Sunday, 30 November 2008

Advent Sunday: The Church's New Year

Today is Advent Sunday and surely many people who will attend church will hear Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme BWV 645 by JS. Bach played on the organ – possibly at the start of the service. Listen here to a YouTube recording of the great Tom Koopman playing this ubiquitous work.

It is not the purpose of The Land of Lost Content blog to promote any particular religion or division of Christianity. However, as so much British music has been written for the church (Tallis, Byrd, Handel, Howells, Sumsion, Darke, RVW etc) it would be churlish to ignore the start of the Christian Year. Over the next month I will post about Christmas music – both concert works and carols- but not exclusively so!

I am a member of the Prayer Book Society and prefer my Scriptures in the King James version of the bible. I really do struggle with the dumbed down language that seems to prevail in so many Anglican Churches these days: I dread the words ‘music group’ or 'informal worship' in any service advertisement. Give me the traditional Mattins and Evensong or Mass any day- complete with robed choir.

I am going to quote the Collect for the Day from the Book of Common Prayer. It does not really matter if readers do not agree with the sentiment of the words, just enjoy the sheer poetry and give thanks to your god for the beauty of the English Language of Thomas Cranmer and Miles Coverdale and the musical works that have been inspired by it.

ALMIGHTY God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal life, in which thy Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the quick and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal, through him who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, now and ever. Amen

Many churches will be singing the Advent Hymn today -and I thought I would link to a very attractive rendition of this work from the Church of the Redeemer in Morristown, USA.

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