Offertory, Nunc Dimittis added to Mass for Philadelphia

NuncExcerpt1Mass for Philadelphia was commissioned for the 2012 National Conference of the Association of Anglican Musicians. That conference was held in Philadelphia, but since its first hearing at the conference’s Closing Eucharist, a number of Episcopal churches have been using it. Tomorrow, the first Sunday after Easter, the first Lutheran church will also begin to sing it.

I had been thinking of looking at—and attending to—the differences between Episcopal and Lutheran Mass usages. But with the impending premiere, and the two busiest weeks of the church year on their way out, the music director/organist suggested to me that an Offertory and Nunc Dimittis might be added.

Since the church is my church, and the music director is my wife, I thought it was time, perhaps, to stop thinking and to start attending to. So, this week, on the Monday and Tuesday after Easter, a new Offertory and Nunc Dimittis were composed for the Mass. The deadline, of course, was not Sunday, but Wednesday, when the church secretary needed to insert the congregation’s music into the bulletin. Advice to composers: Sometimes you may disappoint the music director, but never mess with the church secretary.

Here’s a MIDI realization of the Nunc Dimittis. The beginning of the score you can click on above. The organ sound in my notation program is ugly and seemingly (to me) unalterable, so a piano accompanies in this audio file. 

A traditional Offertory text for Lutherans is from Psalm 51, “Create in me a clean heart, O God.” This would be sung after the choir’s Offertory Anthem, when gifts and communion elements are presented.

Sung at the breaking of the bread by Episcopalians is Christ Our Passover. Lutherans don’t normally sing there, but they will sing, for the post-Communion canticle, the Nunc Dimittis, or Simeon’s “Now Lord, let your servant depart in peace.” Episcopalians are very familiar with the Nunc at Evensong, of course, but not so much at the Eucharist.

Lutherans will sing the Kyrie a bit more than Episcopalians, but the Gloria, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei are standard for both denominations.

Thus for liturgical diversity! So now, the Mass for Philadelphia has these sections:

Kyrie
Gloria
Offertory
Sanctus
Christ Our Passover
Agnus Dei
Nunc Dimittis

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