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Pentecost in Wisconsin

Dr. Brian Luckner A fine music program is in place at the Cathedral of Saint Joseph the Workman in La Crosse, Wisconsin, headed by Dr. Brian Luckner.

Here is some of the music used on Pentecost Sunday over the past few years:

  • Organ: Komm, Gott Schöpfer, heiliger GeistHelmut Walcha (1907-1991)

    Veni creator spiritus is a Latin hymn for Pentecost, believed to have been written in the 9th century by Rabanus Maurus, Abbot of Fulda and later Archbishop of Mainz. Martin Luther's translation begins Komm, Gott Schöpfer, Heiliger Geist. The chorale melody is an adaptation of the chant.

    Helmut Walcha worked at Saint Thomas Church in Leipzig. As a result of a smallpox vaccination, Walcha had poor eyesight since childhood, and was totally blind by sixteen. He learned new pieces by having musicians (including his mother in his childhood and his wife in later years), play for him four times (each hand separately, the pedal part separately, and the complete piece). Having perfect pitch, he would memorize the piece while listening.

    He recorded all the Bach organ works twice. The inner vision capacities of the blind have been well documented but perhaps never so compellingly as with Walcha's recordings. They are an extraordinary example not only of man and his music but also of the human spirit. Helmut Walcha could envision Bach's multiple lines simultaneously and share each of them with the listener, not crowding them with unnecessary ranks for the sake of volume, enabling the sheer drama of the music, a view of its architectural genius, and allowing attention to any line at any time.

    Komm, Gott Schöpfer, Heiliger Geist is taken from among the composer's four volumes of chorale preludes.

  • Choir: Spiritus DominiGregorian Chant

    This is the Proper Introit for Pentecost Sunday. The music for this, in square-note, chant notation, can be found in the Graduale Romanum and the Gregorian Missal:

    The Spirit of the Lord has filled the whole world, alleluia;
    and that which contains all things, knows every language spoken by men, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.
    Let God arise, and let his enemies be scattered; and let those who hate him flee before his face. [Wisdom 1:7 & Psalm 67]

  • Choir: Loquebantur variis linguisPeter Philips (1561–1628)

    The Latin and English texts of Loquebantur variis linguis are:

    Loquebantur variis linguis Apostoli magnalia Dei, prout Spiritus Sanctus dabat eloqui illis, alleluia.

    The apostles spoke in many tongues of the great works of God;
    They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak in many tongues, alleluia.

    Peter Philips (c.1560-1628) was an eminent English composer, organist, and Catholic priest exiled to Flanders. He was one of the greatest keyboard virtuosos of his time, and transcribed or arranged several Italian motets and madrigals by composers such as Lassus, Palestrina, and Giulio Caccini for his instruments. Some of his keyboard works are found in the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book. Philips also wrote many sacred choral works.

  • Choir: Dum complerentur dies PentecostesTomás Luis de Victoria (1549–1611)

    Tomás Luis de Victoria, sometimes rendered in Italian "da Vittoria", was the most famous composer of the 16th century in Spain, and one of the most important composers of the Counter-Reformation, along with Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina and Orlando di Lasso. Victoria was not only a composer, but also an accomplished organist and singer. He preferred, however, the life of a composer to that of a performer. He is sometimes known as the "Spanish Palestrina" because of his trining and style.

    The Latin text of this anthem:

    Dum complerentur dies pentecostes, alleluia,
    et subito factus est sonus de caelo, alleluia.
    Tamquam spiritus vehementis et replevit totam domum, alleluia.

    Dum complerentur dies Pentecostes is number 24 of Florilegium sacrarum cantionum.

  • Choir: Come, Holy GhostWilliam Ferris (1937–2000)

    William Ferris (1937–2000) was a lifelong champion of contemporary composers. A renowned composer in his own right, Mr. Ferris' music was commissioned and premiered by the Chicago and the Boston Symphony Orchestras. Among his compositions are two operas, numerous concerti, symphonic and chamber works, hundreds of choral works, and dozens of songs. Northwestern University houses his complete musical archive. A man of devout faith, he worked for the Church from his early youth, holding positions as organist/music director and composer-in-residence at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Rochester, New York, and, most notably, at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Chicago. It was his profound belief that music for the liturgy should be of the highest quality, and his work is a shining example of that principle.

    Come, Holy Ghost is scored for SATB with organ accompaniment, and dedicated to the Choir of Saint Vincent Ferrer Church, River Forest IL. This haunting setting to a text by Edward Caswall (1814-1878) was composed in the fall of 1992. Filled with simple but effective harmonies over a florid organ accompaniment, the piece is constructed with surprising key and meter changes. The phrase fabric is sparse in contrast to four-part harmonic sections of great beauty. The simple unison gestures between the various vocal parts are extremely effective.

  • Choir: Spiritus DominiGerald Near (b. 1942)

    This motet of 5 minutes, for SATB choir and organ, has a Latin text:

    Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.
    Spiritus Domini replevit orbem terrarum, alleluia, alleluia.
    Non vos relinquam orphanos;
    vado, et venio ad vos,
    et gaudebit cor vestrum, alleluia.

    Veni Creator Spiritus,
    Mentes tuorum visita:
    Imple superna gratia
    Quae tu creasti pectora. Amen.

    Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.
    The Spirit of the Lord has filled the whole world, alleluia. alleluia.
    I will not leave you orphans;
    I go, and I come again to you,
    and your heart shall rejoice, alleluia.

    Come, Holy Spirit, Creator come,
    From thy bright heavenly throne!
    Come, take possession of our souls,
    And make them all thine own! Amen.

    Generally considered one of the finest composers of church music writing today, Gerald Near first studied theory and composition with Leslie Bassett, organ with Robert Glasgow, and conducting with Elizabeth Green, later returning for graduate study in orchestral conducting with Gustav Meier. He also studied composition with Dominick Argento and conducting with Thomas Lancaster at the University of Minnesota.

    In 1982 Near was one of the first recipients of a McKnight Foundation Fellowship. That year also saw the performance of two commissioned works for the AGO National Convention in Washington DC: the anthem, "Sing Alleluia Forth" and the "Short Festival Te Deum." The following year he moved to Dallas, where he was appointed organist/choirmaster and subsequently, Canon Precentor of St. Matthew's Cathedral (Episcopal). He is Director of Aureole Editions and resides in New Mexico.

  • Choir: The Feast of PentecostBrian Luckner (b. 1959)

    Brian Luckner was appointed Director of Music and Organist at the Cathedral of Saint Joseph the Workman in July of 1988. In addition to his full-time position at the Cathedral, Dr. Luckner is Director of Music and Organist at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, and is director of the La Crosse Diocesan Chorale. He also serves as an adjunct faculty member at Viterbo University. His compositions are published by Paraclete Press, GIA Publications, Trinitas, MorningStar, Mark Foster and CanticaNOVA Publications.

    Dr. Luckner served as head of the Conference of Roman Catholic Cathedral Musicians (United States and Canada) from 1997 to 2002. Prior to his appointment in La Crosse, he was the Assistant in Liturgical Music at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington DC. Earlier church positions include serving as organist and music director at the Church of the Guardian Angels (Roman Catholic) and at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Cincinnati, and at Christ Episcopal Church in Oberlin, Ohio. He previously held assistant organist positions at Saint John the Baptist Catholic Church in Canton, Ohio, and at Saint Joseph Catholic Church in Massillon, Ohio.

  • Organ: Choral varié sur le thème du Veni Creator (Op. 4)Maurice Duruflé (1902-1986)
    Variation IV. Final

    One of the most widely used hymns in the Church, Veni Creator Spiritus is attributed to Rabanus Maurus (776-856). It is used at Vespers, Pentecost, Dedication of a Church, Confirmation, and Holy Orders and whenever the Holy Spirit is solemnly invoked. It is also sung at occasions such as the entrance of Cardinals to the Sistine Chapel to elect a new pope, as well as the consecration of bishops, the celebration of synods or councils, the coronation of kings and other solemn events. A partial indulgence is granted to the faithful who recite it. A plenary indulgence is granted if it is recited on January 1st or on the feast of Pentecost.

    The Choral varié of Duruflé were written in 1930. Maurice Duruflé was a French composer, organist, and pedagogue. In 1927, Louis Vierne nominated him as his assistant at Notre-Dame. Duruflé became titular organist of Saint Étienne-du-Mont in Paris in 1929, a position he held for the rest of his life.


Dr. Luckner has produced a CD with the Cathedral Gallery Singers in La Crosse. Their Sound Goes Forth is available from CNP.

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