Loved the home-spun sound of the first lesson! (though saying so makes me out to be even more of a snob than I really am ...)
Wasn't that a terrific first reading - bold, fine voice, in yer face and commonsensical. and a very tricky lesson to read too. All this 'time to''s one after the other!
Loved it. Musical, energetic, brisk, some fine solo singing in all parts, good strong top, nice balance so that we heard everybody.
Wish it was like that every week!
BUT 'fraid, madame precentor, running commentary on the items was DJ not CE.
BUT 'fraid, madame precentor, running commentary on the items was DJ not CE.[/QUOTE]
All very R4 'Sunday/Daily Service' wasn't it, sadly? But with Oxford Rd, Manchester the home of BBC religious broadcasting I s'pose they were bound to take full advantage on their home patch. The psalm commentary was the most distracting. Perhaps we can have full biographies of each chant & responses composer next time - I'm holding out for Thomas Weelkes's Chichester exploits in that case!
Nice treble sound! The 'Blue Peter' element of the precentor's introductions was, for me, unnecessary, but perhaps that's just their style - fine. I liked the aged Simeon kicking up his heels in a courtly dance! Nice to hear that early (1934?) Britten Jubilate Deo too!
Why on earth didn't they let one of the men sing the versicles.
If the Precentor is a woman OK as long as she can sing. This lady could not and she should be appointed a bishop as soon as possible!
Didn't think much of the psalm chants. I prefer Wesley and S Nicholson to psalms 42/43.
It's good to have new and different music for a change on CE but on the whole I thought the choir tried to do more than they were really capable of. The Britten was poorly sung I thought. Shame because it's good to be able to hear one of the morning canticles as an add on to Evensong now that Matins is rarely heard in cathedrals.
Could not disagree with you more, VCC. What a miserably, miserly, unsmiling response to this quite jolly service! I grant St Barry was not on the podium, but, for goodness' sake.....
The canticles had nicely balanced groupings, interesting and distinctive solo voices, and plenty of energy and musicality, and it was refreshing to hear both Gabrieli and Britten.
And no-one has commented on the Judith Bingham? Inventive? Worth getting a first perf? Welcome addition to the repertoire?
I found the Bingham grew on me as it went on, but I'm not sure how the text works in a liturgical setting. The words are fascinating (I once did some research on them when I sang Britten's setting in a recital, and found that this carol is almost unique in being both attested in mediaeval sources and collected as folk song - in the Appalachians). But they are very obscure. I'm open to being convinced, if someone can tell me what they are supposed to mean!
As a sometime resident of Manchester, I greatly enjoyed the first lesson too.
He bear her off, he bear her down
He bear her into an orchard ground
Lu li lu lay lu li lu lay
The falcon hath bourne my mate away
- the action of the Divine Falcon, the Divine Predator. The refrain is both lament and decayed hunting refrain. The great image of Christ the Dawn Falcon [ Hopkins? The Windhover?] seizing the Lady for himself - i.e. winning / kidnapping / abducting her away from merely earthly love to lead her to the spiritual joys. Aristocratic image beloved of medieval lyric writers AND religious writers alike. Erotic Allegory is all in both fields. The Knight is bereft.
And in this orchard there was a hold
That was hanged with purple and gold
And in that hold there was a bed
And it was hanged with gold so red
- here lies the Fisher King, abandoned, eternally wounded, in royal but lonely luxury. The orchard is one of the great standard erotic tropes in medieval lit, but beautifully / tragically turned here in that this is not a 'bower of bliss' but the lonely bed of the Knight.
Lu li lu lay lu li lu lay
On this bed there lyeth a knight
His wound is bleeding both day and night
By his bedside kneeleth a maid
And she weepeth both night and day
Lu li lu lay lu li lu lay
- the interjecting refrain weeps for the wounded knight - notice that it comes at slightly irregular intervals?
By his bedside standeth a stone
Corpus christi written thereon
The Lu li lu lay lu li lu lay immediately indicates that this is a lament, but it is also a glance at the Fisher King legend, the Amfortas, and Lancelot. Remember that Lancelot, the finest Knight of all the world, failed to achieve the Saant Graal because he was caught in adultery with Guinevere. One of the worst of all sins to betray a king to whom he had sworn loyalty and was trusted as well: his first punishment took the form of being able only to sleep at the door of the Grail Chapel, to hear the sounds, see the light, but NOT ion any way be part of the revelation of the Grail for which he had quested and dedicated his life for years, and thus not be given the Eucharist from the hands of Christ himself from the Grail. Perceval and Galahad did -in some versions, Galahad is given the Grail to minister to Perceval. Lancelot lies bleeding continually in the grimly ironic 'garden' in this lyric but the Corpus Christi is always there, written, should he choose to be shriven, to be healed, and repent and do penance - repentance which of course Lancelot never did.
A few thoughts.
Last edited by DracoM; 09-02-12 at 10:01.
I don't know Manchester Cathedral at all but this broadcast made it sound like a very small building - is this the case? Sounded really very intimate. The BBC record everything too close now it would seem - even last weeks was too close at St P's. I had to play into some BBC mics this week and they really just don't have a clue.......its actually a disgrace.
Anyway as this bit of the forum is called the choir lets talk about them! I was really very pleasantly surprised and cant criticise this one - I really liked the singing. I cant really get my ears tuned in to boys and girls singing together though in an ecclesiastical setting - maybe its just me but my ears/brain just cant cope with it being neither one thing or the other! I have no objection to girls singing in our cathedrals BTW but I really think it should be separate. I suppose not all have the luxury though.
The first lesson made me smile like a Virtual Cheshire Cat!
Our own cathedral cat didnt like the Precentrix, but she and and all the other highlighted "problems" are just a sideshow to what was an extremely fine and clearly well directed CE. I personally liked the Bingham a lot (she is one of the few moderns I always like!) and the chants were also a welcome change form what one might normally hear to these well known words.