Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Another Rorate

On the last Sunday of Advent, the first word of the Introit or Entrance Antiphon in both the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms is "Rorate." Many of you are already familiar with the Advent Prose, Rorate Caeli from Mass (if it even sung) or from the new music player in the background. The prose is four verses and is not the same as the Introit, though they both take up the text in Latin, "Drop down ye heavens from above and let the sky rain down the Just One" 

The Introit, all the Propers for that matter, can be sung in their intended Gregorian melismatic chant or for those without the resources or ability, they can be sung in psalm-tone or even recto-tono. These propers can also be sung in polyphony. In fact, William Byrd wrote the entire Missa Puer Natus, the Third Mass of Christmas to polyphony; could you imagine that with his Mass for Five Voices sung on Christmas morning?

As mentioned in my "This is the Record of John" post below, I had the distinct opportunity of singing under a talented director, organist and teacher, Mr. Peter Bishop of the Toronto Oratory. When I say teacher, it is because I would not be doing the liturgical work which I am doing today without his boldness to "take a chance" on a neophyte those many year ago (25), his patience with me and the confidence he showed in me by eventually asking me to chant the incipits and psalms of the propers, of course, it might have been because I outlasted all the other men at the time too. Eventually, he taught me enough so that I could even sing a motet with one on a part; not too bad for someone who did not have the opportunity to study music at university, but because of what I learnt from Mr.  Bishop, I was even able to sing with the Victoria Scholars, Toronto's male choral ensemble and one of the best in Canada. I am grateful to Peter for showing me how to use the talents given to me by God and the skills learnt under him to serve the sacred liturgy. 

Thanks to YouTube, you can hear the work of Peter and the choir with 25 uploads. In keeping with our Advent observance, here then, (you'll want to turn the music player off above) is Rorate Caeli by Francisco Guerrero sung by the Toronto Oratory Choir under the direction of Mr. Peter Bishop.

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