Advent Calendar Day 1 – Matin Responsory (Palestrina)

Apparently, I really am insane enough to do a musical Advent Calendar again. Because helping organise eight separate work Christmas events this year isn’t enough for me…

This year will shamelessly overlap with some of my favourites from last year, quite simply because Advent isn’t advent for me without the Record of John and Every Valley. And there were other things I found last year that I love too much to forego just because we’ve heard them before. They bear repeating.

I thought I’d start this Advent with Palestrina’s Matin Responsory, a piece we do at our annual Advent Service at Wesley. This recording is from King’s College in 1961, and I’m loving the crackle of the vinyl, which sounds like flames to me and seems very Christmassy. Also, I love how far away it sounds, both in distance and time. This sort of music, which is a bit of a cross between Gregorian and Anglican Chant, feels very ancient to me, and very appealing. One of the things I love about a lot of church music – especially the kind based on chant or really early Church lyrics – is the sense you have of reaching back hundreds or thousands of years and somehow being connected to the people who lived then by the same words and sometimes the same notes.

This recording, for me, speaks very well for the first day of Advent. Christmas is still a long way away, though we can see it in the distance now, and the music reflects that. The lyrics are apt, too (they are also hidden below the cut, along with the recording).

 

V: I look from afar:
R: And lo, I see the power of God coming, and a cloud covering the whole earth.

V: Go ye out to meet him and say:
R: Tell us, art thou he that should come to reign over thy people Israel?

V: High and low, rich and poor, One with another,
R: Go ye out to meet him and say:

V: Hear, O thou shepherd of Israel, thou that leadest Joseph like a sheep.
R: Tell us, art thou he that should come?

V: Stir up thy strength, O Lord, and come
R: To reign over thy people Israel.

V: Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.
R: I look from afar: and lo, I see the power of God coming, and a cloud covering the whole earth.

V: Go ye out to meet him and say:
R: Tell us, art thou he that should come to reign over thy people Israel.

Also, if you’d like to hear some live Advent music, we have our Advent Service at Wesley (148 Lonsdale St, Melbourne) this Sunday evening from 7pm. ou know you want to hear The Record of John again…

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