Coping with COVID: Jubilate Deo

Today’s Coping with COVID is brought to you by Nostalgia!

The longer we spend away from each other, the more I start to miss making music with the choir (and the sound of a congregation singing together!). So, I’ve been taking a stroll down memory lane and listening to some past anthems we’ve sung throughout my two years at UBC, and enjoying listening to repeat performances of Jubilate Deo and Lux Aeterna.

Dan Forrest’s Jubilate Deo brings to life the global aspect of the traditional Psalm 100 text, “O be joyful in the Lord, all ye lands,” by setting it in seven different languages and drawing from a wide spectrum of musical influences.

Each movement combines some characteristics of its language-group’s musical culture with the composer’s own musical language.

The opening movement sets the ancient liturgical Latin translation of the Psalm in a rather American musical idiom, reflecting various influences from the composer’s native country and introducing key musical motives for the work.

The second movement sets the “from age to age” portion of the text in Hebrew and Arabic, evoking ancient cultures from the Middle East. The music intentionally intertwines the two languages in a symbolic gesture of unity between these cultures.

Movement three uses Mandarin Chinese in a tranquil setting of the shepherd-sheep metaphor from the traditional text and quotes “the Lord is my shepherd” from Psalm 23, while the orchestra evokes the sounds of traditional Asian instruments.

The fourth movement shifts to Africa, setting celebratory portions of the text in Zulu and drawing from African vocal and drumming traditions.

Movement five represents Latin America, setting Spanish text to a folk-song style melody and blending traditional folk instrumental sounds with polyphonic textures from the classical choral tradition.

The sixth movement, “Song of the Earth,” portrays the earth itself singing—first wordlessly, but eventually finding its own voice—and leads seamlessly into the final movement. The finale unites many of the key themes and cultures from previous movements with other material, both old and new, as all the earth sings as one, “omnis terra, jubilate!”

This piece is a piece of unity, perhaps in a time when we feel more divided than ever.

Enjoy this beautiful music today, or sometime in the near future! It’s a lengthy performance, but my hope is that it’ll spark some joy in your day(s).

Always with love,

Jonathan

 

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