Thursday, December 17, 2015

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel (Reposted from 2013)

Beginning today and  proceeding up to Christmas Eve, the “O” antiphons for the Magnificat are sung during vespers.  (The texts of these antiphons are the basis for the popular Advent hymn, “O Come, O Come Emmanuel."  For those of you who really want to be “inside baseball” on this topic, Jeffrey Tucker wrote a brilliant article on the history of the tune over at the New Liturgical Movement, here.)

Several years ago in a discussion thread at the Musica Sacra forum, a member pointed out that the text of the “O” antiphons is actually a very clever word game.  The seven invocations in the original Latin are: Sapientia, Adonai, Radix Jesse, Clavis David, Oriens, Rex gentium and Emmanuel.  The first letter of each spell S-A-R-C-O-R-E, which when reversed spells “Ero cras”, which in turn translated from Latin means “tomorrow I shall be.”  An appropriate expression for Christmas Eve, the day after the "O Antiphons" end.

As the member said, “Very clever, those medievals.”

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Sunday, December 13, 2015

Rejoice in the Lord, Always!

I am in the rare position of being in the employ of a Catholic church with a Pastor who is himself a trained and experienced organist. It was one of the main reasons why I applied for the position here at St. Mary's in the first place, and remains an important aspect of my work. Working with a Pastor who has "been there" and "done that" makes it far easier to set and accomplish goals, and while we may not agree on certain musical matters (minutiae), we at least have a basic mutual language with which to speak.

Fr. Lusk informed me some weeks ago that one of our parishioners, Jim Oliver, who runs a recording studio and is also our resident sound system tech had taken a collection of casette tapes recorded by Father while a student at Santa Clara University, and had remastered them to put on a CD. The end product is Rejoice in the Lord, Always! It is a collection of Advent and Christmas music recorded by Fr. Lusk on the Casavant organ in the concert hall at Santa Clara.  Alas, the organ no longer exists, so these recordings are doubly important.

It is a fine collection of hymns and shorter works by Bach, Bruhns, Manz and others, and represents Father Craig's skills as an organist. The pieces are rendered with great elegance and care, and his musicality is evident, as is his joy of playing the organ.

The CD is aptly named, Rejoice In The Lord, Always! being released on this Third Sunday of Advent, also known as Gaudete Sunday (for the first word of the Introit for the day, "Rejoice".)

It can be purchased at the parish, or you can sample tracks and download them here.