St. Mark's Gift of Music
From the organ bench ... Music for Lent
As LENT approaches, like our eating habits, our musical appetites might benefit from a little selective thinning. In the “good old days” organists were admonished to serve up a «lean» organ accompaniment devoid of snarling Reeds and flashy Mixtures — a sort of organ gruel! Likewise, Choirmasters were expected to put aside grand and boisterous “Cathedral” Masses, Services, and Anthems, steering toward Plainsong and a capella (unaccompanied) motets (short anthem, e.g. Palestrina).
There was a certain wisdom to those practices. Lent is a time of reflection, even penitence; and reflection is reinforced by the musical simplicity and quiet of Plainsong and a capella choral music.
So, we find the music for Lent to be a bit more subdued, more reflective, simpler and often “older”, although some 21st century poets and composers are represented. By using the Revised Common Lectionary, which with its three-year cycle introduces a larger group of Scripture readings to our services, many more musical choices are available for services. After 17 years of our most recent hymn book, Common Praise, only half the Lenten/Easter selections have been experienced. Of those which remain new to us, some is excellent material which will be introduced slowly and methodically, with hopes that at least some of them may join the ranks of St. Mark's “favourites”.
As music is the handmaid to worship, the best examples should be used, and in the context of hymns, that should include being SINGABLE and ENJOYED by the congregation. Your thoughts, both positive and negative, are always welcome.
Soli Deo Gloria!
Organist & Choir Director, St. Mark’s Anglican Church