Karl Bachman remarked to me, “It’s so Carl!” when he heard the chant Ubi caritas sung in procession from the courtyard at last Sunday’s All Saints Day concert in memory of Carl Crosier. The concert began with seven peals from the courtyard bell, then the slow procession of the Lutheran Church of Honolulu Choir and the Hawaii Vocal Arts Ensemble made its way into the nave in double file, while the women of the LCH choir sang the Ubi caritas chant. When all singers were in place, Scott Fikse conducted the two choirs in Maurice Duruflé’s beloved Ubi caritas motet from the Quatre Motets sur des thèmes grégoriens, Op. 10.
Guess what, the processional was Scott Fikse‘s idea, which I heartily seconded! It’s exactly what Carl Crosier would do!
Here are the program notes for Ubi caritas from the Sunday’s program booklet:
The Lutheran Church of Honolulu was first introduced to Maurice Duruflé’s Ubi caritas at the Crosiers’ wedding on July 15, 1977, when it was sung by the Compline Choir directed by McNeil Robinson. Duruflé, a highly self-critical and introspective composer, only published thirteen works in his lifetime, including tonight’s Requiem, Op. 9 and Quatre Motets sur des thèmes grégoriens, Op. 10, of which Ubi caritas is a part. The mysteries of Gregorian chant — music designed to commune with God on the deepest metaphysical levels — have been an endless source of inspiration for composers. Ubi caritas, “where charity and love prevails” translates the ethereal beauty of the original melody into a setting that speaks easily to our modern ears. Duruflé sets this meditative text so that the freely flowing motion of the chant is forefront. His Ubi Caritas is often lauded as one of the most, if not the most, perfect expressions of chant retold in 20th century language.
What I didn’t mention was that at our wedding, the motet was sung during the communion and Carl went over to the choir stalls, joining the Compline Choir in singing this piece. And then I went over to the organ and played “Tierce en taille,” from François Couperin’s Messe des Paroisses. So there you have it — we both performed at our wedding.
By the way, the Compline Choir in those days consisted of Allan Haley, Fred Langner, John Graham, Dale Noble, Joseph Dellinger, Malcolm Tait, James Heian and John Anthony.
I got a nice note from Jimmy Castro, husband of Olivia Castro and father to Naomi Castro and Karyn Castro who all sang in the concert. Jimmy wrote: “… Mahalo, Mahalo, and Mahalo especially for Ubi Caritas beginning faintly yet comforting in remembrance of our wedding. As I sat quietly, eyes welled up and more so when Jeannie Castello, seated behind me, reached over to touch my shoulder in mutual acknowledgement. We had talked before the concert and once again shared the special connection remarking on Ubi Caritas at your wedding, too.”
Here’s a recording of Ubi caritas from our wedding on July 15, 1977 — and you can clearly hear Carl’s voice on the top.