Lessons and Carols at The Church of St. Catherine of Siena, NYC

December 7, 2014

The Church of St. Catherine of Siena will host an evening of Lessons and Carols this Saturday, December 13, beginning at 7:00pm. Daniel Sañez, the choirmaster and organist of St. Catherine of Siena, leads the Schola Dominicana of the parish. A reception follows the evening of prayer and music. Fr. Jordan Kelly, OP, the pastor of St. Catherine of Siena, offered some reflections on the program of Lessons and Carols:

“Lessons and Carols comes from two sources: the long vigils of Office of Readings and the rich heritage of the English Choral School. In the service nine readings from the Scriptures or the Fathers trace the history of man’s salvation, culminating with the Incarnation of Christ. This service of Lessons and Carols places before the People of God the true and eternal reason for this time of celebration, decoration and gift-giving: the Birth of Jesus Christ. It offers people a chance to step back, breathe, forget the riches of Madison Avenue, Macy’s and cyber-shopping, and bask in the presence of God.”

Daniel Sañez, the choirmaster and organist, spoke of the rich musical selections in the program:

“Throughout my time here, the programming has taken similar structure: the messianic expectation, the Marian preparation and “Ave!,” the wondrous birth, what that birth means for and should mean to us, and the first witness of the Christ child by the shepherds and the wise men.

This year is no different: while the opening “Nowell” prologue by Ralph Vaughan Williams sets the overall musical tone for the evening, we are beginning the choral portion with a setting of the Advent “Veni, Domine” by Cristobal de Morales, followed by a Byrd setting of the early text to “Ave Maria”; this birth is marked by a victorious “Riu, riu chiu” and John Sheppard’s setting of the Gospel of Saint John, “Verbum Caro Factum Est”; then, it’s Poulenc’s turn to announce the birth of Christ with his “Hodie Christus Natus Est.”

Two meditative selections on this miraculous birth follow: Poulenc’s “O Magnum Mysterium” and a brief Vaughan Williams piece called “The Blessed Son of God.” Finally, we come to our witnesses: the Poulenc “Quem Vidistis Pastores” is followed by the three kings’ procession in Poulenc’s “Videntes Stellam.” Lastly, Howells’ setting of the John Buxton text “Long, Long Ago” wraps up the entire Christmas story from Isaiah’s prophecy through the Epiphany of the Lord, followed by a modern setting by Stephen Caracciolo of “There Is No Rose,” embodying our sentiments on the Christmas narrative.”

  For more information on this wonderful evening, see the invitation or stcatherinenyc.org.

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