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DaveHarries

Ecce Sacerdos Magnus

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Greetings all,

Yesterday (20th October 2018) the new Bishop of Bristol (Rt. Rev. Vivienne Faull, lately Dean of York for anyone wondering) was enthroned in what was an enjoyable occasion in Bristol Cathedral. For the occasion there were four motets which were:

- "We wait for thy loving kindness, O God" (William McKie)

- "Jubilate Deo" (William Walton)

- "Eternal light, shine into our hearts" (Canon Richard Shepherd, Director of Development at York Minster - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Shephard)

- "Ecce sacerdos Magnus" ("Behold, a great priest") (James MacMillan)

The piece by Richard Shepherd was commissioned for the occasion and was a beautiful piece. The service booklet did not refer to him as Canon Richard Shepherd but the Bishop of Bristol, in her message in front of the booklet, referred to him as being a Canon of York.

Anyway with the MacMillan "Ecce sacerdos" I have tried to find it on YouTube and I think this - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C6Qi6cdH514 - may be it but I am unsure: the service I heard it at was the first time I have heard any arrangement of Ecce sacerdos magnus, let alone James MacMillan's. I have tried to find it on Amazon to see if there is a CD with MacMillan's rendition on but to no avail. Anyone know if it has ever been recorded previously on a CD that is no longer available? It would be both a pity and a surprise if the answer was no.

Dave

 

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I must admit that I never can get used to the notion of lay canons.  But that's just me.  The rank is of great antiquity and no more odd than the Use of Sarum's recognition of boy canons, who had precedence over the other boys and stood to the west of them (to be nearer the dean and precentor) in the front row of the choir on each side.

Ecce sacerdos magnus is a text that has been set by many composers. Probably the best known one is by Tomás Luis de Victoria. There's also a setting by Elgar which I've not heard but which I sincerely hope isn't as trite as it looks on paper.

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Ecce Sacerdos magnus is the plainsong Antiphon usually sung for the Reception of a Bishop. (Liber Usualis pg. 1841) It used to, more usually, follow Sacerdos et Pontifex! There are lots of settings of varying degrees of awfulness! Vox is right that the Vittoria, which is wonderful, is, possibly, the most famous setting but the Elgar is, possibly, the most used! I much prefer the unaccompanied Vittoria but, every time I needed a setting, the Elgar always seemed to win - possibly because it used the organ and, to the laity anyway, seemed more a more appropriate way of greeting a Bishop !

I listened to the clip. It isn't the James McMillan (skeleton score here!)  http://boosey.epartnershub.com/Ecce-Sacerdos-Magnus-27395.aspx which was written for the enthronement of the Bishop of Aberdeen, was written for Unison voices, two trumpets and organ and ends with the doxology Gloria patri et filio et spiritui sancto! - but what it is I have no idea - sorry to say but I think it's pretty awful music!!

 

 

 

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19 minutes ago, S_L said:

- sorry to say but I think it's pretty awful music!!

Nail... head... a truly grim experience listening to that clip! An awful way to start a Sunday morning. Don't do it to yourself!

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1 hour ago, Martin Cooke said:

Nail... head... a truly grim experience listening to that clip! An awful way to start a Sunday morning. Don't do it to yourself!

Martin - it could have been worse!! I heard the story of a Bishop who was greeted with 'He's got the whole world in his hands!!!'

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5 hours ago, timothyguntrip said:

I really like the Elgar - the choirs I've introduced it to have also rather enjoyed it too! 

 

 

I can understand choirs enjoying it! Choirs I have done it with have always enjoyed singing it. It's effective for the occasion of the entrance of a Bishop, it's isn't difficult to sing, there's nothing much that can go wrong, it's tuneful and it stands well, in fact very well, against some of the other settings of the text! 

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Nearly 25 years ago while at university, we sang Bruckner's setting complete with several trombones, for the licensing of a new Dean of Chapel.  Good fun, but sadly never had the brass resources to do it since!  

 

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The Bruckner setting is hard - and is quite a sing - I've done it using two organs instead of the original scoring of organ and three trombones!!

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We use the Elgar at St Mary's, Charlton Kings it's very tuneful and dead easy! I've also played it on a live Sunday morning service radio broadcast many years ago and, I think, sung it at Worcester County Cricket club's New Road ground!

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In my distant youth,the popular setting in Roman Catholic churches was that composed by the Abbe Stadler. Quite straightforward and just the right length to accompany the entrance procession of the bishop. The question of length is of liturgical importance since music in church should be tailored so as not to impede the flow of the service.

One of the bishops of those far-off days turned round from the altar and gestured for the choir to shut up ;he may have muttered something to that effect but I can't be sure.

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On ‎22‎/‎11‎/‎2018 at 19:19, Denis O'Connor said:

aIn my distant youth,the popular setting in Roman Catholic churches was that composed by the Abbe Stadler. 

One of the bishops of those far-off days turned round from the altar and gestured for the choir to shut up ;he may have muttered something to that effect but I can't be sure.

Yes, I have grim recollections of Stadler too!! Clearly the Bishop in question had a certain amount of taste!!!

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On 21/10/2018 at 01:52, DaveHarries said:

Greetings all,

[snip] Anyway with the MacMillan "Ecce sacerdos" [snip] I have tried to find it on Amazon to see if there is a CD with MacMillan's rendition on but to no avail. Anyone know if it has ever been recorded previously on a CD that is no longer available? It would be both a pity and a surprise if the answer was no.

Dave

 

I'm surprised that you had a fruitless search. My quick bit of Googling resulted in this snippet on the BBC website, and it's on this recording of his music (still available in various formats) which I bought some years ago for the Tu es Petrus.

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