This Sunday, we celebrate the Third Sunday of Advent, Gaudete Sunday. The nickname of this Sunday comes from the first word of the Latin introit, "Gaudete" (Rejoice). Of all the Sundays of Advent, this one is historically the most joyful. Some churches use rose colored vestments to highlight the lighter nature of this day. In our introit this week, sung by the choir from the back of the church, listen for the repetition of the word "rejoice." Then, we will process in to Joyful, joyful we adore thee to further celebrate the close proximity of Christmas. Even though Advent has many sober aspects, there is much cause for celebration amid the introspection and mysterious nature of this season.
The choir anthem will be People, Look East by Henry Lebedinsky (b. 1975). This text focuses on the coming of salvation by metaphorically looking eastward. It urges us to make ready for Christ's Incarnation by preparing our hearts. Lebedinsky is a very interesting living composer, and so I have included his biography below, reprinted from his website, henrylebedinsky.com.
"Henry Lebedinsky performs on historical keyboards across the United States and the United Kingdom. An avid chamber musician, he is a member of Agave Baroque, The Vivaldi Project, and LUTEFISK, and directs the period instrument ensemble The Seicento String Band. He has also performed with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, The Charlotte Symphony, The Minnesota Bach Ensemble, The Oratorio Society of Minnesota, Seraphic Fire and the Firebird Chamber Orchestra, and Boston Revels, among others. He is the founder of the Music @ St. Alban’s concert series in Davidson, North Carolina, and served as interim Artistic Director of Charlotte Chamber Music, Inc. and Director of Rochester, NY’s The Publick Musick. In addition to performing, Mr. Lebedinsky has taught masterclasses and workshops on historical keyboards and performance practice at The University of Edinburgh's Dashkova Centre for Russian Studies, Bowdoin College, Davidson College, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and Appalachian State University, as well as at the American Guild of Organists 2014 National Convention.Lebedinsky's sacred music for choir and organ is published by Carus-Verlag Stuttgart, and his editions of vocal works by 17th century nun composers for Saltarello Editions have been performed around the world, most recently in France, South Korea, and Lebanon. His poetry has appeared in Fresh Day Magazine. Lebedinsky holds degrees from Bowdoin College and the Longy School of Music, where he earned a Master of Music in historical organ performance as a student of Peter Sykes. He currently lives in Seattle, where he runs the guerrilla performance organization Early Music Underground and serves as Music Director at Edmonds United Methodist Church."
During communion, the ladies of the choir will offer I Sing of a Maiden by Patrick Hadley (1899-1973). An English composer, Hadley is seen by some as an important musical link between Ralph Vaughan Williams and Benjamin Britten (two of the most important English composers of the 20th century). Hadley suffered an injury in the First World War that caused his right leg to be amputated below the knee. Sadly, this came as a great blow to Hadley, and he struggled with issues related to this for the rest of his life. His music, however, is both ethereal and very well written. Because the song of Mary, the Magnificat, is featured this week, we have continued this theme during communion. The lyrics of Hadley's beautiful piece are printed below. All of these pieces together are intended to help us all celebrate this Gaudete Sunday in a meaningful way.
I sing of a maiden that is makeless (mateless and matchless)
King of all kings to her son she ches (chose).
He came all so still where his mother was,
As dew in April that falleth on the grass.
He came all so still to his mother's bower,
As dew in April that falleth on the flower.
He came all so still where his mother lay,
As dew in April that falleth on the spray.
Mother and maiden was never none but she:
Well may such a lady God's mother be.
- English traditional