Music Notes for Passion Sunday

This Sunday is known as Passion Sunday, which marks the beginning of Passiontide, the last two weeks of Lent, which extend from Passion Sunday to Holy Saturday. It is customary in many traditions during this period for all crucifixes, images and pictures in church to be veiled in purple muslin, and for the Gloria Patri (‘Glory be to the Father, and to the Son…’) to be omitted from the psalms, introit (if there is one), and Venite. At St. Thomas’, our custom has been to veil the crosses as part of the service on Maundy Thursday evening.

Bach-Johann-SebastianAs a result, we include the Passion Chorale to the traditional words: ‘O sacred head sore wounded, Defiled and put to scorn‘ and the Postlude will be J. S. Bach’s Chorale Prelude on the Passion Chorale, Herzlich tut mich Verlangen BWV 727.

Chillcott-Bob-1955The Anthem will be Bob Chilcott’s setting of the words God so loved the world, an elegant modern setting with a soprano solo. Chilcott (b. 1955) is a composer, conductor and singer, based in Oxford in the UK. He was both a boy chorister and a choral scholar at King’s College, Cambridge, and was a member of the King’s Singers for 15 years.

PASSION SUNDAY
HYMN 63 The Royal Banners Forward Go

We shall be singing Hymn 63 as the first hymn on Sunday morning to Sir Percy Buck’s (1871-1947) beautiful tune, GONFALON ROYAL, written, as the name suggests, specially for these words.

Buck was something of a musical polymath: he was director of music at Harrow School while also holding down posts as professor of composition at London’s Royal College of Music, professor of music at Trinity College, Dublin, and His Majesty’s Inspector of Schools for Music. Listen to a recording of the tune, sung by Gloucester Cathedral Choir:

HYMN 71 Ah, Holy Jesu, how hast thou offended?

We shall be singing Hymn 71 to the Bach’s poignant harmonisation of HERZLEIBSTER JESU at Choral Evensong at 4 pm. Listen to a recording of King’s College choir singing it as part of Bach’s St Matthew Passion (albeit to German words):

— Giles Brightwell