Missa Gaia/Earth Mass • PROGRAM NOTES

  • 1. Canticle of Brother Sun Jim Scott
  • The work begins with words of St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of ecology, and words from the Book of Job. “Ask of of the beasts and they will teach you the beauty of the earth…”

  • 2. Kyrie Paul Halley
  • The cry of a female Alaskan tundra wolf supplies the theme which is taken up by the soprano sax, the cantor and the choir. The prayer, Lord, have mercy (Kyrie eleison), in this instance is nature’s prayer.

  • 3. Beatitudes Jim Scott
  • Text is from the familiar Sermon on the Mount as recorded by St. Matthew. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.”

  • 4. Mystery Jeremy R. Geffen
  • A universal statement of mystery of God set to music by a New York medical student.

  • 5. Return to Gaia Paul Winter and Paul Halley
  • Gaia, the Earth, from outer space. The soprano saxophone is the astronaut. The organ is Gaia. The music is intended to evoke the astronaut’s feelings of awe and wonder as the spacecraft approaches Gaia and sets down, welcomed by the call of the loon.

  • 6. Adoro te devote | For the Beauty arr Paul Halley
  • St. Thomas Aquinas’ thirteenth-century plainchant is introduced by the song of the canyon wren and the heartbeat of Mother Earth. The plainchant segues into the well-known hymn, For the Beauty of the Earth. The audience is invited to join the choir on the final verse…

    For the beauty of the earth, sing, oh sing today.
    Of the sky and of our birth, sing, oh sing always.
    Nature human and divine, all around us lies.
    Lord of all, to thee we raise grateful hymns of praise.

  • 7. Sanctus and Benedictus Paul Halley and Oscar Castro Neves
  • The humpback whale supplies the theme which is developed through the joyous rhythms of the Baiao of Brazil. “Holy, holy, holy is the Creator.”

  • 8. His Eye is on the Sparrow C. Martin and C. Gabriel, arr Jeff Christmas
  • 9. Promise of a Fisherman Dorival Caymmi, arr Oscar Castro Neves
  • This Afro-Brazilian chant to the waters opens with three calls of the conch shell.

  • 10. Sound Over all Waters Paul Halley
  • Based on a poem of hope by John Greenleaf Whittier, composed in honour of Coretta Scott King, widow of Martin Luther King, Jr.

  • 11. Witchi-Tai-To arr Stephen Holowitz
  • A native-American pow-wow tune set in a jazz idiom.

  • 12. Ubi Caritas Paul Halley
  • The Latin text, attributed to St. Francis, asserts that where there is love, God is present. A blend of Gregorian chant and a Khemitic chant of praise: Praises to Obatala, ruler of the Heavens.

  • 13. Blue-Green Hills of Earth Kim Oler, arr Paul Halley
  • The audience is invited to join the choir on the final verse…
    For the Earth forever turning, for the skies, for every sea,
    To our Lord we sing, returning home to our blue-green hills of Earth.

  • 14. Agnus Dei Paul Halley
  • Inspired by the experiences of Sir Wilfred Grenfell, medical missionary in Labrador, 1909.
    The harp seal represents the Lamb of God. “Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, have mercy on us and grant us peace.”

  • 15. Let us Depart in Peace Jim Scott
  • The mass ends with a reprise of Canticle of Brother Sun, introduced by the wolf, whale and loon.