One of my favorite hymn texts comes from the canon of Gregorian chants – Ubi caritas. The text traditionally is sung on Maundy Thursday, when we hear about Jesus washing the disciples’ feet and calling for us to show love to one another. The translation of the text is:

Where charity and love are, God is there.

The love of Christ has gathered us together.

Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Let us revere and love the living God.

And from a sincere heart let us love one another. Amen.

Many composers have written musical settings of this ancient text. On Sunday, September 17, our choir will sing a popular setting of this work by the contemporary Norwegian composer, Ola Gjeilo. For the 2011 wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton, Paul Mealor composed a new setting that reminded the world of the power of these words.

However, I suspect my favorite setting of this text, and arguably the most popular one, is the one by the 20th century composer, Maurice Duruflé. The first time I heard this short work, it left me near breathless. In this setting, the composer uses the traditional Gregorian chant and harmonizes it in his own unique and beautiful style. The music stands on its own to make a strong impression, but this collection of images matched to the music perfectly sums up this divinely-inspired text. I invite you to take a moment to watch and listen to this gorgeous recording of this anthem: