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March 1, 2014

Choral Music for the Season | March 2014

Choral Music for the Season

Two choral pieces to bring joy to Easter liturgies

Lent provides a wonderful opportunity for spiritual growth. The Church has long advocated prayer and fasting to strengthen our call to penitence and personal growth. Musicians and non-musicians alike also tend to find spiritual deepening through music. Some of the world’s most beautiful and spiritually deep music is for the Lenten season, and many of the texts of this time call us to look inside ourselves to enrich our relationship with God. The Easter season is equally rewarding in a very different, yet parallel, way. To the Lenten experience of growth and enrichment, Easter offers celebration and joy. Easter, in both liturgy and music, is a kind of answer to the season that precedes it. In choral music, as with any style of music, difficulty does not necessarily equate with quality and well-crafted music is available at many skill levels. And remember, the music isn’t found on the page, but in the way it is approached and interpreted.

Below are two choral pieces for Easter. When brought to life musically, they can help bring growth and enrichment, celebration and joy to your liturgies throughout these seasons.

Angela Westhoff-Johnson

Angela Westhoff-Johnson
Managing Music Editor for OCP
and music director at St. Mary's Cathedral in Portland, Oregon


Regina Caeli by Colin Mawby

This setting of the Marian antiphon for SATB choir and organ composed by Colin Mawby is joyful and overflows with the feeling of Easter. The 6/8 meter creates a bouncy, exuberant rhythm. The piece begins with the sopranos introducing “Regína caeli, laetáre, alleluia,” and the voices gradually join in on the repeated alleluias for a grand finish. The men counter with “Quia quem meruísti portáre, alleluia,” and once again the women join on the repetition of the alleluia and end with an even more exciting five-part sound. Variety of texture makes this piece interesting while it remains joyful throughout. The translation of the Latin text is “Queen of Heaven, rejoice, alleluia. / For he whom you did merit to bear, alleluia, has risen as he said, alleluia. / Pray for us to God, alleluia.” This piece is suitable from Easter Sunday through Pentecost.

Difficulty Level: Medium | Voicing: No Assembly Edition, SATB

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The Day of Resurrection ELLACOMBE, arranged by Lynn Trapp

The traditional tune ELLACOMBE is strong and sturdy and is a thrilling way to begin the celebration of our Lord’s resurrection. Arranged for choir, organ, brass, and timpani, this concertato arrangement uses that tune. It is easily accessible while it resounds in a more challenging ring, which is indeed desirable after the many musical demands placed upon pastoral musicians throughout the Easter Triduum. As with many concertato arrangements of well-known hymns, “The Day of Resurrection” is somewhat predictable but certainly not boring or tasteless. The last two verses are sung in unison with descant to add variety while the brass enhances the ending with its glorious, triumphant sound.

Difficulty Level: Medium | Voicing: SATB, Descant

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