Friday, September 16, 2016

Vespers of the Holy Cross

Vespers of the Holy Cross

At the church of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross in Champaign, every year we celebrate Feast Week--a week-long celebration of the solemn feast of our parish.  It begins on the Saturday evening preceding the feast (September 14) and runs thru the following Saturday.

There are "serious" celebrations, including this year 3 Masses on the solemnity itself (note that, because it's the "titular feast" of the parish, it is a local solemnity, liturgically speaking), sung First Vespers the preceding evening, and a "living Rosary" led the school children.  Lighter moments included a buffet dinner with music and dancing, mouse races, an ice cream social, hot dog day at school, and a family carnival.

Our parish has been blessed for 20-something years to have Scott Montgomery as our organist and music director. Each year he plans and leads the singing of First Vespers (Evening Prayer I) and then gives a recital.

In addition to the choir

about 45 parishioners (who may have included some guests) came to praise the Lord in the Church's solemn sung Evening Prayer.

Unfortunately, the sound quality of my camera doesn't do justice to the excellence of the choir. But, for what it's worth, here they are chanting the end of the 1st psalm:

I recorded other elements--another full psalm, the Magnificat, and most of the 1st piece in the recital that followed Vespers, but the videos are too large to upload here.

Scott's recital included 6 pieces, with brief commentary:  Percy Fletcher's Festival Toccata; Mozart's Fantasie in F minor (KV 608); Sigfrid Karg-Elert's "Saluto Angelico" from Cathedral Windows (op. 106) and "Clair de Lune" from Trios Impressions (op. 72); Alexandre Guilmant's scherzo from Sonata 8 in A Major (op. 91); and Louis Vierne's final from Symphony No. 1 (op. 14).

The congregation gave him a standing ovation when he finished, then lingered to chat with him and each other.

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