Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Recollected in tranquillity

I've spent the last two hours singing the most beautiful music, practising for a gig on Sunday when the St Maura Singers celebrate their 40th year of singing together. The concert is part of the Music for a Summer Afternoon (summer!) series in the Cathedral of The Isles on Cumbrae, where we first sang together, and we shall be revisiting some of the music we sang then as well as two new pieces - new to us, and fairly recently composed for Cappella Nova - by John McIntosh. These last, in 5 parts, are possible because our current quartet will be joined by our original soprano, as well as an extra bass who goes back to our University Chapel Choir days, so it should be quite a reunion.

But all that is by way of introducing what actually drove me to post this, for two of the pieces brought home to me how much I have changed in my reaction, not to the music, but to the words. I could barely get through Tomkins' When David Heard - these repeated "Oh my son, my son" lines can never be the same, I think, to anyone who has a son. It took all my willpower to focus on purity of line and phrasing, the need to express the abandonment of grief by the greatest of control - that paradox of the performer, really. And Lassus' Justorum Animae made me think of Ruby, a lovely lady, a Cursillista who died last week and whose funeral is tomorrow. I wish we could be singing these words over her, for although the Latin uses the masculine form throughout, surely if anyone's soul is in the hand of God Ruby's is.

Iustorum animae in manu Dei sunt, et non tanget illos tormentum mortis. Visi sunt oculis insipientium mori: illi autem sunt in pace.


  1. Amen to that, Chris!

  2. At Angeles Singers we recently used Margaret Rizza's 'O Lord, my heart is not proud' at a service. The last words 'at rest, as a child in its mother's arms, so is my soul', still takes me back 40 years to our first child, and a slight trickle can be seen coming from my eye!