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Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus
Dominus Deus Sabaoth
Pleni sunt caeli et terra gloria tua
Hosanna in excelsis!
Dan Forrest on ‘Sanctus’ in his ‘Requiem for the Living.’
‘It’s only after recognizing the Lamb of God that we can then turn, in this narrative, to the Sanctus. It becomes a response to the Agnus Dei, instead of prelude to it as in the normal liturgical order. Interestingly, I see the phrase “heaven and earth are full of Thy glory” as not merely a worship moment, but actually a part of the Divine answer to the problem of pain. Looking to Job again, God’s answer to the problem of pain is literally, “Look at my works of creation- see my transcendent power and majesty” and of course Job is then humbled by the realization. So my vocal score includes a quote of Job 38 at the top of this movement- where God says to Job “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth…when the stars sang together for joy?” As you can see, then, this movement depicts the wonder of the heavens and earth (pleni sunt caeli et terra gloria tua) as a Divine answer to the problem of pain. My setting of the Sanctus text is literally a depiction of God’s wondrous glory in three different places: the universe (inspired by that Ultra Deep Field picture from the Hubble Telescope),
…earth as viewed from the orbiting International Space Station (there are fantastic videos on Youtube where you can see the lights of cities (and nations!) at night, territorial boundaries, rivers, the northern lights, thunderstorms, and all sorts of things),…
…and finally, mankind, God’s wondrous image-bearers, who demonstrate his glory even more directly than all the rest of the wonders of the heavens…
…There are three sections to the piece which are inspired by these three thoughts- an ethereal section for the Hubble image, a warmer section that starts to “come down to earth” with more motion that eventually grows very majestic, and then a bustling energetic final section, coming right down into the middle of a city, teeming with the life and energy of a metropolis full of these image-bearers who are an even more wondrous part of creation than the heavens themselves.’
Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord god of Hosts,
Heaven and earth are full of Thy glory.
Hosanna in the highest!