Cantata means "sung" and is derived from the Italian word "cantare”; it’s a vocal composition with an instrumental accompaniment, typically in several movements, often involving a choir. This particular performance involved a full orchestra, adult choir, children’s choir and a tenor.
This was not billed as a Christmas or Holiday concert and it was not sponsored by any church or other religious organization. It came from a state college/community music organization (DuPage Chorale) preforming in the theater of a private secular liberal arts college (North Central College).
I found it both curious and uplifting to see a secular musical ensemble loudly and shamelessly singing praises to God, and all of it happening in a secular environment.
I wanted to share some of the insightful music lyrics from the part of St. Nicholas; they read like biblical psalms. I don’t know if these are actual quotes from the saint, but I thought I’d share them nonetheless, since they seem as true today as they must have been in his time.
“Poor man! I found him solitary, racked
By doubt: born, bred, doomed to die
In everlasting fear of everlasting death:
The foolish toy of time, the darling of decay—
Hopeless, faithless, defying God.”
“O God! We are all weak sinful, foolish men.
We pray from fear and from necessity at death, in sickness or
private loss. Without the prick of fear our conscience sleeps,
forgetful of Thy Grace.
Help us, O God! to see more clearly.
Tame our stubborn hearts.
Teach us to ask for less and offer more in gratitude to Thee.
Pity our simplicity, for we are truly pitiable in Thy sight.”
Here is something to remind us of the gift of Christ at Christmas…
“O man! The world is set for you as for a king!
Paradise is yours in loveliness.
The stars shine down for you, for you the angels sing,
Yet you prefer your wilderness.
You hug the rack of self,
Embrace the lash of sin,
Pour your treasures out to bribe distress.
You build your temples fair without and foul within:
You cultivate your wilderness.
Yet Christ is yours. Yours!
For you He lived and died.”
God in mercy gave His son to bless you all
To bring you life…”
If all this wasn't amazing enough for a secular event, the congregation was encouraged to sing along with the following hymn…and they did!
“All people that on earth do dwell
Sing to the Lord with cheerful voice!
Him serve with fear
His praise forth tell,
come ye before Him and rejoice.
O enter then His gates with praise
Approach with joy His courts unto,
Praise, laud and bless His name always,
For it is seemly so to do.
For why? The Lord our God is good:
His mercy is for ever sure;
His truth at all times firmly stood,
And shall from age to age endure. Amen.”