Monday, 7 November 2011

Full of Grace

In the story of Advent is it really Mary who has the starring role. Advent starts with the visit of Gabriel to tell her the somewhat startling news that a: she is pregnant and b: that the father is God. Living as we do in a time of female emancipation, it's easy to ask why Mary was chosen for this honour. She's nothing special, an ordinary woman, engaged to be married to an  ordinary man.

Even in biblical times, another, feistier girl, might have had a lot of questions to ask about the news that the Angel had told her she should be delighted about. She might have protested or been more fearful about the social and moral consequences of this event. She may have doubted her ability to bear such a responsibility.

But Mary, apart from querying the news's compatibility with her virgin state, takes it all rather calmly and responds that, basically, she will bow to God's will. Later, with her cousin Elizabeth, she speaks the words that now form the Magnificat and this does suggest that she wasn't uneducated.

In the end, it would seem that Mary was suitable because she was "full of grace" - religious and primed to accept the dictates of God.

Countless hymns in praise of Mary have been written by countless numbers of composers from early plainchant to the present day.

In our Autumn Concert we feature many of these works, written mostly by Tomas Luis De Victoria. The Missa Ave Maris Stella is based on a simple plainchant melody (later made famous by Monteverdi in his Vespers).

The Ave Maria, sets to sublime music one of the best known hymns to Mary

Here are the translations for these pieces:

To hear these pieces and much more, come to our concert:

7.30 pm 10 December 2011
St Mary's Church, Glastonbury
Tickets £10.00 from The Glastonbury Music Shop, by calling 01278 722870, or on the door.