The inspiration of the concert, one piece for each of the 12 promises of the Sacred Heart. All the composers are currently living and from either the US, Canada or Great Britain. All but one piece is in English, the exception being the work by Michael John Trotta: the Ubi Caritas written for our choir, This is intentional. Part of the idea is to showcase the contemporary relevance of the devotion as evidenced by composers writing music that so perfectly captures the promises given to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque almost 400 years ago. Christ is still working in beauty here and now.
You can listen and enjoy our recordings of our concert on the Youtube playlist here: 2019 Concert - 12 Promises of the Sacred Heart
View our 2020 Virtual Concert Program
Poster Download: 11 x 17 poster
Watch this space for the 2020 programmed pieces.
Choral meditations Concert on the 12 Promises of the Sacred Heart
- Prelude - Be Thou My Vision - Daniel Musselman
- A Prayer of Compassion - Gwyneth Walker
- Ubi Caritas - Michael John Trotta
- Blessed are those who mourn - Daniel Knaggs
- O Love - Elaine Hagenberg
- And Can it Be - Dan Forrest
- Jesus Savior, Pilot Me - arr. by Jonathan Kohrs
- If Thou Wilt Be Perfect - Melissa Dunphy
- Set Me As a Seal - Rene Clausen
- Just as I am without one plea - Michael Culloton
- You Do Not Walk Alone - E. Hagenberg
- The pure in heart - Patrick Hawes
- O How Glorious is the kingdom - Fred Gramman
Fairest Lord Jesus arr. by David Stocker
The inspiration of the concert, one piece for each of the 12 promises of the Sacred Heart. All the composers are currently living and from either the US, Canada or Great Britain. All but two pieces are in English, the exceptions being the work by Michael John Trotta: the Ubi Caritas written for our choir. This is intentional. Part of the idea is to showcase the contemporary relevance of the devotion as evidenced by composers writing music that so perfectly captures the promises given to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque almost 400 years ago. Christ is still working in beauty here and now.
Music at Sacred Heart Personnel:
Jennifer D. Behnke, Director of Music, soprano
Linea T. Rondael, Keyboard Accompanist, Alto
Kevin E. Brown, Cantor, Bass
Cameron Smith, Tenor
Frank Fano, Piano
The 12 Promises of Our Lord to those who venerate His Sacred Heart
Our Lord Jesus Christ appeared to St. Margaret Mary between 1673-1675. Among the words spoken to her, she heard Jesus make several promises to those who would respond to the pleading of His Heart and make an effort to return His love.
- “I will give them all the graces necessary in their state of life.
I will establish peace in their homes.
I will comfort them in all their afflictions.
I will be their secure refuge during life, and above all, in death.
I will bestow abundant blessings upon all their undertakings.
Sinners will find in my Heart the source and infinite ocean of mercy.
Lukewarm souls shall become fervent.
Fervent souls shall quickly mount to high perfection.
I will bless every place in which an image of my Heart is exposed and honored.
I will give to priests the gift of touching the most hardened hearts.
- Those who shall promote this devotion shall have their names written in my Heart.
- I promise you in the excessive mercy of my Heart that my all-powerful love will grant to all those who receive Holy Communion on the First Fridays in nine consecutive months the grace of final perseverance; they shall not die in my disgrace, nor without receiving their sacraments. My divine Heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment.”
Opening Anthem – Be Thou My Vision arr. By Daniel Musselman (B. 1980)
1. Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art Thou my best Thought, by day or by night, Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.
2. Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word, I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord. Thou my great Father, I Thy true son
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.
3. Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise, Thou mine Inheritance, now and always. Thou and Thou only, first in my heart, High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art
4. High King of Heaven, my victory won May I reach Heaven’s joys, bright Heav’n’s Sun. Heart of my own heart, whate’er befall. Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all!
Mary Elizabeth Byrne, M.A. (July 2, 1880 – January 19, 1931) was born in Ireland. She translated the Old Irish Hymn, "Bí Thusa 'mo Shúile," into English as "Be Thou My Vision" in Ériu (the journal of the School of Irish Learning), in 1905.
The 1st Promise – A Prayer of Compassion Gwyneth Walker (B. 1947)
Lead me Lord, Lead me in the paths of Peace. Make Your way plain before my eyes. For it is You, Lord, You and You alone Who can make me dwell in safety. Lead me always to listen. Teach me to live with compassion, That when I come to a place of rest, Only by Your Grace and not by my merit. No Praise be mine. But let me keep a heart that still can feel And eyes that still can weep. Oh my brother, Oh my sister, All who live in peril. For you, let me keep: A heart that still can feel, And eyes that still can weep.
Our first choral meditation is by Dr. Gwyneth Walker, and is entitled "A Prayer of Compassion" from the editor's notes: This prayer combines traditional texts (Psalms 4:8 and 5:8) with the closing lines of John Greenleaf Whittier's (1807-1892) poem "Divine Compassion."
The biblical passages ask for the Lord's guidance that we may walk in the paths of peace.
Extending the supplication, the poignant Whittier lines ask for human compassion:
Let me keep a heart that still can feel, and eyes that still can weep. In today's world of increasing violence, and increasing global awareness of atrocities, we are often challenged to remain sensitive to suffering, to respond with 'a heart that still can feel, and eyes that still can weep.'
The 2nd Promise – Ubi Caritas Michael John Trotta (B. 1978)
Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est. Where charity and Love are, There God is.
Congregavit nos in unum Christi amor. Christ’s love has gathered us into one.
Exsultemus et in ipso, jucudemur. Let us rejoice and be pleased in Him.
Timeamus et amemus Deum vivum. Let us fear, and let us love the living God.
Et ex corde diligamus nos sincero. And may we love each other with a sincere heart.
In the Spring of 2018, Sacred Heart Church received a newly commissioned piece by Maestro Michael John Trotta written in loving memory of our recently departed tenor Ed Edquilag. By happenstance, Mr. Trotta attended the mass with Cardinal Tobin to hear the Sacred Heart Choir perform another of his motets “Totus Tuus”.
Dr. Trotta remarked upon the wonderful acoustics and the beauty of our glorious sanctuary where we are blessed to worship God and praise Him in song every week. Over 150 choirs applied for the honor of this commission award, and Sacred Heart is grateful for the gift of this prize.
This new setting of the "Ubi Caritas" (Where Charity and Love Prevail) written and dedicated to our choirs was published by Hampton Roads Music Group in October 2018. The text is from the Antiphon for the Foot washing on Maunday Thursday, from the ancient church.
The 3rd Promise – Blessed are Those Who Mourn - Daniel Knaggs
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be consoled. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall have their fill. (Mt 5:4,10)
The point of departure -- common to both religious and profane thought -- is the realization that pleasure and pain are inseparable in this life; they follow upon each other with the same regularity as the cresting and falling of waves in the sea.
Man tries desperately to detach these Siamese twins, to isolate pleasure from pain. But in vain.
It is a lesson that comes to us from the daily news and which man has expressed in a thousand ways in his art and literature.
The Bible has an answer to give to this the true drama of human existence. In the wake of the pleasure that is chosen against God's law and symbolized by Adam and Eve who taste the forbidden fruit, God permitted that pain and death should come, more as a remedy than as a punishment. God wanted to prevent man, who would be moved by his instinct and an unbridled egoism, from destroying everything, including his neighbor. Thus, we see that suffering adheres to pleasure as its shadow.
Christ finally broke this bond. He, "in exchange for the joy that was placed before him submitted to the cross" (Hebrews 12:2). In other words, Christ did the contrary of what Adam
All of this is wondrously proclaimed by our beatitude which opposes the sequence weeping-laughter to the sequence laughter-weeping. This is not a simple temporal inversion. The difference, which is infinite, is in the fact that in the order proposed by Jesus, it is pleasure, and not suffering, that has the last word, that counts more, a last word that endures for eternity.
Father R. Cantalamessa, Pontifical Household preacher, in the presence of Benedict XVI and members of the Roman Curia in preparation for Christmas Vatican City, Dec. 17, 2006
The 4th Promise – O Love Elaine Hagenberg
O love that wilt not let me go, I rest my weary soul in thee; I give thee back the life I owe, That in thine ocean depths its flow May richer, fuller be.
O Joy that seekest me through pain, I cannot close my heart to thee; I trace the rainbow through the rain, And feel the promise is not vain, That morn shall tearless be.
George Matheson (1842-1906)
George Matheson was a bright, promising Scottish student who graduated with first class honours when he was only 19 years old but a deep tragedy was being worked out in his life even as he completed his studies – he was rapidly going blind. He had an incurable condition that would eventually result in total blindness and there was nothing that could be done to help him. It was through the deep trials of illness and desertion that George Matheson had come to place all his trust and hope in the love of God in Jesus Christ as his Saviour. From then on, despite his blindness, he had resolved to study Theology and Christian History and to enter the Christian ministry.
In the poet’s own words:
“My hymn was composed in the manse of Innellan on the evening of the 6th of June, 1882, when I was 40 years of age. I was alone in the manse at that time. It was the night of my sister’s marriage, and the rest of the family were staying overnight in Glasgow. Something happened to me, which was known only to myself, and which caused me the most severe mental suffering. The hymn was the fruit of that suffering. It was the quickest bit of work I ever did in my life. I had the impression of having it dictated to me by some inward voice rather than of working it out myself. I am quite sure that the whole work was completed in five minutes, and equally sure that it never received at my hands any retouching or correction.
I have no natural gift of rhythm. All the other verses I have ever written are manufactured articles; this came like a dayspring from on high”.
The 5th Promise – And Can It Be - Dan Forrest
And can it be that I should gain an interest in the Savior’s blood? Died He for me, who caused His pain—For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be, that Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
He left His Father’s throne above So free, so infinite His grace—Emptied Himself of all but love, And bled for Adam’s helpless race:
’Tis mercy all, immense and free, For O my God, it found out me!
No condemnation now I dread; Jesus, and all in Him, is mine; Alive in Him, my living Head, And clothed in righteousness divine, Bold I approach th’eternal throne, And claim the crown, through Christ my own.
Charles Wesley (1707-1788)
Charles Wesley was born an Anglican in post-schismatic England. After attending Oxford, he went to Georgia as a missionary to the New World. In 1735 Wesley sailed with his brother John, but even in this missionary service, doubts about his salvation surfaced. Neither John nor Charles could find assurance that they were indeed the children of God by grace. They returned to England believing their lives and ministry had failed. John Wesley wrote of his experience in Georgia, “I went to America to convert the Indians; but, oh, who shall convert me?” The answer came shortly after Charles’s return from America. He wrote this poem, in 1736 after believing that the Spirit of God “chased away the darkness of my unbelief.”
St. Paul tells us "We are God's handiwork, having been created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2:10). Our new creature-hood in Christ Jesus is our reception, through grace, of the "obedience of faith." Through that faith, as through an instrument, God has refashioned us, making us now prompt to obey. Our new estate is thus ordered to good works as to its intrinsic and God-intended finality. With what joy, therefore, do we walk in them, we who believe! And woe to us if we do not walk in them, for then we betray our faith and frustrate God's handiwork.
The 6th Promise – Jesus, Savior Pilot Me Arr. By Jonathan Kohrs
1. Jesus, Savior, pilot me, Over life's tempestuous sea; unknown waves before me roll, hiding rock and treach'rous shoal; Chart and compass come from Thee: Jesus, Savior, pilot me!
2. Though the sea be smoothe and bright, sparkling with the stars of night, and my ship’s path be ablaze, with the light of halcyon days, still I know my need of Thee: Jesus, Savior, pilot me!
3. When the darkening heavens frown, and the wrathful winds come down, and the fierce waves tossed on high, lash themselves against the sky, Jesus, Savior, pilot me, over life’s tempestuous sea.
4. As a mother stills her child, Thou canst hush the ocean wild; Boist'rous waves obey Thy will When Thou say'st to them, "Be still!" Wondrous Sov'reign of the sea, Jesus, Saviour, pilot me!
5. When at last I near the shore, And the fearful breakers roar 'Twixt me and the peaceful rest, Then, while leaning on Thy breast, May I hear Thee say to me, "Fear not, I will pilot thee!" Amen. Edward Hopper 1871
The Sacred Heart devotion was formalized in the 17th century, through apparitions of Jesus Christ to St. Margaret Mary Alocoque, a simple Visitation nun in Paray-le-Monial, France. It is reported that the Sacred Heart of Jesus first appeared to St. Margaret Mary in 1673.
The nun was known to be of modest intellect and clumsy in her duties. Nevertheless, while she was at prayer, Jesus spoke to her and showed her his heart and gave her a message over a span of eighteen months. The message of the Sacred Heart emphasized the immensity of God’s love and compassion for all people. It echoed the biblical call of Jesus for sinful and hurt humanity to turn to him for mercy, healing, and restoration.
Fast forward almost three hundred years to another simple nun, to whom God reveals his love and mercy. St. Faustina was a meek Polish sister to whom Jesus appeared in 1931 and showed himself as the Divine Mercy. Pope St. John Paul II purposely waited to canonize Faustina so that she would be the first saint of the twenty-first century.
From St. Faustina’s Diary - I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and shelter for all souls, and especially for poor sinners. On that day the very depths of My tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fount of My mercy. The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment. On that day all the divine floodgates through which grace flow are opened. Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet. (Diary699)
The 7th Promise – If Thou Wilt Be Perfect Melissa Dunphy
If thou wilt be perfect, go sell what thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come follow me. Amen, I say to you, that a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say to you: It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven. And ev’ry one that hath left riches for my name’s sake, shall receive a hundred times as much, and life everlasting. Many that are first, shall be last: and the last shall be first. Text adapted from Matthew 19:21–30
From the Catechism of the Catholic Church: 1691"Christian, recognize your dignity and, now that you share in God's own nature, do not return to your former base condition by sinning. Remember who is your head and of whose body you are a member. Never forget that you have been rescued from the power of darkness and brought into the light of the Kingdom of God." 1692 The Symbol of the faith confesses the greatness of God's gifts to man in his work of creation, and even more in redemption and sanctification. What faith confesses, the sacraments communicate: by the sacraments of rebirth, Christians have become "children of God," "partakers of the divine nature." Coming to see in the faith their new dignity, Christians are called to lead henceforth a life "worthy of the gospel of Christ."They are made capable of doing so by the grace of Christ and the gifts of his Spirit, which they receive through the sacraments and through prayer. 1693 Christ Jesus always did what was pleasing to the Father, and always lived in perfect communion with him. Likewise Christ's disciples are invited to live in the sight of the Father "who sees in secret," in order to become "perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect." 1694 Incorporated into Christ by Baptism, Christians are "dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus" and so participate in the life of the Risen Lord. Following Christ and united with him, Christians can strive to be "imitators of God as beloved children, and walk in love" by conforming their thoughts, words and actions to the "mind... which is yours in Christ Jesus,"and by following his example. 1695 "Justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God," "sanctified...[and] called to be saints," Christians have become the temple of the Holy Spirit. This "Spirit of the Son" teaches them to pray to the Father and, having become their life, prompts them to act so as to bear "the fruit of the Spirit" by charity in action. Healing the wounds of sin, the Holy Spirit renews us interiorly through a spiritual transformation. He enlightens and strengthens us to live as "children of light" through "all that is good and right and true."
The 8th Promise – Set Me As a Seal Rene Clausen (B. 1953)
Set Me As a Seal Upon your Heart, As a Seal Upon your arm, For love is strong as death.
Many waters cannot quench love, Neither can the floods drown it. Song of Songs 8:6a; 8:7a.
In the composers own words:
My wife had gone through a series of three consecutive miscarriages, and it came to be that she was pregnant again at about six and a half months, into the pregnancy. She was 39 years old at the time, and the doctor ordered something called an Amniocentesis, and the doctor put the needle in the wrong place, into the umbilical cord and the baby died immediately in her womb. It was a little boy, and totally viable, and after three miscarriages, there was nothing wrong with this child. She had to go into a
birthing room right off the nursery. So, I remember we were listening to all the screaming babies as we went through that night together.
And then she had to stay that whole (next) afternoon, and so I went home and wrote “Set me as a Seal”. It was all done in about 20 minutes. I just sat down and wrote it. And that is just about the only time I have ever really had that cleansing, I think this music really became for me, A cleansing that will not end. “For Love is strong as Death” I really meant that for the love that seeks to overflow the boundary between life and death.
From the conductor: When a child is lost to miscarriage or stillbirth, it is rare that the parents take a photo of that child. After the stillbirth of my own son, I was comforted by the clergy, staff and the parish community of Sacred Heart, and eventually by images of the Sacred Heart. Knowing that my broken heart had a safe refugee in Our Lord’s heart broken for us, has become the wellspring that gives me hope to face each day without my littlest one.
The 9th Promise – Just As I am, Without One Plea Michael Culloton
1 Just as I am, without one plea, but that thy blood was shed for me, and that thou bidd'st me come to thee, O Lamb of God, I come, I come.
2 Just as I am, and waiting not to rid my soul of one dark blot, to thee, whose blood can cleanse each spot, O Lamb of God, I come, I come.
3. Just as I am, though tossed about with many a conflict, many a doubt, fightings and fears within, without, O Lamb of God, I come, I come.
4. Just as I am, thou wilt receive, wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve; because thy promise I believe, O Lamb of God, I come, I come.
At the age of 32, Charlotte Elliott (b. Clapham, London, England, 1789; d. Brighton, East Sussex, England, 1871) suffered a serious illness that left her a semi-invalid for the rest of her life. Within a year she went through a spiritual crisis and confessed to the Swiss evangelist Henri A. Cesar Malan (PHH 288) that she did not know how to come to Christ. He answered, "Come to him just as you are." Thinking back on that experience twelve years later, in 1834, she wrote “Just as I Am" as a statement of her faith.
Hymn writing provided a way for Elliot to cope with her pain and depression – she wrote approximately 150 hymns, which were published in her Invalid's Hymn Book (several editions, 1834-1854), Hymns for a Week (1839), and Thoughts in Verse on Sacred Subjects (1869). Many of her hymns reflect her chronic pain and illness but also reveal that faith gave her perseverance and hope.
“Just as I Am" was first published in the 1836 edition of Invalid's Hymn Book with the subheading "Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out" (John 6:37). The testimony of Miss Elliott's brother (the Rev. H. V. Elliott, editor of Psalms and Hymns, 1835) to the great results arising from this one hymn, is very touching. He says:—
"In the course of a long ministry, I hope I have been permitted to see some fruit of my labours; but I feel far more has been done by a single hymn of my sister's."
The text of this hymn is usually given in full, and without alteration, as in Church Hymns, 1871, No. 408. It ranks with the finest hymns in the English language. Its success has given rise to many imitations, the best of which is R. S. Cook's "Just as thou art, without one trace." A Latin rendering, "Ut ego sum! nee alia ratione utens," by R. Bingham, is given in his Hymnologia Christiana Latina 1871, and a second by H. M. Macgill, in his Songs of the Christian Creed and Life, 1876, as, "Tibi, qualis sum, O Christe!"
The 10th Promise – You Do Not Walk Alone Elaine Hagenberg
“May you see God's light on the path ahead when the road youwalk is dark. May you always hear, even in your hour of sorrow, the gentle singing of the lark. When times are hard may hardness never turn your heart to stone, May you always remember when the shadows fall– You do not walk alone." - Traditional Irish Blessing
Heavenly Father, grant that our priests be strengthened and healed by the power of the Eucharist they celebrate.
May the Word they proclaim give them courage and wisdom.
We pray that all those whom they seek to serve
May see in them the love and care of Jesus, Our Eternal High Priest, who is Lord for ever and ever. Amen.
Mary, Mother of the Church, look tenderly upon your sons, our priests. St. Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church, pray for us all.
O my Jesus, I beg You on behalf of the whole Church:
Grant it love and the light of Your Spirit and give power to the words of priests so that hardened hearts might be brought to repentance and return to You, O Lord.
Lord, give us holy priests; You Yourself maintain them in holiness. O Divine and Great High Priest, may the power of Your mercy accompany them everywhere and protect them from the devil's snares which are continually being set for the souls of priests.
May the power of Your mercy, O Lord, shatter and bring to naught all that might tarnish the sanctity of priests,
for You can do all things. - Prayer by St. Faustina
The 11th Promise – Blessed are the Pure in Heart Patrick Hawes
Blessed are the pure in Heart, For they shall see God. (Mt 5:8)
Fr. Jeffrey F. Kirby on Palm Sunday 2018
What makes the heart pure is not just the absence of sin but also the transparency, kindness, and self-donation of love for God and our neighbor. When exercised selflessly, love purifies and orders our intellect, will, and emotions to God’s goodness.
This goodness motivates our love and allows our affections and desires to mature and our bodies to be disciplined according to virtue. A world marked by the impurity of selfishness often misrepresents love, but Saint John clarifies it for us in his New Testament letters when he writes: “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.”
Often our affections and desires can challenge the purity of our hearts. Such an allure is given not only by lust but also by self-pity, immodesty, anger, disrespect, envy, and rash judgment. In the end, however it’s expressed, an impure heart seeks to objectify other people. It’s permeated by self-absorption and filled with such thoughts as: What can I get from this person? How can this other person give me pleasure or serve my purpose?
In contrast to this inclination, we are invited to seek a pure heart. And so, we must practice temperance, which always weighs what we want with our relationship with God, our own best good, and the authentic good of our neighbor. We must realize that our desires and affections are not an inviolate standard unto themselves. Simply because we feel something or want something does not make it right or good.
The 12th Promise – O How Glorious is the Kingdom Fred Grammon
O How Glorious is the Kingdom in which all the saints rejoice. Arrayed in white robes they follow the Lamb.
O quam gloriosum est regnum – Magnificat antiphon for Second Vespers on All Saints.
After this I had a vision of a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people, and tongue. They stood before the throne and before the Lamb, wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands. They cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation comes from our God, who is seated on the throne, and from the Lamb.” Rev. 7:9-10
The Magnificat antiphon O quam gloriosum est regnum provides an earthly impression of the great heavenly gathering where all are united, having shed the human boundaries imposed upon one another in the former world. Intoned by a chord cluster on bells or keyboard, a soloist or several voices chant, “O how glorious is the kingdom”, as if in awe of John’s description of the angelic scene. The intensity grows each time this text reappears. The 4-part sections aim to convey a sense of earthly longing for a time when true unity will be realized. The anthem concludes with a final quiet statement of the text, “O how glorious is the kingdom.” —Fred Gramann, composer
Closing Anthem – Fairest Lord Jesus David Stocker
1. Fairest Lord Jesus, ruler of all nature, O thou of God, to earth come down Thee will I cherish, Thee will I honor, thou, my soul's glory, joy, and crown.
2. Fair is the sunshine, fair is the moonlight, bright the sparkling stars on high, Jesus shines brighter, Jesus shines purer than all the angels in the sky.
3. Fair are the meadows, fairer still the woodlands, robed in the blooming flow’rs of spring: Jesus is fairer, Jesus is purer, he makes the woeful spirit sing.
4. Beautiful Savior! King of Creation! Son of God and Son of Man!Truly I’d love Thee, truly I’d serve Thee, Light of my soul, My Joy My Crown.