Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Contemplating Candlemas with Sacred Art

The Presentation of the Lord

To celebrate the feast of Our Lord's Presentation in the Temple, two examples of sacred art for our contemplation.

Above is a detail from the splendid Chapel of the Purification in Burgos Cathedral. The reredos, of which this scene of the Presentation of the Lord is the central part, was made by Felipe Vigarny and Diego de Siloe, and painted and gilded by León Picardo, between 1523-26.The chapel itself, was begun in 1482 by Simón de Colonia, and it is a chantry chapel built for the Constable of Castile and his wife, who are buried in marble tombs under the octagonal vault (seen below).

The Constable's Chapel in Burgos

The second example is a setting of the canticle of Simeon written by Sir Gustav Holst in 1915 for the choir of Westminster Cathedral; unusually, R. R. Terry first performed it on Easter Sunday that year. The piece is scored for an eight-part choir, and in tribute to Terry's work in reviving Renaissance polyphony, it makes references to older musical styles including antiphonal effects (reminiscent of Venetian Renaissance music), and a fine contrapuntal 'Amen'. Beginning with what has been described as a "musical sunrise", it is a fitting example of sacred music with which to celebrate this feast of Christ's light.

And, should one wish to read a reflection on this festal day, I penned a few thoughts for our Dominican studentate blog, Godzdogz, here.

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