Notes on the Music for Lent 4

This Sunday we are giving a “day off” to the men of the choir, and taking an opportunity to use music written for high voices alone.

One of my very favorite pieces of music in this vein is John Ireland‘s “Ex ore innocentium.”  The text is the fairly well-known poem, appropriate for Lent and Passiontide, “It Is a Thing Most Wonderful;” the Latin title given means “from the mouths of the innocent,” as this text is associated with the perspective of a child.  John Ireland was a master of church music and art-song; the melding of these different genres in his style produced some truly memorable melodies!

We will also hear Peter Hurford‘s “Litany to the Holy Spirit.” Peter Hurford was the longtime organist/choirmaster of St. Alban’s Cathedral in England; he died almost exactly two years ago.  The simple “Litany” has become a staple of treble repertoire in America and the UK; the text is verses selected from a poem of Robert Herrick.  The full poem is quite a bit darker than the portion that will be sung, but well worth a read; it can be found here.