Alleluia Is a fresh, exciting setting of the traditional single-word lyric interrupted by a five line text written by St. Augustine (354-430) .  The piece begins and ends in a contrapuntal style with a joyful melody in 7/8 meter.  In the contrasting middle section, the words of St. Augustine are set more simply, focusing our attention on the text.  The soaring melodies and unexpected key changes energize the music, driving to the climactic ending.

All shall be Amen and Alleluia.
We shall rest and we shall see,
We shall see and we shall know.
We shall know and we shall love.
Behold our end which is no end.

–St. Augustine

The text for O Love was written by the Scottish minister, George Matheson, in 1882 as he reflected on his years of emotional turmoil caused by his onset of blindness and a fiancé who broke off their engagement because she did not want to care for a blind man. Originally set to music by Albert L. Peace, the hymn is still sung in Christian churches today.  Hagenberg has composed new music for the text that enhances both the grief and the hope in Matheson’s words.

O Love that will not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in Thee;
I give thee back the life I owe,
That in thy ocean depths its flow may richer, fuller be.
O Joy that seeks me through the pain,
I cannot close my heart to thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain that morn shall tearless be.

–George Matheson

The Blue Ridge marvels at the beauty and majesty of the Blue Ridge Mountains.  With a text written by Harriet Monroe in 1918, Hagenberg’s music enhances the details of the poetry with word painting and dynamic contrasts.

Still and calm,
In purple robes of kings,
The Low-lying mountains sleep at the edge of the world.
The forests cover them like mantles;
Day and night
Rise and fall over them like the wash of waves.
Asleep they reign.
Silent they say all.
Hush me O slumbering mountains –
Send me dreams.

–Harriet Monroe

Displaying Hagenberg’s cinematic style, By Night is one of her newest compositions.  The text, written by Harriet Prescott Spofford in 1897, tells us of an adventurous young woman who is exploring what lies beyond her familiar surroundings.  A contemplative middle section is surrounded by driving rhythms and dramatic melodies.

She leaned out into the midnight,
And the summer wind went by,
The scent of the rose on its silken wing
And a song its sigh.
Deep in the tarn the mountain
A mighty phantom gleamed,
Shadow and silver and floating cloud
Over it streamed.
And, in depths below, the waters
Answered some mystic height,
As a star stooped out of the depths above
With its lance of light.
And she thought, in the dark and the fragrance,
How vast was the wonder wrought
If the sweet world were but the beauty born
In its Maker’s thought.

–Harriet Prescott Spofford

You Do Not Walk Alone is a beautiful setting of a traditional Irish blessing.  Beginning as a simple unison melody, the music builds and grows while the text offers hope and encouragement.  Hints of Celtic rhythms and melodies appear throughout.

May you see God’s light on the path ahead
when the road you walk is dark.
May you always hear even in your hour of sorrow,
the gentle singing of the lark.
When times are hard
may hardness never turn your heart to stone.
May you always remember when the shadows fall–
You do not walk alone. 

A favorite selection from last season, we repeat My Companion.This text, adapted from the pen of Edith Franklin Wyatt (1873-1958), reminisces of the journey through life with a beloved friend.  In typical Hagenberg style, the harmonies are lush and rewarding to sing. 

You are my companion
Down the silver road,
Still and many-changing,
Infinitely changing.
You are my companion.
Something sings in lives—
Days of walking on and on,
Deep beyond all singing,
Wonderful past singing.

Wonderful our road,
Long and many-changing,
Infinitely changing.
This, more wonderful—
We are here together,
You and I together,
I am your companion;
You are my companion,
My own, true companion.

Let the road-side fade:
Morning on the mountain-top,
Hours along the valley,
Days of walking on and on,
Pulse away in silence,
In eternal silence.
Let the world all fade,
Break and pass away.
Yet will this remain,
Deep beyond all singing,
My own true companion,
Beautiful past singing:
We were here together—
On this earth together;
I was your companion,
You were my companion.

-Edith Franklin Wyatt

llluminare is Elaine’s first extended work, consisting of five movements for SATB chorus and chamber orchestra. Using lesser-known sacred Latin texts, the five sections create a narrative arc with common thematic material woven throughout.

With a majestic and bright opening in D major, Illuminare begins with a radiant flurry of 16th notes representing the entrance of Light. Then the voices enter in powerful unison, and the Ambrosian hymn text bursts into a punctuated and joyful “Gloriae” section. As the music turns to a softer legato passage, a portion of the peace theme is revealed in the cello—a theme that will emerge several times throughout the work. The music then returns to the joyful rhythmic momentum of the beginning. 

The second movement features the women’s voices and portrays a tender season of beauty. The elegant words of Hildegard von Bingen hearken back to an image of Eden—a time of goodness and purity. After a slow and gradual ascent to the word “pacis” (peace), a brief moment of the peace theme gracefully reappears in the cello, concluding with serene sustained tones. 

Movement three takes a dramatic shift. Sensing an ominous shadow on the horizon, the choir sings the traditional Kyrie text (Lord have mercy). Then, a percussive B-minor blast of fury disrupts the world as the text turns to “Nox et tenebrae” (night and darkness). Accented rhythms and mixed meter further create chaos, confusion, and despair.

In movement four, the darkness begins to fade and the peace theme emerges once again, yet this time lingering in a minor mode. The shadows of the night clear away and the choir ascends to the word “Lux” (light). Yearning for the peace they once knew, the singers plead a heartfelt prayer, culminating in a dramatic crescendo to “munera pacis” (grant us peace). Then, suddenly, the music becomes still and calm. The peace theme that has been whispered throughout the work is finally revealed to be the voice of Christ gently assuring us: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you.” The orchestra swells to affirm these comforting words, then concludes by echoing the beauty of movement two—now with a new hope of an even greater peace.

At the arrival of the final movement, joy is restored as the orchestra gradually returns to full force. Energetic rhythms support the soaring vocal lines as the choir sings from the prophecy in the Canticle of Zechariah: “illuminare his qui in tenebris” (illuminate those in darkness). Then a return to brilliant D major and rhythmic material from movement one blaze forth to declare: Light has triumphed to guide us toward a brighter future.

- Illuminare notes by Elaine Hagenberg

St. Ambrose (340-397)

Splendor paternae gloriae,
de luce lucem proferens,
lux lucis et fons luminis,
diem dies illuminans.

Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179)

Caritas abundat in omnia,
de imis excellentissima
super sidera,
atque amantissima in omnia,
Quia summo regi
osculum pacis dedit.

Traditional Greek

Kyrie eleison. Christe eleison.

Aurelius Prudentius Clemens (348-413)

Nox et tenebrae et nubila,
confusa mundi et turbida
Caligo terrae scinditur
percussa solis spiculo

Pope Gregory (540-604)

Ecce jam noctis tenuatur umbra,
Lux et auroræ rutilans coruscat: Supplices rerum Dominum canora Voce precemur:
Ut reos culpæ miseratus, omnem Pellat angorem, tribuat salutem,
Donet et nobis bona sempiternae Munera pacis.

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

John 14:27

Canticle of Zechariah (Luke 1:68-79)

Illuminare his qui in tenebris
et in umbra mortis sedent:
ad dirigendos pedes nostros in viam pacis.

St. Ambrose (340-397)

Splendor of God's glory,
brings forth light from light,
light of light, light's living spring,
Day, all days illuminates.

Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179)

Love abounds in all,
from the depths most excellent
to beyond the stars,
and loving toward all,
she has given the highest king
the kiss of peace. 

Traditional Greek

Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy.

Aurelius Prudentius Clemens (348-413)

Night and darkness and fog,
confused world and turmoil
dark gloom tears the earth
beats and stabs the sun

Pope Gregory (540-604)

Behold, already night and shadows taper off
Light and dawn sparkle and quiver
We humbly beg the Lord through song
Our voices pray:
Though we are guilty, view us with compassion Banish anguish, bestow health
Grant us everlasting goodness
Give us peace.

V. ILLUMINARE HIS Canticle of Zechariah (Luke 1:68-79)

Illuminate those in darkness
and in the shadow of death sit
direct our footpath in the way of peace.

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