For the upcoming feast of the Transfiguration on August 6, Grammy-award winning and Billboard Chart topping musician and composer J.J. Wright has created a participatory jazz vespers service to be sung especially for this feast day.
Based on Sufjan Stevens' song, The Transfiguration, it was originally recorded in St. Peter's Church in New York City with the J.J. Wright Trio.
“It's a real liturgical feast and it's a real story. I really want to take the listener on this journey through the actual Transfiguration itself. The beauty of jazz is it's a very physical music. The physicality of this music enables you to bring the listener, in a very concrete way, into the experience through the emotions that you're able to generate.”
The goal is to encourage all Christians toward “full, conscious, and active participation,” in the Transfiguration whether or not they have musical talent. The prayer and contemplation is based on Vatican II writings and Pope Francis’ most recent exhortation, but is adapted in a format specifically catering to community prayer.
“As a sacred musician and a jazz musician, part of what I want to be able to do is enable a more powerful communal aspect to the faith environment. When you can let go of those self-conscious ideas of what it means to sing and what it means to look a certain way in front of the people who are next to you, you really open yourself up to a new way of communicating with the people around you.”
The combination of jazz and musical worship is meant to move the heart, opening the soul in a different way than private prayer has the ability to do.
The full album of the vespers service will be released August 4, just in time for the feast day in the Catholic Church on Sunday, August 6.