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Third Sunday in Lent

Sunday, March 3, 2024

 

Musical Prelude

John Rutter’s Mass of the Children

9:30 a.m.

 

The Holy Eucharist: Rite One

10:00 a.m.

Streaming link

Bulletin

A Message from the Dean

We are delighted and honored to welcome Mobile’s Singing Children to Christ Church Cathedral on this third Sunday in Lent. Not only will they sing John Rutter’s “Mass of the Children” in its entirety as a prelude to our worship, but they will also sing at the Offertory and join in leading our hymns and service music.

 

Rutter composed this work for combined children’s and adult choirs, not treating the children’s voices simply as a musical resource but as essential to the work. Young voices lead from the outset and continue to be integral throughout the composition.

 

Their centrality in the Mass reminds us that children are leaders, teachers, and guides in our faith and our world, both this world now and the world to come. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs” (Matthew 19:14).

 

Listen closely to the movement from waking to sleeping that is woven through the texts. Along the way you will hear familiar hymns and poetry, in addition to the traditional elements of the Mass. Let the voices and the music carry you to deeper feeling and awareness of Christ’s love and presence with you.

 

I hope and pray that your experience of this musical offering prepares you to receive the Body of Christ in worship, so that you can go into the world and be the Body of Christ.

 

Faithfully,

Beverly+

A Message from the Organist Choir-Master

Mobile’s Singing Children’s presence at Christ Church Cathedral to perform “Mass of the Children” represents one of life’s full-circle moments. In 2010, I had the fortune of singing this very work as a member of Mobile’s Singing Children at Springhill Presbyterian Church under the baton of my mentors, Dr. Randall Sheets and Susan Hoitt. The almost-decade I spent as a member of MSC was formative to my musical education and sense of possibility. These children excel in musical literacy and are the area’s premiere children’s choir, invited to perform with organizations like Mobile Symphony Orchestra and Mobile Opera. Alumni of MSC present today in the adult choir include myself, Mollie Adams, Bayleigh Batchelor, and Tara Piggott. We warmly welcome them to Christ Church as part of this wonderful work by John Rutter.

Mass of the Children      John Rutter (b 1945)

Though he is perhaps best known for his carols and other short pieces, John Rutter also has a number of large-scale works for chorus and orchestra to his name. Most of these received their first performances in the United States, where Rutter is a frequent visitor, writing regularly for American choirs and conducting performances of his own music. The Mass of the Children received its première in Carnegie Hall, New York, in February 2003, and the first UK performance followed a month later in Guildford Cathedral, the composer conducting on both occasions.

 

The Mass is a Missa Brevis – a Latin Mass without a Credo – in five movements. Several additional English texts are also included, and these form a progression from waking to sleeping that runs through the work as a counterpart to the liturgy of the conventional Mass text.  The piece does not begin immediately with the Kyrie Eleison but, in keeping with the ‘waking to sleeping’ theme, opens with the children’s choir singing lines from Bishop Thomas Ken’s fine morning hymn, ‘Awake, my soul, and with the sun’, written in about 1674 for the scholars of Winchester College. After the Kyrie comes an exuberant Gloria featuring energetic, unequal rhythms that are typical of Rutter at his liveliest, and then a complete change of mood is introduced with the gently lilting harmonies of the Sanctus and Benedictus. The Agnus Dei text is divided between the fourth and fifth movements, with the first part being followed by William Blake’s moving poem, ‘The Lamb’, sung by the children’s choir. The final movement begins with two prayers by John Rutter, for the baritone and soprano soloists, based on verses by Lancelot Andrewes and St Patrick. The Mass now returns to the poetry of Bishop Ken. In one of Rutter’s most inspired passages the beautiful evening hymn, ‘Glory to thee, my God, this night’ is sung by the children to the sublime melody of Tallis’s Canon whilst the adults chant ‘Dona nobis pacem’ (Grant us thy peace). Finally the choirs are joined by the soloists, and the combined voices gradually bring the work to its peaceful conclusion. 

 

As always with Rutter, the music is beautifully written for the voices and superbly orchestrated. His skillful writing for soloists, choirs and orchestra and his sensitive interweaving of the various Latin and English texts has resulted in one of his finest and most moving works.

Mass of the Children Program Notes from @John Bawden,

MMus (University of Surrey, U.K.)

Friends of Cathedral Music Giving Page

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