In our second year of a Holy Week overlaid with the heartache of a worldwide pandemic which is exacerbating the social and economic injustice of our times, a Saturday Soundtrack with lamentations feels right for the season. As was the case in 2020, my son, Andrew Bearden Brown, plays a role in this post. As one of the singers, Andrew is part of the program Lamentations: Music and Reflections for Holy Week from St. John’s Lafayette Square in Washington, DC.
This posting comes early, on Maundy Thursday, to give readers the chance to enjoy the music throughout the weekend.
The 38-minute program alternates between reflections by priests in the church on life in a year in quarantine and beautiful music by Tallis, Tomkins, and other beloved composers and arrangers.
Members of the St. John’s choir provide the music: Tory Wood and Samantha Scheff (sopranos), Charlotte Stewart (alto), Andrew Brown (tenor), and Christopher Jones (bass). The quintet is under the direction of Brent Erstad.
You are encouraged to listen to the entire program, as the reflections are thoughtful and provide context. However, if your focus is solely on the music, you can find the beginnings of each piece in the video by going to the time markings below.
The program includes:
- Reflection | Rev. Robert W. Fisher
- The Lamentations of Jeremiah I — Thomas Tallis (5:34)
- Reflection | Rev. Savannah Ponder
- When David Heard — Thomas Tomkins (18:49)*
- Reflection | Rev. William Morris
- There is a Balm in Gilead — arr. William Dawson (26:40)**
- Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Chile — arr. Carl Haywood (31:14)
- This Little Light of Mine — arr. William Bradley Roberts (33:53)
Whatever your religious tradition or beliefs, Andrew and I hope in this year of lamentations for our broken world, you can find solace in the beautiful choral music of Holy Week.
More to come…
Image by Myriam Zilles from Pixabay.
*I sang this piece with Canticum Novum in the 1980s and 1990s in the Shenandoah Valley. It is one of the most heart-wrenching musical cries of despair imaginable.
**If you are having trouble picking him out under the masks, Andrew begins this piece with the tenor solo.