Barbara Verdile

Barbara Verdile, Interim Music DirectorI was Director of Music and Organist at Saint Peter’s Episcopal Church, Purcellville, Virginia for almost 20 years until moving to Washington, DC. I have Master of Music degrees from the Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore and while an undergraduate at Douglass College, Rutgers University I studied organ with University Organist, David Drinkwater. But I consider myself mostly a student of my father, as I was his regular page-turner for the postlude each Sunday.

I’ve had a varied career teaching and performing in addition to my work in the area of church music ministry. While working in all combinations of church organist and choir director for the past 40 years, I have also been on the faculties of Northern Virginia Community College and Shenandoah Conservatory of Music along with teaching in my private studio. I founded a chamber music series in Purcellville and a community chorus, which grew into what is now the Loudoun Chorale. In addition to working as pianist and flutist with the Loudoun Symphony Orchestra and the Loudoun Wind Symphony I have performed in solo and chamber music recitals and accompanied a wide range of instrumentalists and vocalists, given organ recitals in Italy and served as organist for week-long residencies at the cathedrals of Canterbury, York and elsewhere in Great Britain and Ireland.

The Italian language and choral singing are my avocations. I thoroughly enjoy trying to speak Italian and discovering Italian literature, and as a choral singer (much simpler and easier than the language thing!) have continually been a member of choral groups ranging from chamber to symphonic in size. An exceptional result of my choral activity was that of meeting the man who became my husband. Bob and I met in our college chapel choir and we will soon celebrate our 49th wedding anniversary.

Currently I am Rehearsal Pianist for the Choir and Festival Chorus at Westmoreland Congregational United Church of Christ, and Rehearsal Assistant for the Thomas Circle Singers in Washington, DC. Bob and I both sing with this group. Maybe we can convince you to come to a concert!

We live in Foxhall Village in DC with our dachshund, Piccola and have two daughters, a son-in-law and a grandson soon to be four years old. All live close by in Virginia.

During the current upset created by COVID-19 I feel quite fortunate to be able to offer my part in combination with many others at RELC to provide comfort and hope during this pandemic. With all of you I look forward to the time when it will be safe to resume meeting together for services on Sundays, to continue getting to know you and make music together with you and the choir here at RELC!

With a voice of singing, Barbara

Hymn of the Day: “Let Streams of Living Justice” ELW 710
Text: William Whitla (1934)
Tune: THAXTED, Gustav Holst (1874-1934)

William Whitla (b. 1934) wrote this hymn in 1989. It was published in Sing Justice! Do Justice! (1998), a collection of hymns that "grew out of a formal search for hymns on justice sponsored by the organizations Alternative for Simple Living and The Hymn Society in the United States and Canada. It had four stanzas.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship, not the only hymnal to do so, prints three of the four by omitting the second. Whitla is "not very keen" on this move, which he views as "cutting out both the too incarnational and the too feminine images." Here is what he says about the hymn:

I wrote the hymn in 1989 just after the events in Tiananmen Square, and when the Mothers of the Disappeared in Argentina were bringing their campaign to the conscience of the world. At the same time, the religious and racial disputes in Ireland, Israel-Palestine, the Congo and other parts of Africa, and in Canada and many other countries over First Nation or Aboriginal rights all seemed impossible to solve. Unfortunately, similar events are still replayed, and only too-similar images in the Near East, Irag, Afghanistan, and now Somalia- not to mention the school shootings at home-recur and are now extended well beyond those earlier sad happenings. So I used some images from those events, especially in verse two, seen through echoes of the holocaust, to tell of the bad news before the Good News of verses three and four. Subsequent events only sharpened those images, alas. To me all of these parts are needed for a full expression of the biblical promises of hope and justice so long awaited, including the too-common images of both the child with the gun and the old ones dreaming for peace.

Here is stanza 2:

The dreaded disappearance of family and friend;
the torture and the silence- the fear that knows no end;
the mother with her candle, the child who holds a gun,
the old one nursing hatred- all seek release to come.
Each candle burns for freedom; each lights a tyrant's fall;
each flower placed for martyrs gives tongue to silenced call.

The tune, THAXTED, was originally set to the text "I vow to thee, my country" and then used for others. That it is a splendid melody is clear. Whether it is a congregational one is less clear. Like Parry's JERUSALEM (#711-for which Whitla has written "O dream of peace,") is the melody more orchestral than congregational, with problems of length, range and Anglophilia?

Offertory Anthem: “Create a Pure Heart in Me,” Susan Matsui

Susan Matsui began composing as a child. She plays fiddle, French horn, piano, and organ, and many medieval and folk instruments, both string and wind. She studied composition at Williams College with Dan Gutwein and at the Salzburg Mozarteum with Cesar Bresgan. She is the organist and music director at St. Mark's Episcopal Church in East Longmeadow, Massachusetts, and a member of the American Guild of Organists. She is also a public school music teacher and a member of Woodbinde Medieval Band. She is continually composing and arranging music, often for use in her church, for both the adult and junior choirs. Her music is influenced by her nearly twenty years in Japan, as well as by medieval music, and by her formative years in an Episcopal church with an outstanding music program (Grace Episcopal Church in Nyack, NY). She has published 39 children’s books in Japan, among which are three songbooks, as well as scores of children's songs for children's magazines. She continues to write and publish for the Japanese children's book market.

The text is a paraphrase of Psalm 51.

Create a pure heart in me, O Lord.
Grant me a new and steadfast spirit.
Do not drive me away from thy presence,
or take thy Spirit from me.

Revive in me the joy of deliverance,
Grant me a steady soul to uphold me.
Open thou my lips, everlasting Lord,
that my mouth may sing thy praises.

Thou takest no delight in sacrifice,
nor hast thou any wish for whole offering.
My sacrifice, Lord, is a broken soul,
my offering, a contrite heart.

Opening Voluntary: “THAXTED” (Let Streams of Living Justice), Robert Buckley Farlee (1950)

As was noted above, “Thaxted” is a hymn tune by the English composer Gustav Holst, based on the stately theme from the middle section of the Jupiter movement of his orchestral suite The Planets. It was named after Thaxted, the English village where he lived much of his life. He adapted the theme in 1921 to fit the patriotic poem "I Vow to Thee, My Country" by Cecil Spring Rice but that was as a song with orchestra. It did not appear as a hymn-tune called "Thaxted" until his friend Ralph Vaughan Williams included it in Songs of Praise in 1926.

Robert Buckley Farlee is a graduate of Christ Seminary-Seminex, St. Louis, Missouri. He also serves on the worship editorial staff at Augsburg Fortress Publishers, and was deeply involved in the recent publication of Evangelical Lutheran Worship.

Closing Voluntary: “Now”, Michael Helman (1956)

Michael Helman is currently Director of Music/Organist at Faith Presbyterian Church in Cape Coral, Florida. He is an active composer of handbell, organ, and choral music with numerous pieces pieces in print.

Today’s Closing Voluntary uses the hymn tune, “Now” by Carl F. Schalk (1929 - 2021) He was professor of music at Concordia University, River Forest, Illinois, where he taught church music since 1965. Honored as a Fellow of the Hymn Society in the United States and Canada in 1992, Schalk was editor of the Church Music journal (1966-1980), a member of the committee that prepared the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), and a widely published composer of church music.

Hymn of the Day: “Light Shone in Darkness” ELW 307
Text: Delores Dufner (1939)
Tune: LUX IN TENEBRIS, Mark Sedio (1954)

Here are two complementary views of this hymn. Its author, Delores Dufner, OSB had in mind a hymn of hope for morning prayer or other times. John 1:25, "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it," stands behind the text, with the truth that "the world often looks darkest just before light breaks through.” The writer of the tune, Mark Sedio, says he "was taken by the rather declamatory character of the first two stanzas of Delores Dufner's fine text- -the first focusing on creation, the second on salvation, and the third morphing into a more eschatological forward-looking sense, all three ending curtly with the phrase ‘praise (prays) for the light. Amen!’” Sedio's view graciously carries forward Dufner's intent in ways Dufner herself may not have articulated and illustrates how a hymn moves outside its author.

Delores Dufner was born in North Dakota, attended a one-room country school, studied at the College of St. Benedict in St. Joseph, Minnesota (BA in music, 1960), became a Benedictine sister, continued her studies at DePaul University in Chicago (MA in liturgical music, 1973), and completed another degree at Notre Dame University, Notre Dame, Indiana (MA in liturgical studies, 1990). After teaching elementary school, piano, and organ, and serving as a church organist and choir director, she became liturgical coordinator for St. Benedict's Monastery in St. Joseph, director of the Office for Worship of the Diocese of St. Cloud, Minnesota, liturgical music consultant for the Diocese of Ballarat in Victoria, Australia, and a member of the executive committee of the Hymn Society in the United States and Canada. Her longest lasting legacy, however, will probably be the fine hymns she has written. In 1994 Sing a New Church, a collection of forty-eight of her hymns, was published by OCP Publications, and in 2003 an anthology of seventy-nine more was published as The Glimmer of Glory in Song by GIA Publications. Nathan Mitchell, an unusually perceptive critic, suggests that "perhaps the greatest skill [Dufner] brings to her work is a sensitive ear for natural, unselfconscious speech that is also memorable. Her style is a vigorous modern English whose music and rhythms never seem forced, contrived, or cute."

Mark Sedio wrote the tune at the request of the Evangelical Lutheran Church America’s Renewing Worship hymnody editorial team. The text suggested to him “a style reminiscent of a Gaelic sea shanty with a dynamic climax on the downbeat of the fifth measure ('all, sings, longs'), ending with the snapping whip of the final phrase." Mark Sedio was born in Minnesota and graduated from Augsburg College in Minneapolis (BA in music, 1976) and the University of Iowa (MA in choral literature and conducting, 1979). He also attended St. John's University, Collegeville, Minnesota, and Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota, where he played the organ for chapel services for twenty-five years. He was cantor at Mount Olive Lutheran Church and now is director of music at Central Lutheran Church, both in Minneapolis. A charter member of the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians and an active member of the Twin Cities Chapter of the American Guild of Organists, he is a fine improviser, service player, and clinician who has written hymn tunes, service music, anthems, and organ pieces, as well as articles about church music.

It is worth noting that Dufner and Sedio work and live not far from one another in Minnesota, but it is perhaps even more worthy of note that they come from different traditions (Roman Catholic and Lutheran) that have often been marked by separation from one another. The partnership here may serve as a reminder that, as virtually every hymnal in every one of the church's traditions demonstrates, in the hymnody and music of the church the distances that separate us very often disappear.

Offertory Anthem: “Rise, Shine,” Dale Wood (1934-2003)

Based on the hymn tune WOJTKIEWIECZ, which has become a standard in many congregations and is also today’s Sending Hymn. Dale began playing the organ in church at age 14. His hymns and canticles are found in the Lutheran Book of Worship, Worship II (a Roman Catholic hymnal), Seventh Day Adventist Hymnal, The Presbyterian Hymnal, The United Methodist Hymnal, the Agape Hymnal Supplement, the Moravian Book of Worship, the Chalice Hymnal, and several hymnal supplements.

Wood's musical activities were not limited to sacred music. While still a college student, he entertained as organist at the Orpheum Theater in Los Angeles and appeared on television shows produced in Hollywood. In 1975 he was employed by the Royal Viking Line to entertain passengers on a 70-day cruise of the South Pacific and Orient.

For many years Dale maintained his home and studio at The Sea Ranch, California, 115 miles north of San Francisco. It was here, amidst acres of redwood trees and gentle meadows on the rural and spectacular coastline of Northern California, that he composed most of his organ works, using a three-manual electronic theatre organ. Dale had a strong theatrical streak in him, and he maintained close ties with the American Theatre Organ Society. In his later years he collaborated with his partner, Ivan de la Garza, in designing the ATOS website.

In 1977 Dale and jazz pianist George Shearing created a volume of organ settings of early American folk hymns entitled Sacred Sounds from George Shearing. Over a period of 11 weeks Shearing had recorded a series of improvisations at the piano. After the tapes were transcribed to paper, Shearing visited Dale in his studio at The Sea Ranch. Dale spent hours at the organ making suggestions of registrations and textures, while Shearing with his critical ear listened for accuracy.

In recent years, Dale composed at the computer and was able to hear his work played back via MIDI, obviating the need for tedious proofreading. Most of his pieces were conceived with a three-manual organ in mind but are readily adaptable to smaller instruments. He gave general suggestions for registrations, but he always trusted in the performer's own imagination ("The printed music is just a blueprint, and it is the performer's job to complete the project," he liked to say). He used unusual techniques in several pieces, such as wedges in keys for pedal points. His hymn arrangements were not all easy. Many require a significant amount of finger substitution; several involve "bridging" (playing on two manuals simultaneously with one hand); and his pedal lines sometimes go to the top of the pedalboard.

Rise, shine, you people! Christ the Lord has entered
our human story; God in him is centered.
He comes to us, by death and sin surrounded,
with grace unbounded.

See how he sends the pow'rs of evil reeling;
he brings us freedom, light and life and healing.
All men and women, who by guilt are driven,
now are forgiven.

Come, celebrate; your banners high unfurling,
your songs and prayers against the darkness hurling.
To all the world go out and tell the story
of Jesus' glory.

Tell how the Father sent the Son to save us.
Tell of the Son, who life and freedom gave us.
Tell how the Spirit calls from ev'ry nation
God's new creation.

-Ronald A. Klug

Opening Voluntary: “Dix” (As With Gladness) Wayne L. Wold

Dix, as the son of poet John Ross Dix and named after Thomas Chatterton, would regularly write Christian poetry in his spare time. Dix wrote "As with Gladness Men of Old" on 6 January 1859 during a months-long recovery from an extended illness, unable to attend that morning's Epiphany service at church. As he read the Gospel of Matthew's account of Epiphany in The Bible, he was inspired and started to reflect on the text. He then started to write about his thoughts and did so for the whole day with the eventual result being "As with Gladness Men of Old”. Dix kept the text private until a year later when it was published in Hymns for Public Worship and Private Devotion, which was written for St Raphael's Church in Dix's hometown of Bristol. It was also added to the trial version of Hymns Ancient and Modern before being included in the original publication of that hymnal in 1861. Most hymn writers in the Church of England at the time were clergymen, so Dix, a layman and marine insurance agent living in Glasgow, Scotland, was delighted that his carol was included.[4] It was also self-published by Dix in his own Hymns of Joy and Love hymnal.

The editor of Hymns Ancient and Modern, William Henry Monk, adapted a tune by Stuttgart organist Conrad Kocher as the music for "As with Gladness Men of Old". Dix personally did not like the tune, which was ironic as it was later titled "Dix" as a tribute to him. Despite Dix's opinion of it, the tune became popular and is used for the majority of performances of the hymn. The same melody is also used in the hymn "For the Beauty of the Earth", an example of what is often considered to be a seasonal hymn melody given to a more general hymn text for use in Ordinary Time.

Closing Voluntary: “Prelude #5 on an Old Irish Church Melody” Charles Villiers Stanford (1852-1924)

Sir Charles Stanford has been called the most important single factor in the renaissance of English music during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; indeed, even if one were to overlook Stanford's own vast catalog of compositions, it would be impossible to ignore the pronounced effect Stanford's nearly 40-year teaching career had on several generations of British composers. And Stanford was a prolific composer, completing seven symphonies, eight string quartets, nine operas, more than 300 songs, 30 large scale choral works and a large body of chamber music. He also composed a substantial number of works for the organ, as well as anthems and settings of the canticles for the Anglican Church. He wrote extensively on music including three volumes of memoirs and a popular text on composition. Today he is largely remembered for his songs and religious music as well as his influence on several generations of composition students at the Royal College of Music. These included Sir Arthur Bliss, Frank Bridge, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, Rebecca Clarke, Ivor Gurney, Gustav Holst, Herbert Howells, John Ireland, Ralph Vaughan Williams and Charles Wood.

Hymn of the Day: “Hail to the Lord’s Anointed” ELW 311

This is James Montgomery's best psalm rendering. It is based on Psalm 72 and was written in eight stanzas for, and included in, a Christmas Ode which was sung at one of the Moravian settlements in the United Kingdom, Christmas, 1821. It was published in the following year in the Evangelical Magazine and entitled "Imitation of the 72d psalm (Tune: Culmstock)."

Psalm 72 is a well-known prophecy of the coming Messiah – foretelling the reign of the King and what the Kingdom of that Messiah will be like. But perhaps more than a prophecy, Psalm 72 is a prayer. In these verses the psalmist calls upon God to give justice and righteousness to the King, perhaps the newly crowned earthly king of Israel, but also the heavenly king. It is a cry for the deliverance of a broken people, for the realization of peace and light. James Montgomery’s hymn text from 1821 beautifully captures the essence of that prayer. Albert Bailey says, “His poem is more prayer than prophecy, or shall we say it is prophecy in large part unfulfilled but still capable of inspiring the Church to work for its fulfillment!” (Bailey, Gospel in Hymns). As we sing this beautiful hymn, we both declare our hope and our longing for the Kingdom of God, and for the coming of the one who will turn darkness to light, and whose “name to us is Love.”

Offertory Anthem: “Never Night Again,” Samuel Walter (1916-1987)

American organist and composer Samuel Walter studied at Boston University, Union Theological Seminary with Seth Bingham, and in France with Nadia Boulanger. He was music director at Episcopal Church of the Resurrection in New York City and taught on the faculty of Douglas College-Rutgers University, Boston University, and Union Theological Seminary.

The soft light from a stable door
Lies on the midnight lands.
The wiseman’s star burns ever more
Over all desert sands.

Unto all peoples of the earth
A little Child brought light,
And never in the darkest place
Can it be utter night.

No flickering torch, nor wavering fire,
But Light, the Life of all.
What ever clouds may veil the sky,
Never is night again.

Opening Voluntary: “Repton” (He Comes to Us), Robert J. Powell (1932)

Robert J. Powell is a prolific composer of organ and choral music, a celebrated church organist, and an accomplished choir director who used Parry’s hymn tune, Repton, in this organ prelude setting. Sir Charles Hubert Hastings Parry (1848-1918) is well known for the choral song, “Jerusalem.” Parry originally wrote the music for what became Repton as a contralto aria, 'Long since in Egypt's plenteous land' from his oratorio Judith. In 1924 George Gilbert Stocks, director of music at Repton School, set it to the text 'Dear Lord and Father of mankind' in a supplement of tunes for use in the school chapel. In the Lutheran hymnal we find this tune paired with the text “He Comes to Us as One Unknown” written by Timothy Dudley-Smith (1926), an English hymn writer and retired bishop of the Church of England.

Closing Voluntary: “Helft Min Gott’s Gute Preisen” (Come, let Us All with Fervor) J. S. Bach (1685-1750)

Bach’s Chorale Prelude “Helft Min Gott’s Gute Preisen” is cast in the atmosphere of joyous praise with a suggestion here and there of the sadness caused by the passing of the old year. The latter is marked by the use of chromatic color. The melody soars over all while we hear the other voices taking turns imitating the opening notes of the choral melody.

Hymn of the Day: “Down Galilee’s Slow Roadways” ACS 916
Tune: MERE’S TUNE, Hal H. Hopson, b. 1933
Text: Sylvia G. Dunstan, 1955–1993

A text by the late Sylvia Dunstan, a minister in the United Church of Canada, is combined with a tune by Hal Hopson, a prolific composer of church music. This hymn relates the story of Jesus’ baptism by John in the Jordan River, an event to which he came with the unassuming throngs of ordinary people (soldiers, scribes, and slaves) but which revealed him as the Son of God through a voice from heaven and the descent of the Holy Spirit like a dove. Because we are joined to Jesus through our own baptism, God claims us also as beloved children.

Offertory Anthem: “Down to the River to Pray” Robert E. Lee, arr. (1951)

“Down to the River to Pray" is a traditional American song variously described as a Christian folk hymn, an African-American spiritual, an Appalachian song, and a Southern gospel song. The exact origin of the song is unknown. It was made famous in the film O Brother, Where Art Thou?

Robert is an Alabama native and has been a church organist from age 16. With a BMusEd in organ performance from Samford University and a MEd in history from Mississippi College, Mr. Lee has worked as a choral director and history teacher. He has been active with college and professional musical theater groups and is currently the assistant organist at St. Francis in the Fields Episcopal Church in Louisville, KY.

As I went down to the river to pray,
Studyin' about that good old way,
And who shall wear the starry crown,
Good Lord, show me the way,
O sisters, let's go down,
Let's go down, come on down,
O sisters, let's go down,
Down to the river to pray.

As I went down to the river to pray,
Studyin' about that good old way,
And who shall wear the robe and crown,
Good Lord, show me the way,
O brothers, let's go down,
Let's go down, come on down,
O brothers, let's go down,
Down to the river to pray.

As I went down to the river to pray,
Studyin' about that good old way,
And who shall wear the robe and crown,
Good Lord, show me the way,
O fathers, let's go down,
Let's go down, come on down,
O fathers, let's go down,
Down to the river to pray.

As I went down to the river to pray,
Studyin' about that good old way,
And who shall wear the robe and crown,
Good Lord, show me the way,
O mothers, let's go down,
Let's go down, come on down,
O mothers, let's go down,
Down to the river to pray.

As I went down to the river to pray,
Studyin' about that good old way,
And who shall wear the starry crown,
Good Lord, show me the way,
O sinners, let's go down,
Let's go down, come on down,
O sinners, let's go down,
Down to the river to pray.

Opening Voluntary: “Caravan of the Three Kings” (We Three Kings) Richard Purvis (1913-1994)

Richard Purvis was an American organist, composer, conductor and teacher. He is especially remembered for his expressive recordings of the organ classics and his own lighter compositions for the instrument. After early studies in the piano and the organ he entered the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. During World War II, while serving as a bandmaster with the 28th Infantry Division, Richard Purvis was captured and held as a prisoner of war for six months. After the war an appointment to St Mark’s Lutheran Church took him back to his native city, and in 1947 he was appointed to Grace Cathedral, where he helped to form a cathedral school for boys, thus continuing the all-male choir tradition. Purvis’s long and distinguished career was marked by elegant service playing, conducting and composition. After his retirement in 1971 he continued to perform and compose.

Of his pieces today’s Voluntary is one of my favorites. It is easy to imagine the procession moving along, and the harmonic treatment of the familiar melody is full of character.

Closing Voluntary: “How Brightly Shines the Morning Star,” Johann Pachelbel (1653-1706)

The hymn text and tune name of the popular Epiphany hymn “How Brightly Shines the Morning Star” that Philipp Nicolai penned in 1597 and published two years later with his adaptation of a preexisting tune. To say it was a hit in Lutheran circles is an understatement! Nicolai’s original arrangement is still found, but the J.S. Bach version is much more popular today. Immediately, Nicolai’s version took off with German composers in cantatas and other vocal forms, notably Dietrich Buxtehude, Praetorius and Pachelbel. Johann Pachelbel was a German composer, organist, and teacher who brought the south German organ schools to their peak. He composed a large body of sacred and secular music, and his contributions to the development of the chorale prelude and fugue have earned him a place among the most important composers.

Hymn of the Day: “How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds” ELW 620
Text: John Newton (1725-1807)
Text: ST. PETER, Alexander R. Reinagle (1799-1877)

John Newton wrote this hymn and published it in his Olney Hymns in 1779 under the title “The Name of Christ.” It was included in the first book of that collection, which was titled “On Select Texts of Scripture.” Song of Solomon 1:3 was the text on which this hymn in seven stanzas was based.

Two of the original seven stanzas are always included: the first (“How sweet the name…”) and the original fifth (“Jesus! My Shepherd, …”). The original fourth stanza (“By thee my prayers…”) is nearly always omitted in modern hymnals, except when all seven stanzas are included. Hymnals vary as to which of the remaining four stanzas are omitted.

The opening line of the original fifth stanza has been a problem for hymnal editors because of Newton's use of the word “Husband” (the original version was “Jesus! My Shepherd, Husband, Friend”). His word choice makes sense if viewed in light of the long tradition of reading Song of Solomon as an allegory for the love between Christ and the Church, His Bride. However, hymnal editors have generally found it awkward for congregational use, and have found a substitute word for “husband.” Common choices are “guardian” or “brother.”

The first stanzas of the hymn focus on the soothing power of the name of Jesus. The stanza beginning “Jesus, my shepherd, guardian, friend” is a list of some of Christ's other names. The remaining stanzas speak of the relationship between Christ and the Christian.

Alexander R. Reinagle, not to be confused with his uncle Alexander Reinagle (1756-1809) also a composer, was organist at the Church of St. Peter's in the East in London from 1822 to 1853. His tune ST. PETER was named for that church and was first published in Reinagle's Psalm Tunes for Voice and Piano Forte in 1830. He later harmonized it for Hymns Ancient and Modern in 1861.


Hymn of the Day: “I Am So Glad Each Christmas Eve” ELW 271
Text: Marie Wexelsen, (1832- 1911), tr. Peter A. Sveeggen, (1881-1959)
Tune: JEG ER SÅ GLAD Peder Knudsen, (1819-1863)

First printed with nine stanzas in the Ketil, en Julegave for de Smaa (Christiania,1860), this Norwegian Christmas hymn by Marie Wexelsen exudes a profound child-like simplicity without being childish. Its title was "Barnets Julesang" ("The child's Christmas song"). The author published her poem with the initials I. L. (Inger Lycke). Her full name was Inger Marie Lycke Wexelsen. The poem was first printed in a hymnal in Landstads reviderte salmebok(Oslo, 1926).  It was translated by Peter A. Sveeggen and included in The Concordia Hymnal (1932) with seven stanzas. The first began, "How glad I am each Christmas Eve.” Marie Wexelsen was the niece of Wilhelm A. Wexels, the great Danish-Norwegian preacher and hymn writer. Born on a farm in Ostre Toten, Norway, she began writing poetry when she was twenty. Later she worked as a teacher and published a few books for children. She stayed with her parents till they died. After that she lived in Christiania, Hamar, and Trondheim, where she died. She never married.

Peter Sveeggen was born in South Dakota and graduated from the University of Minnesota (MA, 1909). He taught at the University of Minnesota, at Decorah High School in Decorah, Iowa, at Ellsworth College in Iowa Falls, lowa, and at Augsburg College in Minneapolis, where from 1915 to 1952 he chaired the English department. 

The tune was composed by Peder Knudsen, the son of a parish singer at Viga in Gudbrandsdalen, Norway. As a youth he studied the violin and other instruments and came to the attention of Johann Behrens, a musician in Oslo who helped him get the post of choral director in Holmestrand. In 1854 he became civic music director and school music administrator in Kragerö. From 1859 until he died in 1863, he was the organist and choirmaster in Alesund. It was there that he wrote this melody.

Hymn of the Day: “Let Our Gladness Have No End” ELW 291
Text: Bohemian carol, 15th cen.
Tune: NARODIL SE KRISTUS PAN Bohemian carol, 15th cen.

This anonymous Bohemian carol probably dates from the fifteenth century. Tobias Zavorska included it in his Kancional (1602). The translator, like the author, is unknown. Recalling the story of the rose of Jesse and the Word made flesh, it rejoices with hallelujahs that cannot be delayed and interrupt the narrative after every line. A reflective refrain gives singers a chance to catch their breath.

The tune, like the text, also probably dates from the fifteenth century and is anonymous. It appeared with different texts in The Concordia Hymnal (1932) with "Be ye joyful" and the tune named BE YE JOYFUL and in The Lutheran Hymnal (1941) with "Christ the Lord to us is born." The tune is delightful, and the raised fourth (B natural) gives it a festive folk color.

Hymn of the Day: “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” ELW 257
Text: Psalteriolum Cantionum Catholicarum, Köln, 1710; tr. composite
Tune: VENI, EMMANUEL, French Processional, 15th century

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” is set to the tune VENI, EMMANUEL, adapted from the chant by Thomas Helmore. This haunting and pleading tune beautifully supports the words of longing found in the text, and compliments the sense of hope in the refrain.  

The text is based on a series of Antiphons (a short sentence sung or recited before or after a psalm or canticle) appointed for the last days of Advent. Each of these “O Antiphons” begin with “O” and describe the coming Savior using imagery from the Old Testament prophecies which foretold of Jesus’ coming, based on Isaiah’s prophecies. The antiphons refer to the different ancient titles given to the Messiah: O Sapientia (O Wisdom), O Adonai (O Lord), O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse), O Clavis David (O Key of David), O Oriens (O Dayspring), O Rex Gentium (O King of the Nations), O Emmanuel (O With Us is God). These are powerful words for a powerful time of year. December 21st, the darkest day of the year, is when we pray for the morning star to come and enlighten us. Additionally, the first letters of the Latin titles (S.A.R.C.O.R.E.) taken backwards form the Latin phrase ero cras, tomorrow I will come.

Today, each verse of this beautiful hymn will be preceded by the “O” Antiphon chanted by the choir.

Choral Opening Voluntary  “O Come Redeemer of the Earth” Brian L. Hanson

Brian Hanson is Assistant Professor of History at Bethlehem College in Minneapolis.
He has a PhD in History from the University of St. Andrews. He is also a professional
musician and a published composer of choral anthems. He was the recipient of the 2009
John Ness Beck Foundation prize for his anthem, Jesus, Lover of My Soul

O Come, Redeemer of the earth,
and manifest Your virgin birth.
Let every age in wonder fall:
such birth befits the God of all.

Begotten of no human will
But of the Spirit, You are still
the Word of God in flesh arrayed,
The promised fruit to man displayed.  

O, Morning Star, come end our night.
Cast out our sin and shed Your light.
The darkness of our mortal state 
with endless beams illuminate!

All praise, eternal Son, above
whose advent shows Your matchless love, 
whom with the Father, we adore,
and Holy Ghost forevermore. Amen.

Anthem Following The Prayer Of The Day: “O Comfort Now My People” Thomas Pavlechko (1962) 

Based on the composer's own hymn-tune Eastern Sky. The text is a paraphrase of Isaiah
40:1-11. Delightfully mysterious and dark. 

Thom is currently on the staff of Christ the King Catholic Church, Highland/University
Park, Dallas, as director of music and principal organist, where he oversees the music
program of the 6,000-member parish, directs their two fully-professional choirs, the 12
voice Vigil Schola and the 26-voice Christ the King Singers. There are eight organists in
Pavlechko’s family, among them, his mother and great grandfather. He earned his music
degrees from the Dana School of Music of Youngstown State University and the
University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music, both in his native Ohio.
Pavlechko has composed over 25 choral works, over 85 hymns, and over 1,000 Psalm
settings, including today’s setting of Psalm 80, all in print with nine publishers
throughout North America, the United Kingdom and Australia. Pavlechko is also co-
editor of the new Episcopal worship planning resource, Liturgical Music for the Revised
Common Lectionary with Church Publishing. 

O comfort, now my people, says the Lord, your God.
Speak gently to Jerusalem and cry now unto her.
Her warfare is accomplished, her penalty is paid.
A voice cries in the wilderness, “Prepare ye the way!”

So ev’ry valley shall be raised, all mountains, hills, made low,
As desert flow’rs rejoice and praise, and springs of water flow;
Uneven ground, a level field, rough lands become a plain.
The glory of the Lord revealed, God’s children see again.

All humankind is grass and reeds, like flowers of the field;
They wither at the gentlest breeze, their feeble lives to yield.
Yet eyes are opened, ears unstopped, the lame leap like a deer,
And speechless tongues all sing for joy, the weak no longer fear.

For waters in the wild break forth, the desert flows with streams;
The burning sand becomes a pool, the thirsty ground a spring. 
Their highway is the holy way God’s chosen walk along.
The ransomed of the Lord return with gladness, joy and song.

Anthem Following The First Lesson: “There Is No Rose” Mark Sedio (1954) 

This is a new setting of a medieval text in which a rose represents the Virgin Mary. The
text was found in a manuscript roll of carols copied out in the early 15th century,
and now found in the Library of Trinity College, Cambridge. 

Mark Sedio serves as Cantor at Central Lutheran Church in downtown Minneapolis. In
addition he has held teaching positions both at Augsburg University and Luther Seminary.
Sedio is an active recitalist, clinician, conductor and composer, having presented hymn
festivals and workshops throughout North America and Europe. Over 125 of his
compositions for organ, piano, choral and instrumental ensembles are available from a
number of publishers. A number of his hymn tunes, texts and harmonization appear in
various denominational hymnals and supplements. A love of foreign language acquisition
and linguistics combined with interest in folk music and styles has led to a keen interest
in global church music.

There is no rose of such virtue
As is the rose that bare Jesu:

For in this rose contained was
Heaven and earth in little space:
Res miranda (a marvelous thing)

By that rose we may well see
That he is God in person three:
Pares forma (Of equal form)

The angels sung the shepherds to:
“Gaudeamus. Gloria in excelsis Deo"
(Let us rejoice! Glory to God on high!)

Leave we all this worldly mirth
And follow we this joyful birth:
Transeamus (Let us go across)

Anthem Following The Second Lesson: “Lo! He Comes, An Infant Stranger” Simon Mold (1957) 

This text is by Richard Mant (1776 – 1848), an English churchman who became a bishop in Ireland. He was a prolific writer, his major work being a History of the Church of Ireland. His prose works were numerous, and although now somewhat obsolete, they were useful and popular in their day.

Simon Mold was born in Buxton, UK, and following success as a treble soloist in the north west of England became a chorister at Peterborough Cathedral under the legendary Dr. Stanley Vann. After reading English Language and Medieval Literature at Durham University, where he was a cathedral choral scholar, Simon embarked upon a teaching career principally in the south of England, and sang in several cathedral choirs. Upon retirement from teaching he joined Leicester Cathedral Choir just in time to take part in the memorable Richard III Reinterment ceremonies in 2015. His interest in composition began at Peterborough where he directed a performance of one of his own choral pieces in the cathedral while still a boy chorister, and subsequently Simon’s music has been widely published, performed, recorded and broadcast. Simon has additionally been a regular contributor to various musical and literary magazines, and has written widely on diverse aspects of music, language and literature. A verse collection, Poetry of the Peak, was published in 2019. 

Lo! He comes, an infant stranger, Of a lowly mother born,
Swathed and cradled in a manger, Of His pristine glory shorn!
Lo! He comes, the great Creator, Calling all the world to own Him,
the Judge and Lord of nature, Seated on His Father's throne!

Lo! He comes, constrained to borrow shelter from yon stabled shed;
He who shall, through years of sorrow Have not where to lay His head!
Lo! He comes, all grief expelling From the hearts that Him receive!
He to each with Him a dwelling In His Father's house will give.

Man of human flesh partaking, Offspring of the Virgin's womb,
Who, the hopeless wand'rer seeking, Deigned in lowly guise to come!
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Praise to Christ, incarnate word!
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Praise, O Praise ye Him, the living Lord!

Offertory Anthem: “Unexpected and Mysterious” Robert Buckley Farlee (1950)

We are called to ponder mystery and await the coming Christ.” With these words, Jeannette Lindholm (1961) begins the
final stanza of her Advent hymn “Unexpected and Mysterious.”  The words offer invitation and challenge. What does it
mean to ponder mystery? How do the hymns we sing serve as one way to embrace the unexpected mystery of God come
among us in Jesus? The fact that Lindholm took up the art of hymn writing is less of a mystery. Music and hymns
surrounded her throughout her childhood in Minnesota. Her mother and grandmother played the piano. “I grew up singing
hymns, she said. This nurturing in music was accompanied by an early love of poetry, culminating in doctoral studies in
women in literature. Lindholm’s interest in the topic and the Bible can be seen in “Unexpected and Mysterious,” written in
1996, early in her career. At the center of this hymn is the story of Mary and Elizabeth as recorded in Luke. Lindholm has
always been drawn to this story for the way the two women relate to one another. “Elizabeth embodies so much grace to
Mary,” she said. “They embodied grace for each other.” When we consider Mary and song, it makes perfect sense to think
first of her song, the Magnificat. But, Lindholm noted, “Mary does not sing this song until after her encounter with
Elizabeth.” We wonder if Elizabeth’s affirmation encouraged Mary in her song.

Robert Buckley Farlee is a graduate of Christ Seminary-Seminex, St. Louis, Missouri. He also serves on the worship
editorial staff at Augsburg Fortress Publishers, and was deeply involved in the recent publication of Evangelical Lutheran

Unexpected and mysterious
is the gentle word of grace.
Everloving and sustaining
is the peace of God's embrace.
If we falter in our courage
and we doubt what we have known,
God is faithful to console us
as a mother tends her own.

In a momentary meeting
of eternity and time,
Mary learned that she would carry
both the mortal and divine.
Then she learned of God's compassion,
of Elizabeth's great joy,
and she ran to greet the woman
who would recognize her boy.

We are called to ponder myst'ry
and await the coming Christ,
to embody God's compassion
for each fragile human life.
God is with us in our longing
to bring healing to the earth,
while we watch with joy and wonder
for the promised Savior's birth.

Text: Jeannette M. Lindholm, b. 1961
Text © 2002 Jeannette M. Lindholm, admin. Augsburg Fortress.

Communion Anthem  “Song of the Advents” Russell Schulz-Widmar (1944) 

This is a new setting of a hymn text by Godfrey Thring (1823-1903). Thring wrote many hymns and published several hymnals, including Hymns Congregational (1866), Hymns and Sacred Lyrics (1874), and the respect­ed A Church of England Hymn Book Adapted to the Daily Services of the Church. The text has passed into numerous hymn-books in Great Britain and America, and is one of the most widely used of Thring's compositions. In the American Baptist Praise Book, 1871, it is given in an abridged form, beginning with stanza iii., "Jesus comes to souls rejoicing." The text is slightly modified throughout.

Russell Schulz-Widmar is a composer, author, and conductor, and a former Professor of Liturgical Music at the Seminary of the Southwest in Austin, Texas. For much of his career he lived in Austin, Texas and upon retirement he has divided his time between Berlin, Germany and Dallas, Texas. 

Jesus came, adored by angels,
came with peace from realms on high;
Jesus came for our redemption,
lowly came on earth to die:
Alleluia, alleluia!
came in deep humility.

Jesus comes again in mercy,
when our hearts are bowed with care;
Jesus comes again in answer
to our earnest heartfelt prayer;
Alleluia, alleluia!
comes to save us from despair.

Jesus comes to hearts rejoicing,
bringing news of sins forgiven;
Jesus comes in sounds of gladness,
leading souls redeemed to heaven;
Alleluia, alleluia!
now the gate of death is riven.

4 Jesus comes on clouds triumphant,
when the heavens shall pass away;
Jesus comes again in glory;
let us then our homage pay:
Alleluia, alleluia!
till the dawn of endless day.

Closing Voluntary: "Toccata on 'Veni Emmanuel'" Adolphus Hailstork (1941)

Adolphus Hailstork is an American composer and educator. His works blend musical ideas from both the African American and European traditions. He is currently working on his Fourth Symphony, and A KNEE ON A NECK (tribute to George Floyd) for chorus and orchestra.

Hymn of the Day "Awake, Awake, and Greet the New Morn” ELW 242
Text: Marty Haugen (1950)
Tune: REJOICE, REJOICE, Marty Haugen

Marty Haugen the author of this hymn and composer of its tune, explains how they were written. "In 1982," he says, "my family decided to exchange 'non-material' gifts for Christmas. I drew the name of my aunt, Marie Smedsrud (whose husband, Gordon, was at that time campus pastor at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa). 'Awake, Awake' was written as my gift to her that Christmas." Haugen originally wrote it "as a Christmas hymn... but, as there is more room in our repertoire for Advent carols than Christmas carols, it soon was changed." In 1983 it was published as a Christmas anthem entitled "Rejoice, Rejoice." In Worship- Third Edition (1986) it became an Advent hymn, a call to wake up and greet the dawning of a new day. The opening words were changed to "Awake! Awake," and the third line of the first stanza was changed from "now he is born" to "soon he is born."

Marty Haugen is a prolific liturgical composer with many songs included in hymnals across the liturgical spectrum of North American hymnals and beyond, with many songs translated into different languages. He was raised in the American Lutheran Church, received a BA in psychology from Luther College, yet found his first position as a church musician in a Roman Catholic parish at a time when the Roman Catholic Church was undergoing profound liturgical and musical changes after Vatican II. Finding a vocation in that parish to provide accessible songs for worship, he continued to compose and to study, receiving an MA in pastoral studies at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul Minnesota. A number of liturgical settings were prepared for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and more than 400 of his compositions are available from several publishers, especially GIA Publications, who also produced some 30 recordings of his songs. He is composer-in-residence at Mayflower Community Congregational Church in Minneapolis and continues to compose and travel to speak and teach at worship events around the world

The tune “Awake, Awake” was intended to be a variation upon traditional carols that can be sung on either organ or guitar. It takes its title from the original anthem that Haugen wrote. It propels the text's wake-up calls by its sprightly opening leaps, from which the rest of the tune evolves.

Offertory Anthem: “Prepare the Way, O Zion” Robert Lau (1943)

Robert Lau has composed a choral setting of the Swedish hymn tune, “Bereden väg för Herran” with its dancing tune, a text calling for the highway to be made straight and offering peace, freedom, justice, truth and love.

Prepare the way, O Zion,
your Christ is drawing near!
Let every hill and valley
a level way appear.
Greet One who comes in glory,
foretold in sacred story.

O blest is Christ who came
in God’s most holy name.

He brings God’s rule, O Zion;
he comes from heaven above.
His rule is peace and freedom,
and justice, truth, and love.
Lift high your praise resounding,
for grace and joy abounding. [Refrain]

Fling wide your gates, O Zion;
your Savior’s rule embrace,
and tidings of salvation
proclaim in every place.
All lands will bow rejoicing,
their adoration voicing. [Refrain]

Opening Voluntary: “Meditation on ‘St. Thomas,’ (Lo, He Comes)” Charles Callahan (1951)

Charles Callahan is a native of Cambridge, Massachusetts. Callahan is well-known as an award-winning composer, organist, choral conductor, pianist, and teacher. He is a graduate of The Curtis Institute of Music, Philadelphia, Pa., and The Catholic University of America, Washington, DC.

Closing Voluntary: “Consolation” (The King Shall Come) David N. Johnson (1922-1987)

CONSOLATION is a folk tune that has some resemblance to the traditional English tune for "Old King Cole." The tune appeared anonymously as MORNING SONG in Part II of John Wyeth’s Repository of Sacred Music (1813). In 1816 it was credited to "Mr. Dean," which some scholars believe was a misprinted reference to Elkanah K. Dare, a composer who contributed more than a dozen tunes to Wyeth's Repository. In the original harmonization the melody was in the tenor. To keep everyone on their toes, the tune is also known as KENTUCKY HARMONY, its title in Ananias Davisson's Kentucky Harmony (1816), where it was paired with the text "Once More, My Soul, the Rising Day."

David N. Johnson was an American organist, composer, educator, choral clinician, and lecturer. He studied organ and composition at Curtis Institute of Music. Johnson's Trumpet Tune in D (1962) is the opening and closing theme for the weekly radio show With Heart and Voice. Johnson's Trumpet Tune in D was also the first of two processionals used for the 1971 wedding of Tricia Nixon.

Hymn of the Day: “Comfort, Comfort Now My People” ELW 256
Text: John Olearius (1611-1684), tr. Catherine Winkworth (1827-1878)
Tune: FREU DICH SEHR or GENEVAN 42, Claude Goudimel (1505-1572), Louis Bourgeois (1510-1561)

Born into a family of Lutheran theologians, Olearius received his education at the University of Wittenberg and later taught theology there. He was ordained a Lutheran pastor and appointed court preacher to Duke August of Sachsen-Weissenfels in Halle and later to Duke Johann Adolph in Weissenfels. Olearius wrote a commentary on the entire Bible, published various devotional books, and produced a translation of the Imitatio Christi by Thomas a Kempis. In the history of church music Olearius is mainly remembered for his hymn collection, the Geistliche Singe-Kunst, which was widely used in Lutheran churches.

It was one of the largest and most important German hymn-books of the 17th century. The first edition contained 302 hymns by Olearius himself, and marked "D. J. O." They may best be described as useful, being for times and seasons previously unprovided for, and filling up many gaps in the various sections of the German hymn-books. They are mostly short, many of only two verses, simple and easy of comprehension, often happy in expression and engaging, as is today’s Hymn of the Day, and embodying in a concise form the leading ideas of the season or subject. Many were speedily adopted into German hymn-books, and a considerable number are still in use.

The music of Claude Goudimel was first published in Paris, and by 1551 he was composing harmonizations for some Genevan psalm tunes, initially for use by both Roman Catholics and Protestants.

In both his early and later years Louis Bourgeois wrote French songs to entertain the rich, but in the history of church music he is known especially for his contribution to the Genevan Psalter.

Louis Bourgeois composed or adapted this tune for Psalm 42 for the Genevan psalter. The 1564 harmonization by Claude Goudimel originally placed the melody in the tenor. An alternate harmonization with descants by Johann Crüger can be found in the Psalter Hymnal.

Organists will find preludes to this tune under GENEVAN 42 in Dutch works or under FREU DICH SEHR in German works.

Offertory Anthem: “In Night’s Dim Shadows” Robert Lehman (1960)

This is a beautiful strophic setting of the Advent text by Charles Coffin (1676-1749). Robert Lehman is an American conductor, organist, harpsichordist and composer. He has served on the staff of several distinguished churches, including the Washington National Cathedral (of which he is a Fellow), the Princeton University Chapel, and Saint Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church, New York City.

In night’s dim shadows lying,
Our limbs fast lock’d in sleep,
to thee, with faithful sighing,
Our souls their vigil keep.

Desire of every nation,
Hear, Lord, our piteous cry;
Thou Word, the world’s salvation,
Uplift us where we lie.

Lord, be thine Advent hasten’d,
Lest sin thy people mar;
The gates which Adam fasten’d —
The gates of heav’n, unbar.

Son, to thine endless merit,
Redeemer, Saviour, Friend,
With Sire and Holy Spirit
Be praises without end. Amen.

Opening Voluntary: “Freu dich sehr, O miene Seele” Sigfrid Karg-Elert (1877-1933)

Sigfrid Karg-Elert was a German composer in the early twentieth century, best known for his compositions for pipe organ and reed organ. His 66 Chorale Improvisations for organ, Op. 65, were composed between 1906 and 1908, and first published in six volumes in 1909. The composition was dedicated to "the great organist Alexandre Guilmant". Today’s Opening Voluntary,“Freu dich sehr, o meine Seele,” ("Comfort, Comfort Ye”) Opus 65, No. 5, is from the series. It is a succinct piece in a lilting 3/4 meter marked “Alla Sarabanda” and a good example of Karg-Elert’s text-painting abilities, which are extensive and never timid. In this piece, he is rather quiet and reflective. Notable composers who influenced his work include Johann Sebastian Bach, Edvard Grieg (a personal friend and mentor), Claude Debussy, Alexander Scriabin and Arnold Schoenberg.

Closing Voluntary “Besancon” (People Look East), Wayne L. Wold (1954)

This engaging carol, published in 52 hymnals with various texts, is a French traditional tune, harmonized by Martin Shaw (1875-1958).

Wayne Wold is professor and College organist at Hood College. He is an active composer, author, performer, church musician and clinician, and serves as the director of Music Ministry at First Lutheran Church in Ellicott City, Maryland.

He is also editor and frequent author of a monthly column entitled “Musicians on the Side” in the journal The American Organist. He served on the editorial committee for the hymnal Evangelical Lutheran Worship.

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