Sacred: Music for the Christian Faith

Sacred: Music for the Christian Faith

Ref: CDG1177

Sacred: Music for the Christian Faith

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

Saint Paul Letter to the Colossians

1 Puer natus
The Monks and Novices of St Frideswide
2 Prijon Forte (Song to the Virgin)
Safar with Sara Stowe
3 Bogoroditse Devo (Rejoice, O Virgin) - Victor Kalinnikov
Singscape conducted by Sarah Tenant-Flowers
4 Gloria laus
The Oxford Girls' Choir directed by Richard Vendome
5 Kyrie Orbis factor
Magdala directed by David Skinner
6 Ave Maria - William Cornysh
Magdala directed by David Skinner
7 Stabat mater - Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina
Magdala directed by David Skinner
8 Como poden per sas culpas
Safar with Sara Stowe
9 Jesus Christ is risen today
The Choir of Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge directed by David Skinner
10 Nobilis, humilis
The Oxford Girls' Choir directed by Richard Vendome
11 Lullay, Lullay
The Oxford Girls' Choir directed by Richard Vendome
12 Magnificat - Thomas Tomkins
English Renaissance directed by Michael Stoddart
13 Come holy Spirit, Lord God - Johann Sebastian Bach
Martin Souter
14 Nunc dimittis - Josquin des Prez
Magdala directed by David Skinner
15 Gloria De angelis
Magdala directed by David Skinner
16 Sanctus - Henry V
Magdala directed by David Skinner

CCL CDG1177
This compilation P & C 2007 Classical Communications Ltd
Recorded in the churches and chapels of the city of Oxford
Cover image: Christ in Majesty Louvain region 1148 Add. 14788 f.6v Parc Abbey Bible The British Library
Made in Great Britain

Sacred: Music for the Christian Faith

A call to prayer in the form of bells introduces one of the most well-known hymns of the church: For unto us a boy is born. Here we have the plainchant original sung in Latin. Plainchant is music consisting of a single melodic line. It was composed for use in the liturgy of the early church, and its musical shapes and contours influenced most subsequent forms and styles of music in the West. For unto us a boy is born (Puer natus) became a fixture of Christmas music making. Christmas and Easter (represented by the hymn Jesus Christ is risen today, a nineteenth century adaptation of an ancient text and melody) are the most important festivals in the calendar of the Christian church, since they celebrate the single most important element of doctrine which distinguishes Christianity from other religions, namely the birth and death of Jesus, the Son of God. The remainder of this album presents other facets of the religious life and belief of the Christian, and, in particular, the liturgy - the prayers and worship of God - which form an essential part of that life and belief. Central to that belief is the celebration of the Eucharist, in which the crucifixion of Christ is symbolically re-enacted. 'Kyrie', 'Gloria' and 'Sanctus' are key elements of that service. The programme also celebrates the Christian belief in the Trinity - God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, by reference to all three elements of the Deity. An important Christian theme in the Roman Catholic church is Mary, the Mother of God, and several works pay homage to her, including the Magnificat, the Hymn of Mary which plays such an important part in the liturgy. In Western traditions, the 'Magnificat' is often associated with the 'Nunc dimittis', the Song of Simeon. Both texts were prescribed by early medieval times for the evening services read or sung in churches and monasteries throughout Christendom. In England after the Reformation of Henry VIII, they appear, separated by bible readings, in the single service of Evening Prayer or Evensong. The Church of England became a Protestant church, and the upheavals this represented were repeated across Europe, though for different reasons. The Lutheran branch of the Protestant church is represented here in the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, possibly the greatest composer of Christian music ever to live. His magnificent invocation of the Holy Spirit is played on the organ, a sound which has been associated for centuries with the church. Another iconic composer is to be found in Palestrina. His music, from the sixteenth century, was considered to represent all that was good about the liturgy and the faith of the reformed Catholic church of his time.

Christianity is not, of course, confined to Western Europe, and we've represented the wider church with three works. Prijon forte has its origins in the music of North Africa. It is a song to the Virgin: 'Not even a strong prison can hold us captive against the glory of the Virgin. For the prisoner was miraculously released by her will and the guard then held wide open the door.' Como poden per sas culpas is from a similar root and carries a similar message: 'People may through the Virgin be forgiven their sins. The paralysed man was cured through her grace and lived to praise her.' Bogoroditse Devo comes from the Orthodox tradition, which to many represents the Eastern Church. This Russian piece is another Hymn to the Virgin.

The programme ends with a work composed by Henry V of England: a pious and religious man of learning, threads common to many powerful men in centuries past. The piece also serves as an example of the close ties between state and church which added such strength to Christianity over two millennia.