“About Saints” deals not only with those individuals who are recognized as saints in the most traditional way — that is, by the process of canonization and official recognition an established church — but with what one writer called “the saints unnumbered”; or, “the whole church.” There will also be songs for and about the faithful departed.
The concert’s music will cover five centuries — from Palestrina in the 16th to Stravinsky in the 20th. It will open with Vaughn-Williams’ familiar setting of “For all the Saints,” one of the best-known 20th-century hymns. It will continue with a setting of “Ave Maria” by Stravinsky. The text probably dates from the sixth century and has been in use in its present form since 1568. This will be followed by “Alma Redemptoris Mater” by Palestrina, the great Roman composer of sacred music.
The “Hymn to King Stephen” by Zoltan Kodaly will follow. Stephen, born in the 10th century, was the first King of Hungary. The text, written at the beginning of World War II, laments the loss of peace and innocent days in the nation.
The major work of the evening will be “Hymn to Saint Cecilia” by Benjamin Britten on the poem of W.H. Auden. St. Cecilia, an early Christian martyr, is considered the patron saint of musicians. Britten was born on St. Cecilia’s Day — Nov. 22, 1913 — and had long wanted to do a piece about her. The story of the composition reads something like a novel.
After intermission, the choir will move away from specific saints to the more collective idea. Opening will be “Justorum Animae” by Stanford on the text, “The souls of the just are in the hand of God.” Then will come “Blessed are the Faithful” by the 17th century German Heinrich Schuetz. An American folk hymn, “Saints Bound for Heaven”; a Norwegian folk song, “Behold A Host”; and another American folk hymn, “I Am Bound for the Promised Land,” will lead to the closing “Come, Come, Ye Saints” — an American hymn that has become closely associated with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
Tickets for the performance are on sale at Meyer Music on Sternberg Road, across from The Lakes Mall. Any remaining will be sold at the door one-half hour before the performance. Tickets are $10 for general admission, and $8 for students and senior citizens.