It’s that time of year when Choral Union prepares for Handel’s Messiah, which always confuses the inner calendar. We skate from Isaiah’s prophecies to Luke 2 fulfillment, from Lenten sorrow to resurrection triumph, to judgment, and then back in reverse order because that’s how rehearsal works. Truly, it is a glorious liturgical muddle.
This week, we ran through the happier movements of part 2 (“Lift up your heads, O ye gates” and the choruses following) and all the choruses of part 3. Instead of picky melismata, there’s more emphasis on dynamic contrast and fugal exposition. The music rises in one great crescendo, such that I left practice with “Worthy is the Lamb” resounding in my head. There is such a fierce joy in proclaiming Christ’s victory over sin and death, a taste of what is to come.
That vehement delight also accounts for my aural addiction to Anuna’s “Dicant Nunc,” a new setting of an old Easter antiphon:
Christus resurgens ex mortuis Christ, being raised from the dead,
iam non moritur: dies no more;
mors illi ultra non dominabitur. Death hath no more dominion over him.
Quod enim vivit, vivit Deo. For in that He lives, He lives to God.
Dicant nunc Iudaei, Let the Jews now say
quomodo milites custodientes how the soldiers guarding
sepulchrum perdiderunt Regem the sepulchre lost the King
ad lapidis positionem. sealed with a stone.
Quare non servabant Why did they not watch
petram iustitiae? the rock of justice?
Aut sepultum reddant, Let them either return him buried,
aut resurgentem adorent nobiscum or with us worship him risen,
dicentes Alleluia. saying Alleluia.
This whole text makes me waggle my fingers in exultation. Death has no mastery over Him!! In the same way, we may count ourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
What welcome news at any and all times of year. Alleluia indeed!