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Thread: Sacred music? Hymns or hers?

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    Senior Member belfastboy's Avatar
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    Default Sacred music? Hymns or hers?

    If you are into Sacred music - most outstanding piece you find yourself humming sometimes? Or piece from a liturgical time of year that caresses your beating heart?



    Does it for me every time - *sighs*


    *This is a beautiful version. So stunning. Cornelius actually took this melody to Liszt to have a look at, and it was Liszt's idea to add the choral accompaniment to it (this was originally a hymn written by Bach).
    Last edited by belfastboy; Aug-10-2012 at 22:46.
    “Never wrestle with pigs. You both get dirty and the pig likes it.”
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    Senior Member crmoorhead's Avatar
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    I am not religious, but I love religious music because it was written with utter devotion of the soul. Trying to convey the might of the universe/creation against our own insignificance/humility makes for some interesting results. Some religious music is joyous and full of splendour, other pieces are melancholy and pleads for answers. I do not even believe in God, but I find this fascinating. I especially like to listen to the multitude of interpretations available of musical settings to the standard liturgy and seeing how different composers through the centuries approach the same subject. I believe that differing results from the same starting point reflect the soul and personality of the composer in a very special way.

    Bach's sacred choral music is sublime, as is Vivaldi's and Haydn's. More recently, I have been blown away by Monteverdi's Vespers and Faure's Requiem, but there are literally dozens of other works that I might also mention here. There are occasions when I listen to these works when I feel I am lost utterly in the moment, that I can let the music wash over me. This happens more often in this kind of music than it does with symphonies, for example. One of my favourite pieces, however, is Elgar's Dream of Gerontius, especially this introduction:



    The opening lines of this piece (though not included in the above) always send a tingle down my spine.

    JESU, MARIA—I am near to death,
    And Thou art calling me; I know it now.
    Not by the token of this faltering breath,
    This chill at heart, this dampness on my brow

    To quote Father Ted, "I love a good long mass".
    Last edited by crmoorhead; Aug-10-2012 at 23:28.

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    Senior Member belfastboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by crmoorhead View Post
    I am not religious, but I love religious music because it was written with utter devotion of the soul. Trying to convey the might of the universe/creation against our own insignificance/humility makes for some interesting results. Some religious music is joyous and full of splendour, other pieces are melancholy and pleads for answers. I do not even believe in God, but I find this fascinating. I especially like to listen to the multitude of interpretations available of musical settings to the standard liturgy and seeing how different composers through the centuries approach the same subject. I believe that differing results from the same starting point reflect the soul and personality of the composer in a very special way.

    Bach's sacred choral music is sublime, as is Vivaldi's and Haydn's. More recently, I have been blown away by Monteverdi's Vespers and Faure's Requiem, but there are literally dozens of other works that I might also mention here. There are occasions when I listen to these works when I feel I am lost utterly in the moment, that I can let the music wash over me. This happens more often in this kind of music than it does with symphonies, for example. One of my favourite pieces, however, is Elgar's Dream of Gerontius, especially this introduction:



    The opening lines of this piece (though not included in the above) always send a tingle down my spine.

    JESU, MARIA—I am near to death,
    And Thou art calling me; I know it now.
    Not by the token of this faltering breath,
    This chill at heart, this dampness on my brow

    To quote Father Ted, "I love a good long mass".
    Thanks for that response - excellent....
    “Never wrestle with pigs. You both get dirty and the pig likes it.”
    George Bernard Shaw

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    Senior Member DeepR's Avatar
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    This one has got me humming several times.


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    Senior Member cwarchc's Avatar
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    As a new boy, there's a lot out there.
    I have to admit I'm drwn to sacred music, thought I'm not religious
    I've just got a copy of this, I think it's excellent.
    What could be better a powerful requiem and Wilfred Owens poetry?

    “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”

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    Senior Member crmoorhead's Avatar
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    Mozart's Requiem (the Confutatis) is a great one for humming too, esp since it reminds me of that scene in Amadeus:



    I also really love this:


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    Senior Member Ramako's Avatar
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    I am an Orthodox Christian, and everything below should be understood in this light. So when I hear religious music, I think of Orthodox religious music, particularly Byzantine chant.

    I believe that as far superior classical is to pop, so Byzantine chant is to classical. Those who know my opinion of pop will understand how strong a statement this is.

    Of all the classical composers, the one who affects me most strongly is Haydn. His is the vision of the sublime, whose music I find astounding. However, even his music still sounds frustratingly earthbound when I compare it with Byzantine music well-sung (I hear it sung badly often enough). So does Josquin, Victoria and other western musicians I admire. To have heard Byzantine music in the full glory of Constantinople would be a dear wish of mine, if it were possible.

    It seems to me that the greatest perfection must be in a single line: even a fifth or an octave are merely perfect consonances, and as for a third... For if we believe perfection to exist, why introduce imperfection into our vision of perfection? Byzantine music is at its heart monodic (single line). Although now there is an 'eson' (drone 'bass' type of thing), this is thought to have been added after the Ottoman invasion of 1453. To have it now is possibly a concession to our spiritually weaker times (so I would say).

    This is the Easter troparion (song), possibly the best known tune among Greek Orthodox Christians. It is sung from Easter to Pentecost frequently, and everyone looks forward to singing it on the Easter vigil.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MkrAqsgLAV8

    This is also very peaceful, if quite long.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=im3Wu...eature=related

    Polyphony and in general non-monodic music was rejected in our Church by various councils, in Greece at least. However, Russian liturgical music has more than one part. Recently Serbia changed from its Russian practice back to a Byzantine practice. The change in Russian music was criticized both in the Greek Church and saints within the Russian Church. These latter pointed to the older Russian chant as more beautiful, and more spiritual. However, that is not to say that Rachmaninov's (for example) church music is not very beautiful, it is, or 'valid' religiously, having been approved by various Russian synods. It seems to me that God has given us such music because in our weak times we need something slightly less ascetically spiritual, in order for us to understand it, and benefit from it to perhaps a greater degree.

    Rachmaninov's music has already been posted above

    Another type is Romanian Orthodox music. All Romanian singers I have met happen to be very good, but this could be coincidence. This seems to me to bridge the gap between Byzantine music and the modern day very well.

    It has more harmony than traditional Byzantine music, but still is really based on a single melodic line.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qAgszus1FqA

    At the heart of Orthodox liturgical music are the words. These must be easily understandable: virtuosity is not desirable for us. I have not studied this; these are my general impressions really. I hope to have the opportunity to do so and learn more over the next few years.
    Last edited by Ramako; Aug-11-2012 at 01:02.

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    Senior Member belfastboy's Avatar
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    Byzantine chant.
    “Never wrestle with pigs. You both get dirty and the pig likes it.”
    George Bernard Shaw

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    Senior Member crmoorhead's Avatar
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    Thanks for the detailed post, Ramako. I don't know if I could live without polyphony, but the pieces you link to are very intriguing. It strikes me as a cross between prayer and music - it is more intense than Christian hymns and the drone alters the consciousness in a way. I have no experience of this type of music, so thanks for the introduction.

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    Senior Member StlukesguildOhio's Avatar
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    The first pieces I think of include the Kyrie from Mozart's Mass in C-minor:



    "Erbarme dich" from Bach's St. Matthew Passion:



    "Wann kommst du, mein Heil?" from Bach's cantata no. 140 (begins at 8:25)



    "Tief gebuckt und voller Reue..." from J.S Bach's cantata 169:



    "Vergnugte Ruh!" from J.S. Bach's cantata 170:



    Seriously with all the cantatas and choral works composed by Bach, we could go on for some time.
    Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.

    Art is never chaste. It ought to be forbidden to ignorant innocents, never allowed into contact with
    those not sufficiently prepared. Yes, art is dangerous. Where it is chaste, it is not art.

    Pablo Picasso

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    Senior Member HarpsichordConcerto's Avatar
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    All composers are equal but some are more equal than others.

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    Senior Member Crudblud's Avatar
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    How about some Messiaen?


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    Schnittke <3






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    Senior Member Couchie's Avatar
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    Catholicism and Protestantism are such corrupt, impoverished traditions. We must found the new Wagnerian Christianity with Parsifal as the text governing all that is righteous.
    Doch dieses Wörtlein: und, -wär' es zerstört,
    wie anders als mit Isoldes eignem Leben wär' Tristan der Tod gegeben?

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