23rd March 2020 marked the beginning of a extraordinary period for our parish as together with the nation, we went into ‘lockdown’. Our church building was shut down overnight and even the most pessimistic of us didn’t realise just how prolonged an absence we were about to experience. We went online, feeling our way tentatively through the technology as we sought to practice our faith and celebrate the Sacraments uninterrupted.
This CD captures some of the music that was laid down to support our liturgies Sunday by Sunday, from a very different Holy Week and Easter, and onwards through to Pentecost and beyond. Joining from our own homes at 10am every Sunday, but united in song, worship and prayerful Spiritual Communion, it was a time of real growth and renewal, amongst the change and uncertainty. The order of the programme on this CD follows the church year beginning shortly after lockdown began so as you listen to these psalms, songs and hymns, take heart, and unite yourself once again with the sense of belonging, of hope, of thankfulness that accompanied them as they were first sung from sofas across the land.
The recordings were made in a makeshift home studio but deliberately captured ‘as live’ to retain the spontaneity of worship. Thank you to Fr David, Wendy, Becky, Helen, Emily & Kay for all the work behind the scenes that enabled the liturgy you saw on screen to actually happen and which inspired the original creation of this music. Thank you to our wonderful Parish Family in St Julians, St Telios and across the world who week in, week out, engaged with body, soul and voice, ensuring worship, prayer and Sacraments continued.
St Julians Parish Church, Newport
Feast of St Cecilia 2020
1. This is my Body
Jimmy Owen’s well known Eucharistic hymn pre-figured the many months of absence from the Sacrament to come, but celebrates the centrality of the Spiritual Communion we managed to maintain: “I am still with you, and you will know you’re very close to me”.
2. Stay With Me
Music: McIntyre, Fowlis et al, Words: Ali McCormick
This was always intended for use at the Watch on Maundy Thursday and the Worship Music Group had been starting to learn it shortly before lockdown began. The music comes from a contemporary folk setting of a Scots Gaelic war poem, ‘Air an Somme’. The refrain and lament-like tone of the piece brought to mind the plaintive cry, ‘Stay with me, stay with me’ from which the words were adapted.
3. At the foot of the Cross
First used at the Stations of the Resurrection celebrated on Ascension Day, it is included here to mark Good Friday. This is an abridged version of the original, recalling the ceremonies of the Veneration of the Cross which could not take place this year.
4. Christ be our Light
Bernadette Farrell’s well known hymn was used at the Vigil in its Easter version (‘This is the night…’ rather than ‘Longing for light…), sung to welcome the New Fire.
5. See what a morning
Stuart Townend & Keith Getty
A joyful hymn of resurrection written by two giants of contemporary hymn writing (Beautiful Saviour, In Christ Alone, Power of the Cross come from the same pens). The accompaniment here is based on an orchestral arrangement performed by Kristyn Getty with its distinctive string motifs leading each verse.
Matt Maher, Tam Le, Ike Ndolo
Taken from Maher’s ‘Mass of Communion’ this was a new setting tried out for several weeks just before Advent 2019 but used as the only sung part of the Mass Setting during lockdown. It is a ‘sung through’ setting but the musical structure cleverly gives the illusion of a chorus by alternating two musical themes across the verses.
7. He is here
Paul Baloche & Brian Doerksen. Additional words Ali McCormick.
‘He is here’ has been adapted with additional words to become a Festal Eucharistic Acclamation for St Julian’s – a literal declaration of our faith in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Mass.
8. Take Heart
Take Heart was a new song written by Matthew West specifically with the COVID-19 situation in mind and based on John 16.33: ‘In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.’ Fr David discovered it and asked if it could be incorporated into the Sunday liturgy for Easter 2 – a pivotal moment in our response to the lockdown.
9. Christ is Risen!
Easter 2 (Low Sunday)
A Graham Kendrick staple that we’ve being doing at St Julian’s for as long as anyone can remember but something of a challenge in lockdown given the antiphonal nature of the chorus. Here the cantor answers their own call, confident in the knowledge that when the Mass itself is celebrated, others will be joining in!
Fr David’s homily challenged us to recognise that Jesus is truly present in the Breaking of the Bread and to let that make a difference in our lives. This post-homily meditation, written by Italian pianist and composer Ludovico Einaudi, was accompanied visually by the incredible stained-glass east window of the Blessed Sacrament Chapel at Buckfast Abbey.
11. Because the Lord is my Shepherd
Easter 4 (Good Shepherd Sunday)
Christopher Walker, based on Psalm 23
For this Sunday’s psalm an opportunity was taken to provide alternate refrains for our french-speaking congregation. Fr David provided a translation that best reflected the rhythm and essence of the original text.
Easter 5 (May Devotions)
Jo Boyce, based on Luke 1.46-55
CJM Music (set up by Jo Boyce, the late Mike Stanley and Chris Rolinson) features heavily at St Julian’s because it marries an accessible contemporary style with a strong catholic Theology. Jo Boyce’s setting of Mary’s song of joy – the Magnificat – is one of the jewels in their prolific output and was used here in lieu of the Psalm in honour of Our Lady.
13. Praise to the Lord the Almighty
Easter 5 (May Devotions)
Tune: Lobe Den Herren. Words: Joachim Neander
This was the first appearance of an organ accompaniment in our livestreamed worship since the organ fell silent at the start of lockdown. I had been looking for a way to provide realistic sounding organ accompaniment once it was apparent the lockdown would be continuing some time. I made use of a project called Grande Orgue which allows users to play a real-life organ ‘virtually’. Computer software allows a normal keyboard to ‘play’ recordings of real organ pipes, even selecting stops and driving the pedal board, thereby producing an authentic pipe organ sound. As a bonus, it gave us several reed stops (trumpet sounds) that we wouldn’t normally hear at St Julian’s!
14. Send forth your Spirit
Christopher Walker, based on Psalm 104
Walker’s triple-time setting of Psalm 104 has featured in many a Pentecost over the years and is a breathless sing with barely a break between refrain and verse. The arrangement here is based on an early 1990’s recording of this psalm which, unusually, featured the verses sung by two male cantors, in unison, giving the line greater prominence.
15. Enemy of Apathy
The post-homily meditation for Pentecost was this instrumental rendering of John Bell’s contemporary hymn which speaks of the Holy Spirit using female imagery; mothering creation, weaning and inspiring all whose hearts are open.
16. Song to the Trinity
Mirroring the mystery of the Trinity itself, this hymn from CJM’s Mike Stanley is written as a prayer, offering a verse to each Person: “Take me home, Father, Spirit and Son, my master and friend”.
17. O higher than the Cherubim
Tune: Lasst Uns Erfeuen, Words: Athelstan Riley
A verse from the hymn Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones, itself based on an ancient Eastern Orthodox prayer, was used with the traditional ‘Alleluia’ refrain adapted by Fr David for the Marian Devotion.
Laura Story. Additional words and arrangement Ali McCormick
Indescribable has become something of an anthem for St Julian’s and is always an emotional sing (listeners may spot a cracked voice in the last chorus). What we use in St Julian’s is an extended version, both lyrically and musically, with only the first verse and chorus being original. The ‘middle 8’ (Lord we lift up your name) was added as a bridge to a ‘change of key’ for the last chorus.
19. How can I repay the Lord
Stephen Dean, based on Psalm 116
Stephen Dean, an alumnus of the St Thomas More Group (featuring composers such as Bernadette Farrell and Chris Walker), has written this musically interesting setting of psalm 116. The verses take a meandering route from the home key before settling back for a simpler response.
Finding worship songs written specifically for the catholic Christian context is not always easy and often requires creative adaptations. However, Matt Maher’s Canadian-rock style marries with his practising Catholicism to give us plenty to work with. His work has a distinctive style so once you know ‘Your Grace is not Enough’ or are ‘Holy Just Like You’ you’re never a million miles away from an ‘Overflow’. Throughout lockdown we also used Maher’s ‘Kyrie Eleison’ setting for the Sunday Litany responses.
Another Einaudi composition, this time accompanying the theme of the homily that we should be ‘A people of healing, a people of peace’.
22. Sing we of our Glorious Patrons
Tune: Regent Square, Words: Ali McCormick
The so-called ‘St Julian’s Hymn’, originally penned in 2013, is a work in progress. It has been extended over the years with new verses written for the parish pilgrimage to Our Lady of Walsingham, for St Teilo, St James, for a departed parishioner, and here for our situation in lockdown:
23. I will sing forever
Jo Boyce & Mike Stanley, based on Psalm 89
A setting drawn once again from CJM Music’s collection of lectionary psalm settings, this time with simple harmonies based on an arrangement recorded by the authors.
24. Lord of all hopefulness
Tune: Slane, Words: Jan Struther
The beautiful traditional Irish tune, Slane, is a solace at any time. Struther’s words offer a prayer as this programme draws to a close that at all times of the day, at all moments in our life’s journey, even in this most curious of times, our Lord does not forsake us.
25. My Lighthouse
Rend Collective’s wild Irish foot-stomper brings a smile to many a face and its message about Christ as our Light ‘preventing’ us from coming to harm is an anthem for the times. Pre-recording did allow us the flexibility to add in some of the harmonies on the original recording.
26. And can it be
An instrumental performance of Charles Wesley’s humble prayer of devotion to the Heart of Jesus formed the meditation after the homily as we were invited to make this our prayer: “Refresh and Sustain me, Lord.” Nathan Fellingham’s beautiful contemporary setting sings through on the flute.
27. Just like You
First used just before lockdown was lifted, this song has a particular symmetry as it was also used at the Feast of All Saints – a Sunday where we once again found ourselves back in a ‘firebreak’ lockdown! But we had kept the Faith, ‘taken heart’ and could still sing in joyful confidence: