The Choristers of Halifax Minster will be joining is for our performance of Fauré’s Requiem and other choral masterpieces with the National Festival Orchestra led by Sally Robinson providing the accompaniment. Special guest will be harpist Angelina Warburton who played both at A Right Royal Do, the Choir’s Summer Concert in honour of the 90th Birthday of Her Majesty The Queen in 2016 and at the Choir’s Silver Jubilee Dinner in Autumn of the same year. Our October programme also includes Fauré’s much-loved Cantique de Jean Racine, César Franck’s ever-green Panis angelicus as well as other favourites for choir featuring the glorious sonorities of harp, organ and orchestra alongside the singing.
Panis angelicus [1861/1872 – Messe Solenelle]
fit panis hominum;
Dat panis coelicus
O res mirabilis!
Pauper, servus et humilis
The bread of angels
becomes the bread of men;
The heavenly bread
ends all prefigurations:
How wondrous a thing is that!
The flesh of the Lord is eaten
By the poor and the humble,
The servants of the Lord
Text from Sacris solemniis – Thomas Aquinas [1225-1274] – translation by SGL
Franck’s long period of service as Organist of St Clothilde, Paris, extended from 1858 until his death. His playing was of legendary quality and his immense charismatic appeal as a teacher (notably as Professor of Organ at the Conservatoire) proved profoundly influential upon generations of leading French musicians – Chausson, d’Indy and Dukas among them. Like Jongen, Franck was a native of the Belgian city of Liège. Resident from the age of fifteen in the French capital, his entire professional life was spent in service to music in its many manifestations. A visionary violin sonata, major orchestral repertoire including the under-rated Variations Symphoniques for piano and orchestra, choral and chamber music all claim the attention of the discerning music-lover. By his skilled use of “cyclic” techniques his influence on 20th century musical development was significant. His enthusiasm for, and commitment to, the organs of Aristide Cavaillé-Coll is integral to a proper understanding of the colours demanded by his output for the solo organist which is, arguably, the most significant of any 19th century composer. Scores are carefully marked with the exact registrations (the choice of stops) which Franck intended the player to utilise. Importantly, the precise directions of the methods by which musical rise and fall – ebb and flow of phrase – is to be achieved present the organist with significant challenges of control on instruments not provided with some of Cavaillé-Coll’s most characteristic mechanisms.
One of the most famous melodies of all time, Franck’s Panis angelicus probably began life as an organ improvisation played at Christmas 1861 at St Clothilde. It was first published eleven years later in a version for organ, harp, cello and double-bass as an additional movement within the composer’s Messe à Trois Voix.
The piece has been arranged many times since, and the choral version by John Rutter used this evening is so tastefully done as to sound as if it were Franck’s original. The annals of musical history are littered with details of famous performances and recordings from Count John McCormack in Dublin’s Phoenix Park in 1932 to the visionary playing of Yo-Yo Ma at the funeral mass for Senator Edward Kennedy broadcast live on the American networks on August 29, 2009. A very fine recording for solo cello by Julian Lloyd Webber was included in his 1998 album Cello Moods.
Hallelujah for Handel!
Our Messiah Anniverary Celebration continues – we are singing one Chorus from Messiah at each Overgate Hospice Choir Concert during 2017 – it being 275 years ago this year when Handel’s masterpiece was first performed in Dublin’s fair city.
Chorus: Their sound is gone out into all lands
Aria in Classic Style
Harp and organ
Two Pieces for Organ
A native of Zoerle-Parwijs near Westerloo, where his father was organist and provost, the young Jaak was immersed in the world of the organ from an early age, gaining entrance to the Brussels Conservatoire when he was sixteen. A major prizewinner of that institution, he then obtained a Government Scholarship to study with Adolf Hesse in Breslau, becoming – at only twenty-six years of age – Professor of Organ at his alma mater. During his lifetime, Lemmens was known widely as pianist as well as pedagogue; following his marriage to the English singer Helen Sherrington in 1857, Lemmens spent much time in England. From 1879, however, he was extremely active in his home country as Principal of a newly-founded college for Catholic organists and choirmasters based in the Cathedral city of Mechlin/Malines. His Organ School remains one of the most significant tutorial books ever published, and numerous organ works include a famous Fanfare, this ebullient Marche Triomphale and a vivid Storm fantasia.
Pensée d’Automne, Op 47 No 2 
Like another famous 19th century organist composer, César Franck (1822-1890), Joseph Jongen was a native of the Belgian city of Liège and served as organist of his home town’s Cathedral of St Jacques. It is, however, for his work as Director of the Brussels Conservatoire that he is best remembered, and for an extensive compositional output. Although only his organ music and a small amount of choral repertoire is currently available, Jongen’s was clearly – in the words of the psalmist – the pen of a ready writer.
Cantique de Jean Racine: Verbe égal au très-haut, Op 11 
[orchestrated for Strings and Harp by John Rutter, 1986]
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 offer à ta gloire immortelle, et de tes dons qu’il retourne comblé.
Word equal to the Most High, our one true hope,
Eternal day of the earth and of the heavens,
We break the silence of the peaceful night; Divine Saviour, cast your eyes upon us;
Spread over us the fire of your mighty grace so that hell itself flees at the sound of your voice.
Dispel the slumber of a pining soul which drives it to forget your laws!
O Christ, show favour to these faithful people now assembled to praise you.
Receive these songs that they offer to your immortal glory,
and these full offerings returned to you.
Jean Racine [1639-1699] from the Breviary Hymn of Saint Ambrose, Consors paterni luminis
The evocative text of this greatly-loved Cantique, although ascribed to the great Racine, is actually a translation by the great dramatist from a Latin original emanting from the pen of the fourth century St Ambrose, Archbishop of Milan. The ancient office hymn on which Racine’s words are based is Consors Paterni luminis [O Light of light, O Dayspring bright, co-equal with the Father’s might], set for Tuesday Matins and even today included in the modern Latin Breviary. Fauré’s fabulous setting was written when he was just nineteen and won him first prize on his graduation from the Ecole Niedermeyer. The accompaniment used tonight is John Rutter’s.
Après une Rève
I] Berceuse [24 Pièces en style libre]
ii) Carillon de Westminster [Pièces de Fantaisie, Troisième Suite, Op 54 No 6]
played on the Minster’s Harrison instrument
Requiem, Op 48 [1893 version, edited by John Rutter]
I – INTROIT & KYRIE
Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine.
Et lux perpetua luceat eis.
Te decet hymnus, Deus, in Sion,
Et tibi reddetur votum in Jerusalem
Exaudi orationem meam
Ad te omnis caro veniet.
Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine.
Et lux perpetua luceat eis.
Eternal rest give unto them, O Lord:
And let perpetual light shine upon them.
A hymn, O God, becometh Thee in Zion
And a vow shall be paid to Thee in Jerusalem.
Hear my prayer:
All flesh shall come to Thee.
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord:
And let perpetual light shine upon them.
Lord, have mercy:
Christ, have mercy:
Lord, have mercy.
II – OFFERTOIRE
Domine, Jesu Christe, Rex gloriae,
libera animas omnium fidelium defunctorum
de poenis inferni
et de profundo lacu.
Libera eas de ore leonis
ne absorbeat eas tartarus,
ne cadant in obscurum;
Sed signifer sanctus Michael
repraesentet eas in lucem sanctam,
Quam olim Abrahae promisisti
et semini eius.
Hostias et preces tibi, Domine
tu suscipe pro animabus illis,
quarum hodie memoriam facimus.
Fac eas, Domine, de morte
transire ad vitam.
Quam olim Abrahae promisisti
et semine eius.
O Lord Jesu Christ, King of Glory,
deliver the souls of all the faithful departed
from the pains of Hell
and the bottomless pit.
Deliver them from the jaws of the lion,
lest hell engulf them,
and they be lost into darkness;
but let Michael the holy standard-bearer lead them into the holy light, as once
Thou didst promise to Abraham
and to his seed.
Lord, in praise we offer you
Sacrifices and prayers,
Do Thou accept them on behalf of those whom we commemorate this day: O Lord,
make them to pass
from death unto life,
as once Thou didst promise to Abraham
and to his seed.
III – SANCTUS
Sanctus, sanctus, sanctus
Dominus Deus Sabaoth!
Pleni sunt coeli et terra gloria tua.
Hosanna in excelsis!
Holy, holy, holy
Lord God of hosts!
Heaven and earth are full of Thy glory.
Hosanna in the highest!
IV – PIE JESU
Pie Jesu, Domine:
Dona eis requiem…
Dona eis requiem sempiternam.
Blessed Jesu, O Lord,
Grant them rest…..
Grant them rest eternal.
V – AGNUS DEI & COMMUNIO
qui tollis peccata mundi:
dona eis requiem.
qui tollis peccata mundi,
dona eis requiem sempiternam.
O Lamb of God,
that takest away the sins of the world;
Grant them rest.
O Lamb of God,
that takest away the sins of the world:
Grant them eternal rest.
Lux aeterna luceat eis Domine
cum sanctis tuis in aeternum:
quia pius es.
Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine;
et lux perpetua luceat eis.
Let everlasting light shine on them, O Lord
with Thy saints for ever:
for Thou art merciful.
Eternal rest grant them, O Lord;
and let perpetual light shine upon them.
VI – LIBERA ME, DOMINE
Libera me, Domine, de morte aeterna
in die illa tremenda quando coeli movendi sunt
dum veneris judicare
saeculum per ignem.
Tremens factus sum ego et timeo,
dum discussio venerit atque
quando coeli movendi sunt et terra.
Deliver me, O Lord, from eternal death
on that awful day when the heavens
and earth shall be shaken
and Thou shalt come to judge
the world by fire.
I am seized with fear and trembling
until the trial is at hand and the
wrath to come:
when the heavens and earth shall be shaken.
VII – IN PARADISUM
deducant te angeli
in tuo adventu
suscipiant te Martyres
et perducat te
in civitatem sanctam Jerusalem
May the Angels
lead thee to Paradise
at thy coming
may the Martyrs receive thee,
and lead thee
into the holy city Jerusalem.
Chorus angelorum te suscipiat
et cum Lazaro quondam paupere
aeternam habeas requiem.
May the Choir of Angels receive thee,
And, with Lazarus- once a beggar-
Mayst thou have eternal rest
The importance of Fauré’s treatment of the Requiem Mass lies as much in what he omitted to set as in what he included. The movements at the work’s first hearing in 1888 involved only numbers 1, 3, 4, 5 & 7 of the piece as we now have it. Offertoire and the Libera me were added for what we now refer to as the ‘1893’ version as edited by John Rutter. In Fauré’s basic plan he has been followed by other hands – most notably, perhaps by Maurice Duruflé – as also highly significantly by Rutter, Archer, Clucas and Lloyd Webber.
Fauré’s work emphasises repose rather than judgement. While the Sequence, the famous Dies Irae, is a centre-piece of most concert and ceremonial settings of the Missa pro defunctis, Fauré extracts only the final couplet, Pie Jesu, for use between Sanctus and Agnus Dei.
Something of the composer’s approach to the work can be gleaned from an interview printed in a Parisian periodical of 1902:
it has been said that my Requiem does not express the fear of death, and someone has called it a lullaby of death. But it is thus that I see death: as a happy deliverance, an aspiration towards happiness above, rather than as a painful experience… I wanted to write something different…
The final sentences also provide an important clue to Fauré’s attitude. What he composed is, in essence, liturgical music designed originally for use in worship.
Fauré broke completely new ground in such settings as omitting the extended hymn setting Dies Irae which forms so extensive a proportion of “classic” settings by the likes of Mozart, Michael Haydn, Cherubini, Verdi and others. Fauré set a precedent of setting only the very brief last two-line stanza as a solo movement – these comprise the Pie Jesu. In that respect, Fauré has been followed by Maurice Duruflé and a whole host of other composers, including John Rutter himself, Malcolm Archer and, of course, Andrew Lloyd-Webber.
It seems likely that Fauré felt compelled to write the work following the deaths of his parents. There were, originally, only five movements. The Offertoire [O Domine, Jesu Christe, Rex Gloria] and Libera me – each movement involving a baritone soloist – were both sections that had been composed by Fauré earlier than 1888, but were not added to the work until 1893. The most expansive version of the work followed in 1900 involved all the movements collated in the 1893 version along with a symphonic orchestration undertaken, most probably, by Fauré’s student and close friend Jean Jules Aimable Roger-Ducasse [1874-1954]. Roger-Ducasse succeeded Fauré as Professor of Composition at the Conservatoire on the older man’s death in 1924; likewise, he followed Paul Dukas as Professor of Orchestration when Dukas passed away eleven years later.
The basic orchestral colouring of what survives to us today as the 1893 version is of dark hue, with much use of violas and cellos along with the double-bass. A solo violin is deployed just once, as the obbligato instrument in the ethereal Sanctus – Isaiah’s vision of the cherubim that forms the emotional and spiritual heart of this great work. There is also material for harp and drums, and a prominent organ part is omni-present.
Many performances of the work are presented with accompaniment for organ alone. The various orchestral textures are of a hue dark enough to make such a transference successful. Of the various instrumental versions of the piece available, John Rutter’s edition of the 1893 version in use this evening presents magical sonorities and deftly placed instrumental lines. Every note counts!
The opening Introit et Kyrie comprises a solemn processional, heralded at the outset by a hushed declamation of the initial stanza before the march. The Psalm versicle – from Psalm 65, the Harvest psalm – unfolds from the line hymnus Te decet hymnus and wonderfully lets in the light before the majesty regains the ascendancy. The Offertoire sets an expansive vocal phrase against impassioned accompaniment; central to this is the exquisite Hostias baritone solo – a gentle barcarolle-like utterance of consummate beauty.
Sanctus is at the heart of this lovely Mass. Above the passagework of the lilting accompaniment is thrown back and forth between upper and lower voices the motif-led choral writing. Altos are excluded from the texture until the final chords. The tension created through the use of syncopated fanfare figures in the accompaniment adds considerably to the impact. Isaiah’s vision of the cherubim crying “one to another” is powerfully articulated in musical terms.
Pie Jesu begins without preamble from an opening organ chord. The main vocal line is treated to subtle variants on its re-use, and the serenity of both principal themes is noteworthy.
The important initial theme of Agnus Dei underpins a more straightforward rising vocal line, heard first by chorus tenors. This balmy expression is disturbed by more impassioned music leading ultimately to the glorious linking note sustained by the sopranos to provide a bridge between the main text and the Communion proper Lux aeterna. The music builds mightily at the fervent words quia pius es before the hushed mood of the opening is regained.
Libera me, like the Offertory earlier, makes extensive use of the baritone soloist. There are, however, contrasting elements too – not least the fearful hush of the close harmony at tremens factus sum ego and the restless energy of the brief, yet telling, reference to Dies irae announced by fanfares of great urgency. Ultimately, though, the music subsides to give place to a hushed reprise of the baritone’s opening.
In Paradisum is disposed, in the main, for sopranos with the full chorus used chordally at cadences. This is light, other-worldly music of heart-rending beauty. Very long sustained final chords settle the spirits firmly back on earth after more than a glimpse of that which is beyond.
OVERGATE HOSPICE CHOIR SAYS: “HALLELUJAH” FOR HANDEL!
Choruses from Handel’s Messiah – first performed in a Dublin concert room 275 years ago in 1742 –will be featured in concerts during 2017 by Overgate Hospice Choir.
This gives the Choir, and its audiences a special chance to commemorate this significant milestone in the within the course of its own SILVER JUBILEE Season.
In this concert the Choir will sing Their sound is gone out into all lands.