Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Such a fuss...

In my last post, I put up my setting of the text Surge, Illuminare, which is technically an Epiphany text, as an Easter offering. There was a row about it, by which I mean two people said something on Facebook. While I don't retract that - and certainly, the text is very appropriate to Epiphany, and is even used in the Epiphany lectionary - I feel that I should add an unequivocally Easter anthem.

So. For two soprano soloists, trumpet, keyboard, and SAB choir, here is a setting of the Exsultet, a text read (or chanted, or sung) at the Easter Vigil, the night before Easter Sunday. That doesn't mean that it's not suitable for Easter morning, of course!

The music!

First verse.

Solo II
Rejoice, heavenly powers! Sing, choirs of angels!
Exult, all creation around God's throne!

Jesus Christ our King is risen!
Sound the trumpet of salvation!

This verse introduces the alternating concept of alternating soloist(s) with choir, the harmonic space for the piece to live in (an open harmony in the Dorian mode) as well as the rhythmic language and the time shift between 3/4 and 3/2. The trumpet enters on the second page at the line "Sound the trumpet of salvation," of course. A series of Alleluias separate the first two verses.

The first page:

Second verse.

Solo I
Rejoice, O Earth, in shining splendour,
Radiant in the brightness of your King!

Christ has conquered! Glory fills you!
Darkness vanishes forever!

Here the upper voice enters with the solo, accompanied by both trumpet and keyboard ostinati. The choir uses the same harmonic movement as before, by and large, carrying it only to a different conclusion. Another section of Alleluias moves us in to the third verse.

The third page of music, showing the end of the solo and the choir part:

Third verse.

Solos I and II
Rejoice, Mother Church! Exult in glory!
The risen saviour shines upon you!

Let this place resound with joy,
Echoing the mighty song of all God's people!

The soloists sing together in duet, leading to the choir's final verse consisting of new musical material. After which, the choir's Alleluias and Amens are accompanying the two soloists soaring overtop.

The fourth page:

And the sixth, showing the final alleluas:

This piece was commissioned by St. John's Cathedral, Winnipeg, under the direction of Tom Packham, and first sung there (in slightly modified form) Easter Sunday, 2012, and repeated by my own choir the following year at St. James' the Assiniboine Anglican. Tom didn't have a trumpeter available, so there is a version available without trumpet. I only had a single soloist, so she sang both solo verses and the upper solo line in the third verse and coda; I also had trouble with the choir, so my then-student played the choral parts softly (nearly inaudibly, from the congregation) on the organ while I conducted from the piano.

The PDF is behind this link, this one right here.
Trumpet parts in C - or in B-flat

Or if you don't have a trumpeter - all organ. Trumpet in the left hand, fluttery bits in the right, bass in the pedals.

Creative Commons License
Rejoice, Heavenly Powers! by Mike Cutler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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