As we enter the season of Lent once again, the cross of ashes on our foreheads and the pangs of hunger in our bellies remind us that we are dust and unto dust we shall return, so we must learn to hunger for God alone—to rely not on our own strength or powers of self-mastery, but to beg humbly for the graces that enable us to carry our crosses daily in imitation of Jesus Christ.
With the release of Vespers for the Immaculate Conception, Grammy-winning composer and Notre Dame Folk Choir director J.J. Wright follows up on the musical fusion of 2016’s Billboard Classical chart-topping album O Emmanuel.
On the feast of St. Nicholas, it’s customary among Christians to give gifts to loved ones, in anticipation of the greater gift-giving to come at Christmas, and to honor the Myran bishop and his unfailing generosity to those in need.
As our gift this year, I’d like to share a playlist I curated several Advents ago, featuring music to mark this beautiful season.
2019 marks the fifteenth anniversary of Sufjan Stevens’ remarkable album Seven Swans. Apart from his Christmas albums, the twelve songs on Seven Swans are by far the most overtly Christian in Stevens’ catalog: track one, “All the Trees of the Field Will Clap Their Hands,” takes its title from Isaiah 55:12; track two, “Abraham,” meditates on the patriarch’s near-sacrifice of his only beloved son, Isaac. These sometimes scriptural, sometimes literary (“A Good Man is Hard to Find”), always spiritual musical meditations culminate in the final track of the album, “The Transfiguration.”
Some milestones in the Lenten season are literally a pleasure to celebrate as days for rejoicing or gaining new insight or simply making this journey of ours a bit more sentimental. When the liturgical calendar brought us the solemnity of St. Joseph, spouse of the blessed Virgin Mary, on March 19, it was traditional and meaningful to have a parish party—a feast for the senses which help incarnate Eastertime love in god’s family.