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 two works by Michael John Trotta: the Ubi Caritas written for our choir, and the Totus Tuus prayer, St. John Paul II’s papal motto. 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: 12 Promises of the Sacred Heart
Poster Download: 11 x 17 poster
Watch this space for the 2020 programmed pieces...
2019 Concert program:
A Prayer of Compassion - Gwyneth Walker
Lead me Lord, Lead me in the paths of Peace. Make Your way plain before my eyes. For it is You, O 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, 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.'
Ubi Caritas - Michael John Trotta
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.
Last Spring, 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.
Do Not Be Afraid - Philip Stopford
Do not be afraid, for I have redeemed you. I have called you by your name; you are mine.
When you walk through the waters, I'll be with you; you will never sink beneath the waves.
When the fire is burning all around you, you will never be consumed by the flames.
When the fear of loneliness is looming, then remember I am at your side. When you dwell in the exile of a stranger, remember you are precious in my eyes.
You are mine, O my child, I am your Father, and I love you with a perfect love.
Text by Gerard Markland (b. 1953)
This choral song with words by Gerard Markland is based on four verses from the Book of Isaiah, Chapter 43. The song was a commission that Stopford took in 2010 from Andrew and Kathryn Radley on the occasion of the baptism of their daughter at St Peter and St Paul's Church, Uplyme. It is – like Stopford’s other music – tuneful, melodic, memorable and deeply moving and has become a favorite of our choir to perform and to use as a meditation.
In both the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation, the grace of adoption is poured out after the candidate has been named by God. Pope Paul VI wrote on this Universal Call to Holiness by virtue of our birth in Christ in Lumen Gentium V:42
"God is love, and he who abides in love, abides in God and God in Him"
(227) But, God pours out his love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, Who has been given to us;(228) thus the first and most necessary gift is love, by which we love God above all things and our neighbor because of God. Indeed, in order that love, as good seed may grow and bring forth fruit in the soul, each one of the faithful must willingly hear the Word of God and accept His Will, and must complete what God has begun by their own actions with the help of God's grace. These actions consist in the use of the sacraments and in a special way the Eucharist, frequent participation in the sacred action of the Liturgy, application of oneself to prayer, self-abnegation, lively fraternal service and the constant exercise of all the virtues. For charity, as the bond of perfection and the fullness of the law,(229) rules over all the means of attaining holiness and gives life to these same means.(12*) It is charity which guides us to our final end. It is the love of God and the love of one's neighbor which points out the true disciple of Christ.
Since Jesus, the Son of God, manifested His charity by laying down His life for us, so too no one has greater love than he who lays down his life for Christ and His brothers.(230) From the earliest times, then, some Christians have been called upon—and some will always be called upon—to give the supreme testimony of this love to all men, but especially to persecutors. The Church, then, considers martyrdom as an exceptional gift and as the fullest proof of love. By martyrdom a disciple is transformed into an image of his Master by freely accepting death for the salvation of the world—as well as his conformity to Christ in the shedding of his blood. Though few are presented such an opportunity, nevertheless all must be prepared to confess Christ before men. They must be prepared to make this profession of faith even in the midst of persecutions, which will never be lacking to the Church, in following the way of the cross.
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
Cantalamessa, Fr. Raniero. “Father Cantalamessa on Those Who Mourn - Featured Today.” Catholic Online, Translated from Zenit, 17 Dec. 2006, www.catholic.org/featured/headline.php?ID=3896
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.
“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”.
Fielding, David. “O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go | A Hymn by George Matheson.” Crich Baptist Church - Derbyshire, UK, Pastor of Castlefields Church Derby, UK, 2016,
O Peace of Christ - David Lantz III
O Peace of Christ, Come flood my soul. Like streams of water, over me roll. Filling my heart and making me whole. O peace of Christ flood my soul.
O Peace of Christ Come soothe my mind with quiet ease my thoughts unbind. Until thy calm relief I find. O peace of Christ Sooth my mind.
O Peace of Christ Come fill my heart. Dispense thy love into each empty part. Pour in thy mercy, Thy grace impart. O Peace of Christ Fill my heart. Amen John Parker b. 1966
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. St. John Paul II said:
“Those who remember, who were witnesses and participants in the events of those years and the horrible sufferings they caused for millions of people,...know well how necessary was the message of mercy.” In the midst of the human drama that involved two massive wars of worldwide proportions, the rays of God’s mercy and grace overshadowed humanity’s rays of anger and justice. God was showing humanity another way. Sister Faustina’s canonization has a particular eloquence: by this act I intend today to pass this message on to the new millennium. It is this love which must inspire humanity today, if it is to face the crisis of the meaning of life, the challenges of the most diverse needs and, especially, the duty to defend the dignity of every human person.”
Kirby, Fr. Jeffrey F. “Sacred Heart and Divine Mercy: Two Devotions, One Message.” Crux, Senor Crux Contributer, 7 June 2016, cruxnow.com/church/2016/05/29/sacred-heart-and-divine-mercy-two-devotions-one-message/?fbclid=IwAR2HjL4tN3iYj85CQnl7K3Tn0jvjZOUeoWzHtI9i1hXdw8xIrsfqW2j1Ch4.
Open Thou Mine Eyes Lord - Eleanor Daley
Open thou mine eyes and I shall see. Incline my heart and I shall desire.
Order my steps and I shall walk in the ways of thy commandments.
O Lord God, be thou to me a God And beside thee let there be none else, no other, nought else with thee. Vouchsafe to me to worship thee and serve thee according to thy commandments in truth of spirit, In reverence of body, In blessing of lips, In private and in public. Open thou mine eyes and I shall see. Lancelot Andrewes (1555-1626)
A deeply knowledgeable and skilled scholar of Hebrew, Aramaic, Latin, and Greek, as well as a profoundly devout man of humble prayer, Andrewes was one of the foremost Caroline Divines, the writers of theology and spirituality of the period of James I and Charles I. His sermons were known for their scholarship and high degree of polished rhetoric; his scriptural arguments against Roman Catholic critics of the Elizabethan settlement on the one hand and against puritan fundamentalism on the other in large part created the "Middle Way" (Via Media) that is identified as the hallmark of Anglicanism. He was chairman of the project that produced the Authorized Version of the Bible produced under James I in 1610, the "King James Bible." He personally translated about a third of the KJV Old Testament, and edited most of the entire version. One of the greatest writers in the history of the English language, it was he that produced the version of Psalm 23 most known by English speakers through the ages ("The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want..."). His commitment to the catholic tradition and faith of the Church, to sacramental life in Christ and private prayer, and his service as King's Almoner (managing funds for the poor) and as a pastor and Bishop were all exemplary. His Preces Privatae ("Private Prayers") include the following words, in a prayer for grace:
Fr. Tony. “Open Thou Mine Eyes (Lancelot Andrewes).” Open Thou Mine Eyes (Lancelot Andrewes), 26 Sept. 2014, ellipticalglory.blogspot.com/2014/09/open-thou-mine-eyes-lancelot-andrewes.html.
Set Me As a Seal - René Clausen
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 son, I was comforted by images of the Sacred Heart. Knowing that my broken heart had a safe refugee in Our Lord’s heart broken for us.
You can listen to Dr. Clausen’s words on the recording listed on the website below: Wondemagegnehu, Tesfa. “Sing to Inspire: Clausen's Courage.” Classical MPR, 11 Jan. 2016, www.classicalmpr.org/story/2015/10/05/sing-to-inspire-clausens-courage.
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.
Taylor, Justin. “Charles Wesley's ‘And Can It Be’: Background and Scriptural Allusions.” The Gospel Coalition, The Gospel Coalition, 29 Oct. 2017, www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justin-taylor/charles-wesleys-and-can-it-be-background-and-scriptural-allusions/.
Totus Tuus - Michael John Trotta
Totus tuus ego sum, I belong to you entirely,
Et omnia mea tua sunt. And all that I am I give to you.
Accipio te in mea omnia. I take you as my all.
Præbe mihi cor tuum, Mariae. Give your heart to me, O Mary.
Louis de Montfort (1673 –1716)
With these words, St. Louis not only expresses his love for Mary but his desire to belong completely to God like her and with her. Louis believed that this Marian spirituality of “Totus tuus…totally yours” is “the most perfect of all devotions” because “it conforms, unites and consecrates us most perfectly to Jesus Christ” (St. Louis de Montfort, True Devotion to Mary).
In October 1978 when the newly elected Pope John Paul II revealed why he chose St. Louis’ words “Totus tuus” as his episcopal motto. Throughout his life as a Christian, priest, bishop, and finally as Pope, John Paul II remained “totally hers.”
We experience this total self-giving of God at every Mass. Through Jesus really present in the Eucharist, God offers himself to us over and over again: “Take this and eat it. This is my Body, given up for you.…This is my blood, poured out for you” (Matt. 26:26; Luke 22:19). Having received the total self-gift of God at the Mass, his love moves us in return to offer our lives totally to him and those to whom God’s love sends us. The infinite love we receive in Jesus inspires us not to love by half but to give ourselves totally to God and to others, just as he did. Here is the spirit of “Totus tuus” that is both Marian and Eucharistic, in that it begins with God’s total gift of himself and leads to our lives becoming total gifts of love to God and of service to the world.
Swan, Fr. Billy. “The Spirituality of Totus Tuus.” Word on Fire, 9 Dec. 2018, www.wordonfire.org/resources/blog/the-spirituality-of-totus-tuus/.
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.
Kirby, Fr. Jeffrey F. “Palm Sunday Is about Seeking Purity of Heart.” Crux, 8 May 2018, cruxnow.com/commentary/2018/03/25/palm-sunday-is-about-seeking-purity-of-heart/.
I Saw A New Heaven Alan Lewis
I saw a new heaven and a new earth:
for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.
And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. Rev 21:1-4
This piece was written by the Pittsburg Organist, Composer and Conductor Alan Lewis, for the family of Gabe Nevola on the occasion of Gabe’s passing into eternal life. Gabe, former director of Music at Sacred Heart Church and teacher at Sacred Heart School, was a beloved member of the Sacred Heart Music ministry and parish as well as an influential educator for decades.