And Their Sorrows Shall Cease (Summer 2009)

A concert of sacred song evoking faith and hope through the ages.

Program Notes

Lift Thine Eyes (from Elijah)
Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy (1809-1847)

Elijah, the protagonist prophet in Mendelssohn’s celebrated oratorio of the same name, is weary and downtrodden, having endured many years of trials and hardship. In his despair, Elijah sings the impassioned lament, “It Is Enough,” in which he pleads for the Lord to take his life. Shortly thereafter, Mendelssohn inserted an exquisite chorus for three-part women’s voices - a choir of angels - in which Elijah is comforted with paraphrased words of Psalm 121: “Lift thine eyes, O lift thine eyes to the mountains whence cometh thy help.” The shape of the melodic line, which soars upward, descends, and rises again several times, suggests the lifting of one’s eyes to heaven and the zigzag outline of a mountain range. The women of Caritas present this piece in honor of the 200th anniversary of Mendelssohn’s birth.

Ave Maria
Tomás Luis de Victoria (ca. 1548-1611)

Caritas has sung several motets by the master Spanish Renaissance composer Tomás Luis de Victoria. His setting of the Ave Maria, which is preceded in this concert by the singing of the traditional Gregorian chant melody, begins with the incipit of the original chant. The voices then enter in succession, their melodic lines a tonal imitation of one another. The texture changes from polyphonic to homophonic with the vigorous declaration, “Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus.” The texture of the final phrase is again polyphonic with a florid soprano line at the words “nunc et hora mortis nostrae.” The motet concludes predictably with a plagal (or “Amen”) cadence.

Ave Regina caelorum
arr. Robert W. Schaefer

Schaefer puts a fresh face on a familiar favorite. The chant melody is kept in tact, although it is organized in measures of five beats’ duration. Schaefer accompanies the chant with three different ostinatos: 1.) an open-fifth drone in the men’s voices, 2.) the repetition of consecutive neighboring pitches (C-D) in the soprano and tenor voices in what sounds like a slow, measured trill, and 3.) mildly dissonant chord clusters in the women’s voices.

O sacrum convivium
Dan Locklair (b. 1949)

This piece is a Latin setting of a prayer for the Feast of Corpus Christi (now known as the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ), observed on the Sunday after Trinity Sunday. The thoughts are those of St. Thomas Aquinas, expressing the great mystery of the Eucharist, where Christ is contained, remembered, offered and received. Dan Locklair’s work is slow and sustained, using an economy of notes. The slow movement and low tessitura evoke a feeling of mystery in much the same manner as Olivier Messiaen’s (1908-1992) popular motet on the same text.

O Sweet and Sacred Feast
Michael McCabe (b. 1941)

Based on the same text as the previous piece, though presented here in English, O Sweet and Sacred Feast is decidedly more straightforward with fluid melodic lines in ABA form. In the "B" section, where the text speaks of transformation ("our souls are filled with grace and the pledge of everlasting glory") the music moves to a new key. The final A section returns to the original key with a repeat of the starting text, but concludes with a quietly joyous coda on the word "alleluia."

Verbum caro, panem verum
Paul M. French (b. 1959)

The words, attributed to Thomas Aquinas, are a portion of Pange lingua, a hymn traditionally sung during the procession of the Eucharist at the conclusion of the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Last Supper. Paul French alternates chants with harmonized phrases that repeat the text to music that is not based on the preceding chant melody but nonetheless expresses the awe and mystery of the sacrament.

Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)

The Blessed Virgin Mary is the focus of six of the seven part-songs in Brahms’ op. 22, Marienlieder (Mary Songs). The subject of “Magdalena,” however is another prominent biblical Mary—Mary Magdalene, first witness to the resurrection of Jesus. The three stanzas retell the events of that first Easter morning. Mary Magdalene goes to the tomb to embalm the body of Jesus whereupon an angel tells her that the Lord has risen. Then, in her confusion, Mary, when she hears her name called, mistakenly identifies Jesus as a gardener. Brahms’ strophic somber melody is straightforward, in the style of a folksong rather than a motet. The soprano and bass lines adhere strictly to the pure form of the G natural minor scale, while the tenor line has some chromatic alterations. The alto line, on the other hand, is as complex as the others are simple. In the penultimate measure of each stanza, the unsettled alto line includes the pitches E-natural, F-sharp, G, A-flat, B-natural, and C.

Peace Be With You
Wayne Dietterick (b. 1952)

Wayne Dietterick, Caritas Composer-in-Residence, recently completed Peace Be With You for these performances, though he began the composition in 1992. The text is a near verbatim rendering of John 20:20-31 which presents the events of Easter Sunday evening (following Mary Magdalene’s experience at the tomb) and the following week in the Upper Room. Most of the narration of the story is conveyed through freely metered chant while the dialogue between Jesus and the disciples, particularly Thomas, is effectively presented in four-voiced harmonization. As the title of the selection implies, Jesus’ words are set in such a way that they evoke peace. We also hear the fear and doubt of the disciples as well as their awe, exuberance and joy at seeing the Risen Lord.

For Those Who Pray
We Do Not Have to Live by Ourselves
Jane Marshall (b. 1924)

To Pray and to Hope is comprised of two brief reflective prayers: “For Those Who Pray,” with text by the composer, and “We Do Not Have to Live by Ourselves” (Romans 14:7-9), a popular sentence at funeral services. Each piece is brief (only 17 and 13 measures long, respectively.) The texture is homophonic and hymn-like. All four voices move together, with all voices moving in tandem, rarely independent of one another. Both works are organized in the keys of D major and B-flat major. These compositions would likely be used effectively as choral introits in mainstream Protestant worship services.

Lay Me Low
arr. Kevin Siegfried (b. 1969)

In keeping with the simplicity of the Shaker spirit, Kevin Siegfried’s arrangements of Peace and Lay Me Low are austere and not at all “fussy.” Aside from the four-part coda that concludes Peace (also known as Peace to Zion) the remainder of the hymn is in unison or two parts. The underlying accompaniment of Lay Me Low increases steadily from three to seven parts, adding a simple drone fifth. This serves to increase the intensity without altering the simplicity and humility conveyed in the piece.

Not One Sparrow Is Forgotten
arr. William Hawley (b. 1950)

Also a Shaker hymn, Not One Sparrow Is Forgotten is not as stark as the two hymns that precede it. Its gently lilting melody could be mistaken for an Irish folksong. William Hawley’s arrangement is replete with dense, lush harmonies, often numbering seven or eight parts. Nevertheless, the harmonization does not sound cluttered.

Hark, I Hear the Harps Eternal
arr. Alice Parker (b. 1925)

The hymn tune Invitation, to which the text Hark, I Hear the Harps Eternal is sung, is rhythmic and solid and abundant in syncopated rhythms. The time signature (3/2) belies the sense of a stately march. Heaven is depicted as a city over swollen waters on a distant shore. The melody of the spirited refrain is sung by sopranos and tenors simultaneously and in canon at the distance of one or three beats.

Nobody Knows the Trouble I See
Fernando Allen
Wayfarin' Stranger
arr. K. Scott Lee (b. 1950)

Each of these works speaks of the woes of earthly existence and the hope for relief. Nobody Knows the Trouble I See is a troubled soul’s appeal for prayer while Wayfarin’ Stranger expresses the anticipation of the rewards of heaven where “weary eyes no more shall weep.” Both pieces are predictably somber.

Calling My Children Home
Lawson, Waller, Yates, arr. Joseph H. Jennings

Three individuals, Doyle Lawson, Charles Waller, and Robert Yates, are credited with writing Calling My Children Home although the exact contribution of each is unclear. Moreover, the work could pass for an Appalachian folksong. Joseph Jennings’ arrangement begins with close harmony and parallel motion in the top three voices. When the basses enter at the third stanza, they sing literally only the tonic and dominant notes (C and G). The harmonic palate, quite narrow overall, is expanded somewhat in the harmonization of the final refrain.

The simple harmony and strophic repetition successfully convey the common human experience of longing for one’s grown or lost children.

Poor Man Lazrus
arr. Jester Hairston (1901-2000)

The words of this spiritual retell Saint Luke’s gospel parable of the Rich Man and the poor beggar Lazarus. The Rich Man, who is unnamed in the gospel but has become known popularly as Divies, dies and is sent to Hades where he is tormented by the flames. Conversely, when Lazarus dies he is taken to the bosom of Abraham. Dives pleads with Abraham to allow Lazarus to ease his torment. Says Divies to Lazarus, “Dip your finger in the water; come and cool my tongue, ‘cause I’m tormented in the flame.” But neither man is able to pass through a great chasm that separates them. Scored for men’s voices (TTBB), this spiritual is uncharacteristically upbeat, given the nature of the story. The final refrain is extended by the staggered entrance of each voice, a series of brief modulations, and a rousing statement of the refrain by the men in the high registers of their voices.

My Soul's Been Anchored in the Lord
arr. Moses Hogan(1957-2003)

Moses Hogan’s masterful arrangements of African-American spirituals are staples of contemporary choral repertoire. My Soul’s Been Anchored in the Lord is undoubtedly one of Hogan’s most popular works. Of special interest are the final 32 measures, a kind of profession-of-faith dialogue between the women and men of the chorus. The women pose such questions as “Do you love him?,” “Will you serve him?,” and “Are you anchored in the Lord?” The men respond with exuberant, emphatic acclamations such as: Oh yes!,” “Hallelujah!,” and “Lord, I love you!”

Other Performance Programs

  • April 2024 - The Best of All's the Heart
  • November 2023 - The Tender Parting
  • May 2023 - Sacred Tribute
  • December 2022 - Born to Set Thy People Free
  • June 2022 - Dancing Toward Paradise
  • December 2021 - In Silence and Celebration
  • March 2020 - Into Your Hands
  • May 2019 - Grace Abides
  • October 2018 - Peace and All Good
  • May 2018 - Yet I Will Rejoice
  • March 2018 - A Song Full of Hope
  • December 2017 - Sing, O My Love
  • June 2017 - Ancient Prayers for Our Time
  • March 2017 - Unrelenting Love
  • February 2017 - Above Earth's Lamentation
  • December 2016 - The Coming of the Light
  • November 2016 - Praise and Blessings
  • June 2016 - Will There Really Be a Morning?
  • November 2015 - Journey On!
  • June 2015 - Take Up the Journey
  • December 2014 - Behold a Virgin Bearing Him
  • June 2014 - With Overflowing Hearts
  • March 2014 - Our Hearts Are Filled to Overflowing
  • June 2013 - Choosing Joy
  • December 2012 - Unto Us Salvation Is Born
  • November 2012 - Journey Into Light
  • March 2012 - Psalms and Alms - Taize Prayer for Africa
  • December 2011 - And have your come with us to dwell?
  • March 2011 - Come Meet the Healer
  • June 2010 - Singing So Much Love
  • 2009 Recording - Stop Your Doubting
  • 2009 - And Their Sorrows Shall Cease
  • 2008 - Singing Christ in Splendid, Varied Ways
  • 2007 Advent - Christ Comes!
  • 2007 - Christ is Our Peace
  • 2006 - Led by the Lamb
  • 2005 - Let Love be Free
  • Caritas News

    DONATE to feed our children during the 2024 Goma Crisis.

    Find us on YouTube and Spotify.

    Read about the Founders and Leaders of the African Mission

    Letter from Fr. Ted, Adorno Superior, on his 2022 Congo Visit

    Make an donation online for the African Mission anytime, or text CONGO to 71441.

    Thank you for your continued support of the Adorno Fathers' African Mission and the Gianni Diurni Primary School in Goma, DRC.

    Join Our Mailing List
    For Email Marketing you can trust