Friday, 6 January 2012

Three Kings From Persian Lands Afar

We couldn't let this great Solemnity go by without posting something, even if only to be able to include the well known Three Kings from Persian Lands afar by Peter Cornelius.  Although German in origin and widely performed in Catholic circles, this is surely one of the most well known staples of Anglican carol services, and one of those pieces of music that probably feels rather more like being Anglican Patrimony than it truly is. 

Our post last week containing O Holy Night in its original French version was popular, and therefore we would like to take the opportunity to follow the same approach with Three Kings by including the original German version, Drei Koenige.  I regret to say that, although in so many things I prefer the original language to English translations, here the English does seem preferable (perhaps simply as a result of familiarity).

There are many other pieces based on this German chorale, not least the Bach Cantata BWV1.  However, the Cornelius is a personal favourite and likely to remain so.

We note from Facebook that our friends at St Mary's Bourne St included the Cornelius motet in their celebration of today's festivities.  We hope that all went smoothly for them this evening, and that their visiting preacher, the Rt Revd Jonathan Baker (who was also present at one of the very last services at St Mary's attended by members of the Marylebone Ordinariate Group), enjoyed his time there today.  

In a post last week, we noted that St Mary's had introduced the Proclamation of the Nativity for their Christmas Eve celebrations in 2010.  They also introduced the Proclamation of the Date of Easter (with its haunting chant on the same tone as the Easter Exultet, prefiguring the events ahead) for Epiphany 2011.  We hope that this ancient chant had its usual powerful effect this year too. 

A most blessed Solemnity to you all.

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