Saturday, February 26, 2011

More Renaissance music

The choir had so much fun with Schutz last week, that we're continuing this week with more music from the Renaissance era.  We'll sing the anthem "Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God" by le Maistre, which contains a brief prayer for guidance:

Lord Jesus Christ the son of God
Thou mighty king of heaven above
From deep within my heart I pray
Be thou my guide my hope and stay.

The music is not a simple chorale, however, but the vocal lines weave together in a round-like fashion.  The altos begin the piece by spelling out a simple, minor-key melody.  It is quickly passed from section to section, and the text becomes elongated over long melodic runs before coming together in parallel thirds for the important request that forms the heart of the prayer: "be though my guide."  The music elevates the prayer to a beautiful statement of guidance and trust.

To me, the piece calls to mind the Gospel story of the road to Emmaus, in which the resurrected Christ appears to some of the disciples.  In that story, they say to him "Stay with us for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over."  The text and the music this week beautifully portray that yearning for guidance and comfort.

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