Meisters des Hausbuchs, Das Abentmahl, Gemäldegalerie, Berlin, 1475-80
Maundy Thursday [Music Calendar]
The evening liturgy of Maundy Thursday features music by Gabriel Jackson.
Gabriel Jackson (b. 1962) began his musical training as a chorister at Canterbury Cathedral and later studied composition at the Royal College of Music. His music is now widely recorded, and regularly performed and broadcast around the world. Many of his pieces reflect an interest in mediæval techniques and ideas, and are made of simple melodies, chords, drones, and ostinatos. The composer says, “I try to write music that is clean and clear in line, texture, and structure… [My pieces] are not about conflict and resolution; even when animated, they are essentially contemplative. I like repetition and ‘ritualised’ structures”. © Rubert Gough from the liner notes of O Sacrum Convivium (Signum Classics)
St. Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral, Edinburgh
Gabriel Jackson: Edinburgh Mass, performed by the Choir of St. Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral Choir, Matthew Owens conducting.
Edinburgh Mass, was written in 2001 and is Jackson’s only setting of the ritual to date. In approach, he has decided Notes on the music to follow the economical, concise examples of Poulenc (Mass in G), Stravinsky (Mass) and Pärt (Berliner Messe). The pared-down, almost terse nature of this setting for unaccompanied voices serves to intensify its power and directness. The Kyrie begins simply, establishing the Mass’s fundamental tonality (G) with an ornamented melisma in bare, octave unisons for soprano and tenor. Lower voices intone the Christe eleison before a dramatic, emotive outburst seals the third Kyrie. The Gloria opens brightly, with all voices at the top of their registers. The movement proceeds in a series of clearly articulated sections, the Laudamus te climaxing after a tumultuous tintinnabulation for all voices. After a Qui tollis rich in pathos and added-note harmony, the peal of voices returns for a ringing conclusion. Omitting the Creed (significantly, Jackson describes himself as spiritual by temperament but not by belief) the Mass continues with the Sanctus, introduced by four upper-voice soloists. This swells to ten singers, then, for the Pleni sunt caeli, full choir, rising to a fortissimo. By way of dramatic anti climax, the Hosanna is light and dance-like, and is followed by a demure Benedictus that spins a gentle alto melisma over a drone. The concluding Agnus Dei recalls the bareness of the opening Kyrie. A stark, three octave gap separates the high soprano line, intoning a falling melody, and the low bass drone. After two increasingly intense repetitions, the second almost overwhelming in its high, piercing harmony, balm is at last applied in a closing Dona nobis pacem. © 2005 Matthew Greenall from the liner works of Sacred Choral Works (Delphian)
The Communion motet on Maundy Thursday is Gabriel Jacson, O Sacrum Convivium
O sacrum convivium was commissioned (with funds provided by South East Arts) by Andrew Millington, then organist of Guildford Cathedral, for the 1990 Guildford and Portsmouth Cathedrals’ Festival. As the piece was to be sung by the combined forces of two cathedral choirs, Jackson decided to take advantage of the potentially massive resultant sonority by dividing the score, at some moments, into ten parts. The piece is predominantly quiet and meditative, with a refulgent climax at ‘et futurae gloriae’. O sacrum convivium is dedicated to the composer’s father, who was at that time a clergyman in the Guildford diocese. © 2005 Matthew Greenall from the liner works of Sacred Choral Works (Delphian)
Gabriel Jackson, O Sacrum Convivium:
Performed by The Royal Holloway Choir, University of London, Rubert Gough conducting [YouTube]
Performed by The Madison Chamber Choir [YouTube]
Performed by The Joyful Company of Singers, Peter Broadbent conducting [YouTube]
Performed by The Greeners’ Sound [YouTube]
Performed by the Saint Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral Choristers, Matthew Owens conducting. [YouTube]
O sacrum convivium, in quo Christus sumitur: recolitur memoria passionis eius; mens impletur gratia et futurae gloriae nobis pignus datur.
O sacred banquet, in which Christ is received, the memory of his passion renewed, the mind filled with grace, and a promise of future glory given to us.
O banquet sacré, dans lequel le Christ est reçu, le souvenir de sa passion renouvelé, l'esprit rempli de la grâce, et la promesse de la gloire future nous est donnée.
The postlude at the Easter Evensong is Gabriel Jackson, St. Asaph Tocata
St Asaph Toccata was commissioned in 2003 for performance on the organ at Symphony Hall, Birmingham. Originally, the work was entitled Toccata Machine, Jackson having in his mind an image of the gigantic Symphony Hall instrument as a huge machine, spewing out toccata figuration uncontrollably. Jackson’s enjoyment in casting himself against type by writing a loud, fast, quasi-minimalist piece with lots of notes is evident, though amidst familiar toccata patterns (rapid figuration in the manuals, long notes in the pedals) there is some room for respite in slower, more typically Jackson music. Like Psalm 112, the Toccata’s form is multi-sectional, closing, as all good toccatas should, in a tumult of notes. © 2005 Matthew Greenall from liner notes Sacred Choral Works (Delphian)
Performed by Michael Bonaventure at the 1879 Father Willis organ of St. Mary's Episcopal Cathedral, Edinburgh [YouTube]
Naxos Music Library makes available for free online listening Gabriel Jackson: Sacred Choral Works, performed by the Saint Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral Choristers, Edinburgh, Matthew Owens conducting. [BNQ; BM(info).
Naxos Music Library makes available for free online listening Gabriel Jackson: Choral Works, Vol. 2, Beyond the Stars performed by the Saint Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral Choristers, Edinburgh,
Also from Sacred Choral Works:
Gabriel Jackson: A Prayer of King Henry VI, performed by the Saint Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral Choristers, Edinburgh, Matthew Owens conducting. [YouTube]
Jackson’s 2002 anthem A Prayer of King Henry VI: Written for the Chapel Choir at Oakham School, it conjures, in its florid vocal lines and spacious, multi-voiced sonorities the spirit of a time five centuries distant – an age that saw the building of some of the grandest chapels of England, most notably King’s College Cambridge and Eton College (both founded by Henry VI). The opening melisma, recalling the step-wise contour of plainchant, unfolds in a steady upward motion, as a prayer rising to the heavens, before returning to rest on a sonorous major chord. Jackson’s admiration for the florid, effulgent Amens of English polyphony finds expression in the anthem’s conclusion, an ecstatic re-statement of the opening phrase, this time spiced with false-relation dissonance. © 2005 Matthew Greenall from the liner works of Sacred Choral Works (Delphian)
O Sacrum Convivium
O Sacrum Convivium is the Communion motet at both liturgies on Maundy Thursday, by Giovanni Croce at the Chrism Eucharist and by Gabriel Jackson at the Lord’s Supper.
Multiple versions by Gabriel Jackson.
O sacrum convivium is a Latin prose text honoring the Blessed Sacrament. It is attributed to Saint Thomas Aquinas. It was included in the Latin Catholic liturgy as the antiphon for the Magnificat for 2nd vespers for the feast of Corpus Christi. Its sentiments express the profound mystery of the Eucharist. O sacrum convivium exists in Gregorian and Ambrosian chant forms. (See Wikipedia.)
O sacrum convivium!
O sacred banquet!
in quo Christus sumitur:
in which Christ is received,
recolitur memoria passionis ejus:
the memory of his Passion is renewed,
mens impletur gratia:
the mind is filled with grace,
et futurae gloriae nobis pignus datur.
and a pledge of future glory to us is given.
Cristóbal de Morales (c.1500-1553), O sacrum convivium, by The Choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, Stephen Darlington conducting. [YouTube]
Cristóbal de Morales (c.1500-1553), O sacrum convivium, by the Westminster Cathedral Choir, James O’Donnelll conducting [YouTube]
Thomas Tallis (1505-1585), O sacrum convivium, by the Choir of St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, Timothy Byram-Wigfield conducting. [musicMe]
Thomas Tallis (1505-1585), O sacrum convivium, by the Oxford Camerata, Jeremy Summerly conducting [YouTube]
Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (1525-94), Missa O sacrum convivium, performed by The Choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford; Stephen Darlington conducting. [YouTube]
William Byrd (1540-1623), O sacrum convivium, by YST Conservatory Chamber Singers, Alan Bennett conducting. [YouTube]
Performance of Andrea Gabrieli (1545-1607), O sacrum convivium, by the Gabrieli Consort & Players, Paul McCreesh conducting.
Jacob Handl (Jacobus Gallus) (1550-91),O sacrum convivium, by the Cantori della Turrita, Eros Beltraminelli conducting. [YouTube]
Performance of Luca Marenzio (1553-99), O sacrum convivium, by the All South Jersey Senior High Choir. [YouTube]
Hans Leo Hassler (1564-1612), O sacrum convivium, by The Choir of Westminster Cathedral, Martin Baker conducting. [YouTube]
Giovanni Paolo Cima (1570-1610), O sacrum convivium, in echo, by the Ensemble La Fenice, Jean Tubéry conducting. [musicMe]
Antonio de Salazar (1650-1715), O sacrum convivium, by The Choir of Westminster Cathedral, James O'Donnell conducting. [YouTube]
Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992), O sacrum convivium, by the Cambridge Singers, John Rutter conducting [YouTube]
Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992), O sacrum convivium, by Cantillation, Antony Walker conducting. [YouTube]
Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992), O sacrum convivium, by the SWR Vokalensemble Stuttgart, Marcus Creed conducting [YouTube]
Domenico Bartolucci (b. 1917), O sacrum convivium, performed by Harmoniae vocis, Domenico Bartolucci conducting (on his 90th birthday). [YouTube]
Domenico Bartolucci (b. 1917), O sacrum convivium, performed by La Maîtrise des hauts de France, Régis Decool conducting. [YouTube]
James Biery (b. 1956), O sacrum convivium, performed by the Ensemble Vocale tempus floridum, Joan Yakkey conducting. [YouTube]
The following renditions, among others, of O sacrum convivium are available to those with online access to Naxos Music Library.
There are also a number of versions available online at the Classical Music Library.
Check with your librarian.
Card-holders of La Bibliothèque nationale du Québec, who are ready to open their record (dossier) when prompted, may click below on [BNQ] to go to the selection.
Thomas Tallis (1505-1585), O sacrum convivium, performed by The Choir of the Chapel Royale, John Williams conducting. [BNQ]
Thomas Tallis (1505-1585), O sacrum convivium, performed by The Sixteen, Harry Christophers conducitng. [BNQ] (info)
Joseph Bengraf (1745-91), O sacrum convivium, performed by Budapest Tomkins Vocal Ensemble, Janos Dobra conducting. [BNQ] (info)
Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992), O sacrum convivium, performed by The Russian Spiritual Revival Choir.[BNQ] (info)