Music Notes For Sunday, March 21, 2021

By Charles Raines, Organist

The Choral Prelude sung this morning again features the music of African-American composer, Kevin Allen. The Latin text is translated: The bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.


Kevin Allen has been highly regarded as a composer of opera, chamber, and orchestral music. He has also developed a unique reputation as an African-American composer of church music for the Roman Rite.


Mr. Allen’s works, sacred and secular, have been performed in churches and concert halls throughout the United States and Europe. Based in Chicago, he is the founding director of the Collins Consort, American Composer’s Project, and Schola Immaculata. Mr. Allen is also the choirmaster of the Monastery of the Holy Cross in Chicago. He has also served as Director of Music for Saint John Cantius in Chicago.


Today’s Organ Postlude is the beautiful chorale (Lutheran hymn) prelude by Johann Sebastian Bach whose birthday is 21 March 1685.


There is a bit of disagreement about Bach’s actual birthday. Some people celebrate Bach’s birthday on March 21. Other people light the candles on March 31. The correct date depends on whom you ask. Bach was born in Thuringia in 1685, when the German state was still observing the Julian calendar. Today, we use the Gregorian calendar, which shifted the dates by 11 days. And while most biographies opt for the March 31 date, Bach scholar Christopher Wolff firmly roots for Team 21. “True, his life was actually 11 days longer because Protestant Germany adopted the Gregorian calendar in 1700,” he told Classical MPR, “but with the legal stipulation that all dates prior to Dec. 31, 1699, remain valid.”


The translation of the chorale’s German text as well as the text of the Prelude motet are perfect for the last Sunday in Lent.
O mankind, mourn your great sins,
for which Christ left his Father’s bosom
and came to earth;
from a virgin pure and tender
he was born here for us,
he wished to become our Intercessor,
he gave life to the dead
and laid aside all sickness
until the time approached
that he would be offered for us,
bearing the heavy burden of our sins
indeed for a long time on the Cross.