St Anne’s hosted a varied choir concert on Wednesday July 5. It involved the Cantabile Choirs of Kingston, Ontario, Canada; the Abbey Singers, based in Jordanstown; and Glórthai Uladh, a collected group of traditional singers, from Belfast, Derry and Donegal under the direction of Doimnic Mac Giolla Bhride.
This looked in anticipation a remarkable evening in prospect, and so it proved to be. The Gaelic songs began the concert with laments in the sad ballad Irish style that is at the same time heart-rending and very beautiful. This section ended with a happy song however, as the Celtic languages are celebrated by the Scottish poet, Murdo Macfarlane, from Lewis, and his words translated in Irish and set to music in the song Teangaidh na nGael.
The Abbey Singers followed with the ever-popular Jesu Joy of man’s Desiring. Then they transported us to Elijah’s experience of fleeing from the wrath of Jezebel and, on his way to the mountain of the Lord, he rests under a juniper tree in the desert. He asks God to take away his life, but the angels surround and support him. This chorus is sung in the Oratorio “Elijah” by Mendelssohn:
He, watching over Israel, slumbers not, nor sleeps.
Shouldest thou, walking in grief, languish.
He will quicken thee.
The Cantabile Choirs of Ontario concluded the concert with a wide selection of music, both sacred and secular. This was the first concert in their tour of Ireland taking in the Giant’s Causeway, with a recital in the National Trust Centre there, returning to St Anne’s for Evensong on July 6, a lunchtime recital at Down Cathedral on July 7 before the choir moved to Dublin for the remainder of its short trip to Ireland.