On Sunday, October 28th, Reformation Sunday, the Sanctuary Quartet, Chancel Choir and Ae Kyong Kim will present Benjamin Britten’s Rejoice in the Lamb, written in 1943, while Britten was on a ship from the US to Britain.
Composed by one of the 20th century’s most gifted composers of opera, its sensitivity and expression of text is remarkable in its conciseness and color.
The following description is in the preface to the score, and was written by Walter Hussey, to whom (along with the choir of his church) the piece is dedicated.
The words of the Cantata - Rejoice in the Lamb - are taken from a long poem by the same name. The writer was Christopher Smart, an eighteenth century poet, deeply religious, but of a strange and unbalanced mind.
Rejoice in the Lamb (Jubilate Agno) was written while Smart was in an asylum, and is chaotic in form but contains many flashes of genius.
It is a few of the finest passages that Benjamin Britten has chosen to set to music. The main theme of the poem, and that of the Cantata, is the worship of God, by all created beings and things, each in its own way.
The Cantata is made up of ten short sections. The first sets the theme, the second gives a few examples of one person after another being summoned from the pages of the Old Testament to join with some creature in praising and rejoicing in God. The third is a quiet and ecstatic Hallelujah. In the fourth section Smart takes his beloved cat as an example of nature praising God by being simply what Creator intended it to be. The same thought is carried on in the fifth section with the illustration of the mouse. The sixth section speaks of the flowers - “the poetry of Christ”. In the seventh section Smart refers to his troubles and suffering, but even these are an occasion for praising God, for it is through Christ that he will find his deliverance. The eighth section gives four letters from an alphabet, leading to a full chorus in section nine which speaks of musical instruments and music’s praise of God, The final section repeats the Hallelujah.
Please join us for a wonderful listening experience. Bring a friend!