Michael Praetorius (c. 1571-1621), arr. Jan Sandstrom (b. 1954):
Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming
Lo, how a rose e’er blooming
From tender stem hath sprung.
Of Jesse’s lineage coming
As men of old have sung.
It came a flow’ret bright
Amid the cold of winter,
When half spent was the night.
“I hear this and imagine a red rose pushing up from the snow.” – Lisa R.
“This is one of those pieces that just wells up from inside and can’t help but spill out into the recesses of the room, like light through stained glass.” – Arielle
Eleanor Daley (b. 1955):
I Sing of a Maiden
I sing of a maiden that is makeless [“matchless,” or possibly “mateless”]
King of all Kings to her son she ches [….she chose to be her son].
He came all so still where his Mother was,
As dew in April that falleth on the grass.
He came all so still to his Mother’s bow’r,
As dew in April that falleth on the flow’r.
He came all so still where his Mother lay,
As dew in April that falleth on the spray.
Mother and maiden was never none but she;
Well may such a Lady God’s mother be.
“I had no idea giving birth to Jesus was as easy as droplets of dew falling on the grass.” – Marie
Jocelyn Hagen (b. 1980):
I am wild! I will sing to the trees,
I will sing to the stars in the sky,
I love, I am loved, he is mine,
Now at last I can die!
I am sandaled with wind and with flame,
I have heart-fire and singing to give,
I can tread on the grass or the stars,
Now at last I can live!
– Sara Teasdale (1884-1933)
“I picture some crazy powerful witch doing ‘The Hills Are Alive’ on a green mountaintop as the protagonist of this song! – Kathryn
“Wild. Crazy. Life-affirming.” – Carole
When I was thirty and a half years old, God sent me a bodily sickness. I lay three days and three nights, and on the fourth night, I took all the rites of Holy Church, for I was not expected to live till day. My sight began to fail, and it was dark as night around me. Suddenly, all my pain was taken from me, and I was as healthy as ever in my life. But I was not fully at ease, and perhaps I regretted not being delivered of this world.
– Julian of Norwich (1342-1416)
Take the gall bladder of a nightingale,
and to it add one drop of dew found on clean grass.
Then often anoint the eyelids and lashes around the eyes,
And if it touches the eye inside a little, it does no harm.
And the dimness with be marvelously removed from the eye.
– Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179)
IV. The Unicorn
The Unicorn, seeing a girl from afar, marvels that she has no beard, in spite of having the form of men. And if there are two or three girls at the same time, he marvels more and is more readily captured while he feasts his eyes on them. The girls by which unicorns are caught must be noble, not peasants, not all grown up or too little but in mid-adolescence. Those are the ones he loves, because they are sweet and kind.
– Hildegard of Bingen
“‘Physica’ reminds me that anything can make music and anything can be music.” – Felicia
“I love this bizarre and disturbing text.” – Boska
“It’s not every day you get to sing about gall bladders.” – Carole
Henry Mollicone (b. 1946)
Spanish Ave Maria
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you.
Blessed are you among women,
And blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, mother of God,
Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
“What beautiful, rich harmonies—and what a prayerful, uplifting feeling.” – Boska
O magnum mysterium (2005)
O great mystery, and wonderful sacrament,
that animals should see the new-born Lord, lying in a manger!
Blessed is the Virgin whose womb was worthy to bear
our Savior, Jesus Christ. Alleluia!
“I find this piece so haunting. Every time our voices meet in dissonance, I feel achingly hollowed out.” – Arielle
“Gregorian chant meets the 80s!” – Allison
“These are the creatures in the medieval tapestries—they’ve seen the miracle.” – Marjorie
Chan Ka Nin (b. 1949):
Ave maris stella
Hail, Star of the sea! Blessed Mother of God, yet ever a virgin,
O happy gate of heaven!
Thou that didst receive the Ave from Gabriel’s lips, confirm us in peace,
and so let Eva be changed into an Ave of blessing for us.
Loose the sinner’s chains, bring light to the blind,
drive from us our evils, and ask all good things for us.
Show thyself a mother, and offer our prayers to him,
who would be born of thee, when born for us.
O incomparable Virgin, and meekest of the meek,
obtain for us forgiveness of our sins, and make us meek and chaste.
Obtain for us purity of life, and a safe pilgrimage,
that we may be united with thee in the blissful vision of Jesus.
Praise be to God the Father and to the Lord Jesus,
and to the Holy Ghost: to the Three one self-same praise. Amen.
“This piece takes me back to my childhood and evokes memories of the mysteries of the Catholic Church rituals in which I was raised, and which I so dearly loved.” – Vee
“Spooky….but beautiful!” – Chardette
Cecilia McDowall (b. 1951):
From “Missa Mariae”
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
Glory be to God in the highest,
And on earth peace to those of good will.
We praise Thee; we bless Thee; we worship Thee; we glorify Thee.
We give thanks to Thee for Thy great glory.
O Lord God, Heavenly King, God the Father Almighty.
O Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son.
Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father.
Thou that takest away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us.
Thou that takest away the sins of the world, receive our prayer.
Thou that sittest at the right hand of the Father, have mercy upon us.
For thou only art holy, thou only art the Lord,
thou only art the most high, Jesus Christ.
Together with the Holy Ghost in the glory of God the Father. Amen.
“The ‘Gloria’ brings out the colors in me—it rocks with joy!” – Laurie
“Smooth with a sprightly finish, easy on the palate—it’s the prosecco of Marian masses.” – Lisa R.
Eric Whitacre (b. 1970):
Five Hebrew Love Songs
I. Temuna (A Picture)
A picture is engraved in my heart;
Moving between light and darkness:
A sort of silence envelops your body,
And your hair falls upon your face just so.
II. Kala Kalla (Light Bride)
She is all mine,
She will kiss me!
III. Larov (Mostly)
“Mostly,” said the roof to the sky,
“the distance between you and me is endlessness;
But a while ago two came up here,
And only one centimeter was left between us.”
IV. Eyze shelleg (What Snow!)
Like little dreams
Falling from the sky.
V. Rakut (Tenderness)
He was full of tenderness;
She was very hard.
And as much as she tried to stay thus,
Simply, and with no good reason,
He took her into himself,
And set her down
In the softest, softest place.
– Hila Plitmann
“Singing the Five Hebrew Love Songs, especially the second movement, is like being wrapped in a warm blanket of unconditional love.” – Vee
“The Five Hebrew Love Songs take my breath away. It’s a beautiful love story.” – Tracy
“The poems are so charming and beautiful, only these harmonies could do them justice.” – Rosa
“‘Simply and with no good reason, he took her into himself, and set her down in the softest, softest place’….This has become a mantra of sorts for me—people being people is reason enough to treat them well, softly, giving freely.” – Anonymous
Benjamin Martinson (b. 1987):
All is undivided.
We are each a stroke of color,
A single note,
A sun-fleck on the ocean.
A burst of light,
A hanging torrent,
A final breath of wind
Within a single drop of rain.
We are sung by our music,
Shaped by our clay,
Imagined by our dreams;
We exist with our hands;
We give life for life.
We are turned to polished glass
Within the mind still wet with paint.
The real moon is in the lake,
The deepest well behind the eye,
And all is blurred to beauty.
– Benjamin Martinson
The key change at “The real moon is in the lake” wakes me up to the human well behind the eye. That’s such a beautiful moment and a beautiful insight. – Ellen
I think of Mary viewed through opaque glass….yet we still feel her peace. – Lisa R.
In the midst of the chaos and suffering this year, the unabashed hope in this piece is so inspiring. – Anonymous
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