Some of you know that my brother is very sick. We were able to spend a week with him and his family mid June, and it was heartbreaking to see how very, very sick he is. He went public with his health story back several weeks ago during a particularly difficult time. Since then, he and my sister-in-law have been encouraged by an outpouring of prayer and support, and an insurance ruling reversal that will provide him with the medical treatment we hope will save his life. His road to recovery, however, will be a long one and he needs much prayer.
Serious family illness has a way of quickly focusing life’s priorities. Turning 40, all of a sudden, was not such a hardship. As we try and support from afar, this Schubert setting of Psalm 23 has been one of the pieces playing in my head.
The Chamber Orchestra of Europe with sopranos Barbara Bonney and Brigitte Poschner, contraltos Dalia Schaechter and Margareta Hintermeier under the direction of Claudio Abbado
This is where I went to church this morning.
It was particularly special for me to be at Notre Dame de Paris because this is the place (and the organ) that started Jeff’s love affair with classical music 31 years ago. The organ really is magnificent.
The text of Salvator Mundi by Thomas Tallis technically fits after Easter but the reflective nature of this piece makes it feel right for Lent. Here it is, performed by The Sixteen.
One of my favourite choral pieces is found in the fourth section of Brahms’ German Requium. “Wie lieblich sind deine wohnungen” is known to us English audiences as “How lovely are thy dwellings”. It is fairly popular in the world of choral music but that’s likely because it is such a beautiful piece; if you have heard it many times before, I’m fairly certain you won’t mind enjoying it again. An English translation of the text can be read here.
Almost four years ago, I accompanied a small choir who sang Felix Mendelssohn’s “Verleih uns Frieden” at the wedding of my dear friend, P. I still can’t listen to the third verse without tearing up- that’s the verse she walked down the aisle to. It’s a wonderful piece I didn’t know before her wedding and whenever I hear it, I will be brought to that beautiful sunny autumn afternoon.
In these our days so perilous, Lord, peace in mercy send us;
No God but thee can fight for us, No God but thee defend us;
Thou our only God and Saviour.
For the first 20 years of my life, J.S. Bach was not my friend. I had to get away from the piano to fully appreciate Bach’s music- I don’t know why but it fits so much better in my voice than under my fingers. As a chamber choir singer, I was introduced to the Bach motets and it was unexpected love at first sight-singing. I have been lucky to learn and perform six of the seven Bach motets and each one has deepened my appreciation of his compositions. Back in May, I posted what I said was my favourite, “Der Geist hilft unser Schwachheit auf“. I think it might actually be tied for my favourite with ‘Singet dem Herrn’, a setting of Psalm 149:1-3 and Psalm 150:2,6. This motet is vibrant, colourful, alive, and so much fun to sing. The Vocalconsort Berlin does an impeccable job- translation can be read here.
Here is a lovely little setting of Psalm 34:8 by Vaughn Williams that I have always loved. I don’t know of a choir that sings it better than John Rutter’s Cambridge Singers.