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Reflections from the Gloria Dei Choir

Lo, how a rose e'er blooming,

From tender stem hath sprung.

Of Jesse's lineage coming,

As men of old have sung;

It came, a flow'ret bright, Amid the cold of winter,

When half spent was the night.

Isaiah 'twas foretold it, The Rose I have in mind,

With Mary we behold it, The virgin mother kind;

To show God's love aright, She bore to us a Savior,

When half spent was the night.

Today, the readings are filled with the words of the prophet Isaiah, and so is our music. The first reading and our first anthem share the first few lines of “Lo How a Rose E’er Blooming” in different translations. The hymn first appeared in the Speyer Hymnal in Germany in 1599, previously originating from the Monastery of St. Alban’s in Trier, and Michael Praetorius (1571-1621) added the harmonies in 1609 to create the version you hear today. In 1896, Johannes Brahms wrote a chorale prelude for organ based on this melody as part of his 11 Choralvorspiele, Opus 122, and you will also be hearing this piece played by Charles Welling this morning before the traditional unaccompanied choral piece. The purpose of a chorale prelude, as originally conceived by Johann Sebastian Bach, was to introduce and set up a hymn or chorale before it was sung, and this is how we will present it today.

The words of Isaiah anticipating John the Baptist that are heard in today’s Gospel and Gospel Acclamation are also part of our Communion anthem, “Prepare The Way of the Lord.” This was composed by a mother and daughter writing team, Berta Poorman (b. 1931) and Sonja Poorman (b. 1955), who have been writing choral music together for over 20 years.

Prepare the way of the Lord. Be joyful, all the earth,

For we await the coming of the dear Messiah’s birth.

An everlasting light, the one we’ve waited for,

And he will rule the kingdom and shine forevermore.

Rejoice, for the King will come,

Rejoice, he’s the promised one,

Oh come and sing praises to the mighty Son.

Rejoice and the earth will hear,

Rejoice for the time is near.

The Savior will come to end all doubt and fear.

Each mountain will be low,

With valleys lifted high.

Prepare for him a highway upon the desert dry.

The crooked will be straight; the rugged will be plain,

And we will see his glory just as the Lord proclaimed.

 

—Lorraine Joy Welling, Director

   Gloria Dei Choir

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