Musical Notes | January 12-13

As we come to the close of the Christmas Season – found in the Gospel’s telling of our Lord’s baptism and public recognition as God’s Son – we reflect on humanity’s shared hope in the promise of the infant Jesus and that hope’s realization in the adult … the One whom John the Baptist proclaims will bring to all humanity baptism “with the Holy Spirit and fire.”

The service opens with hymn #437 “Joy to the World,” drawing all into celebration of our Lord’s love triumphing over the trials and challenges we all face. The Ordinary parts of the Mass can be found in the Storrington Mass, starting with #230 Glory to God.” The cantor will lead us in the call and response of today’s Psalm, #1012 “The Lord Will Bless His People.” We then joyfully echo the angelic host’s voices, promising “good will to all” in the Preparation hymn “It Came Upon the Midnight Clear” (#433). The Communion hymn takes its words from the Old Testament’s book of Isaiah in “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming” (#451), and we close today’s service with the more recent but still traditional spiritual hymn #428 “Go Tell it on the Mountain.”

The Roman Catholic Church’s long tradition of liturgical music not only borrows from the Bible’s Old Testament for its verses, it also provides rich reserves of tunes. Today’s hymns draw from George F. Handel’s music (from almost 275 years ago) in “Joy to the World” and an even earlier German tune from 1599 (#451).