Choir Notes: Holy Week

by Clarence Zuvekas

Sunday, April 14

At the beginning of the Palm Sunday service, we will sing Ride On, Jesus, a traditional spiritual arranged by Jens Klimek (b. 1984), a prolific German choral composer and director. Our anthem will be O Mortal Man—the traditional Sussex Mummers Carol—arranged by John Scott (1956-2015). Scott spent 26 years at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, where he was named organist and director of music in 1990. In 2004 he moved to New York to occupy the same posts at St. Thomas Church on Fifth Avenue.

Thursday, April 18

On Maundy Thursday we will be singing Anthems at the Mandatum, composed by Nicholas White (b. 1967) specifically for the foot washing on this day. Mandatum is the Latin word for commandment. The text of this composition is from the 13th Chapter of St. John’s Gospel and Psalm 85.

Born in London, White moved to the United States in 1989. One of his posts was assistant organist and choirmaster at Washington National Cathedral (1994-98). In addition to composing, White has been active as a conductor, singer, organist and pianist.

Friday, April 19

Our anthem for Good Friday is Crux Fidelis, the text of which is attributed to the Italian poet Venantius Fortunatus (c. 530/540-c. 600/609). The music is thought to be composed by King João (John) IV of Portugal (1604- 1656). When not busy seeking alliances (especially with France) to preserve Portuguese independence from Spain, John IV busied himself with hunting, music and other artistic pursuits.

The music for Crux Fidelis was edited by the English conductor and composer of church music, John Rutter (b. 1945).

Saturday, April 20

Christus Vincit (“Christ Has Conquered”), by Joseph Noyon (1888-1962). is our anthem for the Easter Vigil Service. Noyon served as organist and/or choir director at several Parisian churches and also directed the choirs of French Radio and Television Broadcasting. His Christus Vincit has been arranged by the American organist, choir director and composer, Gerre Hancock (1934-2012).

Sunday, April 21

Our Easter anthem is He Is Risen, by the English organist and composer Percy Whitlock (1903-1946). Whitlock’s goal was to be a cathedral organist, but as an organist in Bournemouth (from 1930), he is remembered more for “pops” performances in a municipal series than for his post at St. Stephen’s Church. Likewise, as a composer he is known mainly for “light” music, although he wrote a symphony for organ and orchestra and other more substantial works. As usual, we will close the service with Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus.

Sunday, April 28

The choir will take its traditional post-Easter break.

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