Sunday’s offertory music was composed by our own choir member, Cleamon Downs (b. 1947). A women’s trio from the choir will sing his Jesu dulcis memoria. Listen for the ethereal chant-like melody with quiet, lush chords from the organ. Cleamon wrote this piece in memory of his mother, and it is easy to hear the tenderness with which it is composer, but the very text itself also expresses tenderness. Jesu dulcis memoria is an old Latin hymn that is translated below. Cleamon does an excellent job expressing this text in modern music while still respecting its ancient roots.
Jesus, how sweet the very thought,
Giving true joy to the heart,
But sweeter than honey and all else
Is His presence.
From: Translations and Annotations of Choral Repertoire, Volume I: Sacred Latin Texts
Compiled and Annotated by Ron Jeffers: 1988 Earthsongs
During Communion, the choir will sing God So Loved the World by John Stainer (1840-1901). Certainly, this is the best known movement from his large work, The Crucifixion. This piece has enjoyed enormous popularity even bordering on overuse in the opinion of some. Personally, I view this movement as an old favorite worthy of repeating due its simple text and music that, together, create a memorable piece that “brings home” its message. Of course, this work sets the text of John 3:16, a verse beloved by Christians everywhere.
So it is with these works, coupled with familiar hymns, that we observe Laetare Sunday. It is our hope that the music will underscore the message of salvation and that it will help to lift our spirits during Lent. On Laetare Sunday, we anticipate Easter joy, and music new and old will aid us in doing just that.