In a new summer series, OLMC music director and music professor, Ms. Andrea Covais explores the rich tradition of sacred music. Each week we will feature a new song that will be sung during that weekend’s Masses at communion. We hope these short pieces enrich and deepen your spiritual journey during these times.
German Baroque and Lutheran composer Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) wrote the letters S.D.G at the bottom of each of his religious pieces of music. These letters stand for “Soli Deo Gloria”, translated as “Glory to God”, a term Bach wrote on his compositions to show that they were written for the glorification of God.
Our featured vocal piece this week comes from Bach’s “Magnificat” (the canticle of the Virgin Mary), BWV 243, written in 1723. Scored for one of the first larger Baroque orchestras, two sopranos, alto, tenor, bass and five part chorus, it was Bach’s first major religious composition, which looks ahead musically to his bigger works such as the St. Matthew Passion, St. John Passion and Mass in b minor. The aria you will hear today is called “Quia respexit” and the text comes from the gospel of Luke 1:48. It combines Bach’s Protestant musical practices with the long-standing tradition of Roman Catholic liturgy and music.
The text translates to:
For He has regarded the lowliness of His handmaiden. Behold, from henceforth I will be called blessed.