi caritas : Setting for Maundy Thursday, where Jesus washes the disciples' feet.

Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est.
Congregavit nos in unum Christi amor.
Exsultemus et in ipso jucundemur.
Timeamus et amemus Deum vivum.
Et ex corde diligamus nos sincero. Amen.

Where charity and love are, God is there.
The love of Christ has gathered us together.
Let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Let us revere and love the living God.
And from a sincere heart let us love one another. Amen.

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