Friday, October 5, 2007
Gloriae Dei Cantores
When I listen to this group I always think, that must be what heaven sounds like. I first encountered them in “Shining Like the Sun: The Chants of Transfiguration” (see May 31 review.) Then again with “Folk Mass,” which has a misleading title that sounds as if it will feature simple guitar songs; this group is far too musically sophisticated for that. (See June 13 review.)
Now here they are with two new recordings, “He Has Heard My Voice: Psalms of Faithfulness and Hope” and “Eclipse: The Voice of Jean Langlais.” Together they represent the voice of God to me -- loving and comforting in the first and majestic and powerful in the second.
“Voice” is my favorite of these two because the Psalms are a twice daily part of my life. “The Book of Common Prayer,” our Episcopal prayer book, has the 150 Psalms divided into morning and evening prayer for 30 days, so each month for many years now I have been praying all the Psalms. They are my friends, my comforters, my sources of strength. This recording in the Anglican tradition is the second in a series of three.
The singers of Gloriae Dei Cantores give radiant voice to the words I love so much, and when they are accompanied by the organ, they are the personification of praise. This group trained in England in its formative years. According to a press release, chanting psalms is at the heart of their worship, and members engage in personal study of each text. This deep love and understanding of the words is obvious in their singing. It is prayerful, poetic and joyful. I play this CD often.
“Eclipse,” with its organ and brass accompaniment, represents for me the more solemn, mighty side of God. The CD celebrates the centennial of organist/composer Jean Langlais, one of last century’s foremost composers of sacred music, with three of his masses -- “Messe Solennelle, evoking the terrors of the Occupation during World War II and the yearning for peace; “Messe en style ancien,” demonstrating Langlais’ love for Gregorian chant; and “Grant Us Thy Peace.” It is a powerful recording, beautifully played and sung, representing more than 40 years of Langlais’ compositions for choir, organ and brass. It is a worthy tribute to the man and to the glory of God.
To order these CDs, visit www.paracletepress.com. For information about Gloriae Dei Cantores, visit www.gdcchoir.org.