Thunder Entered Her

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Thunder Entered Her is a choral piece written by the English composer John Tavener in 1990. It was commissioned by the St Albans Chamber Choir and it is written for SATB chorus, handbells and pipe organ.

John Tavener British composer

Sir John Kenneth Tavener was an English composer, known for his extensive output of religious works, including The Protecting Veil, Song for Athene and The Lamb.

St Albans City in southern Hertfordshire, England

St Albans is a city in Hertfordshire, England, and the major urban area in the City and District of St Albans. It lies east of Hemel Hempstead and west of Hatfield, about 20 miles (32 km) north-northwest of central London, 8 miles (13 km) southwest of Welwyn Garden City and 11 miles (18 km) south-southeast of Luton. St Albans was the first major town on the old Roman road of Watling Street for travellers heading north, and it became the Roman city of Verulamium. It is a historic market town and is now a dormitory town within the London commuter belt and the Greater London Built-up Area.

In music, SATB is an initialism for soprano, alto, tenor, bass, defining the voice types required by a chorus or choir to perform a particular musical work. Pieces written for SATB can be sung by choruses of mixed genders, by choirs of men and boys, or by four soloists.

Contents

The simple lyrics "Thunder entered her / And made no sound" are taken from Saint Ephrem the Syrian (c. 306–373), [1] which describe the immaculate motherhood of Mary. The Messiah child is described as "The Shepherd of all ... [who] became a lamb." The poem ends with a lamb entering the world "bleating", featuring a melismatic tenor solo.

Ephrem the Syrian Syriac deacon and a prolific Syriac-language hymnographer and theologian of the 4th century

Ephrem the Syrian was a Syriac Christian deacon and a prolific Syriac-language hymnographer and theologian of the fourth century.

Mary, mother of Jesus religious figure and mother of Jesus of Nazareth

Mary was a 1st-century BC Galilean Jewish woman of Nazareth, and the mother of Jesus, according to the New Testament and the Quran.

Messiah saviour or liberator of a group of people, most commonly in the Abrahamic religions

In Abrahamic religions, a messiah or messias is a saviour or liberator of a group of people.

The multi-layered composition features a ritualistic use of handbells. [2] Tavener employs spatial techniques such as placing a smaller chorus, which intones the Velichayem [We magnify you], and the handbells at a distance from the main chorus. Tension is built by adding low organ roulades representing thunder that punctuate the text and are accompanied by several "Amen" from the main body of the choir. The work closes with a tenor solo, marked "The Sacrifical Lamb", which represents the birth and passion of Christ. [3]

A roulade is an elaborate embellishment of several notes sung to one syllable. It is most associated with the operatic coloratura vocal style. It consists of a single phrase, or could even be part of a longer phrase. It is more extended than ornaments such as a trill, mordent or turn, but not to the extent that it could be called a cadenza. It is usually performed in a rhythmically free style, either by use of rubato or over a musical pause and it is in this way that it is distinguished from a melisma. Examples are in the operatic works of Bellini and Donizetti and the Nocturnes of Chopin. Extended embellishments found in modern-day Gospel vocalisations could be said to be roulades.

Nativity of Jesus accounts of the birth of Jesus

The nativity of Jesus or birth of Jesus is the basis for the Christian holiday of Christmas and is described in the gospels of Luke and Matthew. The two accounts differ, but agree that Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea during the reign of King Herod the Great, his mother Mary was married to a man named Joseph, who was descended from King David and was not his biological father, and that his birth was caused by divine intervention. Luke's version says the birth took place during a Roman census, mentions an announcement to shepherds by angels, presentation of Jesus in the Temple, and gives the name of the angel who announces the coming birth to Mary. Matthew's version mentions the arrival of the Magi, the flight into Egypt by the family, and the Massacre of the Innocents by King Herod. The consensus of scholars is that both gospels were written about AD 75-85, and while it is possible that one account might be based on the other, or that the two share common source material, the majority conclusion is that the two nativity narratives are independent of each other.

Passion of Jesus final period in the life of Jesus

In Christianity, the Passion is the short final period in the life of Jesus beginning with his triumphal entry into Jerusalem and ending with his crucifixion and his death on Good Friday.

Lyrics

Velichayem Tya. [We magnify you]
Thunder entered her
And made no sound
There entered the Shepherd of all,
And in her He became
The Lamb, bleating as He comes forth.
Ameen [sic].

Nativity Hymn No. 11 by St Ephrem the Syrian (306–373)

Notable recordings

Notable recordings of this composition include:

EnsembleConductorLabelReleaseCatalogue
Winchester Cathedral Choir, David Dunnett (organ), Iain Simcock (handbells)David Hill Virgin 1994VC545035-2 [4]
Ensemble BBC Singers Simon Joly Cala 1994CACD88023

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References

  1. Robert Reilly (2016-04-21). Surprised by Beauty: A Listener's Guide to the Recovery of Modern Music. Ignatius Press. p. 362. ISBN   978-1-68149-704-4.
  2. Liner notes to EMI Classics 50999 2 37691 2 0
  3. Liner notes by Michael Stewart from CD Virgin Classics 545035-2.
  4. Keith Potter; Kyle Gann (2016-03-23). The Ashgate Research Companion to Minimalist and Postminimalist Music. Routledge. p. 316. ISBN   978-1-317-04255-6.