Notes, Texts, and Translations

"A Choral Sampler" for the ICDA 2022 Conference

 

Abendlied (Evening song)

This short motet by Rheinberger is a setting of a portion of the “Road to Emmaus” story, where the resurrected Jesus walks alongside his disciples who do not yet recognize him, but ask him to stay with them at the close of day. This recognition-without-recognition is a powerful story of the importance of seeing the divine presence in our day-to-day lives, even in unexpected places. Rheinberger’s setting depicts this with sumptuous harmony and a powerful climax to the final phrase which dissipates gently like a sunset.

Bleib bei uns, denn es will Abend werden, und der Tag hat sich geneiget.

—————

Stay with us, for it will soon be evening, and the day is coming to a close. 

Pilgrim’s Hymn

This piece was adapted from the final chorus of Paulus’ one-act opera “The Three Hermits” and soon took on a life of its own, becoming his first self-published work, being performed thousands of times across the world (including at the funerals of both Gerald Ford & Ronald Reagan!), and solidifying him in the pantheon of great American composers of choral music. Michael Dennis Browne’s text was inspired by the troparia of thanksgiving from the Eastern Orthodox liturgy (particularly the way the Trinitarian doxology is divided between other text) and offers a clear message of hope and trust in the divine. Paulus’ homophonic setting allows the words to be clearly understood, while the scintillating harmony is at once peaceful and powerfully emotional.

Even before we call on your name

To ask you, O God,

when we seek for the words to glorify you,

you hear our prayer;

unceasing love, O unceasing love,

surpassing all we know.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son,

and to the Holy Spirit.

 

Even with darkness sealing us in,

we breathe your name,

and through all the days that follow so fast,

we trust in you;

endless your grace, O endless your grace,

beyond all mortal dream.

Both now and forever,

and unto ages and ages.

Amen.

Touched in Love

I was first drawn to Haitian-American composer Sydney Guillaume by his energetic choral works in French and Haitian Creole, and was interested in programming one of them as a contrast to the continental French pieces we performed at our concert at St. Joan of Arc in 2021. However, when I saw this setting of one of my favorite texts, I was immediately enamored of it.

 

“Effortlessly” was written by 13th-century mystic Mechthild of Magdeburg, who sought reform from within the ecclesiastical hierarchy; her criticism of church dignitaries caused some to call for her writings to be burned. Her writings were largely forgotten until they were rediscovered in the 19th century, and now she is celebrated alongside mystics like Hildegard of Bingen and Julian of Norwich.

 

Originally from Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Sydney Guillaume lives in Portland and is a full-time composer, conductor, and clinician. His choral compositions have been performed around the world, and his work as a film composer was, for me, an interesting parallel to the cinematic nature of Burrows’ Mass. Additionally, the lilting triple compound meter and its occasional conflict with duple meter in the chorus hearkens back to the Fauré. More information about Guillaume can be found at his website: https://www.sydneyguillaume.com.

(English version by Jane Hirshfield, alt.)

 

Effortlessly,

Love flows from God into man,

Like a bird

Who rivers the air

Without moving her wings.

Thus we move into God’s world

One in body and soul,

Though outwardly separate in form.

As the Source strikes the note,

Humanity sings —

The Holy Spirit is our harpist,

And all strings

Which are touched in Love

Must sound.

Cry No More

Commissioned by VOCE in 2011 in celebration of its five-year anniversary, Forrest describes Cry No More as “a contemplative hymn of reassurance” – the easeful melodic lines and sumptuous harmonies excellently paint this text by Johanna Anderson. Now published by Beckenhorst Press, we still sing from the original scores Forrest prepared for VOCE –how about that for an Urtext edition!

In the shadow where linger,

in this darkness we call home,

Where the sighs are deep and doubtful

And our aspirations groan,

All is not in vain, Beloved,

Our travail is not unknown. 

 

Christ within us, Christ among us,

Christ the first and Christ the last;

Love Incarnate, hold Your children

Till the storm of life is past.

 

Though we have not faith to seek Him,

Christ Himself will draw us near,

Deep, abiding rays of mercy

Cast their light on only fear.

Cry no more, ye poor and weary,

Our redeeming Lord is here.

 

Christ within us, Christ among us…

 

Sure defender, never failing,

Radiant Savior, Holy Friend,

Gift of glory, Hope of heaven,

call us now to faith again!

Alleluia! Blest compassion,

Grace is shining without end!

 

Christ within us, Christ among us…

In dulci jubilo

This carol is a wonderful example of a macaronic carol: one that is written in more than one language (in this case, Latin and German). The first two verses are from Praetorius' setting from 1607, and the third verse is from over a century later by J. S. Bach. The tune is known to the English-speaking world as "Good Christian Friends, Rejoice"

In dulci jubilo, nun singet und seid froh!

Unsers Herzens Wonne leit in praesepio,

Und leuchtet als die Sonne matris in gremio,

Alpha es et O!

O Jesu parvule nach dir ist mir so weh!

Tröst' mir mein Gemüte O puer optime

Durch alle deine Güte O princeps gloriae.

Trahe me post te!

Ubi sunt gaudia nirgend mehr denn da!

Da die Engel singen nova cantica,

Und die Schellen klingen in regis curia.

Eia, wären wir da!

—————

In a sweet hymn of praise now sing and rejoice!

Our hearts’ joy lies in the manger

And shines like the sun in his mother’s lap

You are the Alpha and Omega.

 

O tiny baby Jesus I love you so!

Comfort my soul, O peerless boy

By all your goodness, O Prince of Glory,

Draw me to you.

 

Joys are there as in no other place!

There the angels sing a new song

And the bells ring out in the court of the King:

O that we were there!

Kling, Glöckchen, Kling

This German Christmas carol uses a popular theme in German Weihnachtslieder: bells! Some German traditions state that the Christkind (or later, Santa Claus) would bring children gifts in secret and then ring a bell to signal that the gifts are ready. Secco’s charming arrangement highlights both the scintillating high bells called to mind by the melody and the lower tolling bells in the lower parts.

Kling, Glöckchen, Klingelingeling

Kling, Glöckchen Kling

 

Laßt mich ein ihr Kinder

S'ist so kalt der Winter

Öffnet mir die Türen

Lasst mich nicht erfrieren

 

Kling, Glöckchen…

 

Mädchen hört und Bübchen

Macht mir auf das Stübchen

Bring euch viele Gaben

Sollt Euch dran erlaben

 

Kling, Glöckchen… 

 

–––––

Ring, little bell, ringalingaling!

Ring, little bell, ring!

 

Let me in, you kids!

So cold is the winter!

Open the doors for me!

Don’t let me freeze!

 

Ring, little bell…

 

Girls, listen, and boys,

Open up the room for me!

I bring you many gifts,

You should enjoy them!

Ring, little bell…

Now is the month of Maying

Although we often informally refer to any secular Renaissance piece in English as a “madrigal,” this piece by Thomas Morley is more accurately a ballett – a strophic, dancelike piece often (as in this piece) with a “fa la la” chorus. The cheeky double-entendres are a hallmark of secular music of the time, and have certainly helped with this music’s continued popularity.

Now is the month of Maying,[*]

When merry lads are playing, Fa la la.

Each with his bonny lass

Upon the greeny grass, Fa la la.

 

Fie then! why sit we musing

Youth’s sweet delight refusing? Fa la la.

Say, dainty nymphs, and speak,

Shall we play Barley-break? Fa la la.

 

[* Ed. note – or is it?]

Mass for St. Joan of Arc (Gloria & O bone Jesu)

(the following notes are written by the composer, Joseph Burrows, for the premiere concert performance sung by VOCE in 2011) 

 

Mass for Saint Joan of Arc is a five movement concert work for choir, trumpet, timpani, piano, and pipe organ. While the piece contains traditional elements of the Latin mass, it also includes a setting of “O Bone Jesu” as the third movement. The work as a whole strives to tell the story of the life of Saint Joan of Arc and her willingness to hear and answer God’s call.

 

The second movement, Gloria, is a musical celebration of Saint Joan of Arc’s life. Heaven and earth are united in this moment as she has achieved her salvation through martyrdom. While on earth, Joan had many challenges and struggles, but she also had many victories. This movement celebrates those victories throughout her life, and also as she is welcomed home by joining all of the angels and saints in heaven.

The third movement, O Bone Jesu, serves as a moment of reflection and prayer in the life of Saint Joan of Arc. The text translates to: “O good Jesus, have mercy upon us, for thou hast created us, thou hast redeemed us by thy most precious blood.” Joan had such a strong love of the Lord and a true devotion to the blessed sacrament.

Gloria in excelsis Deo.

Et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis.

Laudamus te. Benedicimus te.

Adoramus te. Glorificamus te.

Gratias agimus tibi propter magnam gloriam tuam.

Domine Deus, Rex caelestis, Deus Pater omnipotens.

 

Domine Fili unigenite, Iesu Christe.

Domine Deus, Agnus Dei, Filius Patris.

Qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis.

Qui tollis peccata mundi, suscipe deprecationem nostram.

Qui sedes ad dexteram Patris, miserere nobis.

 

Quoniam tu solus Sanctus. Tu solus Dominus.

Tu solus Altissimus, Iesu Christe.

Cum Sancto Spiritu, in gloria Dei Patris.

Amen.

 

–––––

Glory to God in the highest,

and peace to God’s people on earth.

Lord God, heavenly King,

almighty God and Father,

we worship you, we give you thanks,

we praise you for your glory.

 

Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father,

Lord God, Lamb of God,

you take away the sin of the world:

have mercy on us;

you are seated at the right hand of the Father:

receive our prayer.

 

For you alone are the Holy One,

you alone are the Lord,

you alone are the Most High,

Jesus Christ,

with the Holy Spirit,

in the glory of God the Father. Amen.

–––––

O bone Jesu, miserere nobis,

quia tu creasti nos,

tu redemisti nos sanguine

tuo pretiosissimo.

–––––

O good Jesus, have mercy upon us,

for thou hast created us,

thou hast redeemed us

by thy most precious blood.

Cantique de Jean Racine

This might be the most-performed French piece by English-speaking choirs, and its sublime beauty makes the reason for its fame clear. Often compared to his iconic setting of the Requiem, Fauré composed this piece for a competition when he was only 19 years old (needless to say, he won!). The ever-present lilting triplets in the accompaniment contrast the occasional duple rhythm of the chorus (especially in the second section) while the effortless melodic lines are augmented by colorful and soaring harmonies.

Verbe, égal au Très-Haut, notre unique espérance,

Jour éternel de la terre et des cieux;

De la paisible nuit nous rompons le silence,

Divin Sauveur, jette sur nous les yeux!

 

Répands sur nous le feu de ta grâce puissante,

Que tout l'enfer fuie au son de ta voix;

Dissipe le sommeil d'une âme languissante,

Qui la conduit à l'oubli de tes lois!

 

O Christ, sois favorable à ce peuple fidèle

Pour te bénir maintenant rassemblé.

Reçois les chants qu'il offre à ta gloire immortelle,

Et de tes dons qu'il retourne comblé!

–––––

O Word, equal of the Most High,

Our sole hope, eternal day of earth and the heavens,

We break the silence of the peaceful night.

Divine Saviour, cast Thine eyes upon us!

 

Shed the light of Thy mighty grace upon us.

Let all Hell flee at the sound of Thy voice.

Dispel the slumber of a languishing soul

That leads it to the forgetting of Thy laws!

 

O Christ, be favorable unto this faithful people

Now gathered to bless Thee.

Receive the hymns it offers unto Thine immortal glory

And may it return laden with Thy gifts.

Abide with me

This hymn tune was originally written by William H. Monk expressly for this text by Henry Francis Lyte. Monk was the editor of Hymns Ancient and Modern, a hymnal for the Church of England first published in 1861, and this hymn has become one of his most enduring compositions. The text opens with a clear reference to the "Road to Emmaus" story, connecting it back to the Rheinberger and (as you may have guessed) inspiring the name of the concert: "Road to Resurrection." Although perhaps primarily known for his virtuosic choral arrangements of African-American spirituals, Moses Hogan was also a prolific composer, as well as an internationally-renowned conductor and educator. Beyond simply expanding the harmonic language of the original, his arrangement of this hymn transforms it into a piece of elegant and haunting beauty. Although only setting two complete stanzas, Hogan closes the piece with the final lines from two other stanzas, thus recalling the overall poetic structure of the original. The final "amen" brings the piece to a close with Hogan's trademark harmonic beauty, and also brings today's concert to a close. We hope this music has brought you peace and joy, and on behalf of all the musicians, thank you for being with us this afternoon.

Abide with me: fast falls the eventide;
the darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide with me.

 

I need thy presence every passing hour.
What but thy grace can foil the tempter's power?
Who like thyself my guide and strength can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, O abide with me.

O thou who changest not, abide with me.

Iin life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.

Amen.

Ain't Misbehavin'

The following pieces are from our most recent concert earlier this month (postponed from spring 2020) a revue of vocal jazz pieces from the 1920s. Originally from a 1929 Broadway musical, this piece was re-recorded for the movie “Stormy Weather” in 1943 and has been covered by hundreds of artists since then.

No one to talk with

All by myself

No one to walk with

But I'm happy on the shelf

Ain't misbehavin'

I'm savin' my love for you

 

I know for certain

The one I love

I'm through with flirtin'

It's just you I'm thinkin' of

Ain't misbehavin'

I'm savin' my love for you

 

Like Jack Horner

In the corner

Don't go nowhere

What do I care?

Your kisses are worth waitin' for

Believe me

 

I don't stay out late

Don't care to go

I'm home about eight

Just me and my radio

Ain't misbehavin'

I'm savin' my love for you

Bye Bye Blackbird

This song, made popular by recordings by Gene Austin and Peggy Lee, was the #16 song of 1926. Zegree’s arrangement contains an extended choral solo section in the middle, which helpfully codifies in notation (for those of us not as familiar with the genre) the improvisational style of scat.

Pack up all my care and woe, 

here I go, swinging low

Bye, bye, blackbird

Where somebody waits for me

Sugar's sweet, so is she

Bye, bye, blackbird

 

No one here can love or understand me

Oh, what hard luck stories they all hand me

Make my bed and light the light, I'll arrive late tonight

Blackbird, bye, bye

Alexander's Ragtime Band

This song, originally released in 1911 and made popular by vaudeville comedian Emma Carus, became one of Irving Berlin’s early commercial successes and was covered by dozens of artists for another 50 years after its release. The Alexander character in the song was inspired by Berlin's friend Jack Alexander, a cornet-playing African-American bandleader.

Come on and hear, come on and hear

Alexander's Ragtime Band

Come on and hear, come on and hear

It's the best band in the land

 

They can play a bugle call

Like you never heard before

So natural that they leave you wanting more

That's just the bestest band what am, Honey Lamb

 

Come on along, come on along

Let me take you by the hand

Up to the man, up to the man

Who's the leader of the band

 

And if you want to hear the Swanee River played in ragtime

Come on and hear, come on and hear

Alexander's Ragtime Band

It don't mean a thing
(if it ain’t got that swing)

One of the enduring pieces in the corpus of American Jazz standards, this song by Duke Ellington has been recorded hundreds of times and remains a shining example of the genre. This was the closing number of our concert earlier this month, and brings the penultimate portion of tonight's concert to a close – the final piece coming up, as you will see, takes us in a bit of a different direction...

It don't mean a thing, if it ain't got that swing

(doo-ah, doo-ah, doo-ah, doo-ah, doo-ah, doo-ah, doo-ah, doo-ah)

It don't mean a thing all you got to do is sing

(doo-ah...)

It makes no difference

If it's sweet or hot

Just give that rhythm

Everything you've got

No, It don't mean a thing, if it ain't got that swing

(doo-ah...)

Take What You Need

Written by Reena Esmail for Street Symphony in 2011, Take What You Need is a piece of music designed to facilitate community. In Esmail’s words: “Take What You Need creates a warm, safe space for musicians and community. The piece alternates between Choruses and Interludes…Each chorus is a call and response form. The vocalist(s) will sing the call, and the audience and/or community chorus sings the response. This encourages anyone, even if they have never heard the piece before, to participate actively in the creation of the musical space. The interludes are where Take What You Need becomes about, by and for your community.” In this evening’s slightly truncated version, we hope to give you a sense of the piece while joining all of our voices together.

 

Indian-American composer Reena Esmail works between the worlds of Indian and Western classical music, and brings communities together through the creation of equitable musical spaces. Esmail is the Los Angeles Master Chorale’s 2020-2023 Swan Family Artist in Residence, and Seattle Symphony’s 2020-21 Composer-in-Residence. Her record of awards and achievements is extensive (she’s kind of a big deal!), including being named a 2019 United States Artist Fellow in Music, and the 2019 Grand Prize of the S & R Foundation’s Washington Award.

 

More information about Esmail’s work can be found at her website: https://www.reenaesmail.com/, and more information about this piece, including scores available for free, can be found at http://www.streetsymphony.org/takewhatyouneed.

Take a moment  

Take a breath  

Take time  

Take care  

Take heart  

Take hope  

Take a step  

Take a chance  

Take courage  

Take charge  

Take a stand  

Take pride

Take joy     

Take pause     

Take a moment      

Take a breath      

Take what you need 

 

Take what you need…