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Sunday, December 4, 2016

For The Second Sunday Of Advent 2016

(For politics, please scroll down)

Enjoy the music and the images presented in the two videos below — the first choral and the second orchestral:

[Cyber Hymnal's entry for "Of the Father's Love Begotten"]

[Wikipedia has a detailed entry]


  1. Excellent selections. Thanks...... Hoping things are going better for you.

  2. Of the Father's Love Begotten

    Of the Father's love begotten
    Ere the worlds began to be,
    He is Alpha and Omega,
    He the Source, the Ending He,
    Of the things that are, that have been,
    And that future years shall see
    Evermore and evermore.

    Oh, that birth forever blessed
    When the Virgin, full of grace,
    By the Holy Ghost conceiving,
    Bare the Savior of our race,
    And the Babe, the world's Redeemer,
    First revealed His sacred face
    Evermore and evermore.

    O ye heights of heaven, adore Him;
    Angel hosts, His praises sing;
    Powers, dominions, bow before Him
    And extol our God and King.
    Let no tongue on earth be silent,
    Every voice in concert ring
    Evermore and evermore.

    This is He whom Heaven-taught singers
    Sang of old with one accord;
    Whom the Scriptures of the prophets
    Promised in their faithful word.
    Now He shines, the Long-expected;
    Let creation praise its Lord
    Evermore and evermore.

    Christ, to Thee, with God the Father,
    And, O Holy Ghost, to Thee
    Hymn and chant and high thanksgiving
    And unending praises be,
    Honor, glory, and dominion,
    And eternal victory
    Evermore and evermore.

    ~ Aurelius C. Prudentius, 413, cento
    Translated by John. M. Neale, 1818-1866
    and Henry W. Baker, 1821-1977

    One of the oldest and most beautiful Advent pieces in Church Music Literature. What we have heard since the late1800's is a beautifully refined and embellished version of an ancient Latin text set to sensitive harmonies. The version we are familiar with today must sound very different from the original Plainsong (monophonic) which might seem austere to our ears today.

    1. FT.
      I've heard the austere version several times. It's wonderful! I admit a bias in favor of Plainsong and even have one audio CD version of monks intoning Gregorian chants.

    2. Addendum: the austere versions I've heard were performed with hand bells at the Kennedy Center in processionals. Very moving!

    3. I agree, AOW. But if Plainsong is not sung as I have tried to describe it in my second post below, it can be deadly dull. I'm not sure precisely when handbells first arrived on the scene, but I have always loved hearing them, –– if used tastefully in good solid arrangements of traditional church music.

      We used to sing Gustav Holst's magnificent setting of Personent Hodie (On this Day Earth Shall Ring with the Songs Children Sing) as the processional for our annual Christmas Concert in HIGH SCHOOL. I still get goose bumps every time I think of it.

      Can you imagine anything as fine, noble and exhilarating as that being performed by ordinary teenagers today?

      What we have been FORCED to MISS by COURT ORDER for the past half-century has deprived several generations of gaining access knowledge of and experiencing the Joy, Glory and Inspiration of our splendid heritage.

      What a pity!

  3. The harmonies in the choral version are splendid –– beautifully crafted, sensitive to the text ,and subtly varied in each verse. Nothing is overstated, overblown or in any way florid. In short a small masterpiece.

    I have to say, though, that the singing, while beautifully in tune and very well balanced among the four voices, lacks the free flowing momentum implicit in the interpretation of all good melodies –– especially those based on Gregorian Chant.

    By that I mean that no one told the singers that i-den-ti-cal em-pha-sis on ev-e-ry sin-gle note ob-scures the meaning and mars the beau-ty of the text.

    In each phrase there are only one, possibly two syllables towards which singers should emphasize. The rest should flow as naturally as the tides. We were taught in the professional Episcopal boy choir where I was privileged to sing as a child that it was wrong to emphasize the beat and the bar lines. Music should flow naturally like human speech.

    Unless my ears have deceived me, I believe the second version was not truly orchestral. It sounds to me as though it were played on an electronic SYNTHESIZER. Whoever did the playing,however, did a lovely job. HE understood the continuous flowing nature the piece requires better than the person who directed the chorus.

    All that aside, it is great selection for this Sunday in Advent –– peaceful, serene and quite confident –– exactly what this fiercely strident, turbulent, hyper-anxious word needs more than ever before.

  4. I prefer the latin.

    When I was growing up we had an Advent wreathe on the dining room table and would like a candle for each week and do a reading. Sadly, that tradition is gone now.

    Thanks for the reminder.

    1. When I married my German Lutheran, we had an advent wreath...on the coffee table....I didn't much like it because the table's large but those wreaths are, too! UGH! He's been gone for 7 years but I still have a tad bit of guilt for not putting the advent wreath out tho it was no-way part of my immediate family tradition!...right before I have the pleasure of remembering I don't have to put it out anymore! :-)

  5. OK, I have to admit that I didn't understand the chant until I visited a cathedral in Rome and heard the chant echo around the dome, filling in the area. The chords came together and the echoes produced a most beautiful sound. We lose something in the translation when these are not sung under a proper domed church.

    1. Euripides,
      I strongly agree with you about the importance of a domed church.

  6. Beautiful! I love that they pronounce the words well enough to understand; VERY rare. As a 'belter,' I know that well pronouncing words also projects the sounds best.
    I thought the arrangement and performance were splendid. As I'm still listening as I type, I can hardly believe what a relief it is to actually understand every word instead of the mush mouthed way of most singers. Very little 'head voice'..hurrah!
    And the harmonies and excellent dynamics add to the whole thing..BRAVO! Very moving..

    THanks for posting this, AOW. Hoping you're feeling better...

    1. Z,
      The choir wherein I was trained had a director who insisted on such clear diction. We spent hours on getting it exactly right.

  7. Just to add to the richness of this presentation here are two more versions that have more of the “flow” I was talking about. The first, sung a capella, in a modern arrangement is my favorite of the two. The second is a more robust version with an all-male chorus with organ accompaniment by the organ. Both are beautiful, but the quieter, more delicate version is incandescent –– lighted from within.

    St. Martin’s Chamber Choir


    Concordia Seminary, Ft. Wayne, IN



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