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Trinity Fugues

- Stephen McManus

Use: General
Required Resources: organ

Not without precedent in the works of J.S. Bach, these three fugues by Stephen McManus offer reflections on the Three Divine Persons of the Trinity. The composer offers these notes:

Each fugal movement has its own subject. The first movement (Fugue 1), based on I Kings 19:11-13, expresses the Father as a "gentle whisper." Dynamic levels should not exceed mf. There are numerous statements of the subject and, combined with the elements of canon and stretto, represent continual praise of the Father. The movement also depicts the holiness that surrounds the presence of God in the Old Testament. The Father's subject is based on the opening notes of the Gregorian chant Credo III.

Fugue 2 is a double fugue. The main subject, a descending, chromatic melody, expresses the Christ we read about in Philippians 2:6-11 — one who humbled himself, descended from heaven to become man, and walked the path of obedience to the cross. The second subject is that from Fugue 1; this intertwining with the first subject represents the Father's presence and power throughout Christ's life. The entries of the voices spread upwards and, occasionally coupled with ascending eighth notes, conveys the "Word of God" spreading out to the people. Near the end, subject 1 is not accompanied by subject 2; this is the time when Christ experienced abandonment on the cross. The subsequent crescendo and ascent reflect the resurrection and ascension back to the Father, the texture thickening to five parts for dramatic effect. Allusion to the Holy Spirit's subject occurs in the last three measures — Christ had completed his task on earth and the Spirit could be freely given to all peoples.

Fugue 3 is based on Acts 2:1-4. The subject conveys the violent wind and the tongues of fire descending on the apostles, and also relates their exuberance on receiving the Spirit. The subject from Fugue 1 is introduced as a cantus firmus. The two subjects from Fugue 1 and Fugue 2 are heard together; and eventually all three subjects are combined in triple counterpoint — the Trinity as a whole. Christ's subject has been modified at this point and, although a chromatic element remains, the idea has changed as he had, following the resurrection.

The first two fugues are playable on manuals alone; the third requires pedal.


Order #: 6019
Price: $5.95


- Organ/Instrumental
- Ordinary Time
- Organ

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