RIDAY, June 19 is the Feast of the Sacred Heart. If anyone desires to sing Vespers on that evening, the wonderful video (below) will help tremendously. Recorded at last year’s Sacred Music Symposium, Richard J. Clark, Kevin Allen, and I led the Symposium Choir in the plainchants and hymns. Featured prominently are two beautiful pieces. The sublime opening hymn, “Blest Author of the World,” a composition by Mr. Clark, can be found in the Brébeuf hymnal #84. Please pay attention to the words of the hymn, which are quite beautiful, and Mr. Clark’s lovely melody is the perfect vehicle for them. The Recessional that night was Kevin Allen’s heartfelt motet, “Lead, Kindly Light,” a setting of a quite well-known text by St. John Henry Newman. Like all of Mr. Allen’s music, this is beautifully constructed, as each progression, dissonance, and cadence spring directly from the text. And while not an easy piece to sing, the choir did an amazing job! I had the privilege of conducting, among some other things, the polyphonic Magnificat for five voices by Francisco Guerrero (marker 27:22). Set in alternatim with plainchant verses, I find that this is one of the most effective and expressive ways to sing a Magnificat.
The Choir You Hear
A word about the Symposium Choir: as you listen, please remember that this is a completely volunteer group, many of them under the age of 30 (some in high school!), and that we are literally sight-reading everything except the Magnificat and the Allen motet. Before traveling to the Sacred Music Symposium, some participants had never sung in Latin—but we sure fixed that! You will hear, as the service progresses, how unisons become more and more refined and how subtlety finds its way into the psalmody. Many of these same singers have formed themselves into the new Brébeuf Virtual Choir. If there is any concern over the future of beautiful and true sacred music in the Church going forward, you may take great comfort in these young people of tremendous talent and faith whom you will hear on this 42-minute video. I miss them, and I can’t wait for next year’s Sacred Music Symposium!