May 5,2016

Pietro Perugino, Ascension, Musée Municipal des Beaux-Arts, Lyon, 1496-98

Christ Church Cathedral Choir Notes
Ascension Thursday

Click to go immediately to:

1) The Music Calendar for Eucharistie chantée

2) The Concert Calendar (L’Oasis Musicale)

Patrick Wedd will perform  Olivier Messiaen, L'Ascension, on the 1980 Wilhelm organ, on Ascension Thursday, May 5, at 1:00 pm, following the 12:15 liturgy.  Admission free. Continue below to listen online to orchestral and organ versions of l'Ascension.

L'Ascension ("The Ascension") is a piece for orchestra, composed by Olivier Messiaen in 1932-33. Messiaen described it as "4 meditations for orchestra."

The orchestral piece is in four brief sections:
  1. Majesté du Christ demandant sa gloire à son Père ("The majesty of Christ demanding its glory of the Father")
  2. Alleluias sereins d’une âme qui désire le ciel ("Serene alleluias of a soul that longs for heaven")
  3. Alleluia sur la trompette, alleluia sur la cymbale ("Alleluia on the trumpet, alleluia on the cymbal")
  4. Prière du Christ montant vers son Père ("Prayer of Christ ascending towards his Father")
A complete performance takes around 27 minutes.

Olivier Messiaen: L'Ascension, Four meditations for orchestra:

Daniel Nazareth conducting. [YouTube]

Performance of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Vladimir Jurowski conducting. [YouTube]

Carlos Kalmar, conducting [YouTube]

Performance of the London Symphony Orchestra, Leopold Stokowski conducting [YouTube]

Available, among others, for free online listening from the Naxos Music Library  (info):

Antoni Wit conducting [BNQ; BM] (info)

Available for free online listening from the Classical Music Library (info):

Organ version:

In 1933-34, Messiaen made a version for solo organ. The first, second and fourth movements are arrangements of the orchestral pieces, but Messiaen composed a new third movement, Transports de joie d'une âme devant la gloire du Christ qui est la sienne ("Ecstasies of a soul before the glory of Christ, which is its own glory"), usually just known as Transports de joie

Olivier Messiaen, L'Ascension, Four meditations for organ:

Performance of Bert van Stam at the 1973 Marcussen & Son organ of the Sint- Laurenskerk, Rotterdam [YouTube]

Performance of Olivier Latry at the Cavaillé-Coll organ of the Cathedral of Notre-Dame, Paris [YouTube]

Available, among others, for free online listening from the Naxos Music Library:

Performance of Olivier Messiaen himself at the Cavaillé-Coll  of the Église de la Trinité, Paris [BNQ; BM] (info)

Performance of Tom Winpenny at the 1992 Rieger organ of St. Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh [BNQ; BM] (info)

Performance of Colin Andrews at the C.B. Fisk organ, opus 126, of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Greenville, SC [BNQ; BM] (info)


Theodore Baierl, The Ascension, private collection, c.1918

Click to go to music for the Ascension composed by Byrd, Palestrina, Gowers and Finzi.

Click to go to the Introit (Viri Galilaei) for the Mass of the Ascension in Gregorian Chant.

Charles Tournemire, L'orgue mystique: Easter Cycle, Op. 56: No. 23

Mass of the Feast of the Ascension

Prelude for the Introit [YouTube]
Offertory  [YouTube]
Elevation [YouTube]
Communion [YouTube]  
Paraphrases on a Choral  [YouTube]

Click for the entire performance of L'Orgue mystique byGeorges Delvallée.
Click to go to Bach Cantatas for Online Listening.
The Ascension - Benjamin West

Benjamin West, Ascension, 1801

Bach Cantatas for the Ascension:

Click to go to Johann Sebastian Bach, Lobet Gott in seinen Reichen / Praise God in his kingdoms, Cantata 11,with performances by Gardiner, Harnoncourt, Leusink , Parrott and Richter.

Click to go to Johann Sebastian Bach, Wer da gläubet und getauft wird /Whoever believes and is baptised, Cantata 37, with performances by Gardiner, Harnoncourt, Koopman and Leusink.

Click to go to Johann Sebastian Bach, Gott fähret auf mit Jauchzen / God ascends with shouts of joy, Cantata 43,with performances by Gardiner, Harnoncourt, Herreweghe, Koopman, Leusink and Suzuki.

Click to go to Johann Sebastian Bach, Auf Christi Himmelfahrt allein / On Christ's ascension [journey to heaven] alone, Cantata 128, with performances by Gardiner, Leonhardt and Leusink.