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Dark Is the New Bright

Guest post by Mark Cabaniss

Just 30 or 40 years ago, the Tenebrae service was foreign to many a church, despite the service’s ancient roots. The Roman Catholic Church embraced it early, but it has only become popular and more regularly practiced in Mainline Protestant churches (and even some traditional evangelical churches) in recent decades.

These “services of darkness,” as they are often called, have become a “bright spot,” one could say, for churches around the world that are looking for fresh and creative ways to impart the Holy Week journey.

Sacred music publishers have responded to the heightened awareness of Tenebrae with a variety of publications that are ready to prepare and present as complete Tenebrae services with appropriate music and narration.

Tenebrae is a special service for Holy Week that can be conducted on Holy Wednesday, Maundy Thursday or Good Friday, or any day of Holy Week when a church has a regular or additional special service.

The name “Tenebrae” comes from the Latin for “shadows” or “darkness,” and denotes a service of shadows. The Tenebrae service makes use of gradually diminishing light as candles are extinguished one-by-one to guide the congregation through the events of Holy Week from the triumphant Palm Sunday entry through Jesus’s burial. This increasing darkness symbolizes the approaching darkness of Jesus’s death of hopelessness in the world without God. The service concludes in darkness, sometimes with a final candle, the Christ candle, being extinguished or carried out of the sanctuary to represent the death of Jesus. A loud noise may also sound, echoing the closing of Jesus’s tomb. The worshipers then leave in silence to ponder the impact of Christ’s death and await the coming Resurrection.

Tenebrae services generally should begin in a dark sanctuary lit only by five candles at the front, along with a sixth candle, the Christ candle. Each candle is extinguished as directed by the worship leader(s) during the service, with the Christ candle being extinguished near the end of the final piece of the work. Some churches desire the Christ candle not be extinguished, but taken from the sanctuary in front of a silent procession with the choir as they exit. Regardless of the approach you choose for the Christ candle, the congregation should part in silence. (This direction should be given in the program so that everyone in attendance can be fully informed.)

During a prelude, you may choose to have the choir process led by chosen choir members or laypersons carrying the six lit candles. Those candles are then placed in holders in front of the sanctuary.

The narration may be read by one reader or by several readers. If you choose to have more than one reader, the readings can be divided among lines and paragraphs as desired.

ItIsFinishedA new Tenebrae service for 2019, Mary McDonald’s It Is Finished, offers PowerPoint images that correspond to the mood of each piece being sung. These can be projected during the service to enhance the overall impact of the work and help bring to life the events depicted during Holy Week. The images change with the beginning of each anthem sung during the 30-minute presentation.

Another service option for Tenebrae is to serve communion during the work if so desired. This option further enhances and deepens the overall experience of the service, while engaging the congregants in the act of communion as Jesus did with his disciples during Holy Week.

In whatever manner you may choose to carry out Tenebrae, you’ll find this ancient service still speaks beautifully to today’s worshipers, especially when utilizing one of the newest or more recent published services that help guide and provide a compelling experience for all participants.

 


MarkCabanissMark Cabaniss is a music publisher, producer, writer and educator. He is President/CEO of Jubilate Music Group, based in Nashville, Tennessee. http://www.markcabaniss.com

Christmas Music History: Bach’s Baroque Shepherds & Folk Tradition

Close your eyes and picture the Christmas nativity scene. Are there shepherds? What do they look like? What are they doing?

Since St. Francis presented the first recreation of Jesus’s birth in a cave in Greccio, Italy in 1223, countless renditions of the nativity scene have been drawn, carved and staged, and nearly all of these feature shepherds in the supporting cast, very often with flutes and horns in tow. The 1389 Trés Belles Heures de Notre-Dame, for instance, depicts a nativity scene with three shepherds, one with a primitive bagpipe and the other two with alpenhorns. Even St. Joseph himself carries an alpenhorn in the Bedford Hours (c. 1410-1430, France).

The musical shepherd’s lasting presence in the nativity scene is probably less a result of biblical influence — after all, the shepherds are mentioned only briefly in only one of the four Gospels (Luke), and nothing is said about their music — than of contemporaneous familiarity and local folk traditions. While shepherds mostly used horns in various occupational and communicative capacities, some also became quite skilled musicians. In addition to performing at weddings and other celebrations, small bands of shepherds would come down from the mountains at Christmastime to play carols for townspeople. Berlioz describes the pifferari, as they were known in Rome, and surmises that the tradition must have survived from antiquity:

“Equipped with bagpipes and pifferi (a kind of oboe), they come to perform devout concerts in front of images of the Madonna. They usually wear broad coats of brown cloth, and the same pointed hats worn by brigands; their appearance has a kind of wild mysticism which is full of originality….The bagpipe, supported by a large piffero which sounds the bass, plays a harmony of two or three notes, over which a medium length piffero performs the melody. Then on top of it all two small and very short pifferi, played by children of 12 to 15 years, rain down trills and cadences and bathe the rustic melody with a cascade of exotic ornaments. After cheerful and jolly tunes which are repeated at great length, a slow and solemn prayer, full of patriarchal warmth, brings the naive symphony to a worthy conclusion…”

Bach immortalizes this folk tradition in the opening “Sinfonia” of Part II of his 1734/35 Weihnachts-Oratorium (Christmas Oratorio). This serene tone painting is written in the form of a “concerto a due cori,” utilizing the lilting, dotted 12/8 rhythm of the pastoral Siciliana. Violins and flutes set the scene of a starry night in the hills around Bethlehem, while the shepherds and their flocks are depicted by a chorus of low-pitched Baroque oboes: two oboes d’amore pitched a minor third lower than the soprano oboe, and two oboes da caccia pitched a fifth lower.

Though the oboe d’amore, a slightly larger version of the modern oboe with a more tranquil sound, saw a minor resurgence in compositional interest in the early 20th century, the oboe da caccia fell so quickly and so greatly into disuse after the Baroque era that even modern musical scholars didn’t really know what the instrument looked or sounded like until 1973, when two original Baroque instruments were discovered in Scandinavian museums.

Seen in the photo here, the oboe da caccia (played here by Alan Paul of San Francisco) features a leather-covered, curved wooden body with a flaring brass bell at the end, combining the two specialties of famed Leipzig instrument maker Johann H. Eichentopf, who is credited with the instrument’s invention. It is believed that the brass bell, which makes the instrument sound like a hunting horn, inspired its name (literally “hunting oboe” in Italian). It was, however, never used to hunt, and unlike other wind and brass instruments, had no real folk, military or court predecessor.

Alan_Paul_Oboe_da_Caccia

The oboes da caccia crafted today are all copies of the two that survived from the 18th century, both made by Eichentopf, and its usage is limited almost entirely to the repertoire of the great Baroque composers of Leipzig, such as Bach and Telemann.

For a special treat, listen to Baroque oboist and oboe maker Sand Dalton play the instrument solo:

Christmas Presence by Pepper Choplin

Thank you for listening to my new cantata. I devote so many hours to projects like this, but it’s all worth it to know that you are singing and sharing my music with your people.

We’ve all experienced someone’s presence. We’ve all felt their absence. Being present is very powerful. Being absent is just as powerful.

Christmas Presence explores this power as it impacts this season. Here is how each piece contributes to the message:

  • “The World Awaits Your Coming” — As the people of the earth feel the power of hate and war, we long for the Lord to live among us and bring a new Kingdom of peace and love. Here, we sing of the expectation and joy of the Lord’s presence.
  • “We Are Here, God is Here” — We experience the miracle of worship as we become aware of “God With Us.” The piece is meant to express a sense of power and mystery.
  • “Tiny Miracle” — Everyone gets excited about welcoming a new baby into the world. With energy and delight, we celebrate the coming of the holy Child.
  • “Angels Came to Earth One Night” — In the peacefulness of the fields, the shepherds are suddenly visited by a heavenly presence. Imagine their new sense of hope as the angels come to them. The music suggests the comfort and the celebration of the angels’ message.
  • “Call of the Magi” — The Magi could have seen the star and simply recorded the event. Instead, they made a difficult journey to simply BE in the presence of the newborn King. Here, I borrowed a tune usually meant for the angels to help us follow the Magi to the holy Child.
  • “Still They Are Here” — Presence and absence are felt most powerfully when we think of our loved ones. I wanted to help you acknowledge and minister to hearts who need comfort during the season. Later in the piece, the text says, “When we share with others all the love they showed us, still they are here.”
  • “Hope, Love, and Joy to the World (Be a Christmas Presence)” — My wife Heather said, “Yes, this is all great, but then we need to become the Christmas presence in the world. We need to BE the presence of hope, love, and joy where they are absent.” I used a lesser-known traditional tune to send our people forth with a fresh desire to share the presence of the Lord.
  • “Go Tell It Where I Send Thee” — And then comes a final “sending out” song. You may choose to sing it after your benediction. Question: “Where shall I send thee?” Answer: “Go tell it on the mountain, over the hills and everywhere!”

 

by Pepper Choplin

Choplin Pepper_CMYK 300dpi

About Pepper Choplin

Pepper Chopin currently has over two hundred anthems in addition to seven choral musicals. His musical experiences range from church musician to theme park entertainer. He has performed musical styles from rock to classical to bluegrass. Pepper leads events throughout the country as composer, clinician, conductor and entertainer. Audiences respond with laughter and with tears as he conducts and sings his unique mix of inspirational and humorous music in churches and conferences.

Behold, A Savior by Jay Rouse and Rose Aspinall

We are delighted to bring Behold, A Savior! to you—delighted. We are storytellers; Jay with his piano, Rose with her pen. Our hope is that what we set down on paper, be it words or musical notations, will have a life beyond our vision.

 

We always strive to be servants of the work. This creative act is our annunciation. In this way, we keep Jesus alive in our hearts. But once we send it out into the world, it’s yours. It no longer depends on our piano and pen. It depends on you. We give this to you with a prayer. May He be born in you. May you become ever more alive in Him. And then, tell the story, His story and your story. Tell it in your own way. Tell it again and again and again.

 

Creating a new work has its own journey. This one is no different. As we talked through our thoughts for Behold, A Savior!, our desire was to create a collection that would serve you in multiple ways. We wanted to provide fresh arrangements of your favorite Christmas songs, as well as give you some beautiful, new original songs.

 

We wanted a work that offered you the option of meaningful and accessible dramatic moments without making them intrinsic to its performance. We realized that this could be a bit of a challenge. We’re happy with what developed, and we hope you will be too. So, in that light…

 

Need music to carry you over the Advent season? You’ll find it in this work.

It’s the first Sunday of Advent and you need a moment for the Prophesy candle during the lighting of your Advent wreath. You can easily present “O Come, Emmanuel, Rejoice!” along with the short Zechariah monologue either as a dramatic reading or with an actor in costume. There are equally appropriate moments for the Bethlehem candle, the Shepherd candle, and the Angel candle too.

Maybe your time is limited and you only want to read the scripture that ties to the song. That’s there for you too. You choose.

 

Need a whole piece to present for a special event?

This collection covers the broad sweep of the Christmas story with all its glory, as well as its most tender and intimate moments. We have provided an optional opening and closing narration for your pastor or lay person that will create a space for an altar call if you should choose to offer one.

 

Do you have a few good actors that would love to present a short monologue?

Adding dramatic moments without committing to a full-fledged production is easy with this work and can add another layer to your production. Monologues can be presented in Reader’s Theatre fashion if you want to forego costumes and memorization.

No matter how you choose to present Behold, A Savior!, if Christ is glorified, we will have accomplished our goal.

-Jay Rouse and Rose Aspinall

 

Rouse Jay_300 cmykAbout Jay Rouse

Jay Rouse is one of the premier choral arrangers in Christian music. He has over three hundred and fifty compositions and arrangements published, including over thirty major sacred choral works and fifty best-selling a cappella arrangements. Rouse is a Dove Award winning producer and has logged many hours on the road traveling in the music ministry. He spent over ten years as musical director and accompanist for Sandi Patty. Rouse continues to make a major impact on music for the church musician across the nation.

 

 

Rose-Aspinall 300dpi CMYKAbout Rose Aspinall:

Rose M. Aspinall is a writer living in small town, USA, Alexandria, Indiana, better known as the home of Bill and Gloria Gaither. At the end of 1983, she and her husband and children moved from Ohio to join the Gaither organization. She has now been part of the music industry for more than three decades. Twenty of those years she headed up the print-on-demand division of PraiseGathering Music Group.
Moving over to the creative side of the business in 2009, she now works as a freelance writer, lending her talents as a lyricist for top industry arrangers and publishing companies while continuing to serve as writer and associate producer for original PraiseGathering publications. She is also responsible for all dramatic scripts, producing and editing blog content, social media, and copy.
Active both on and off the stage in local community and church theater productions, Rose is an accomplished actress and gifted communicator. She often brings her written scripts to life on the conference stage. Her deep interest in the arts as it relates to the church is abundantly evident in her writing. Her great passion is redemption and restoration through storytelling.

She and her husband, Mark, are the parents of two grown daughters and the grandparents of six!

New Resource for Choir Rehearsals: carus plus put to the test

A choir is a collective of different types of singers who approach rehearsals in very different ways: one can sing perfectly by sight, whilst another is always reliant on his or her neighbor. Some prepare for rehearsals at home, but most of the singers hope to get some direction from the conductor and practice their parts during rehearsals. Bringing together and shaping voices which have more-or-less secure intonation into a unified sound is a task which requires a lot of time and effort on the part of all involved.

In order to make this task easier, in recent years Carus has considerably expanded its range of new, motivating practice aids. Under the keyword “carus plus” practice aids are now available to suit the different needs of singers for over 70 works from the international standard repertoire – from Bach’s St Matthew Passion to many masses by Haydn, Mozart, and Schubert, and to Saint-Saëns’ Oratorio de Noël.

 

carus music, The Choir app

7331000u “How can we exploit the possibilities offered by new media to support individual practice for choral singers?”, asked Johannes Graulich, managing director of Carus-Verlag, and himself an active choral singer. As a response to this, carus music, the choir app was created in 2015, and has since gone on to become established as a helpful practice aid for thousands of choral singers. What is special about this app is not only the combination of music with an excellent recording, but in particular the so-called “coach”. If you select the coach mode, your own voice is reinforced by the piano as part of the overall sound, and through this it can be heard better as if you are in a rehearsal situation. As well as this, with the coach it is also possible to play pieces back at a slower tempo for practice purposes. “The app helps choral singers to learn the notes quicker so that I have more time for my interpretation”, is how conductor Klaus Brecht sums up practicing with the digital coach. He added, “when it comes to repeating passages, it is more patient than me; each singer can decide how he or she wants to use it.” Lots of singers in Brecht’s chamber choir Tritonus confirm that preparation for choir rehearsals is definitely more fun with carus music: “It was really fun to have the opportunity to practice the piece with the full sound at home”, one of the singers enthused. And one advantage which should not be underestimated – the choral singers, whose daily life is not exclusively devoted to singing, valued the straightforwardness of the app: “When you’ve got some free time you can have a quick listen, and you’ve got the music right there.” Those choral singers who learn their parts mainly by listening see the coach as an invaluable support.

Choral director Klaus Brecht regards the fact that first-class ensembles such as the Stuttgart Kammerchor can be heard on the app as a huge advantage: “Intonation is a strong reason to practice with the app, because you’re always practicing with a choir which has excellent intonation. And the difference between practicing with the piano is the fact that the singer is always surrounded by a very good choral sound, which hopefully soon filters down to him or her.” For choral singers a similar motivating argument: “I found my first listening to the piece super, because the recording is lovely and I always had the overall sound right there,” enthused one singer.

Here you could find all works with carus plus.

 

Carus Choir Coach – practice aids on CD

cover-medium_large_fileEncouraged by the enthusiastic reception of the choir app, Carus-Verlag gave further thought to the idea of the individual practicing: so that those who do not have smart phones or tablets can benefit from the coach, this is now also on offer in the form of practice CDs in the “Carus Choir Coach” series.

 

Vocal scores XL

cover-medium_large_file-1And we have responded to a frequently-heard wish from choral singers regarded printed music scores: for many works Carus also offers vocal scores in large print – the Vocal scores XL series – enabling, for example, singers with less than perfect eyesight to enjoy more relaxed reading.

Klaus Brecht’s chamber choir is convinced by the carus plus range without exception: “we’ve definitely saved two to three rehearsals with what everyone has done at home”, was one soprano’s opinion of practising with the app. And there was unanimity amongst the singers in the chamber choir, especially about the fun and motivation factor of carus music, the choir app, as one alto confirmed: “It’s really been fun to practise, because you can always hear this wonderful choir. And so I’ve certainly practised more than normal.”

What more could a conductor ask for?

 

 

Fun Facts about Handbells

by Helena Taylor

  • People who play handbells are known as ‘Ringers’. Not ding-a-lings. The joke wasn’t funny the first time, and it still not funny years… (decades) later.
  • PT Barnum (Yes, ‘A handbell ringer is born every minute’ PT Barnum) is credited for bringing the English handbell to the USA in the 1840s.
  • There is a difference between English handbells and American handbells. In the United Kingdom, English handbells have leather clapper heads and handles, while American handbells use plastic and rubber clappers and handles. However, in the USA, they’re all known as English handbells even though they’re produced in Pennsylvania. (There’s also a big competition between the two main American manufacturers of English handbells. Take it from me, never try to mix the two brands in the same ensemble. Ringers will notice and you will be called a ding-a-ling.)
  • English handbells are chromatically tuned brass bells, traditionally held by leather handles.

Continue reading ‘Fun Facts about Handbells’

Celebrating 150 Years of Edition Peters Green

Originally posted on www.editionpeters.com.

Hidden behind the iconic green covers of Edition Peters lies a story that is fascinating, complex, at times heartbreakingly tragic, but overwhelmingly inspirational. This year Edition Peters proudly celebrates 150 years of the green cover series and here is a short version of our story.

Continue reading ‘Celebrating 150 Years of Edition Peters Green’

Play It Again: A New Piano Book Aimed at Returning Players

Did you used to play the piano? Would you like to play again? Aimed at returning players who have spent some time away from the keyboard, Play It Again: Piano by Melanie Spanswick gives you the confidence to revisit this fulfilling pastime and go beyond what you previously thought you could achieve. This book is designed to get your fingers speeding comfortably across the keys once again.

Continue reading ‘Play It Again: A New Piano Book Aimed at Returning Players’

Method Spotlight: Piano Junior

Request your free copy today!

From Hans-Günter Heumann and Schott Music comes a new piano method, Piano Junior. In this creative and interactive piano course, children will join PJ the robot and Mozart the dog in discovering how much fun playing the piano can be! The online resources, including audio and video recordings and interactive extras, bring the method to life for today’s tech savvy kids. Discover more about this method’s approach in our interview with the author, below, and request your free copy today!* Continue reading ‘Method Spotlight: Piano Junior’

Trinity College London: Excellence in Music Assessment

Trinity College London provides recognised and respected qualifications across a unique spectrum of communicative skills- from music, drama and arts activities to English language-at all levels. Trinity has been providing assessments around the world since 1877 and in the USA, Trinity College examinations have been taking place since the 1930s helping to support learners to develop their skills and achieve their goals.

Every year Trinity College London supports the music education of thousands of students across the world with assessments across a wide compass including popular, jazz, contemporary and classical music. As an international exam board with a rich heritage of academic rigour and a positive, supportive approach to assessment, we aim to take a lead role in reflecting and contributing to the evolution of music education. Continue reading ‘Trinity College London: Excellence in Music Assessment’

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