Dec. 3, 2021Print | PDF
The Arrow and the Song
I shot an arrow into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For, so swiftly it flew, the sight
Could not follow it in its flight.
I breathed a song into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For who has sight so keen and strong,
That it can follow the flight of song?
Long, long afterward, in an oak
I found the arrow, still unbroke;
And the song, from beginning to end,
I found again in the heart of a friend.
—Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Trapped in Stone
Cruithne (name of first Pictish king)
Trapped in stone
—Gaelic and English text by Andrew Balfour
Miserere mei, Deus
Miserere mei, Deus, miserere mei, quoniam in te confidit anima mea.
Et in umbra alarum tuarum sperabo, donec transeat iniquitas.
Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me, for my soul trusts in thee: and under the shadow
of thy wings shall be my refuge, until this tyranny be over-past.
Missa Brevis (‘short’ mass)
Stephanie Martin, Assoc. Prof at York University and Laurier alumna, was commissioned to write Babel, a choral symphony, to mark the 40th anniversary of the Faculty of Music and her opera Llandovery Castle was premiered by Opera Laurier in February 2020. Her association with choral communities, Church of St. Mary Magdalena, Pax Christi Chorale, and Scola Magdalena, lead to this reflection about liturgical compositions: The human voice is a wonderful medium. There are some things we find easier to sing than say aloud. Sacred music can go to some of those profound spiritual places we can’t visit through mundane speech. (barczablog, March 2016)
The heartfelt simplicity of expression in the three movements of Missa Brevisfor Three Voices underline the inherent reverence and beauty of this liturgical text.
Kyrie: Lord, have mercy on us, Christ, have mercy on us, Lord, have mercy on us.
Sanctus: Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts, heaven and earth are full of thy glory. Glory be to thee, O Lord most High. Benedictus: Blessed is he that comes in the Name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.
Agnus Dei: O Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us. O Lamb of God…, O Lamb of God… grant us peace.
The Creation, written between 1797 and 1798, is considered by some to be Franz Joseph Haydn’s crowning masterpiece. Scholars suspect that Haydn was influenced by the large oratorios of George Frederic Handel and their subsequent successes and wanted to create something in a similar style. A writer for the Mormon Tabernacle blog (https://www.thetabernaclechoir.org/articles/the-heavens-are-telling.html) wrote about Haydn’s interest in the subject of the environment and stated: “Haydn took an interest in astronomy and the discoveries of Sir Isaac Newton and held the view that an orderly universe substantiated a belief in divine wisdom.” The Creation is organized into three parts and scored for soprano, tenor and bass soloists, chorus and a symphonic orchestra. One of the most famous choruses from this work is “The Heavens Are Telling” which falls at the end of Part I. Based on Psalm 19:1-3, much of the piece is written in a homophonic style, but there is some fugal writing included near the end.
By: Carolyn Neumann VanderBurgh (Read by Reede Parisi)
Composed by Andrew Balfour in 2017, Ambe is a song that exudes joy and energy and was based on a song gifted to him by Indigenous musician Cory Campbell. Andrew is of Cree descent and based in Winnipeg where he is well known for compositions like Wa Wa Tey Wak (Northern Lights) and Fantasia on a Poem by Rumi. The words of Ambe translate to “Come in two-legged beings, come in all people, there is good life here”. Balfour describes Ambe as a call for people to engage in the ceremonial way of life and later said that “everything happens in spirit and with spirit”. The rhythmic pulse of the song brings a sense of vitality and levity throughout the piece. The longer held chords later in the composition seem to fill the room with a deep bodied harmony. I love how the four choral sections build together slowly adding more to the chord and the fullness of the sound. The complex rhythms and forward energy make it feel as though the choir is soaring and taking the audience with them. By: Oskar Kaune (read by Drew Aarssen)
Come in two legged beings
Come in all people
There is good life here
Based in Greenville, South Carolina, Jonathan Reid composed the SATB choral piece Measure Me Sky as commissioned by the Wylie East High School Choirs. Set to Leonora Speyer’s (1872-1956) poem of the same name, the text speaks of humanity’s oneness to nature, especially as seen through music. For instance, see the line, “Tell me I reach by a song nearer the stars…” The piece includes both SA and TB verses along with other divisi and features triplets prominently, making it a primary rhythmic theme. In particular, the piano accompaniment consists of mostly quick, lively triplets that propel the slower-moving voices forward. From mm. 68-77, Reid word paints using long, sustained notes that gradually ascend in all voices for the lyrics, “Wings for my flight,” and “Nearer the stars.” The audience might just get goosebumps! This work was featured in Beckenhorst Press Concert Series and in J.W. Pepper’s Choral Editor’s Choice Sheet Music. Reid has also won the 2011 John Ness Beck Foundation Award, the 2019 Indianapolis Symphonic Choir Commission Competition and the 2019 Gregg Smith Composition Contest. Other works of his include “O Magnum Mysterium,” “Crossing the Bar” and “May the Mind of Christ, My Saviour.”
Hörst du nicht die Bäume rauschen
Draußen durch die stille Rund?
Lockt‘s dich nicht, hinabzulauschen
Von dem Söller in den Grund,
Wo die vielen Bäche gehen
Wunderbar im Mondenschein
Und die stillen Burgen sehen
In den Fluß vom hohen Stein?
Kennst du noch die irren Lieder
Aus der alten, schönen Zeit?
Sie erwachen alle wieder
Nachts in Waldeseinsamkeit,
Wenn die Bäume träumend lauschen
Und der Flieder duftet schwül
Und im Fluß die Nixen rauschen—
Komm herab, hier ist's so kühl.
Do you not hear the rustling trees
Outside in the quiet round?
Aren’t you tempted to listen
From the balcony down to the ground
Where the many streams flow
Wonderfully in the moonlight
And the silent castles gaze
Into the river from the high rock?
Do you not remember the mad songs
From the olden, more beautiful times?
They awaken all again at night
In the loneliness of the forest,
When the trees listen dreamily
And the lilac smells sultry
And the mermaids rustle in the river—
Come down, it is so cool here.
—Joseph von Eichendorff
Abendlich schon rauscht der Wald
Aus den tiefsten Gründen,
Droben wird der Herr nun bald
An die Sternlein zünden.
Wie so stille in den Schlünden,
Abendlich nur rauscht der Wald.
Alles geht zu seiner Ruh,
Wald und Welt verbrausen,
Schauernd hört der Wandrer zu,
Sehnt sich tief nach Hause.
Hier in Waldes grüner Klause,
Herz, geh endlich auch.
In the evening the forest is already rustling
For the deepest reasons,
Up there, God will soon
Light up all the stars.
How quiet it is in the gullies,
In the evening the forest is barely rustling.
Everything goes to its rest,
How the world vanishes,
With a shudder the wanderer listens,
Longs for home.
Here in the forest’s green hermitage,
The heart, too, eventually goes to rest.
—Joseph von Eichendorff
I Heard a Cry in the Night
I heard a cry in the night,
A thousand miles it came,
Sharp as a flash of light,
My name, my name!
It was your voice I heard,
You waked and love me so—
I send you back this word,
I know, I know!
A Hymn for St. Cecilia
Cecilia suffered martyrdom in Rome around 230 AD. It is said she sang as she lay dying, and the story and her following grew till she became the patron saint of music in the 4th century. This poem by Ursua Vaughan Williams extols Cecilia’s youthful joyous singing, her truthful uniting of loves of heaven and earth in ‘words of music’, and her last breath, an echo of music. Centuries after her death, her music dances in the skies and earth’s music rises to meet hers in delight. Today, after a weary year of online singing we give thanks and celebrate that our voices rise in ensemble to make live music.
Eleanor Daley (b.1955), Director of Music at Fairlawn Ave. United Church in Toronto, is an organist, pianist, and prolific composer with a remarkable gift for melody. Her works are notable for their sensitive interweaving of text and music.
The Echo Song (O la, o che bon eccho!)
In ‘Hymn to St. Cecilia’, music is heard and afterwards remembered as an echo. Mountain nymphs/naiads, who can only repeat the last words of another, rise out of the water with enchanting echos in ‘When Music Sounds’.
In ‘The Echo Song’, a short and playful madrigal by the Flemish Renaissance composer Orlando di Lasso (1530/32-1594), the singers have a mock ‘conversation’ with their echo, beginning with a happy greeting, then an invitation to sing a song, and when the echo is noncompliant the response is irritation, and finally, a bid for silence! Orlando di wrote over 2000 pieces in his lifetime, religious and secular choral works in Italian, German, Latin and French.
This double choir madrigal has been arranged for treble voices by Russell Robinson, Professor Emeritus at U of Florida.
When Music Sounds
How does the music we love impact us when we hear it? The poet Walter de la Mare was transported and saw the lovely scenes of earth enhanced – flowers in flame, trees stilled with ecstasies, the enchanted faces of water nymphs -and a return to the fullness of who he was before Time. Listening to music and the ability to make music with friends is a gift which can take us outside of ourselves.
Ruth Watson Henderson (b.1932) has maintained a multi-faceted career in Toronto as a composer, teacher, pianist and church organist. Recipient of awards, perhaps the greatest honour paid to her is that choirs from all over the world, and at home in Canada, sing her music and sing it often.
Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum.
Benedicta tu in mulieribus,
et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Jesus.
Sancta Maria, Mater Dei,
ora pro nobis peccatoribus,
nunc et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen.
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and in the hour of our death. Amen.
Let My Love Be Heard
Angels, where you soar
Up to God’s own light
Take my own lost bird
On your hearts tonight;
And as grief once more
Mounts to heaven and sings
Let my love be heard
Whispering in your wings.
Frank Ticheli (born in 1958, Monroe, Louisiana), is an American composer who composes a variety of music for different ensembles. His works have been described as being very powerful and “emotionally resonating” by many critics. A work of his with such power is his choral composition for SATB voices called Earth Song. Ticheli’s inspiration for this composition comes from his disillusionment of the Iraq War. Through such vocal work, it is evident that Ticheli is longing to “find inner peace in a world that seems eternally bent on war and hatred (Ticheli).” This acapella, through-composed work has interesting musical features like dynamic growth/fade and soprano/lower parts layering. Really listen for the lyrics, as they really convey a solemn yet hopeful message. If you enjoy this piece and are looking for something just like it, then also listen to Ticheli’s The Song Within and Here Take This Lovely Flower.
By: Zhe Sun
I Dreamed of Rain
I Dreamed of Rain is a beautiful, lyrical masterpiece written by Jan Garret and arranged by Larry Nickel. Jan Garret, who sings with her husband JD Martin, is an accomplished jazz singer born and raised in Colorado. She is well known for her song “Tenderly calling” that was featured in a PBS documentary, recorded by John Denver and bluegrass band Hot Rize. The lyrics and meaning of the “I Dreamed of Rain” were heavily influenced by the 2002 wildfires in the Western United States. Jan was very impacted by these fires and wrote the song based on her hope for peace and replenishment. Said by Jan Garret herself, “In the midst of all this unrest, I began to have dreams of rain”. The song speaks of dreams of peace, freedom, and Mother Earth. The simplicity of the piece allows for the message to greatly impact the emotions, and tug on the heart strings of anyone listening. The use of fourth and fifth intervals were an amazing choice, as these intervals are the best for songs written to touch the hearts and ears of any listener. Its deep and heartfelt lullaby feel, makes it suitable for any choir to take part in and sing beautifully. By: Mya Marc-Ali
May it be
Enya is Ireland’s best-selling solo musician. Her music can be described as soothing, with soft, rich vocals, use of synthesizer, and a Celtic flavor. Enya herself composes and performs the music, Nicky Ryan produces the records and Roma Ryan writes the lyrics. At the request of Peter Jackson, Enya wrote May it be and it was featured at the end of the movie, The Lord of the Rings, 2001. There are two phrases in Quenya, the fictional Elvish language created by the author J.R.R. Tolkein: Mornië utúlië, / Darkness has come; Mornië alantië / Darkness has fallen.
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