Saturday, November 23, 2019

Congregational singing and the accents of the Old Testament

This morning I awoke with Isaiah 12 as an ear-worm. And a voice said to me, Write about this music.
Isaiah 12 for congregational singing
Isaiah 12 is the psalm for the lectionary in year C, the 23rd Sunday after Pentecost.

What this music proves is that singing the Old Testament from the deciphering key of Suzanne Haïk-Vantoura does not have to be confined to the professionals as she did in her thorough foray into North America via Chanticleer and NPR. The high performance standard is wonderful indeed, but it runs the risk of having the music be forgotten and this music should not be forgotten.

In earlier days at the Church of St Barnabas in Victoria, I had used the music to read the lesson from the Old Testament, with one or more readers depending on the story. I have used it for psalms. This is the first time I have provided a version for congregation. It was noted on the prior Sunday, sketched by Monday, revised by Tuesday, announcement prepared for the Wednesday deadline and discussed as to possible performance practice with the director. The discussion was an eye-opener for me as to how music develops and how to think about performance. Other than the email trail with the director, I did not prepare the choir or give any feedback. I heard it for the first time on the appointed day a week after first sketching it. The translation is from Bob's Bible for the music.

Here is the world premiere of Isaiah 12 sung by the congregation and choir of St John the Divine Church in Victoria conducted by David Stratkauskis. The cantor is Macrae choral scholar Anne van der Sloot.



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