This Sunday also features the last Advent pieces of the year. We will sing The angel Gabriel, O come, O come, Emmanuel, and Come, thou long expected Jesus during the liturgy (in addition to the all-out Christmas carols of the pageant). The choir will offer an anthem previously presented at our Lessons and Carols service on Advent II, Who At My Door is Standing? This piece, by K. Lee Scott (b. 1950) has its melody from an English folk song pared with lyrics by Mary Slade (1826-1882), a Massachusetts minister’s wife. Interestingly, she wrote quite a few compelling texts for hymns, bearing witness to the power of creativity and spirituality to transcend a largely immobile life. K. Lee Scott, on the other hand, is a beloved composer of church music who has been published in eight hymnals and whose music can be found in choral libraries all over the United States. Scott holds degrees from The University of Alabama and has taught there and at UA Birmingham and at Samford University. Scott’s music is endearing and pleasing to hear, but the words truly bring Sunday’s anthem to life. Verse one is printed below. This text, coupled with the English folk melody and Scott’s masterful arranging, will hopefully speak to you as Advent draws to a close.
Who at my door is standing, there patiently drawing near,
who entrance is demanding? Whose is the voice I hear?
Sweetly the tones are falling: “Now open the door for me!
If thou wilt heed my calling, I will abide with thee.”
The organ prelude and postlude both feature music by English composer, John Ireland (1879-1962). The prelude, Sursum Corda, basically translates as “lift up your hearts,” and will provide a lush, English Romantic background to our pre-service thoughts and prayers. The postlude, Alla Marcia, is the quintessential Victorian-era English march. John Ireland was a well known composer, but not famous to the general public. He composed in many genres of classical music, but is perhaps best remembered for his choral and organ music. After a blissfully Baroque-heavy Advent here at the Cathedral, John Ireland’s verdant harmonies should sound refreshing for Advent IV.
Finally, remember to come early for our Christmas Eve service this year. The choirs and musicians of Christ Church will begin prelude music at 4:15 P. M. with the Festival Eucharist to follow at 5:00 P. M. I can assure you our prelude and service music will be beautiful. If you can’t come Christmas Eve, remember that we offer a 10:00 A. M. morning Eucharist on Christmas Day featuring carols, organ music, and an offertory solo. Happy Advent and merry Christmas from your music ministry!