1. From Sonata Pian 'e Forte
By Giovanni Gabrieli.
The Sonata Pian 'e Forte is not comparable with the sonatas of Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven. It was written long before the era of the classical sonata for keyboard. This piece is the earliest one that has dynamics written into the musical score and Gabrieli was so proud of his idea that he made it part of the title, Sonata Pian 'e Forte (Sonata Soft & Loud). In fact, Gabrieli's dynamics still work beautifully four centuries later in the age of synthesizers. Sonata Pian 'e Forte as heard here, is not very different from how it would sound performed in a cathedral by two brass choirs.
2. From This is the Record of John
By Orlando Gibbons
This piece was originally a verse anthem, enacting the exchange between John the Baptist and the representatives of the authorities in Jerusalem who demanded that he explain himself. The story from John 1:19-23 is recounted by a tenor soloist alternating with a four-voice chorus. I have replaced the tenor-chorus alternation with an alternation between two duets: flute-harpsichord and organ-strings. The story goes like this:
And this is the testimony of Ioannes, when the Judaeans sent priests and Levites from Yerushalayim that they might ask him, 'Thou, who art thou?' And he confessed and denied not, saying 'I am not the Christ.' And they asked him, 'What then? Art thou Elias?' And he saith, 'I am not.' 'Art thou the Prophet?* And he answered them, 'I am not.' Then said they unto him, 'Who art thou, that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself?' He said: 'I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, MAKE STRAIGHT THE WAY OF THE LORD!' * cf. Deuteronomy 18:15.
3. From Rejoice in the Lord
This is my title piece for two reasons: One, it was my first attempt with a multi-timbral synthesizer and the combination of flute, harp, organ and tuba brought out the beauty of each voice in a unique way. Two, Saint Paul's instructions to the Phillipians which form the text to the original, are filled with a wisdom that deserves to be repeated:
Rejoice in the Lord alway; and again I say, rejoice! Let your softness be known unto all men. The Lord is e'en at hand. Be careful for nothing, but in all prayer and supplication, let your requests be made manifest unto God with giving of thanks; and the peace of God which passeth all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Jesus Christ our Lord.
4. From Audivi Vocem de Coelo
By Thomas Tallis
This piece was originally an anthem for "the 8th Respond of All Saints' Day." The Latin words, audivi vocem de coelo media nocte, recount a prophetic voice coming from heaven at midnight, telling the Wise Virgins of Matthew 25:6 that the Bridegroom has come. I find the syncopations interesting and reminiscent of modern popular music; I have accentuated them with contrasting voices: piano, church-bells, muted trumpet and bass.
5. From Sacerdotes Domini
By William Byrd
The Latin words to this piece (Sacerdotes Domini incenserunt ...) are not significant. They only say, priests made offerings and that was good. The music however, is very striking in its evocation of the splendor of the Temple of Adonai Elohim (the Lord God) and the joy of His servants as they perform the services which are both a pleasure and a duty. It is a celebration of the riches which He gives us and which He multiplies an hundred fold when we bring them back to Him in thanksgiving.
6. From Sing unto the Lord
By Christopher Tye
My source here is another anthem for All Saints' Day; but in this case the text is from the Old Covenant. The Hasidim in Verse 4 are not a certain sect of Jewry but all people of fervent piety; that is to say, all the saints. The words are especially important because they describe what the fervent piety of believers is all about: if the sorrows with which this life abounds begin to weigh us down, we cry out to Him. He hears us and changes our sorrow into gladness. Then we respond in joyful thanksgiving. The words from the Scripture look like this:
Sing unto Adonai, ye Hasidim; and give thanks with a remembrance of His holiness. Adonai hath heard me and hath taken mercy upon me. Adonai is made my helper. Thou hast turned my sorrow into joy. Thou hast put off my sackcloth, and hast compassed me with gladness, that my glory may sing unto Thee without grief. O Adonai my God, I will evermore give thanks to Thee! (Psalm 30:4, 11-13)
7. From O Sing Joyfully
By Adrian Batten
O Sing Joyfully is all about making music unto the Lord; but the instruments may be unfamiliar to some. The *tÃ¸ (tof) iis a kind of drum, like the English tabret which is a smaller
version of the timbrel. It is the reason for the drums in the music. The rp;/v or shofar, is a Hebrew ram's horn trumpet and it is the reason for the horns in the music. Of course there is much more than that to the music. The complete text follows:
O sing joyfully, unto God our strength: make a cheerful noise unto the God of Jacob. Take the song, bring hither the tabret: the merry harp with the lute. Blow the shofar in the new moon, even in the time appointed, and upon our solemn feast day. For this was made a statute for Israel: and a law of the God of Jacob. (Psalm 81:1-4)
8. From Praise your God ye Righteous
By Ludovico Viadana
Some of us may wonder whether believers can call anyone righteous at all because of Romans 3:10; but the answer is easy to see: When we praise God and not ourselves, He gives us a righteousness which we cannot earn. The text looks like this:
Praise your God, ye righteous; rejoice and sing, for Adonai is worthy to be praised. Raise your voices and sound his praise, with lute and harp: strike the ten-stringed psaltery boldly. Tell out His praises, declare His glory: sing ye a new song. O sing praises: play skilfully with loud jubilations. (Psalm 33:1-3)
9. From Blessed is He that Cometh
By Giovanni Pierluigi de Palestrina
The original for this piece is a setting of the verse most quoted on Palm Sunday, which begins with just three voices. The appearance of a fourth voice representing the people shouting "Hosanna in the highest", adds pomp to the music:
Blessed is He who cometh in the name of Adonai; Hosanna in the Highest!
(Gospel of Matthew 21:9)
10. From This is the Day
This is the Day is a classic example of polyphony, in which several voices are woven together to make a whole which is greater than the sum of the parts. It is among my shortest pieces and one of my best loved, because I came to know it as a boy chorister at Christ Church, Winnetka. The text is as follows:
This is the day which Adonai hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.
11. From Nolo Mortem Peccatoris
By Thomas Morley
(words by John Redford, died 1547)
The original for this piece is all about the Lord's love for His people even when they were about to abuse Him brutally and kill him. It begins with the Latin words, Nolo mortem peccatoris, haec sunt verba Salvatoris (I desire not the death of a sinner; these are the words of the Savior.) It continues with an English paraphrase of Yeshua's Agony in the Garden (Matthew 26:36-46, Mark 14:32-42, Luke 22: 39-46, John 18:1) punctuated by restatements of Nolo mortem peccatoris. They can be heard easily in the music, whenever the interweaving of melodies stops and the voices sound together in chords. The complete text is this:
Nolo mortem peccatoris,
haec sunt verba salvatoris.
Father, I am thine only Son,
sent down from Heaven Mankind to save:
Father, all things fulfilled
and done according to thy will I have:
Father, now my will now all is this:
Nolo mortem peccatoris.
Father, behold my painful smart, taken from every side
even from my birth to death most tart,
no kind of pain I have denied;
but suffered all and all for this:
Nolo mortem peccatoris.
12. From Genitori Genitoque
By Thomas Luis de Victoria
(words from the Hymn for Vespers of Corpus Christi)
Genitori genitoque, laus et jubilatio.
Salus, honor, virtus quoque sit et benedictio.
Procedenti ab utroque compar sit laudatio.
To the Begotten and the Begettor, praise and joy.
Health, honor, excellence also let there be, and blessing.
To Him who proceeds from the womb let there be equal praising.
Genitor Genitoque is a setting of a Latin poem by the medieval intellectual, St. Thomas Aquinas about the Begettor (the Father) and the Begotten (the Son). It is about the Father's gift to us. It sounds like Christmas. It is about Christmas.
13a. Let all the Cosmos Praise Adonai
Adapted from Orlando de Lassus
This piece is actually a combination of two pieces, both by de Lassus and both laudatÃ©s (songs of praise); but it sounds more like four pieces, as the second laudatÃ© has three parts. I have put them together because the first is a setting of the beginning of Psalm 148 and the second picks up where the first leaves off. I have given the whole a title with references both to the Hebrew and the Classical Greek tradition: Adonai (Hebrew for 'lord') is what Jewish people say when they see hwhy (y-h-v-h), because the original pronunciation is not known. They never say 'Jehovah' or 'Yaweh'. kosmovÃŸ (kosmos) means 'world' in Greek; but for the ancient Greeks, kosmovÃŸ included all the spheres of Heaven as well as all the earth and that is what the Psalmist means: Let EVERYTHING praise the Lord!
Halleluya! Praise Adonai from the Heavens. Praise Him in the heights. Praise Him all His angels. Praise Him all his hosts. Praise Him sun and moon. Praise Him all ye stars of light. Praise Him heavens of heavens, and ye waters that are above the heavens. For He gave command and they were created. And He established them for ever and ever. He has made a decree which shall not pass. (Psalm 148:1-6)
13b. Let all the Cosmos Praise Adonai continued
Praise Adonai from the earth, O monsters and all deeps; fire and hail; snow and vapors; stormy wind fulfilling His word; mountains and all hills; fruitful trees and all cedars; beasts and all cattle; creeping things and winged birds; kings of the earth and all peoples; princes and all judges of the earth. (Psalm 148:7-11)
13c. Let all the Cosmos Praise Adonai continued
Both youths and maidens, old men and children, let them praise the name of Adonai; for His name is exalted. His glory is above the earth and heaven. He also has exalted the horn of his people, a praise for all His pious ones; even for the children of Yisra'el, a people near to Him, Haleluya! (Psalm 148:12-14)
13d. Let all the Cosmos Praise Adonai continued
After the preceding quiet middle movement, de Lassus had run out of verses in Psalm 148, but he hadn't run out of praises; so, in this rousing conclusion to his grand motet, he set the six verses of Psalm 150:
Haleluya! Praise God in His sanctuary. Praise Him in the firmament of His power. Praise Him for His mighty acts. Praise Him according to His exceeding greatness. Praise Him with the sound of the shofar. Praise Him with the harp and lyre. Praise Him with the timbrel and dance. Praise Him with stringed instruments and the pipe. Praise Him upon sounding cymbals. Let everything that has breath, praise the Lord. (Psalm 150:1-6)
14. From Magnificat
By Giovanni Pierluigi de Palestrina
(Gospel of Luke 1:46-55)
Palestrina wrote many settings of the Magnificat or Song of Mary. This is the one which I know and love best. It expresses the quiet joy of Yeshua's mother when she visits her kinswoman Elizabeth who has also conceived a child miraculously.
My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior; for He hath regarded the lowliness of His handmaiden. For behold, from henceforth all generations shall be blessed regarding me. For His mercy is upon generations and generations of them that fear Him. He hath done might with His arm. He hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He hath put down the mighty from their thrones, and hath exalted them of low degree. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He hath sent empty away. He hath holpen His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy (as He spoke to our fathers) to Avraham and to his seed forever..
15. From Sicut Cervus
By Giovanni Pierluigi de Palestrina
I have retained the Latin title to this piece even though the Biblical text is in Hebrew, because it is possibly the most famous piece that Palestrina ever wrote. Many listeners may recognize it. It compares the believer's longing for Our Lord, with the longing of a beautiful creature for a beautiful thing; a longing which does not go unsatisfied!
Like as the hart desireth the waterbrooks, so longeth my soul after Thee, O Elohim. My soul thirsteth for Elohim, for the living God. When shall I come to appear before Elohim? My tears have been my bread all the day long, while they daily say unto me, 'Where is now thy God?' Why art thou cast down O my soul? And why art thou disquieted within me? Hope in Elohim; for I shall yet praise Him who is the health of my countenance, and my God. (Psalm 42:1-3,11)
16. From In Ecclesiis
By Giovanni Gabrieli
This piece is the climax to Rejoice in the Lord. Although taken from the 16th century, the music is meant to have a modern flavor. The text is church Latin from Venice, but I have given it a Messianic translation: Bless Adonai in congregations!
In ecclesiis benedicite Domino. Alleluia! In omni loco dominationis benedic, anima mea, Dominum. In Deo salutari meo, et gloria mea. Deus auxilium et spes mea in Deo est. Alleluia, Deus meus, te invocamus. Libera nos, vivifica nos. Alleluia, Deus adjutor noster in aeternam.
In congregations, bless Adonai. Alleluia! In every place of His dominion, bless the Lord O my soul. In God is my health and my glory. God is my help. Alleluia, my God. We call upon thee. Free us, save us alive. Alleluia, God is our helper unto eternity. (Saint Mark's Cathedral, Venice)
17. From Pavane Lord Salisbury
By Orlando Gibbons
Pavane Lord Salisbury with its somber opening, is a postlude, a coda to Rejoice in the Lord. It was originally a piece for keyboard written to honor an English nobleman who must have been an amazing virtuoso. The sixty-fourth notes of the Galliard would have been a challenge even for Glenn Gould (whose performances were amazingly fast). I have reset this piece for brass, strings flute and harp.
Sources and Dates
Batten, Adrian (1591 - 1637)
Byrd, William (1542 - 1623)
Gabrieli, Giovanni (1557 - 1612)
Gibbons, Orlando (1583 - 1685)
Lassus, Orlando de (1532 - 1594)
Morley, Thomas (1557 - c. 1633) Palestrina, Giovanni Pierluigi de
(1525 - 1594)
Tallis, Thomas (1505 - 1585)
Tye , Christopher (1497 - 1572)
Viadana, Ludovico (1564 - 1645)
Victoria, Thomas Luis de (1549 - 1611)
Thanks are due to:
o Nancy Childs. for essential assistance with graphic art;
o all the good people at RSRT, but especially to Brian and Cheney for top quality printing and duplication;
o and to Rabbi Shmuel Wolkenfeld of Messianic Congregation Or Ha Olam who corrected my Hebrew and helped with proof-reading.
More than thanks are due to my dear parents, David Lee and Barbara Smith Fargo, who encouraged me in music before I had fully learned to talk, for all their love and support, in all the long years from then to now.
Check out the artist's website:
1. Sonata Pian' e Forte
2. This is the Record of John
3. Rejoice in the Lord
4. Audivi Vocem de Coelo
5. Sacerdotes Domini
6. Sing unto the Lord
7. O Sing Joyfully
8. Praise your God ye Righteous
9. Blessed is He that Cometh
10. This is the Day
11. Nolo Mortem Peccatoris
12. Genitori Genitoque
13. Let All the Cosmos Praise Adonai, Part 1
14. Let All the Cosmos Praise Adonai, Part 2
15. Let all the Cosmos Praise Adonai, Part 3
16. Let all the Cosmos Praise Adonai, Part 4
18. Sicut Cervus
19. In Ecclesiis
20. Pavane Lord Salisbury