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Ordo musicae, Candlemas—transferred

March 4, 2011

February 6, Candlemas

Victoria:  Missa O Quam Gloriosum

Alma Redemptoris Mater (trans. Michael Procter)

Byrd:  Adorna thalamum tuum


All Prophets Hail Thee (Coelites plaudant)

Hail to the Lord Who Comes (Old 120th)

On the organ:

Jean Langlais:  Offertoire from Hommage a Frescobaldi (“Lucis Creator”)

Kenneth Leighton:  Fanfare

On Sunday, February 6, we transferred the Feast of the Purification from the preceding week.  February 2 is, of course, the day on which the candles are blessed, hence the name Candlemas.  In fact, February 2 has had an association with light for a very long time, not just in the obvious ways like Groundhog Day, but also, some of my friends tell me, with respect to pagan religions, which had a kind of festival of lights on this day as well.

The Mass begins with a Candlelight procession that is among the most colorful moments of the liturgical year.  For this procession we sang William Byrd’s magnificent  three-voice setting of Adorna thalamum, which acted as a centerpiece to the other antiphons which were sung in Gregorian chant.

Because February 2 is the last day on which to sing the Marian antiphon Alma Redemptoris Mater, we chose once again to do Michael Procter’s recent realization of this melody from the Haertker manuscript, which he published a few years ago in the journal Sacred Music.  Procter’s transcription, if it can be called that, is more florid and dare I say more interesting than the standard melody.

Kenneth Leighton (1929-1988) was an English composer whose characteristic sound combines tonality and dissonance in a very energetic way.  Maybe he is most well-known for his anthem Let All the World in Every Corner Sing, but his Fanfare is just as good and benefits from a formal straightforwardness that makes it easy for the listener to comprehend.

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