Friday, August 22, 2008

O Clap Your Hands

When this book arrived I immediately put on the accompanying CD by Gloriae Dei Cantores. I knew it would take me awhile to get to the text, but I wanted to hear the music right away. This choral groups has given me so much joy and comfort in the last year since I discovered their magnificent voices. I have several of their CDs and am always happy to receive another.

As always, their singing is uplifting and at times powerful. It’s also a great way to make the information in the book, by Gordon Giles, come to life. The subtitle is “A Musical Tour of Sacred Choral Works,” and that’s just what it is. Giles, vicar of St. Mary Magdalene Church in North London and a trained musician, offers the equivalent of a course in the sacred music of such masters as Rachmaninov, Palestrina, Tchaikovsky, Brahms and Vaughan Williams. He presents the history behind beloved liturgical arrangements of “Kyrie,” “Gloria” and “Santus,” plus psalms and chants. He supplements the information with interesting facts about the composers and concludes with a prayer. Divided into 30 chapters, the book is a beautiful tool for a month of daily devotions. After learning about these works and prayerfully reflecting on their meaning, listening to the choir perform them is an inspired way to take the knowledge into the soul. What a brilliant idea!

I used Giles’ earlier devotional, O Come Emmanuel: A Musical Tour of Daily Readings for Advent and Christmas, last year and will do so again this December. I was deeply moved by that work, and it didn’t even have an accompanying CD. This latest is a double blessing.

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