The Choir of St. James Cathedral, Toronto & Robert Busiakiewicz | Gate of Heaven - The Choir of St. James Cathedral

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Gate of Heaven - The Choir of St. James Cathedral

by The Choir of St. James Cathedral, Toronto & Robert Busiakiewicz

A wide variety of choral music from across six centuries performed by one of Canada's only all-professional Cathedral choirs, including four premiere recordings.
Genre: Classical: Choral Music
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Vigilia: Psalm of Invocation
The Choir of St. James Cathedral, Toronto & Robert Busiakiewicz
2:04 $0.99
2. Messe Aux Sons Des Cloches: Kyrie
The Choir of St. James Cathedral, Toronto & Robert Busiakiewicz
2:54 $0.99
3. In Dulci Jubilo
The Choir of St. James Cathedral, Toronto & Robert Busiakiewicz
4:16 $0.99
4. Missa Brevis: Gloria
The Choir of St. James Cathedral, Toronto & Robert Busiakiewicz
4:19 $0.99
5. The Three Kings
The Choir of St. James Cathedral, Toronto & Robert Busiakiewicz
2:47 $0.99
6. Missa Praeter Rerum Seriem: Sanctus and Benedictus
The Choir of St. James Cathedral, Toronto & Robert Busiakiewicz
6:18 $0.99
7. Behold, The Tabernacle of God
The Choir of St. James Cathedral, Toronto & Robert Busiakiewicz
4:03 $0.99
8. Messe En Sol: Sanctus
The Choir of St. James Cathedral, Toronto & Robert Busiakiewicz
2:30 $0.99
9. Decalogue: Qui Sine Peccato Est
The Choir of St. James Cathedral, Toronto & Robert Busiakiewicz
1:46 $0.99
10. Missa Philomena: Agnus Dei
The Choir of St. James Cathedral, Toronto & Robert Busiakiewicz
5:34 $0.99
11. Five Mystical Songs: Easter
The Choir of St. James Cathedral, Toronto & Robert Busiakiewicz
5:45 $0.99
12. Requiem: In Paradisum
The Choir of St. James Cathedral, Toronto & Robert Busiakiewicz
6:11 $0.99
13. How They so Softly Rest
The Choir of St. James Cathedral, Toronto, Healey Willan & Robert Busiakiewicz
3:46 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes

The Choir of St. James Cathedral began its musical life 200 years ago at Toronto’s corner of King and Church streets in 1819. It has comprised children, men and women through its evolution over the centuries. In the past decade, the all-professional choir of sopranos, altos, tenors and basses has enjoyed a reputation of choral excellence across Canada for its commitment to liturgical music and concert performance. Its raison d’être remains providing music for the Anglican services of Choral Evensong and Eucharist each week. The breadth of repertoire covered in the Cathedral ranges from the very earliest surviving forms of polyphony to newly commissioned works for the choir. A leading representative in the performance of the traditional ancient music of the Church, manifold commissions also include works by David Briggs, Luna Pearl Woolf, Matthew Larkin, Giles Bryant, Ruth Watson Henderson, Andrew Ager, and Nancy Wertsch. While the choir sings for many extra services such as televised state funerals or opening services for the Invictus Games and visitations from Archbishops, recent concert performances have also included: Britten St. Nicholas, Castagnet Messe Salve Regina, Handel Messiah, Vaughan Williams Serenade to Music, Briggs Requiem, and Mahler Symphony No.2.

Sopranos: Rachel Allen, Margaret Cormier, Maureen Ferguson,
Natasha Fransblow, Rebecca Gray
Altos: Rebecca Claborn1, Natasha Ho, Benjamin Shaw, Michelle Simmons
Tenors: Ian Backstrom2, Michael Dodge3, Valdis Jevtejevs4, Barnabas Kirk,
Peter Mowat, David Norman5
Basses: Neil Aronoff6, Maciej Bujnowicz, Martin Gomes, Matthew Li7
Organ Scholar: Nick Veltmeyer8
Violin: Clare Pellerin
Tubular Bells: Timothy Francom

1 - soloist on track 4 2 - soloist on track 6 3 - soloist on track 4 4 - track 6 only 5 - track 6 only
6 - soloist on tracks 4 & 11 7 - soloist on track 6 8 - tracks 2, 4 & 11 only

Robert Busiakiewicz is the Director of Music at St. James Cathedral, Toronto and Artistic Director of Opus 8. He maintains a busy schedule as a conductor, tenor, pianist, composer, arranger and writer on music. Prior to moving to Canada in 2014 he taught techniques of composition at King’s College, London UK. His compositions have been recorded by Priory and Delphian Records and his discography as a performer includes work for Hyperion, Orchid Classics, Analekta, Regent, Decca, Warner and KCC Records. He has created performing editions for Mapa Mundi, composed for the London Festival of Contemporary Church Music, and broadcast on BBC radio and television. After winning the Lord Mayor of London’s Composition Prize, he was invited to the Worshipful Company of Musicians in 2013. He has been a proud ambassador of choral music across the globe, performing throughout Australia, Russia, USA and across Europe. He has directed an array of choirs, jazz big-bands, children’s choruses and chamber ensembles since his choral scholar days at King’s College Cambridge, the Royal Academy of Music and King’s College London.

Notes on the Repertoire

The liturgical year at St. James Anglican Cathedral in Toronto, Canada, begins at Advent – a time of darkness and self reflection, waiting for the arrival of the birth of Jesus. The Psalm of Invocation by the late Finish composer, Einojuhani Rautavaara (1928-2016) evokes a portion of the fifth Advent ‘O’ Antiphon, leading the prisoners from the prison house, as well as an extract of Psalm 141. This primordial sounding piece comes from a larger work, Vigilia, composed in 1971, and features a highly dramatic octave glissando for the whole choir in their pleadings to God. The mystical, expectant atmosphere of Advent is continued with a piece for choir, tubular bells and tam-tams by Spanish composer and professor, Bernat Vivancos (b.1973). Scored for ten voice parts, this Kyrie movement from his Messe Aux Sons Des Cloches (2002) is filled with rapid imitations of material and rich, expansive harmony. After Advent comes the season of Christmas, when the Cathedral Choir serves its largest congregations. The familiar melody to In Dulci Jubilo can be traced back to the 14th Century, but this lilting arrangement for choir and solo violin was commissioned by the Stamford Choral Society in 2010. An old hymn tells us that “all the bells on earth shall ring on Christmas Day in the morning,” and there is no doubt that the Gloria from the Missa Brevis for choir and organ by Zoltán Kodály (1882-1967) is a resplendent outpouring of joy, befitting of such an occasion. The soaring tenors and sopranos at the top of their tessitura and the thundering organ part display a spirit of joy that is juxtaposed with a darker ‘Qui tollis peccata mundi’ section for alto, tenor and bass soloists. Written during the middle of World War II, it is no wonder that this work is so conflicted with hope and sorrow. The feast of the Epiphany takes place every year on January 6th, which marks the visit of the Magi to the infant Jesus. Healey Willan (1880-1968) composed his setting of Laurence Housman’s text for this liturgical season in 1928, while he was working as the Director of Music at the Church of St. Mary Magdalene in Toronto. The choir is divided into two groups of three, a narrative dialogue between Tenor, Baritone, and Bass with Sopranos, Mezzos and Altos in alternation which culminates in what can only be the words of Mary: “Come in, ye Kings!”
As Willan was such an advocate and admirer of 16th Century music, it seems fitting that such a piece should be followed by a work by Franco-Flemish composer Cipriano de Rore (c.1515-1565) who worked as the Maestro di Cappella at Duke Ercole II d'Este’s Italian court of Ferrara from 1546 to 1559. This famous family had hired many of Europe’s finest composers of the era. Josquin des Prez worked there some 50 years before de Rore, and it was the former’s Christmas motet Praeter Rerum Seriem (This is no normal scheme of things) which would form the building blocks of Rore’s mass under the same name. Written in the 1550s, it contains a cantus firmus in the Quintus part which reads “Hercules the Second, Duke of Ferrara, may his memory live forever.” The cascading vocal lines of this Sanctus render this devotional message almost indiscernible, apart from the conspicuous ‘T’ consonant at the very end when the rest of the choir sings ‘excelsis’. The tenor and bass duo at ‘Pleni sunt caeli’ is balanced by a vigorous ‘Osanna’ section, which is followed by a three-part Benedictus (the rest of the mass being scored for a thick seven part texture). At the close of Epiphanytide, St. James Cathedral observes the Feast of the Transfiguration of Jesus in February. This event reported in the New Testament speaks of Jesus appearing to Peter, James and John in divine radiance at the summit of mount Tabor. When Peter suggests they build a tabernacle there for God, it is the words from the Book of Revelation which resonate most fully in “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men and the spirit of God dwelleth within you.” These words were set again by Healey Willan in 1933 and dedicated to Leo Sowerby in honour of the hundredth anniversary festival of St. James Cathedral in Chicago. The joys of the temple, mentioned in Willan’s a cappella work, seem to be best further expressed by the Sanctus movement of the 1937 Messe en Sol by Francis Poulenc (1899-1963). This memorable yet angular tune is filled with contrasts of dynamics and jazz harmony which eventually give way to a fortissimo ‘Hosanna’ of ecstatic proportions. Spring in Toronto usually brings about the penitential season of Lent, which is forty days marking Jesus’ journey into the desert, his temptation by Satan and the events leading up to and including his crucifixion. Much of this season involves self-reflection and an acknowledgement of our sins. The famous lines from St. John “Let you who is without sin cast the first stone,” are set next by Gareth Wilson (b.1976) and confront us both morally and musically. The choir is split into two SATB groups and are asked to sing into two unrelated keys at the same time. This clash of harmony and the difficulty of its resolution is reflected in the moral dilemma of our inclination to judge those around us without first looking inward. Wilson works as the Director of Chapel Music at Girton College, Cambridge and also teaches at the Royal College of Music, London. Franco-Flemish composer Nicholas Gombert (c.1495-1560) was certainly a repentant sinner. According to accounts from the year of his death, he was convicted of molesting a child in his care in 1540, while working for the imperial court of emperor Charles V. He was exiled and sent to work in the galleys. His Missa Philomena can be dated to around 1542 and is one of his most remarkable compositions. It is peppered with his characteristic chromatic false relations which give the Agnus Dei a flavour of anxiety and anguish. The ending is especially dissonant, with many such opportunities for heart-wrenching contradiction in accidentals. This pained work is made all the more profoundly disturbing when it is heard with the knowledge that Saint Philomena is the patron saint of children and youth. Holy Week is a musically rich time at the Cathedral, which concludes with the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. The solemn season of Lent gives way to Easter and the atonement of humanity’s sins. George Herbert’s immortal poem ‘Rise, heart; thy Lord is risen’ is sung mostly by a baritone soloist, Neil Aronoff, accompanied by Organ Scholar, Nick Veltmeyer, with interjections from the choir. This first of the Five Mystical Songs by Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958) was premiered in 1911 at the Three Choirs Festival in Worcester Cathedral. Around the time of Remembrance, the Cathedral is filled with representatives of the armed forces and much music is offered to honour the dead. The feasts of All Saints and All Souls call for repertoire such as the Requiem by Canadian composer Stephanie Martin (b.1962) which was written for the Choir of All Souls’, San Diego in 2017. The final movement of this eight part a cappella work begins with a dove-tailing of upper voices evoking an atmosphere most appropriate to an In Paradisum. This is then taken over by a march-like procession of martyrs, filled with rhythmic intensity before building to an overwhelming climax at ‘Chorus angelorum’. The Requiem finishes with a plaintive gesture shared across all the voice parts, leading us into a state of hope and restfulness. The recording ends with a third work by one of Martin’s predecessors at the Church of St. Mary Magdalene in Toronto, Healey Willan. This mournful choral lament was composed for the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir in 1917 at the darkest points of World War I. Unusually for Willan, the work includes low Cs for the second basses and humming passages. How They So Softly Rest is one of Willan’s most loved choral works, along with his fourteen settings of the Mass. Thus the liturgical year begins all over again with Advent, and you will have heard but a brief vignette of the breadth of musical endeavour at St. James on this recording. We hope you can join us for a service of Choral Evensong or Eucharist soon. Please visit our website for an up-to-date music list at

Texts and translations

[1] Herra, mina huudan Sinua kuule minua. Ota korviisi minun aaneni, kun
mina Sinua huudan, Kuule minua oi Herra, kuule minua, Herra Nouskoon minun rukoukseni niikuin suitsutus-savu Sinun kasvojesi eteen, minun kateni ylennys olkoon Sinulle ehtoo-uhri, kuule minua, oi Herra. Vie minun sieluni ulos vankeudesta kiitamaan Sinun nimeasi.

Lord, I cry to thee, give ear to my voice when I pray thee. O Lord, I cry to thee, give ear to my voice, Lord. Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice, give ear unto my voice, Lord. Bring my soul out of prison that I may praise thy name. (Psalm 141)

[2] Kyrie Eleison, Christe Eleison, Kyrie Eleison
Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy.

[3] In dulci jubilo [In quiet joy] Let us our homage show. Our heart’s joy reclineth In praesepio [In a manger] And like a bright star shineth Matris in gremio [In the mother’s lap] Alpha es et O. [Thou art Alpha & Omega] O Jesu parvule [O tiny Jesus] I yearn for thee always. Hear me, I beseech thee O puer optime [O best of children] my prayer let it reach thee, O princeps gloriae, [Prince of glory] Trahe me post te. [Draw me unto thee] Ubi sunt gaudia [Where be joys] If that they be not there. There are angels singing Nova cantina [New songs] There the bells are ringing In regis curia [At the king’s court] O that we were there.

(Heinrich Seuse)

[4] Gloria in excelsis Deo
et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis.
Laudamus te,
benedicimus te,
adoramus te,
glorificamus te,
gratias agimus tibi propter magnam gloriam tuam,
Domine Deus, Rex caelestis,
Deus Pater omnipotens.
Domine Fili unigenite, Jesu Christe,
Domine Deus, Agnus Dei, Filius Patris,
qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis;
qui tollis peccata mundi, suscipe deprecationem nostram.
Qui sedes ad dexteram Patris, miserere nobis.
Quoniam tu solus Sanctus, tu solus Dominus, tu solus Altissimus,
Jesu Christe, cum Sancto Spiritu: in gloria Dei Patris. Amen.

Glory be to God on high
And in earth peace, goodwill towards men,
We praise thee, we bless thee,
we worship thee, we glorify thee,
we give thanks to thee, for thy great glory
O Lord God, heavenly King,
God the Father Almighty.
O Lord, the only-begotten Son, Jesu Christ;
O Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father,
that takest away the sins of the world,
have mercy upon us.
Thou that takest away the sins of the world,
have mercy upon us.
Thou that takest away the sins of the world,
receive our prayer.
Thou that sittest at the right hand of God the Father,
have mercy upon us.
For thou only art holy;
thou only art the Lord;
thou only, O Christ,
with the Holy Ghost,
art most high
in the glory of God the Father.

[5] "Who knocks tonight so late?"
the weary porter said.
Three kings stood at the gate,
each with a crown on head.
The serving man bowed down,
the Inn was full, he knew.
Said he, "In all this town
is no fit place for you."
A light in the manger lit;
there lay the Mother meek.
This place is fit.
Here is the rest we seek.
Come, come. They loosed their latchet strings,
so stood they all unshod
"Come in, come in, ye kings,
and kiss the feet of God."

(Laurence Housman)

[6 & 8] Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus
Dominus Deus Sabaoth.
Pleni sunt cæli et terra gloria tua.
Hosanna in excelsis.
Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini.
Hosanna in excelsis.

Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts,
heaven and earth are full of thy glory.
Glory be to thee, O Lord most high.
Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.

[7] Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men,
and the Spirit of God dwelleth within you;
for the temple of God is holy, which temple are ye;
for the love of whom ye do this day
celebrate the joys of the temple with a season of festivity.
O how dreadful is this place.
This is the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.
(Antiphons of the Feast of Dedication)

[9] Qui sine peccato est, vestrum primus in illam lapidem mittat.
Let you who is without sin cast the first stone. (John 8:7)

[10] Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis.
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis.
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, dona nobis pacem.

O Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us.
O Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us.
O Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world, grant us thy peace.

[11] Rise heart; thy Lord is risen. Sing his praise
Without delays,
Who takes thee by the hand, that thou likewise
With him may'st rise;
That, as his death calcined thee to dust,
His life may make thee gold, and much more, Just.

Awake, my lute, and struggle for thy part
With all thy art.
The cross taught all wood to resound his name
Who bore the same.
His stretched sinews taught all strings, what key
Is best to celebrate this most high day.

Consort both heart and lute, and twist a song
Pleasant and long:
Or since all music is but three parts vied,
And multiplied;
O let thy blessed Spirit bear a part,
And make up our defects with his sweet art.

(George Herbert)

[12] In paradisum deducant te Angeli; in tuo adventu suscipiant te martyres, et perducant te in civitatem sanctam Jerusalem. Chorus angelorum te suscipiat, et cum Lazaro quondam paupere æternam habeas requiem.

May the angels lead you into paradise; may the martyrs receive you at your arrival and lead you to the holy city Jerusalem. May choirs of angels receive you and with Lazarus, once poor, may you have eternal rest.

[13] How they so softly rest,
All they the holy ones,
Unto whose dwelling place
Now doth my soul draw near!
How they so softly rest,
All in their silent graves,
Deep to corruption
Slowly down sinking!
And they no longer weep,
Here, where complaint is still!
And they no longer feel,
Here, where all gladness flies!
And, by the cypresses
Softly o'ershadowed,
Until the Angel
Calls them, they slumber!

(Henry Longfellow)


With grateful thanks to the generous support of Mary-Beth Montcalm, and the tremendous efforts of Elizabeth Groskorth, Douglas Jamieson, David Donkin, Patric McGroarty, Bryan Martin, Thom Varey, Harriet Dixon, Ian Sadler, Vern and Frieda Heinrichs, Stephanie Martin, Gareth Wilson, the Clergy and Congregation of St. James Cathedral and in memory of David Trendell, each of whom had an invaluable part to play in making this project possible.

Sound Technicians – Patric McGroarty & Dennis Patterson
Mixing and Mastering – Saint Clarens Sound
Producer – Bryan Martin
Cover Art – Marra Saltmarche
Recorded at Royal St. George’s College Chapel on 14th, 21st and 28th February, 2019.



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