Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Favourite liturgical music meme

I was tagged by Kathryn Rose who wrote an insightful piece on worship and created this more positive meme in response to the CCM praise songs we have trouble with meme. These aren't necessarily my all time favourites but what came to mind in response to the questions.

What is your favourite piece of music for congregational singing? Why?
Be thou my vision. A challenging prayer and in my last parish the worship band used an arrangement accompanied by a Bodhrán (Irish frame drum) which added just the right beat. If I was to go for something  written more recently it would be Everlasting God by Chris Tomlin. It's rooted in scripture, focused on God and is communal (we rather than I) and a family favourite.

What is your favourite piece of music for performance by a group of specialist musicians within a liturgical context? This might be a worship band or a cathedral choir or just a very snazzy organist or something else entirely, but the point is that it is not congregational singing and it is live music in liturgy.
The Grail Prayer. Difficult to choose but our parish choir have sung this on several occasions during the administration of communion and it is a beautiful and uplifting piece of music with words appropriate for the moment. The other piece is Allegri's Miserere a setting of Psalm 51. The choir at Waltham Abbey used to sing this during Holy week and I would find the hairs standing up on the back of my neck.

What is your favourite piece of music which makes you think about God to listen to outside of your place of worship? Why? This could be secular music.
Passion: The Last Temptation of Christ soundtrack by Peter Gabriel. I could listen to this for hours and the music, with its middle eastern cadences, is the perfect accompaniment to the film. I used a track to accompany a meditation on the cross one Good Friday and it left people stunned.

What is one thing you like about the music at your usual place of worship? Have you told the musicians about this lately?
The choir is quite small but they are faithful people offering their gifts to God and led by our very talented Reader. It is often the simple Taizé chants that help me to focus my attention on God. They also feel right in the setting of a small ancient parish church. Last Sunday we learnt sign language to accompany The Lord is My Light and it provided a prayerful response to the talk in our all-age service. I try and remember to thank them but not often enough.

Thanks to Kathryn for setting this one running and consider yourself tagged if you would like to have a go.


Kathryn Rose said...

Interesting to read your responses, thanks for participating!

Do you know who wrote the music for the Grail Prayer? I'm not familiar with a musical setting of it, love the text though.

Richard Brown said...

I'd love to believe it, Phil, but I can't see the average church choir stretching itself into Allegri's Miserere, largely due to that very high C. So beautiful was it that the Pope banned it from being sung anywhere but the Cistine Chapel, and it wasn't until a teenage genius named Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart heard it, then went home and wrote it all out, that it managed to escape into the outside world. It was also the music playing at the birthing pool at the time my granddaughter was born. However, given its origins in the seduction of Bathsheba by King David, perhaps it doesn't deserve to be the most beautiful pieces of music ever written.

If you want something that the average choir can sing, I would choose 'Gift of Finest Wheat'.

Philip Ritchie said...

Kathryn, I'll track down the music and let you know.

Richard, Thanks for the comment. I wasn't suggesting the average church choir sang Miserere. The question asked 'What is your favourite piece of music for performance by a group of specialist musicians within a liturgical context?' I gave an example of something from a parish church choir and then Miserere as an example from a group of specialists at Waltham Abbey were I was part of the clergy team for several years.

I am familiar with the story about Mozart, amazing isn't it. As for the origins, I take it as an example of grace that something so beautiful could come out of something so wrong.