VIEW SCORE: SANCTUS–In the Temple of Open Sky (SCORE–PDF)
INSTRUMENTATION: Flute, Oboe (opt.), Bassoon (opt.), Bb Clarinet 1,2,3, Bb Bass Clarinet, Alto Saxophone 1,2, Tenor Saxophone, Baritone Saxophone, Bb Trumpet, Horn, Trombone, Euphonium, Tuba, Timpani, Crotales (or Glockenspiel), Vibraphone, Triangle, Chimes (Orchestral Bells) (may be omitted or played on glock.), Large Suspended Cymbal
PERFORMANCE NOTES: This piece provides an excellent opportunity for a young band to develop sensitivity, phrasing, and musical ensemble playing through the development of a Gregorian chant-like theme.
Holy Holy Holy, Lord God of hosts
Heaven and Earth are full of your glory
Thus begins the Sanctus, one of the five principal parts of the Mass that has been the basis of much of the great music of the Western canon. It has been set by countless composers a great many times, in plainchant and polyphonic settings and everything in between, and remains a part of religious services in many traditions and denominations. It is often paired with the Benedictus as well.
This is not all of the text of the Sanctus, but to me, it is the most direct and most affecting part. Minus all of the doctrinal and dogmatic statements of faith in various traditions, the core value and belief comes back to these two lines: The belief in a great power beyond our understanding, and our ability to recognize that everything we can experience is in some way a reflection of this great power.
This short piece represents that journey in music. A single-line chant-like melody becomes accompanied by a pedal tone, then adorned with richer harmony, and finally progresses toward a triumphant and transcendent moment in which one realizes that there is no greater temple than the open sky—heaven and earth full of glory.