With all the excitement caused by the news that Pope Benedict would renounce the papal throne, it’s been easy to forget that we have begun the penitential season of Lent. (I hope that everybody abstained from meat today!)
One of the great Lenten hymns is Attende, Domine, et miserere quia peccavimus tibi (Hear us, Lord, and have mercy for we have sinned against thee). As a meditation, close your eyes for a few minutes and listen to this lovely prelude on the Gregorian hymn composed by the twentieth century French organist and composer, Jeanne Demessieux (1921–1968). This work comes from a set of twelve chorale preludes on Gregorian themes (Op. 8). A student of Marcel Dupré, Demessieux was an extraordinary organist, having memorized the complete organ works of Bach, Franck, Liszt and Dupré, among others. She was the organist for two churches in Paris, Saint-Esprit and La Madeleine. In her own right, Demessieux was also a gifted composer. If you enjoy what you listen to, my colleague and dear friend, Stephen Tharp, recently recorded the complete organ works of Jeanne Demessieux; he is one of only a small handful of organists to do so. Unfortunately, the CD is out print, however, you can purchase the recording on iTunes.
Here is the entire hymn text.