A delightful way of examining Anglican musical patrimony

Brother John-Bede Pauley has a wonderful series up at his musicanglicanorum blog he calls Auditio Divina: Listening with the Ear of the Heart.  Here is a link to Part IV of the series for November that looks  Century composer  Geraint Lewis’s “The Souls of the Righteous”

There is also a link to a performance of the music so you can listen as well as read the most interesting commentary.

Here is a short excerpt:

Indeed, Lewis’s anthem, though written in a twentieth-century idiom, has elements that evoke, whether consciously or not, the musical austerity preferred by radical elements in the sixteenth-century Church of England.  For example, of the anthem’s seventy-six measures, the choir never sings a melisma (assigning more than one note of music per syllable of text) until bar 60 (an observation to which I return below).  This would have pleased the sixteenth century’s puritanical elements and would have met Queen Elizabeth I’s 1558 injunction that church music be “modest [and] plainly understood, as if it were read without singing.”

But whether Lewis consciously echoed some of the Tudor era’s musical characteristics, his anthem also reflects support of the Anglican choral heritage’s ongoing development, which had been one of Mathias’s contributions as well.  For example, neither sixteenth-century puritanical currents nor much of the repertoire of the Anglican choral heritage supports the practice of frequent text repetitions.  But that is one of the characteristics of Lewis’s anthem.  These text repetitions are not gratuitous, however, and therefore suggest that, if handled properly, this could be a legitimate development of the heritage.

In the piece, Brother John-Bede explains to non-musicians what is happening with with the piece to draw out the meaning of the text that is most appropriate for November.

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