The Canadian Red Ensign

The Canadian Red Ensign

Friday, December 31, 2010

Liturgical poetry cycle complete

With my last post, the series of poems beginning with "Kyrie Eleison" is complete. These poems are built around the text of the Ordinary of the Mass in English translation. The translation used is that found in the Order of Communion in the Book of Common Prayer. The poems were written and posted in the order in which they are found in the Anglican Prayerbook, with the Great Doxology at the end rather than before the Credo as it stands in Roman Catholic liturgy. The construction of the poems and the manner in which the liturgical text is incorporated varies. In some the liturgical words are made part of the regular meter and rhyme pattern. In others they were placed as extra-metrical refrains between stanzas of the poems. In the last, the Latin text of the first two lines is also included at the end.

Here are direct links to each poem in the cycle in their order:

Kyrie Eleison:
Agnus Dei:
Gloria in Excelsis:

My inspiration for this project is musical. After attending the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra's marvelous performance of Beethoven's Mass in C-Major on December 4th I spent much of early December listening to recordings of other masses - the Missa Solemnis, Hadyn's "Nelson" Mass, Mozart's "Coronation" Mass, and especially J. S. Bach's Mass in B Minor. The latter is rapidly approaching the great oratarios - Haydn's "Creation", Bach's "St. Matthew's Passion" and Handel's "Messiah" at the top of my list of favorite sacred music. At any rate, listening to these hymns which the Christian Church has been singing for centuries set to the accompaniment of music by the greatest composers the world has ever known (or ever will know), inspired me to take these hymns, in the form in which I knew them the best, and set them in poetic verse with whatever little talent in so doing I may possess.

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