The Ash Wednesday Collect from the Roman Missal refers to Lent as “this campaign of Christian service…” Through this campaign, Lent is marked by two themes: preparation for baptism and penance. But Lent is also a joyful season with its expectation of resurrection and as a time of healing. In the Introit for Ash Wednesday, Misereris Omnium, it is deeply significant that the very first prayer of Lent speaks of God’s infinite mercy: “Your mercy extends to all things, O Lord, and you despise none of the things you have made. You overlook our sins for the sake of repentance. You grant them your pardon, because you are the Lord our God.” –Wisdom 11:24-25, 27; Psalm 57 (56)
Two Lenten Mediations was premièred a St. Cecilia Church in 2002 by Marco Facchin, organ, Michael Calmès, tenor, and the St. Cecilia Schola.
I. Misereris Omnium–Atonement, Transformation is based on the Introit for Ash Wednesday. Here the schola sings the Intoit, followed by organ variations. The transformation and variety of colors in the organ indicate that through the Lenten season, we do not end up in the same place that we started. Beginning with the thick and rich clarinet stop in the tenor, the piece explores many colors, ending with very light 4′ flutes, in anticipation of Christ’s resurrection.
II. Lover of Souls also takes its text from the Ash Wednesday Introit, with the added line from scripture Wisdom 11: 27: “But you spare all things, because they are yours, O Lord, Lover of Souls.” This work with contemporary classical harmonic language is beautifully sung by Michael Calmès, ternor.
Rosalind’s Performance of Gaudens Gaudebo at the Basilica of the National Shine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, D. C., July 28th, 2012:
Gaudens Gaudebo—I Will Greatly Rejoice relies on three themes, two Georgian chants, played off of a third theme. All three are introduced within the first 4 measures. With rising and rhythmic improvisational manner, the Gregorian Chant, Gaudens Gaudebo is most prominent from the very beginning.
Then, suggested in places is the familiar Mode I, Plainchant, Ave Maria.
Most conceptual of all, and often the accompaniment for the first two themes, is a third theme—the “Yes!” theme of Mary’s joy in doing God’s will. Merely hinted at in measures 3-4, it first appears in its fullness at measure 18:
Mary’s reply to God in the “Yes!” theme, a period of struggle and doubt arrives, followed by prayer. In any life-altering decision, one may be plagued with questions, fear of the unknown, and doubt. No matter how certain, one must confront these emotions, followed by prayer: Measures 43-53 enter into an improvisational variation upon Gaudens gaudebo. It is mixed with great uncertainty, a nervous playfulness of youth, doubt, but still struggling forward. This section is immediately followed by an en prière variation of Gaudens gaudebo (m. 54-65). It is a time of deep meditation, a prayer to find clarity, certainty, and the strength to carry out God’s will.
From this point forward, the Gaudens gaudebo theme is presented with great rhythmic energy, as Mary carries out what she consented to do. (m. 66-94)
At measure 97, an arpeggiated “Yes!” theme returns in the manuals, with variations of Gaudens gaudebo in the pedal. This chorale section travels through various keys, finally giving way to the toccata (m. 132). This toccata, with a rhythmic “Yes!” drives the Ave Maria plainchant in the pedal.
Working towards culmination, the manuals slowly rise and fall in chromatic harmonies. It is at this time a fourth theme appears only once (m. 144-156): the Easter Compline hymn Regina Caeli is quoted in its entirety summarizing Mary’s necessary role in salvation history: “For He whom you have humbly borne for us, Alleluia! Has arisen as He promised! Alleluia!” One sings of motherhood and resurrection in the same verse.
Finally, all three major themes are declared with great youthful exuberance, and joy!
“Without God’s Son, nothing could exist; without Mary’s Son, nothing could be redeemed.”–St. Anselm
Regarding the billboard, Jason Villarreal Frias writes: “Восхождение к свободе=Ascent to Freedom is the big headline at the top above the Statue of Liberty and your name is in there Р. Кларк! (R. Clark) … the Russian pronunciation sounds like this: ‘Voskhozhdyeniye k svobodye.’“
Click here to listen to Richard J. Clark’s live performance of “Ascent to Freedom” on the 1875 E. & G. G. Hook & Hastings, Opus 801, Cathedral of the Holy Cross, Boston, MA.