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Sunday, 19 November 2017

The lovely church music in Rev. S2E6

tl;dr the episode features some lovely church music including Allegri's Miserere, Bach's Jesu, meine Freude, Palestrina's Jubilate Deo and another one I couldn't get on Shazam ;)

Last week I attended the magnificent Polyphony Down The Pub which is an amateur choir that enjoys singing remaissance motet type music, lots of it church music (some secular music too) while enjoying a pint. I can't sightread so I just listen rather than sing. We (they) did it as a two-choir, 8 parts thing with the room split into choir 1 and choir 2, then swapped. Much fun.

I have also been thinking a bit about some of the music used in Rev. (Series 2, episode 6, script PDF) when Adam Smallbone is trying to find something suitable to play on a small CD player in the church for the Dedication Festival, the church organ having largely given up. Quite a few bits of church music (and other stuff) crop up and while I'd recognise Allegri's Miserere anywhere the other pieces I had to Shazam as I wasn't familiar with them, despite having heard quite a lot of church music in my life (see background below).

6m10s - while Adam and Colin share a pizza there's some music that I can't get on Shazam - anyone know?

11m10s - Adam considers his fridge while listening to the ending of Palestrina's Jubilate Deo ("et in saecula saeculorum amen" from ~3m12 in vid below) on his headphones, Shazam tells me it's the 1991 Remastered version, Choir of King's College & Cambridge & St Philip Ledger.




15m - as Adam cycles to church he's listening to another Jubilate Deo (Shazam gives it as James Lancelot & Choir of King's College & Cambridge & Sir Philip Ledger - seems to be a different one from the last)

18.00 - Allegri’s Miserere, Armonica Consort
19.31 - Allegri’s Miserere again



Couldn't find the Armonica version of Allegri's Miserere but there are plenty of examples on YouTube including this one above from The Sixteen.

23.48 - Bach's Jesu Meine Freude, BWV 277: I, The Sixteen (I saw them live at Spitalfields Music Festival last year, fantastic).



Different version from the one used in the show but all fairly similar.

There's also a lovely piece that Rev. Adam Smallbone sings at the end of S3E6 (the final episode overall) which, despite nine years of church schooling, I'd never heard of. Because he sings it it's unShazamable so I had to pay attention to the Latin to discover that it's the Praeconium Paschale or 'Exsultet'.



Background
I spent the second nine years of my life at an Anglican boarding school and our days revolved more around the Christian calendar than mere 'start of term' and 'end of term'. Although every four weeks we had permitted weekends away, called exeats, the word being a cousin of exit and exeunt, and there was a half-term in the middle. Hardly any event could pass without a religious ceremony and we had bonus ones including Leavers' Day and something like Founders' Day but I'm not sure we called it that. I remember Ascension Day and Harvest Festival (involved polishing apples on our jumpers for some reason). Every so often (quite possibly every three years) we had a Triennial service which the bishop attended. We had to wear our school ties for that, not our house ties so it was a big deal. These larger events took place at an external church too, sometimes their choir would be combined with ours.

As an avowed atheist (from about the age of four, I was very troubled at church seeing my parents bowing their heads and muttering to no-one) I tried to make these interminable services (assembly every day, chapel on Sunday) go more quickly by speed reading multiple times whichever bit of liturgical prose our chaplain was currently on. It was always a relief whenever the organist piped us out with something nice and chirpy at the end.

Except Ash Wednesday which had the best cheerless music ever, a particular favourite was Attende Domine which we sang in English ('Hear us O Lord'). I think it was just the choir that sang it (possibly during the communion bit) but it wasn't that long before I was in the choir myself. They signed us up to choir using a sort of exception reporting - everyone was in the choir until proven otherwise. The least pleasant teacher in the school took us one by one into one of the practice rooms with a piano and she made us sing a hymn of our choice, then played us a chord and we had to sing the middle note. Somehow I passed.

Anyway, while I did not love boarding school I left with a fondness for church music. We had quite a lot of church music at home too (though for most of the year I was at school!) as my parents met through a church choir in Glasgow (Wellington Church). A few years after leaving school I voluntarily attended sat through an Ash Wednesday service at St Paul's Cathedral because they were doing a proper two-choir version of Allegri's Miserere. As a big fan of Tom Hollander (who plays Rev Adam Smallbone in Rev.) I was quite pleased to read in an interview that his own schooling (he was head chorister) had left him with an 'abiding love of church music' too.




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