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Thursday, January 22, 2004
  Gregorian Chant Mass for Christmas Day: Offertory
Norton Recorded Anthology of Western Music, Volume 1 CD 1 Track 10

After singing the creed the church then asks for donations. It is appropriate that the music is a sort of solicitation. That is, particularly contrasting the Credo, the Offertory is high art. This reminds me of a conversation I once had with a singer after his performance in La Traviata. He was the Baritone that sung the part of Alfredo's father. When I told him that he stole the show he said it was Verdi who wrote the best music for his part. He said the reason for this is because this character is asking for something and attempting to change a persons mind. Music appropriate for this situation must be exceptional in order to win the other character over. Although the Offertory may not be a time to win converts, it is a moment when the congregation needs to be sure of their investment in the church.

In the modern sense of the word, there is a sequence that appears with the words est terra. The sequence is hinted at shortly before this moment and twice after. This provides a sense of form to the music and also, one might argue, a tinge of text painting. For example, the arch of these notes over the words est terra creates a sense of expansion.

What I like about this Offertory is the music on the words tu fundasti. The music immediately preceding centers on 'F' but gravitates down a minor third. On tu we ascend higher than any other note in this piece, our climb outlining an 'F' Major triad. Then, in ornate style, we return to a modest register. It is an elated reach toward the sky. 

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In January 2004 I starting writing an opinion for each selection in the Norton Recorded Anthology of Western Music. Now, more than a year later, I am almost finished. Soon, I will have an archive full of opinions on the music we so carelessly call "classical." And no one can stop me.

Location: Cincinnati, Ohio, United States

Director of the Contemporary Performer's Workshop... Music Teacher for St. Aloysius Gonzaga School... Principal 'Cellist of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra... Composer

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