Sunday, July 26, 2015

"Ubi Caritas" - CWU Chamber Choir & Ola Gjeilo

     When it comes to music, my favorite century is the 18th (with honorable mention to the 17th), but it's been downhill since the early 19th.  There are occasional pieces or composers from more recent times, however, who rise above general run of their era.  Such is Norwegian-born composer Ola Gjeilo, who is very recent indeed, having been born in 1978, the same year St. John Paul the Great was elevated to the Papacy.  I can't tell from the biographical information I've seen whether or not he is a believer, or whether he simply finds the Christian (particularly the Catholic) tradition a particularly rich vein to mine for musical inspiration, but religious music has been a large part of his output to date: he has composed a Mass, for instance, and a breath-taking "Sanctus" (I've posted a clip here), a piece called Dark Night of the Soul (a title, at least, inspired by St. John of the Cross), and the piece featured here, his own musical setting for the ancient hymn "Ubi Caritas" (you can find the Latin words with English translation at the bottom of the page).
     In this clip, the composer himself improvises a piano accompaniment to Central Washington University Chamber Choir (to see the choir sing the hymn unaccompanied, click here).

Latin Text
Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est.
Congregavit nos in unum Christi amor.
Exsultemus, et in ipso jucundemur.
Timeamus, et amemus Deum vivum.
Et ex corde diligamus nos sincero.
Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est.
Simul ergo cum in unum congregamur:
Ne nos mente dividamur, caveamus.
Cessent iurgia maligna, cessent lites.
Et in medio nostri sit Christus Deus.
Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est.
Simul quoque cum beatis videamus,
Glorianter vultum tuum, Christe Deus:
Gaudium quod est immensum, atque probum,
Saecula per infinita saeculorum. Amen.
English Translation
Where charity and love are, God is there.
Love of Christ has gathered us into one.
Let us rejoice in Him and be glad.
Let us fear, and let us love the living God.
And from a sincere heart let us love one.
Where charity and love are, God is there.
At the same time, therefore, are gathered into one:
Lest we be divided in mind, let us beware.
Let evil impulses stop, let controversy cease.
And in the midst of us be Christ our God.
Where charity and love are, God is there.

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