Dirksen’s first and perhaps most famous piece premiered as a Gradual at the 11 am service on Easter Day, 1948. Back in print from Jubilate Music Group!
300 Canticles & Liturgies
Christ our Passover
Blessed art thou, O Lord God
Audio & Video Dirksen’s first published work (1960) bears several life-long trademarks: A “scattered” introduction which sets mood & tempo but not theme; far-flung harmonies suavely coming and going (E-flat minor in a D minor piece), and the first of many lovely Amens (compare the end of his late F#-minor Mag and Nunc). Also of note: the sotto voce Gloria mimics the traditional liturgical bow at that point in the canticle.
Christ our Passover – Liturgical, Unison
NOT the 1979 BCP text. The interpolated “Christ has died / Christ is risen” make it inappropriate in its current Vigil spot but it could be used to good effect AFTER the Easter proclamation.
Song of the Redeemed
Dirksen compliments Her Majesty by incorporating “The Queens Change” in the Gloria Patri. He uses it in his final anthem Sing, ye faithful as well.
A Song to the Lamb
I will sing to the Lord
Preces & Responses Rite I – Trebles only
Come, let us sing unto the Lord
Be Joyful in the Lord all ye lands
You are God
Te Deum “Grosse Pointe”
Full score & video. The earlier of his two settings starts with brilliant Dirksen fanfares and the traditional plainsong but also contains a sweeping Great Procession for the Apostles, Prophets & Martyrs. It ends very dark with a Requiem quote and solemn gong. His 1996 Te Deum “Lexington” is smoothly through-composed and much sunnier.
Surely it is God
The first of the Three Songs of Isaiah, BCP Canticles 9-11. The gentle modal theme lent itself to canonic treatment, but the work unfolds into dramatic eight-part choral fanfares. Dirksen re-worked the tune into two hymns: Surely it is God who saves me (ISAIAH’S SONG) with the Carl Daw text, and Glory be to God, the Highest (GIBBS HALL), his own paraphrase of the Gloria in Excelsis.
Seek the Lord
The second of the Three Songs of Isaiah is a choral scherzo. Dirksen omitted the Gloria Patris from these canticles but couldn’t resist adding a characteristic AMEN to this one.
The first two Songs of Isaiah are a capella. This one adds the organ with heraldic flourishes for the Great Organ’s Trompette en Chamade. The phrase lengths in this canticle are Brahmsian in their sweep & length. He brings back themes from the first two Songs to excellent effect, and the B-major ending is one of his most thrilling.
Glory be to God, the highest
Three-verse paraphrase of the Gloria. Give Allein Gott a break!
Magnificat & Nunc Dimittis in F# minor
Full score & video.
Te Deum “Lexington”
Full score & video.
Communion Service in E minor – Rite I
Score & video. The Gloria is in my TOP THREE Dirksen pieces. Less than three minutes long, it opens with a liturgical joke and ends with an explosive Amen. Note his tempo!
Communion Service in E major – Rite I
Full scores & videos. By 1960 Dirksen had participated in Easter services at the Cathedral for 15 years and knew the forces intimately. This grand Mass features exceptionally brilliant writing for the brass and timpani, ground-breaking mixed meters (13/8 notoriously raised the choir’s eyebrows), and in the Agnus Dei some of his spookiest writing for the organ. It’s also noteworthy that two movements of a Mass in E major end on F# (Kyrie, Benedictus). That uncanny whole-tone lift comes a shock each time but prefigures the Gloria’s triumphant final modal cadence from D to E. He also orchestrated it for double wind quartet after the Stravinsky Mass.
Communion Service in G Major – Rite I
This speculative work features obbligato handbell parts for 10 bells replicating / mimicking several change ringing methods in each movement as well as a carillon part for the Gloria.
Sanctus & Benedictus in G Major – Rite II
Score & Audio. Liturgical setting, with bells – reworked from the 1966 / Rite I Communion Service in G.
Communion Service in A minor – Rite II – The Canterbury Service
For the visit of the Archbishop of Canterbury, 10/14/79. Three brilliant trumpet parts in the Gloria.
Communion Service in C minor – Rite II
Score & audio. A two-part setting.
Introit, Fanfare and Hymn
Bless the Father
Good Friday Antiphon & Hymn
A Christmas Service
There standeth one among you
Deck the Halls
He that seeketh & Everyone who hears my words
As it was in the days of Noah
O come, O come Emmanuel / Lo, how a rose e’er blooming,
A Festival of Plays
Alleluia, a newe work is come
Magnificat (York Cycle)
Hail, O Sun, O blessed
About the fields
Tyrley, Tyrlow / Three Kings
O radix Jesse
From heaven high
Both All and Some
The Conversion and Baptism of Saul
Score & audio. A seven-minute liturgical drama.
A Thanksgiving for Light
Dirksen’s Bernstein phase.
The Annunciation Story
Score & audio. A liturgical drama with many performance options – Elizabeth’s Song is first-rate.
A Celebration of the Transfiguration
Score & audio. This material has many components in various styles and can be used in many different forms.
Introit and Antiphon for the Feast of the Transfiguration
The Ballad of the Transfiguration
Once sung. never forgotten.
Palm Sunday Liturgy
Three versicles and responses to open the Palm Sunday liturgy.
The Raising of Lazarus
Score & audio. A mini-cantata, especially suitable for V Lent in Year A. Dirksen deploys all his dramatic skill at Lazare, veni foras.