Thursday, 30 July 2009

Musica Deo Sacra

Is an annual feast of music and liturgy here at the Abbey and this is its 40th anniversary. It began on Monday with a stunning setting for the canticles and psalms, an amazing anthem and a prelude and postlude on the Milton that was just stunning. The Introit, Ecce vicit Leo to a setting by Peter Philips (1561-1628) set the scene for a service which mixed Samuel Sebastian Wesley's music with Richard Shepherd, George Garrett, Mathew Camidge, K John Pye, William Croft and Basil Harwood. The sermon by the Venerable Norman Warren was a gem in itself, setting the standard for the rest of the week.

Tuesday's service was the Solemn Eucharist in honour of Our Lady using the Missa Assunpta est Maria by Palestrina embellished by the organ prelude Ave Maris Stella by Grigny, Introit Rise up my love by Willan, Holst's Ave Maria, Archer's the Son most high, Sandstrom's Es ist ein Ros' entsprungen and finished by Flor Peeters Toccata, Fugue et Hymne sur Ave Maris Stella. The sermon by the Very Reverend Michael Tavinor, Dean of Hereford Cathedral took the standard of preaching to a new high.

Wednesday brought the Solemn Eucharist of the Holy Cross introduced by J S Bach's "O Mensch bewein' deine Sunde Gross" as the prelude. The Mass setting was "Mass for double choir" by Frank Martin with Purcell's "Remember not our offences", Orlando Gibbons "O Lord, in thy wrath", John Sanders "The Reproaches", Mawby's "Ave verum Corpus" and closed with the Praeludium in F Sharp Minor by Buxtehude. But even more was still to come as this evening we were treated to a virtuoso performance on the Milton and the Grove organs by Carleton Etherington. In a truly amazing programme it is impossible to pick out a single piece as better than any other, though I enjoyed the sheer exuberance of Grainger's "Handel in the Strand" on the Milton and Mendelsohn's Overture to the St Paul Oratorio on the Grove. And, as if that were not enough - we then moved to an unaccompanied Compline sung by the Choristers of the MDS Choir.

A musical feast that will be running through my head and others for days to come. And we're only half way through the week.

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