"My pierced side, O Thomas, see;
my hands, my feet, I show to thee;
not faithless but believing be."
No longer Thomas then denied;
he saw the feet, the hands, the side;
"Thou art my Lord and God," he cried.
- att. Jean Tisserand, 15th c.
trans. John Mason Neale, 1851
For Sunday, I’ve made a special arrangement of this old French chant that alternates the original melody with a newly composed interlude and alternate melody. The interlude is designed to imitate the sounds of birdsong, emphasizing springtime, and the alternate melody is in a unique musical meter (rhythm pattern) – 7/8. This meter is one of my favorites for expressing joy, as it provides an unexpected rhythmic “kick.” Most music is in duple or triple meter (ONE – two – THREE – four, or ONE – two – three), but 7/8, like 5/8, is asymmetrical and can be counted as 4 + 3 or 3 + 4. Of course, I don’t keep it in 7/8 for the whole melody. I also use 6/8, 4/4, and 3/4 before returning to the familiar chant. The idea is to create a musical atmosphere that encourages listening to the melody and words rather than feeling a predictable pattern.
Other music this Sunday will feature the work of two Italian composers, Domenico Scarlatti (1685-1757) and Girolamo Frescobaldi (1583-1643). While Scarlatti is the most recent of the two, his work isn’t as seminal as Frescobaldi’s. Personally, I find music of the early Italians to be like a breath of fresh air after a long period of hearing more complex or serious works. Scarlatti’s Organ Sonata in G Major will serve as our prelude. Listen to the light, clear flute sounds that evoke images of springtime. Note how different this music is from works of Bach, also born in 1685! Frescobaldi’s Capriccio Pastorale will be played during Communion. Listen to the pastoral character/lilting quality of the music. Both of these composers were towering virtuosos of the keyboard in their day, but to me, their work seems more geared to creating beautiful, pleasant music to delight the listener as opposed to making monumental sonic edifices. It’s Low Sunday, let’s enjoy the simple beauty and elegance of Easter!