Premiere of “Anima Christi” by Charles Culbreth

I had the brief pleasure of an impromptu chat with Jeffrey Tucker yesterday afternoon. We were commiserating about his post comparing our era with MR3 “seismic shift” to that of the late sixties. But I happened to mention that a work I’d done over the summer of 2007 was going to be premiered at a concert at our parish church last night, and Jeffrey said “Post on it, Charles!” Well, after a day of teaching the kids at school, and whatnot, Wendy helped me finally get around to getting the YouTube up and running.

Some background about my setting-

First of all, the college chose my approved abbreviated version, eight of the twelve petitions are sung. Each petition has its own ethos, so to speak, unified only by a magnetic attraction to “C” as the nexus. Lots of tone painting can be extrapolated off the page or to the ear. The choral score shifts from four to twelve voices throughout sections. I always envisioned the piece as one that only collegiate, professional or highly skilled church choirs could negotiate its demands.

However, my sister in law’s high school choir gave a fairly good reading back in 09, though “Russian basses” were not to be found. My buddy at our local college was generous to give it a go, and here is the result of that effort. What was ultimately gratifying is that the kids in the choir “got” the deep mystery of “the dark night of the soul” that I tried to infuse into the score. But it still is a work in progress, and I’m grateful that the college choir will continue exploring it for the rest of the semester and take it to collegiate festivals. Prosit, enjoy (I hope.) Glory to the Holy Trinity.

9 Replies to “Premiere of “Anima Christi” by Charles Culbreth”

  1. Charles you are so generous to post this wonderful piece here. Thank you so much for composing it and sharing it with the world. And congratulations for this and a lifetime of close engagement with Catholic music.

  2. And from memory, no less! A very fine work, Charles. I hope it is picked up by some of those collegiate choral directors – perhaps some will have your infrasonic "Russian" basses.

    Magister Franciscus

  3. Jeffrey, thanks for the encouragement to post it and your kind remarks. I know that this piece isn't normal liturgical faire.
    Frank, mentor o' mine extraordinaire, see if this sounds familiar-
    My friend and colleague, Jeff Seaward of the College of the Sequoias here in town, didn't really know what he was in for when he accepted the piece in August. He's a pro, taught all my kids, taken four choirs to national ACDA's etc.
    Went into one rehearsal last Wednesday, the kids were still on book, and notes weren't mastered, but it was "known" enough for me to give them some insight and inspiration, and to prompt Jeff to rethink some tempi.
    Over the weekend I hear that the kids were stoked from my visit.
    Tuesday comes, and though not perfect, their hearts showed the commitment to work it with only four rehearsals into what you heard.
    Jeff makes his kids do a concert review. Of course,"favorite piece?" is a question. 75% voted "Anima Christi" today. Last night Jeff said the piece would continue to be worked and performed through the semester.
    But the redemption for me lies in that a connection between the personal depth of the mystery and power of prayer to the energy and will of 75 kids emerged most evident. That's a charism I can't take credit for, and I hope a lot of them realize and take hold of that mystery for themselves.
    Maybe Dan Hughes in San Jose will come upon it, and do the whole piece. It's funny, I quote the "Ave Maria" chant in one sequence not sung, and guess what the kids sang before "Anima?" Victoria's setting, with the chant as a prelude.
    Guess I'd better get back to my muse, amor de Dios.

  4. Thank you Charles, for this gorgeous piece of music. It is the type of piece that, from a kid's point of view, is remembered forever. May the prayer dwell in them forever…and give them hope through the dark night of the soul…it's the only place they can find peace…Just beautiful…

  5. As a wannabe from a place where "Spirit and Song" is normal liturgical fair, I can tell you that this brought tears to my eyes.

    Keep teaching those kids

  6. guess what the kids sang before "Anima?" Victoria's setting, with the chant as a prelude.

    That was a Roger Wagner thing, too, IIRC.

    First off, great STUFF!

    A couple of questions:

    1) Is it supposed to be a capella, OR is there an organ accompaniment scored for it?

    2) Could you post the texts that they use for us alzheimer-types who cannot recall it offhand?

    Great STUFF!!

  7. Dad, thank you very much.
    Eventually, ideally a capella. But the score, as Frank has seen, calls for mad skills Russian basses, like Frank Albinder of CHANTICLEER!
    I've suggested that in lieu of that, a string bass could provide the sub-octaves.

    Anima Christi, sanctifica me. Soul of Christ, sanctify me
    Corpus Christi, salva me. Body of Christ, save me
    Sanguis Christi, inebria me. Blood of Christ, inebriate me
    Aqua lateris Christi, lava me. Water from the side of Christ, wash me
    Passio Christi, conforta me. Passion of Christ, strengthen me
    O bone Jesu, exaudi me. O good Jesus, hear me
    Intra tua vulnera absconde me. Within Thy wounds hide me
    Ne permittas me separari a te. Permit me not to be separated from Thee
    Ab hoste maligno defende me. From the malignant enemy defend me
    In hora mortis meae voca me. In the hour of my death call me
    Et iube me venire ad te, And bid me come unto Thee
    Ut cum Sanctis tuis laudem te. That with thy Saints I may praise Thee
    In saecula saeculorum. Amen. Forever and ever,Amen

  8. Absolute, sheer beauty. Congratulations on a truly magnificent addition to the Treasury of Sacred Music.

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