Saturday, 2 February 2008

Lumen ad revelationem gentium

Today we celebrate the feast of the Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple, or the Purification of Our Lady, which is the 160th anniversary of the foundation of the Oratory in England by Cardinal Newman at Maryvale. It is a most joyous occasion for us and we all look forward to it. It is also one of the high masses that involves a lot of choreography between the choir and the sanctuary.

The lighting and blessing of candles with the procession following afterwards is one that ends the Christmas season, and looks forward to the great paschal vigil on Holy Saturday. During all this we in the choir we sing the chants and motets 'Ecce Dominus noster', 'Lumen ad revelationem gentium', 'Adorna thalamum tuum Sion', the Introit 'Suscepimus' leading immediately into the Kyrie and Gloria. Getting the choreography and timing right is notoriously difficult, and for the first time in eleven years we did it without a hitch!

For the Kyrie and Gloria we sung 'Missa Sancta et Immaculata' by Francisco Guerrero, with Hodie Beata Virgo by Palestrina at the offertory and Senex Puerum by Byrd at communion. All very fine pieces - with plainsong Cum Jubilo Sanctus and Agnus. It seems almost yesterday when we celebrated the 150th anniversary of the founding of the English Oratory on this day. That day we had a solemn pontifical mass with Bishop Boyce of Raphoe as celebrant, and did the Frescobaldi Missa Sopra 'della Monica for double choir and instrumentalists.

Unfortunately I can't give you any names or pictures of our choir for reasons of discretion. However I can give you this Russian icon of the Presentation. Happy feastday!

Nunc dimittis servum tuum Domine,
secundum verbum tuum in pace.
Quia viderunt oculi mei,salutare suum.
Quod parasti, ante faciem omnium populorum.
Lumen ad revelationem gentium,
et gloriam plebis tuae Israel.

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