This Sunday, in celebration of our patronal feast day, the St. Michael’s Singers will sing two choral anthems at the 9am and 11am services. The offertory anthem will be American composer Aaron Copland’s classic “Zion’s Walls,” which is a revivalist song with words and music credited to John G. McCurry, compiler of the Social Harp (1855) and published in Down East Spirituals in 1943. Copland used the selection again in his opera The Tender Land.
The communion anthem, meanwhile, is from Vicente Lusitano’s “Hic est Michael archangelus,” specifically written for the feast of St. Michael and All Angels in 1551. Lusitano, a Portuguese Renaissance composer, is thought to have been of mixed European-African ancestry, and thus is often considered the first published Black composer. His Latin motet is rich with complex counterpoint and polyphony, featuring five independent and interwoven lines sung by the choir.