All Saints

Liturgical Notes

Richte mich, Gott and Voluntaries — Mendelssohn

Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy

The motet Richte mich, Gott, was composed by the German Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy (1809-1847), and is a setting of Martin Luther's translation of Psalm 43.

Scored for eight voice parts, this psalm setting utilizes the various voice parts to engage the upper voices and the lower voices in musical dialogue. Many Anglo-Catholics, especially acolytes, will know this psalm by heart, as it begins the traditional Prayer of Preparation, in which its verses are recited in alternation between celebrant and acolyte.—APS

     Riche mich, Gott, und führe mein Sache wider das unheilige Volk und errette mich von den falschen und bösen Leuten.
     Denn du bist der Gott meiner Särke; Warum verstößest du mich? Warum lässet du mich so traurig geh'n, wenn mein Feind mich drängt?
     Sende dein Licht und deine Wahrheit, daß sie mich leiten zu deinem heiligen Berge, und zu deiner Wohnung.
     Daß ich hineingehe zum Altar Gottes, zu dem Gott, der meine Freude und Wonne ist, und dir, Gott, auf der Harfe danke, mein Gott.
     Was betrübst du dich, meine Seele, und bist so unruhig in mir?
     Harre auf Gott! Denn ich werde ihm noch danken, daß er meines Angesichts Hülfe, und mein Gott ist.

     Give sentence with me, O God, and defend my cause against the ungodly people. O deliver me from the deceitful and wicked man
     For thou art the God of my strength, why hast thou put me from thee and why go I so heavily, while the enemy oppresseth me?
     O send out thy light and thy truth, that they may lead me and bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy dwelling.
     And that I may go unto the altar of God, even unto the God of my joy and gladness and upon the harp will I give thanks unto thee, O God, my God.
     Why art thou heavy, O my soul and why art thou so disquieted within me?
     O put thy trust in God for I will yet give him thanks, which is the help of my countenance, and my God.

Richte mich, Gott was offered at the Solemn Mass on the Second Sunday of Lent together with Mendelssohn voluntaries before and after the mass:  Andante and Fuga, both from Sonata VI.

See here for the program of music for the entire 2012-2013 Choral Term.

More Rheinberger and Some Stanford

Charles Villiers Stanford On the morning after the Great Blizzard of 2013, when many were still snowed in and the roads were empty, a diminished Choir of Men & Boys made a superlative offering at the Sunday 10 a.m. Sung Mass.

Despite the severe traveling condition, the choir was comprised of three trebles, two altos, two tenors, and three basses (including one teen bass).

The morning's choral music was written by two great 19th century composers, Stanford and Rheinberger.

Sir Charles Villiers Stanford (1852-1924) composed the motet, a Latin setting of the Our Father, in 1874 just after he had graduated from Queens College, Cambridge and was studying composition in Leipzig with Karl Reinecke. Written in eight parts (double choir), the piece exhibits the young Stanford's elegant sense of vocal line and text declamation. The phrase "Pater Noster" (Our Father) recurs throughout the piece as a repeating motif, and the work is concluded with a grand and stirring Amen.

This morning's mass setting by Rheinberger (1839-1901), composed near the end of the composer's life in 1899, is a rich and sonorous setting of the mass text and includes a lovely, lilting treatment of the "Benedictus qui venit."

Rheinberger, Victoria, and Darke

Josef Rheinberger Josef Rheinberger wrote much sacred music, including over a dozen masses and requiems. The Ashmont Choir of Men and Boys now have two of them under their belt and anticipate adding a third to their repertoire this fall.

After singing Rheinberger's Opus 109 at the Montréal Boys' Choir Course this August, the Men and Boys will sing his requiem in E flat minor, Opus 84, for the annual requiem mass for the Guild of All Souls on Saturday, 10 November 2012 at 11:00 a.m.

Harold Darke's Communion Service in a is planned for the All Saints' Day mass (1 November 2012, Thursday night at 7 p.m.). Tomás Luis de Victoria's Missa 'Simile est regnum caelorum' will be sung at the Solemn Mass for the Twenty-First Sunday after Pentecost, 21 October 2012.

See here for the full music list covering Late Pentecost through Christmas, and for lists of previous years.

Missa Brevis — Zoltán Kodály

Kodaly-Zoltan On the final Sunday of the 2011-2012 Choral Term, Corpus Christi Sunday, the choir offered music by two eastern European, 20th century composers:   Zoltán Kodály (1882-1967) and Anton Heiller (1923-1979).

The Missa Brevis by Kodály (pronounced Koh-die) was written during the summer of 1943, while the composer was on vacation in the Hungarian resort town of Galyateto. The mass is subtitled "Tempore belli" (Time of war), a sad and tragic reminder of the turmoil and violence surrounding its composition and first performance.

During the bombardment of Budapest, Kodály and his wife took refuge in the basement of the Opera House. It was there on 11 February 1945, in one of the cloakrooms, that this mass was first performed by a small group of singers, accompanied by harmonium. Alternating between grand, sweeping vocal lines, and brash, declamatory text settings, this mass proudly takes its place in the pantheon of settings by the great European composers.

Here is a short video on Zoltán Kodály's life and work served by the Holy Names University.

Seele Christi — Anton Heiller

The motet Seele Christi by Austrian composer Anton Heiller is a rarely-heard German setting of the "Anima Christi" prayer, said to have been penned by St. Ignatius Loyola. Heiller is remembered today primarily as an organist and pedagogue:  his recordings of the organ works of J.S. Bach are highly regarded to this day. His compositional style is austere and sparing, taking much of its harmonic language from Hugo Distler, Paul Hindemith, and Frank Martin.

Seele Christi, heilige mich,
Leib Christi, erlöse mich,
Blut Christi, tränke mich,
Wasser der Seite Christi, wasche mich,
Leiden Christi, stärke mich,
O gütiger Jesus, erhöre mich.

Verbirg in deinen Wunden mich
ven dir lass nimmer scheiden mich,
vor dem bösen beschütze mich.
In meiner Todesstunde rufe mich,
und heiße zu dir kommen mich,
damit ich möge loben dich
mit deinen Heiligen ewiglich.  Amen


Soul of Christ, sanctify me,
Body of Christ, save me,
Blood of Christ, inebriate me,
Water from the side of Christ, wash me,
Passion of Christ, strengthen me,
O good Jesus, hear me.

Within thy wounds hide me,
Separated from Thee let me never be,
From the malicious enemy defend me,
In the hour of my death call me,
And bid me come unto Thee
That I may praise Thee with Thy saints
Forever and ever.  Amen.

Musical Riches at Ashmont

Some All Saints' parishioners may not realize that our choir can boast of two professional organists in its ranks.

On Corpus Christi Sunday they agreed to step out of the choir stalls and onto the organ benches. Daryl Bichel accompanied the choir (Kodály's Missa Brevis and Anton Heiller's Seele Christi) and Jonathan Ortloff played the voluntaries (Alexandre Guilmant's Pastorale and Finale from Sonata no. 1).

See here for the program of music for the entire 2011-2012 Choral Term.

Liturgical Changes for Eastertide

Paschal Procession smlr (Ruth Godderz 2012) Upon entering into the celebration of our Lord's victory over sin and death, we make several changes in the liturgy. The somber veils are gone. The purple vestments and hangings give way to those of brilliant gold. "Alleluia" – the ancient cry of "praise to God" – is restored to our worship after having been suppressed during Lent. The Gloria in excelsis is likewise restored. The Prayer of Humble Access ("We do not presume to come to this thy table...") is omitted during Eastertide. And we use a different form of the Invitation to Communion, omitting the response "Lord, I am not worthy ...." These all help to mark the change of our emphasis from one of penitence and preparation to that of victory and rejoicing.

Sparrow Mass for Easter Morning

Portrait of the young Mozart The setting of the mass ordinary for Easter morning was written by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791), and was most likely premiered at the cathedral in Salzburg on Easter Sunday, 7 April 1776, when the composer was a mere twenty years old. The nickname of the mass, "Spatzenmesse" (Sparrow Mass), refers to the grace-note figures in the accompaniment of the Sanctus and Benedictus, which are reminiscent of chirping birds.

Haydn and "Raging Cares" for Laetare Sunday

Portrait of Franz Joseph Haydn The setting for the Ordinary of the Mass on the Fourth Sunday of Lent (also known as Laetare Sunday) was composed around 1775 by the Austrian composer and so-called "father of the symphony" Franz Josef Haydn (1732-1809). Its official title, Missa brevis Sancti Joannis de Deo, refers to Saint John of God (a Portuguese monk and patron saint of hospitals) who was the founder of the Order of the Brothers of Mercy (or, in German, Barmherzige Brüder, a monastic order with which Haydn was in close connection as organist and friend. Its unofficial title, Kleine Orgelmesse (Little Organ Mass), refers to the extensive organ solo in the Benedictus. On Laetare Sunday, our choir sang a shortened version of the Benedictus, because the original is impractical for modern liturgy.

The motet sung during communion, "Insanae et vanae curae," was most likely written as a "storm chorus" for Haydn's little known first oratorio, Il Ritorno di Tobia, or The Return of Tobias. While the oratorio has fallen out of favor, this chorus has gained great popularity on the Continent, and has a firm footing in the repertory of English cathedral choirs. The organ part (adapted from the orchestral original, as is the case with the Kleine Orgelmesse) begins with tumultuous passage-work, evoking the "raging cares" which "invade our minds." Both choir and organ contribute to the restless and dramatic nature of the music. This first section reluctantly gives way to the second section characterized by limpid, mellifluous choral lines, and a beautiful, soaring melody in the accompaniment. Both these sections are then repeated, with subtle differences.

Insanae et vanae curae invadunt mentes nostras,
saepe furore replent corda, privata spe.
Quid prodest O mortalis conari pro mundanis,
si coelos negligas?
Sunt fausta tibi cuncta, si Deus est pro te

Vain and raging cares invade our minds,
Madness often fills the heart, robbed of hope.
O mortal man, what does it profit to endeavour at worldly things,
if you should neglect the heavens?
If God is for you, all things are favorable for you.

Notes on Observing a Holy Lent: Prayer

Lent is upon us. Jesus taught in the parable of the importunate widow that we ought always to pray (Luke 18:1). We ought always to pray, but even more so in the season of Lent.

John Henry Newman in a sermon called "Rising with Christ," repeats the saying that "prayer and fasting are the wings of the soul, and they who neither fast nor pray cannot follow Christ." In his sermon on Mental Prayer, he has this to say about what it means to pray without ceasing.

A man who is religious, is religious morning, noon, and night; his religion is a certain character, a mould in which his thoughts, words, and actions are cast, all forming parts of one and the same whole. He sees God in all things; every course of action he directs towards those spiritual objects which God has revealed to him; every occurrence of the day, every event, every person met with, all news which he hears, he measures by the standard of God's will. And a person who does this may be said almost literally to pray without ceasing; for, knowing himself to be in God's presence, he is continually led to address him reverently, whom he sets always before him, in the inward language of prayer and praise, of humble confession and joyful trust.

John Henry Newman. Parochial and Plain Sermons (San Francisico: Ignatius Press, 1997 [1891]), 1316, 1536f.

Notes on Observing a Holy Lent: Fasting

Lent is upon us. On Ash Wednesday, we have the sign of the cross imposed with ashes on our foreheads. As the 1979 Book of Common Prayer instructs us (page 17), we should take up "special acts of discipline and self-denial" for the season of Lent.

These special acts of discipline and self-denial are explained by the old catholic manuals as the Three Notable Duties of a Christian: Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving (cf., Matt. 6:2, 5, 16). They are protection against the Three Enemies of the Soul: the World, the Flesh, and the Devil (cf., The Great Litany in the BCP, p. 149).

One of the old catholic manuals has this to say about the second of the notable duties of a Christian:

Fasting is literally abstinence from food and drink; but in a secondary sense it includes all forms of self-denial. The object of fasting is that the flesh may be subdued to the spirit; in other words, that the body may become an apt and willing minister of the soul. The purpose of fasting is not to distress the body, but to set free the soul. St. Leo the Great wrote, "A man has true freedom when his flesh is ruled by the judgment of his mind, and his mind is directed by the government of God."

Fasting, or self-denial, aids us in resisting temptation. If we are able to deny ourselves in things lawful, we shall be better able to deny ourselves in things unlawful. St. Leo again said, "Our fast does not consist in abstinence from food only, nor is nourishment withheld from the body to any profit unless the mind is recalled from sin, and the tongue restrained from slander."

The Bible again and again lays down the duty of fasting: the Church tells us when to practise it.

In the Prayer Book, we have a list of Fasts and Days of Abstinence. Whilst there is considerable early authority for keeping certain of the fasting days more rigorously than others, there is no English authority for making a distinction between fasting and abstinence. In the writings of our divines, the words 'fasting' and 'abstinence' are used interchangeably.

Vernon Staley. The Catholic Religion: A Manual of Instruction for Members of the Anglican Communion (Wilton: Morehouse-Barlow, 1961), 145.

Vernon Staley's language comes from the century before last, but his instruction on fasting is current for today.

O God, thou art my God

The anthem for the Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost, 9 October 2011, O God, thou art my God, was written by English composer and organist Henry Purcell (1659-1695), who was employed both at the Chapel Royal and at Westminster Abbey. The "Hallelujah" section which concludes the work may be familiar, as the hymn tune Westminster Abbey ("Christ is made the sure foundation," #518 in the 1982 Hymnal) is an adaptation of this final section of the anthem.

O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee. My soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh also longeth after thee, in a barren and dry land where no water is. Thus have I looked for thee in holiness, that I might behold thy power and glory. For thy loving-kindness is better than life itself; my lips shall praise thee. As long as I live will I magnify thee on this manner.; and lift up my hands in thy Name. Because thou hast been my helper; therefore under the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice. Hallelujah!


One of the seven sanctuary lamps hanging at the All Saints' high altar reredos.  In the background, St. Gabriel holds his lily.

Angels are in important part of God's creation, yet we may rarely bring them to mind except perhaps at Christmas and at the feast of St. Michael.

The existence of angels is amply attested in holy scripture. In the Old Testament cherubim, together with a sword flaming and turning, closed paradise to Adam and Eve (Gen. 3:24). Angels saved both sons of Abraham (Gen. 21:17; 22:11) and angels led the people of Israel in the wilderness (Ex. 23:20-23). Thousands upon thousands of angels attend God in the heavenly worship (Is. 6:1-7; Dan. 7:10; Lk. 2:13-14) . God called human servants through the agency of angels (Judg. 6:11-24; 13:3-21, and most especially, Luke 1:26-38).

In the New Testamant, the angel Gabriel announced the birth of both the forerunner (Lk. 1:11) and of Jesus in the annunciation to Mary (Lk. 1:26) and in the annunciation to Joseph (Matt. 1:20).

Angels are spiritual, non-corporeal beings (Heb. 1:14). In the liturgy in the East, angels are referred to as the bodiless powers of heaven.

Despite popular ideas to the contrary, humans do not become angels when we die. That "we are angels in training; all we have to do is spread our wings and fly" could not be further from the truth. The collect for Saint Michael and all Angels distinguishes "the ministries of angels and men" (1979 BCP, p193). First Peter tells of the greatness of our calling as humans and that the good news of grace and salvation preached to us is something "into which angels long to look" (1 Pet. 1:12).

However, our entire human life from infancy to death is supported and protected by angels (Ps. 90:11-13). This is shown most clearly in their ready ministry to Jesus at his temptation (Matt. 4:11; Mk. 1:12) and at his arrest (Matt. 26:53), but also at the parable of the Lost Sheep (Matt. 18:10) and in the story of Lazarus and Dives (Lk. 16:22).

All Saints Ashmont High Altar Tabernacle Door.  Flanking winged angels support the chalice.

The angels are invoked at every mass at the preface, before the Sanctus & Benedictus qui venit:  Therefore with Angels and Archangels, and with all the company of heaven (1979 BCP, p. 334). In the requiem mass, this intercession is made for the departed:  May the angels lead you into Paradise.

Finally, the Church, both East and West, teaches that each believer is granted a particular guardian angel. Basil the Great wrote: "Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life" (Adv. Eunomium III, 1). The Catholic Church celebrates the feast of the Holy Guardian Angels on 2 October.

Holy Cross Day

The 14th of September in the Calendar of the Book of Common Prayer is named Holy Cross Day.

This feast is called "The Exaltation of the Holy Cross" in the Eastern churches and in the Western sacramentaries and missals. It commemorates the dedication of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, which was built over the sites of the crucifixion and the tomb. In the Byzantine liturgy it is one of the twelve great feasts...It was among the black letter days restored to the calendar in 1561 and has been made a red letter day in recent revisions of the Prayer Book for other provinces. This is the first edition of the American Prayer Book in which the feast has been included, although the date had been used to determine the fall ember days.
Commentary on the American Prayer Book, Marion Hatchett, Seabury, 1981, pp. 73-74.

The Revised Common Lectionary lessons proper to this day are unchanged from the 1979 Lectionary: Isaiah 45:21-25; Philippians 2:5-11 or Galatians 6:14-18; and John 12:31-36a.

The sentence of the Introit of the day, Nos autem, from the Anglican Missal is a paraphrase of the Galatians text:

But as for us, it behoveth us to glory in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ: in whom is our salvation, our life, and resurrection: by whom we were saved and obtained our freedom.

The 6th century Western hymn, Vexilla Regis, calls the cross "our one reliance." In the East, the cross is called the pen with which Christ writes our salvation.

We should never feel ashamed of it.

Firmly I believe and truly

The stirring text of the opening hymn for Trinity Sunday was taken from John Henry Newman's The Dream of Gerontius.

With the words of this hymn Gerontius confesses his faith (which is the faith of the Church) as he lies on his deathbed, soon to stand before the judgement of God and to experience redemption and cleansing through Christ Jesus.

The tune (Nashotah House) was composed in 1992 for Nashotah House Theological Seminary by the Rev'd Canon Joseph A Kucharski, the Precentor at the Cathedral Church of All Saints, Milwaukee and Professor of Church Music at Nashotah. It is a wonderful addition to our repertoire.

Firmly I believe and truly
God is Three, and God is One;
And I next acknowledge duly
Manhood taken by the Son.

And I trust and hope most fully
In that Manhood crucified;
And each thought and deed unruly
Do to death, as He has died.

Sanctus fortis, Sanctus Deus, De Profundis oro te
Miserere, Judex meus, Parce mihi Domine.

Simply to His grace and wholly
Light and life and strength belong,
And I love, supremely, solely,
Him the holy, Him the strong.

And I hold in veneration,
For the love of Him alone,
Holy Church, as His creation,
And her teachings, as His own.

Sanctus fortis, Sanctus Deus, De Profundis oro te
Miserere, Judex meus, Parce mihi Domine.

And I take with joy whatever
Now besets me, pain or fear,
And with a strong will I sever
All the ties which bind me here.

Adoration aye be given,
With and through the angelic host,
To the God of earth and heaven,
Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Sanctus fortis, Sanctus Deus, De Profundis oro te,
Miserere, Judex meus, Mortis in discrimine.

Quicunque Vult

The Athanasian Creed (also known as the Quicunque Vult, from its opening words) is a profession of faith which has been widely used in the Western Church.

The creed is divided into two halves: the first expounds the doctrine of the Trinity, and the second the Incarnation.

The second half also includes assertions of various important events in our Lord's redeeming work.

It is our custom to use the Athanasian creed on Trinity Sunday, given the emphasis of its teachings.

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