By Beth Griffin
RYE, N.Y. (CNS) – The secular world ignores Advent, begins celebrating Christmas the day after Halloween and packs up the holiday before the New Year, Paul J. Murray said.
The director of music at a midtown Manhattan parish thought the Advent message was getting drowned out by the noise of commercialism, so he decided to make a CD recording of his choir singing sacred Advent and Christmas music.
“The church keeps Advent as a very special season to prepare and wait for the coming of Christ at Christmas and his second coming at the end of time. Music is a subtle reminder that we are preparing for something greater,” Murray told Catholic News Service.
Murray is the director of music for the parish of Our Saviour, St. Stephen and Our Lady of the Scapular, and Chapel of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. He directs the Choir of the Church of Our Saviour, which released “Hark! A Thrilling Voice Is Sounding,” a 19-track disk recorded in the church during the last week of October.
“The recording is a means of evangelization to share the music of Advent and Christmas with the community-at-large,” Murray said.
Murray chose music by American and European Catholic composers, as well as his own arrangements of familiar carols. “I may be a bit biased here, but I think this recording will ‘make waves’ in Catholic music circles,” he said.
The “Silent Night, Holy Night” selection on the CD was arranged by Theodore Marier, a mentor of Murray’s and the founder of the St. Paul’s Choir School at St. Paul Church in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
The Choir of the Church of Our Saviour is comprised of professional musicians. Six men and six women sang for the recording.
On most of the tracks, the singers perform a cappella, and on several they are accompanied by an organist.
The selections range from 16th-century pieces to music written in the last decade. “It’s not concert music. It’s sacred music appropriate for liturgical worship and that’s the unifying element,” Murray explained.
Editor’s note: “Hark! A Thrilling Voice Is Sounding” is available at http://oursaviournyc.org/recording.