2014-09-21 Notes from the Bench

“O Sacrum Convivium” by Robert Lehman

A commentary on this week’s music by Dr. James T. Gerber, Music Associate



O sacrum convivium! in quo Christus
sumitur: recolitur memoria passionis eius:
mens impletur gratia: et futurae gloriae nobis
pignus datur. Alleluia.



O sacred banquet! in which Christ is received,
the memory of his Passion is renewed,
the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of
future glory to us is given. Alleluia.


The text, “O Sacrum Convivium, ” written by St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), honors and expresses the mystery of the Sacrament of the Eucharist. Originally, this prose was introduced into the Church’s liturgy as an antiphon for the Magnificat during second Vespers for the Feast of Corpus Christi (the Body of Christ). Numerous musical settings of this text have been written by composers from the Renaissance era through the twenty-first century. Today, All Saints’ Chamber Choir will sing a recently composed setting written by Robert Lehman.

Robert Lehman is an American composer, conductor, organist and harpsichordist. He is currently the organist and choirmaster of the St. Michael and St. George Episcopal Church in St. Louis, Missouri. Dr. Lehman studied music at Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where he earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in organ performance, at Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey where he earned a Master of Music degree in church music, and at the Graduate Theological Foundation of South Bend, Indiana, where he earned his Doctorate. The focus of Lehman’s doctoral studies was pre-Reformation English liturgy and the Sarum Rite, and the ecclesiastical  music of the English Middle Ages that ranged from chant to the complex polyphonic works found in the Eton Choirbook of the late-fifteenth-century.

Lehman maintains an active career as a performer, being featured internationally as a conductor and recitalist. Prior to his position at St. Michael and St. George, Lehman served several distinguished churches including the Washington National Cathedral, Princeton University Chapel, St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church in New York City, and the historic Christ Church in New Haven, Connecticut. Additionally, he has performed with numerous ensembles, including the National Symphony Orchestra, the Handel Festival Orchestra, the Washington Chamber Symphony, the St. Louis Symphony Brass, the New Haven Symphony Orchestra, the Choral Arts Society of Washington, the Cathedral Choral Society, the Bach Society of  St. Louis, the Carnegie Brass Quintet, the Fine Arts Brass Quintet, the Annapolis Brass Quintet, and the fully-professional English-style brass band, the River City Brass Band. A great number of his compositions have been published by various American publishers and have become a regular part of the repertoire for church, cathedral, and concert choirs across the country.

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