Thursday, August 6, 2009

Shining Like the Sun: The Chants of Transfiguration

When I listened to this beautiful CD for the first time it had me so peaceful and relaxed and moving at a much, much slower pace that I was almost late for church! With the only instruments being their lovely voices, Gloriae Dei Cantores Schola, under the direction of Dr. Mary Berry, had transported me to a quiet monastery with their presentation of these timeless Gregorian chants.

The feast of the Transfiguration, Aug. 6, is one of my favorites, partly because it is placed in late summer during the church season known as ordinary time. It comes along simply, without the build up of Advent before Christmas or Lent before Easter, and recounts the story of the appearance of Jesus in his glory during his earthly life. (It is related in Mt. 17: 1-13, Mk 9: 2-13 and Lk 9: 28-36.) The Lord is briefly radiantly transformed before three of his disciples, which is significant for revealing the Messiahship of Christ and foreshadowing his future glory.

The late Rev. Canon Edward N. West of the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine also loved this feast and always preached on the Sunday on which it was celebrated. He believed it wasn’t that Jesus was transformed at that moment, it was that for just a time the disciples were able to glimpse him as he truly was.

This CD captures that sense. Divided into three parts, Prophecy/Vision, Manifestation/The Moment of Transfiguration and The Promise of our Personal Transfiguration, it features chants and hymns based on prophetic texts of Psalms and the Book of Wisdom, the accounting from St. Matthew’s gospel and The Letter to the Hebrews, among other sources. Listening is a reminder of God’s glory, and how we can share in that glory through faith and the gifts, like these magnificent voices, that God gives us. Shining Like the Sun: The Chants of Transfiguration is a perfect CD for warm summer days and evenings.

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