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: The Canticle of the Turning, ELW 723
Text: Rory Cooney (1952)
Tune: Irish traditional, Rory Cooney, arr.

This paraphrase of the Magnificat by Rory Cooney has a wild flair about it that cries out the radical nature of this canticle. "Let the king beware," for justice will ultimately bring down every tyrant. Cooney saps he "simply wanted to write a setting of the canticle that attempted to capture the revolutionary spirit of the gospel, of a God who pulls down the mighty from their thrones and raises up the lowly.”
Rory Cooney was born in Delaware, Ohio, and studied at St. Mary's Seminary in Santa Barbara, California, St. Mary's Seminary in Perryville, Missouri (BA.liberal studies, 1973), and the Corpus Christi Center for Advanced Liturgical Studies in Phoenix, Arizona (Certificate, 1987). Since 1994 he has been the director of liturgy and music at St. Anne Catholic Community in Barrington, Illinois. Composer of fifteen recorded collections of liturgical music, he has composed over 250 songs, gives workshops on music in the liturgy, has contributed in various institutes to initiation rites and issues of reconciliation, and writes on practical and pastoral aspects
of church music.

STAR OF COUNTY DOWN gives the text the wild flair it needs. The stanzas even get out of hand with syllables flying out of control by differing from stanza to stanza. They suggest a soloist and the whole assembly on the refrain, even though the power of the stanzas beckons everyone to join there too. Here is what Cooney says about his choice of this tune.

“As a Catholic musician, I wanted to have the music be accessible to assembly singing and ensemble playing. Irish folk music, with its narrative milieu of longing for freedom and a sort of "bloom where you're planted" joie de vivre in the midst of penury and oppression, seemed to me to be a natural fit. STAR OF COUNTY DOWN, as far as I know, is a quasi-nationalistic song whose lyrics are about a plot to win over a beautiful girl. The tune is rhythmic and well-known, though, and sung by crowds at rugby matches and the like, so fit the bill for my needs.

Choir Offertory: "Be Thou My Vision" Arnold B. Sherman (1948)

There’s only one tune associated with this text, and that’s SLANE, aptly named for the location at which St. Patrick is said to have defied the orders of King Logaire. This tune comes from an Irish folk song of the same name, and was combined with the hymn text by Welsh composer David Evans in the 1927 edition of the Church Hymnary of the Church of Scotland.

According to mythology, when St. Patrick was a missionary in Ireland in the 5th century, King Logaire of Tara decreed that no one was allowed to light any fires until a pagan festival was begun by the lighting of a fire on Slane Hill. In a move of defiance against this pagan ritual, St. Patrick did light a fire, and, rather than execute him, the king was so impressed by his devotion that he let Patrick continue his missionary work. Three centuries later, a monk named Dallan Forgaill wrote the Irish poem, “Rop tú mo Baile” ("Be Thou my Vision), to remember and honor the faith of St. Patrick. Forgaill was martyred by pirates, but his poetry lived on as a part of the Irish monastic tradition for centuries until, in the early 20th century, Mary Elizabeth Byrne translated the poem into English, and in 1912, Eleanor Hull versified the text into what is now a well-loved hymn and prayer that at every moment of our lives, God would be our vision above all else.

Currently living in Tyler, Texas, Arnold Sherman is a free-lance composer and co-founder of Red River Music. His undergraduate work in music education was done at Montgomery College, Rockville, Maryland, and Baylor University, Waco, Texas. Arnold is the founder and Director of the East Texas Handbell Ensemble.

Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart;
naught be all else to me, save that thou art
Thou my best thought, by day or by night,
waking or sleeping, thy presence my light.

Riches I heed not, nor vain empty praise;
thou mine inheritance, now and always.
Thou and thou only, first in my heart,
Ruler of heaven, my treasure thou art.

True Light of heaven, when vict’ry is won
may I reach heaven’s joys, O bright heav’n’s Sun!
Heart of my heart, whatever befall,
still be my vision, O Ruler of all.

Opening Voluntary: "Adagio" from Sonata #2 in C Minor, Felix Mendelssohn

Another offering from Mendelssohn’s 2nd Organ Sonata, the contrasting middle movement, with its gently floating melody that is both sweet and melancholic.

Closing Voluntary: "Wareham" (The Church of Christ, in Every Age), Emma Lou Diemer (1927)

William Knapp (1698-1768) composed WAREHAM, so named for his birthplace. A glover by trade, Knapp served as the parish clerk at St. James's Church in Poole and was organist in both Wareham and Poole. WAREHAM’s slightly simplified form appears in nearly all modern hymnals. The tune is easy to sing because of its almost continuous stepwise motion and smooth melodic contour.

Emma Lou Diemer is a native of Kansas City, MO. She received her composition degrees from Yale and Eastman. Her music has been published since 1957 and ranges from hymns and songs to large chamber and orchestral works.

Hymn of the Day: “God, Whose Giving Knows No Ending” ELW 678
Text: Robert Lansing Edwards (1915- 2006)
Tune: RUSTINGTON

For its fortieth anniversary celebration the Department of Stewardship and Benevolence of the National Council of Churches in the U.S.A., in cooperation with the Hymn Society of America (now of the United States and Canada) asked for new hymns on stewardship. From about 450 submissions a committee chose ten and published them in a little pamphlet called Ten New Stewardship Hymns (1961). This one by Robert L. Edwards (August 15, 1915-January 15, 2006) was included. Edwards recalls writing the text "in the White Mountains of New Hampshire while we were summering at our cottage in the tiny town of Randolph. It had four stanzas. Like Lutheran Book of Worship (1978) and Evangelical Lutheran Worship, most hymnals have used the first three with alterations and updated language.

Robert Lansing Edwards was born in Auburn, NY on 5 August 1915. He graduated from Princeton University in 1937. He earned an MA in history from Harvard University in 1938, and a Master of Divinity degree from Union Theological University in 1949. He was minister at First Congregational Church, Litchfield, Conn. for 7 years and was minister at Immanuel Congregational Church in Hartford, Conn. from 1956 until 1980. He was active in establishing low income senior housing, in prison ministry and with other community endeavors. He wrote several hymn texts as well as four books including Of Singular Genius, Of Singular Grace, a biography of Horace Bushnell, a famous pastor from Hartford; and his autobiography My Moment in History.

C. Hubert H. Parry's RUSTINGTON first appeared in the Westminster Abbey Hymn Book (London, 1897). It was first published in the Westminster Abbey Hymn Book (1897) as a setting for Benjamin Webb's "Praise the Rock of Our Salvation." The tune is named for the village in Sussex, England, where Parry lived for some years and where he died. This is such a distinguished melody and pairs well with this text.

Opening Voluntary: “Toplady” Al Roberts

This hymn text, “Rock of Ages” is usually sung to TOPLADY by Thomas Hastings. Written for this text, TOPLADY was first published in Spiritual Songs for Social Worship, edited by Hastings and Lowell Mason, in 1832. The tune's name comes from the author of the text, Augustus Toplady.

Offertory: From the Rising of the Sun” F. A. Gore Ouseley (1825-1889)

Sir Frederick Arthur Gore Ouseley is a neglected but fascinating character in nineteenth century church music. A precious child, at the age of five, he exclaimed “Only look, Papa blows his nose in G!” His short anthem “From the rising of the sun” has a hymn-like character and the words speak clearly to the listener. The text is from the Book of Malachi.

From the rising of the sun
unto the going down of the same
my name shall be great, among the Gentiles;
and in ev'ry place incense shall be offer'd up unto my name:
for my name shall be great among the heathen,
thus saith the Lord!

Closing Voluntary: “Hornpipe in D” John S. Dixon (1957)

The hornpipe is a dance form played and danced in Britain (and elsewhere) from the late 17th century until the present day. It is said that hornpipe as a dance began on English sailing vessels. This is a fun, active piece.

Born in London, England, John S. Dixon was classically trained in piano and organ. During his school years he was active in music in the Anglican church, and was a founding member of The Southend Boys Choir, one of Britain's foremost youth choirs. He earned degrees from The Queen's College, Oxford University, and Harvard Business School. His composing has flourished since moving to America in 1988, largely through his involvement in the music ministry at Providence Presbyterian Church in Virginia Beach, where he is currently organist and composer-in-residence. He has written hundreds of pieces for church and secular use.

Hymn of the Day: “Amazing Grace” ELW 779
Text: John Newton (1725–1807)
Tune: New Britain, W. Walker, Southern Harmony (1835)

The hymn text “Amazing Grace” was written in 1773 by John Newton. Originally a master of a slave-trading ship, he left that life to become an Anglican priest and a tireless abolitionist. Some people resist referring to themselves in stanza 1 as “a wretch,” but we Lutherans join him in acknowledging our sin and praising God for grace, grace, and more grace. We hope that persons who are blind will not be offended when we liken our own situation to theirs.  (Gail Ramshaw)

NEW BRITAIN (also known as AMAZING GRACE because of its close association with this hymn text) was originally a folk tune, probably sung slowly with grace notes and melodic embellishments. Typical of the Appalachian tunes from the southern United States, NEW BRITAIN is pentatonic with melodic figures that outline triads. It was first published as a hymn tune in shape notes in Columbian Harmony (1829) to the text "Arise, my soul, my joyful pow'rs" and first set to the "Amazing Grace" text in William Walker's Southern Harmony (1835).  

Choir Anthem: “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing”  Repository of Sacred Music. 

Though this hymn has been attributed to Selina the Countess of Huntingdon, John Julian says "conclusively" that the author was Robert Robinson (1735-1790). He was born in Norfolk, England. His father died when he was eight, and his mother wanted him to become an Anglican priest. There was not enough money for his education, so at the age of fourteen he was apprenticed to a barber and hairdresser in London. He heard George Whitefield preach in 1755, began a period of spiritual searching, attended the meetings of John Wesley, professed his faith in 1758, and became a minister at the Calvinistic Methodist Tabernacle at Mildenhall in Norfolk. Very soon he organized an Independent congregation at Norwich, in 1759 was baptized by John Dunkham, and began to preach at the Stoneyard Baptist Church in Cambridge, where he was the pastor from 1761 until the end of his life. He accepted that call on the condition that the congregation would practice open communion. Self-taught, he became known for his preaching, counsel, concern for others' views, and religious liberty. His willingness to discuss made him vulnerable to questions about his orthodoxy, which he defended. He left a record of conflicts about hymnody in his congregation, learned Latin and French, wrote widely, and in 1781 was commissioned to make a study of the English Baptists. He edited William Barton's Psalms (1768) and wrote thirteen hymns. 

Come, thou Fount of ev'ry blessing,
tune my heart to sing thy grace;
streams of mercy, never ceasing,
call for songs of loudest praise.
While the hope of endless glory
fills my heart with joy and love,
teach me ever to adore thee;
may I still thy goodness prove.

Here I raise my Ebenezer:
"Hither by thy help I've come";
and I hope, by thy good pleasure,
safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
wand'ring from the fold of God;
he, to rescue me from danger,
interposed his precious blood.

Oh, to grace how great a debtor
daily I'm constrained to be;
let that grace now like a fetter
bind my wand'ring heart to thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it;
prone to leave the God I love.
Here's my heart, oh, take and seal it;
seal it for thy courts above.

Opening Voluntary: “Prelude on “Amazing Grace’” David Lasky 

Since 1981, David Lasky has been Organist and Director of Music at Saint Cecilia Catholic Church in Leominster, Massachusetts, and resides in Hartland, Vermont. In addition to his work as a composer, Mr. Lasky has performed as an organ soloist and in ensembles throughout Massachusetts, and has given recitals at Washington National Cathedral and the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, and at Saint Mary Cathedral in Lafayette, Indiana. He has taught classes and workshops on improvisation and service playing for the American Guild of Organists and for the National Association of Pastoral Musicians.

Closing Voluntary: “Cortège,” Gordon Young (1919-1998)

Gordon Young was an American organist and composer of both organ and choral works. He was born in McPherson, Kansas and educated at Southwestern College (Winfield, Kansas) and the Curtis Institute (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) where he was a student of Alexander McCurdy. After serving churches in Philadelphia and Kansas where he also worked as a radio organist and newspaper critic, Young became the music director at First Presbyterian Church in Detroit. There he was a visible and important presence in the American church music scene. He also taught organ on the faculty of Wayne State University. Young published voluminously, and his organ and choral works were in the catalogs of most major American publishers. Numerous works of his were also issued in the Netherlands, where his music has remained very popular. Cortège is part of his collection of Eleven Organ Pieces, published in 1962.

Hymn of the Day: “Beloved God’s Chosen” ELW 648
TEXT: Susan Palo Cherwien (1953-2021)
TUNE: ANDREW’S SONG, Robert A. Hobby (1962)

Susan Palo Cherwien wrote this "versification of Colossians 3:12-16" in response to a commission by First Lutheran Church, Freeport, Illinois, to honor Twila K. Schock on the occasion of the rededication of the church's pipe organ." In deceptively simple yet elegant language it summarizes the verses in Colossians by enclosing the thankful peace of singing within the community's raiment of love.

Robert A. Hobby wrote ANDREW'S SONG in response to a request from Augsburg Fortress for a tune that would go with this hymn in Cherwien's book O Blessed Spring. Hobby says he "eagerly accepted the invitation" since "the portion of the Colossians 3 text which this hymn paraphrases was read at my wedding." Following Calvin Hampton and David Hurd he felt the hymn "called for a warm, ballad-like treatment…. My efforts resulted in a rather pianistic setting, with slow harmony under the melody and a simple interlude to offer a pause between stanzas." This interlude is included in the Accompaniment Edition of Evangelical Lutheran Worship. Hobby says he chose ANDREW'S SONG to name the tune "as a tribute to the English composer Andrew Carter who has so graciously offered me compositional coaching for a number of years."

Opening Voluntary: “UNION SEMINARY,” James Biery (1956)

James Biery is an American organist, composer and conductor who is Minister of Music at Grosse Pointe Memorial Church (Presbyterian) in Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan, where he directs the choirs, plays the 66-rank Klais organ and oversees the music program of the church. Prior to this appointment Biery was music director for Cathedrals in St. Paul, Minnesota and Hartford, Connecticut.

Biery’s setting of UNION SEMINARY is in 3 parts, or ABA. The A sections are based on a melody that he constructed from the hymn tune. He has changed the rhythm slightly, and has built the melody on the inverted form of the original tune. The middle section, combining the tune in its original key and rhythm with the tune a fifth below and a half-note apart, creates a delightfully off-center canon. Enjoy!

Closing Voluntary: “Earth and All Stars,” Wayne L. Wold (1954)

Currently Professor, College Organist, and Chair of the Music Department at Hood College in Frederick, Maryland, and Director of Music Ministry at First Lutheran Church in Ellicott City, Maryland, Wayne L. Wold wrote this setting on “Earth and All Stars,” a tune composed by David N. Johnson (1922-1987) for the text of the same name by Herbert Brokering. (Some hymnals title the tune DEXTER.) It first appeared with the text in Twelve Folksongs and Spirituals (1968) and the next year was included as one of the tunes for this hymn in Contemporary Worship 1: Hymns (1969). It works with the text, "Alleluia! Jesus is risen," but it fits its namesake better for two reasons. First, the stanzas there have an inner refrain, "Sing to the Lord a new song." Second, the melismas on the word "Lord" in the inner refrain and on "mar" of "marvelous" in the refrain itself disappear here so that the tune loses some of its cascading exuberance. The melody in the refrain still grows out of what preceded it and presses higher to a climax, but the syllabic shape of the text clips its wings a bit. Comparing the meters of #377 and #731 illustrates this at a glance.

Gathering Hymn: "Look Who Gathers", ACS 977
Text: Thomas H. Troeger (1945)
Tune: COPELAND, Michael Corzine (1947)

This hymn imagines the assembly gathered for worship, bringing their whole lives with them—their joy and their pain. The text was commissioned by the First Presbyterian Church of Tallahassee, Florida, to honor its pastor, Brant S. Copeland, and was first sung there in October 2000. The tune was created specifically for this text. There might be some who feel unworthy because of their sin, but Jesus assures them they are welcome: “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners” (Mark 2:17).

Opening Voluntary: “Schmucke Dich” (Deck Thyself, My Soul) J. S. Bach (1685-1750)

This text is often considered the best and most popular of the Lutheran chorales for the Lord's Supper. The dominant tone is one of deep joy enhanced by a sense of awe. We express joy and praise for "this wondrous banquet" (st. 1), and we show reverence in receiving Christ (st. 2). Thankful for "heavenly food" and drink (st. 3), we rejoice in Christ's love for us and in its power to unite us (st. 4).

Johann Cruger composed the hymn tune specifically for the text. Johann S. Bach used this tune in his Cantata 180; he and many other composers have written organ preludes on the melody.

Closing Voluntary: “When Morning Gilds the Skies” Robert Lind (1940)

Robert Lind studied at North Park College and the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago, majoring in organ, composition, and music theory. At the age of 20, he worked with Leo Sowerby and became his assistant at the Cathedral of St. James, Chicago. He succeeded Dr. Sowerby as Organist-Choirmaster at the cathedral two years later. After serving in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam era, Mr. Lind entered the publishing world, while continuing to serve various churches in the Chicago area. He is currently Organist at Lord of Life Lutheran Church in Schaumburg, Illinois.

Joseph Barnby (1838-1896) composed the tune, LAUDES DOMINI (“When Morning Gilds the Skies”) for this anonymous German text, a litany of praise to Christ, translated by Edward Caswall (1814- 1878). Tune and text were published together in the 1868 Appendix to Hymns Ancient and Modern and they have been inseparable ever since. The tune's Latin title, which means "the praises of the Lord," is derived from the litany refrain “may Jesus Christ be praised”.

Caswall's translations of Latin hymns from the Roman Breviary and other sources have a wider circulation in modern hymnals than those of any other translator. This is owing to his general faithfulness to the originals, and the purity of his rhythm, the latter feature specially adapting his hymns to music, and for congregational purposes. His original compositions, although marked by considerable poetical ability, are not extensive in their use, their doctrinal teaching being against their general adoption outside the Roman communion.

Hymn of the Day: “O Christ, the Healer” ELW 610

In 1967, in England, "at a late state in their deliberations the Working Party on Hymns and Songs… felt there was a major sphere of healing (in which mental healing was the prior necessity) not covered." Fred Pratt Green "spent most of the night--in bed--struggling with this theme and produced a first draft by the following morning." In discussions the working party made modifications. Lutheran Book of Worship (1978) omitted the third stanza, substituted "recognize for "diagnose," and changed the last line to "shall reach and prosper humankind." Evangelical Lutheran Worship followed Lutheran Book of Worship, but used Green's last line, "shall reach the whole of humankind.”

This pentatonic tune comes from William Walker's The Southern Harmony (1835), where it was paired with Anne Steele's "So fades the lovely blooming flow'r."

Closing Voluntary: Toccata: Grosser Gott, Matthew H. Corl (1965)

Matthew H. Corl is a graduate of Westminster Choir College, where he received the Bachelor of Music degree in Church Music in 1987. He also studied organ at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, MD, and served as director of music and organist at St. Paul United Methodist Church in Trenton, NJ. Since 1987 Matthew has been organist and associate director of music at First United Methodist in Lakeland, FL, where he directs vocal and handbell ensembles for children and youth. Matthew has been a clinician for workshops and a published composer of works for organ, choir, handbells and instrumental ensembles.

GROSSER GOTT was set to the German versification in the Katholisches Gesangbuch. The German text is a paraphrase of the "Te Deum.” Variants of the tune abound; the version found in the Psalter Hymnal came from Johann Schicht's Allgemeines Choralbuch (1819), and the harmonization came from Conrad Kocher's setting in his Zions Harfe (1855).

Hym of the Day: “Thy Strong Word” ELW 511
Text: Martin H. Franzmann, 1907–1976
Tune: EBENEZER, Thomas J. Williams, 1869–1944; arr. Richard W. Hillert, (1923)

Here we encounter a prophetic response to the word of God by Martin Franzmann. This hymn is not about God's word as gentle living rain or tender love, but about the aspects of the word of God that cleave the darkness, break the light of salvation, bespeak us righteous, break forth wisdom from the cross, and explode into alleluia. It was written in 1954 for Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, at the request of Walter Buszin, professor of liturgics at the time, who asked for a processional commencement hymn to the tune EBENEZER. Franzmann wrote four stanzas related to light in the seminary's motto, "Anothen to Phos"- "Light from Above." They were first sung at the chapel service on October 7, 1954. 

For commencement the hymn was not long enough, so Franzmann requested to add another stanza and then yet another until the six-stanza version was completed in 1959. It appeared in the Worship Supplement (1969). Lutheran Book of Worship (1978) kept "thy," "thee," and "thine," made the language inclusive (two instances: in 2, "Lo, on men" to "Lo, on those" and in 6, "Men and" to "mortals"), and changed "life-breathing" in stanza 2 to "life- giving." Evangelical Lutheran Worship kept the version from Lutheran Book of Worship but changed "life-giving" back to "life-breathing."

Ralph Vaughan Williams classed EBENEZER with the world's finest one hundred tunes.  Although among the less usual Welsh ones in a minor key, formally it is quite usual: AABA with B moving to the relative major. The triplet is less usual though not unknown to the Welsh. Alan Luff says that "in the Welsh idiom, the triplet is sung heavily and deliberately and there is no great care taken to distinguish between it and the dotted figure elsewhere in the tune.” He also suggests that in Wales this "is a most unsuitable tune for these words. It takes up too much of the 'doubt and sorrow' and not the ‘shining light.'  EBENEZER (also called TON-Y-BOTEL ["tune in a bottle"] because of a story with no foundation that it had been found in a bottle that washed up on the coast of North Wales) was composed by the organist and choirmaster Thomas J. Williams in 1890 or 1896, first for an anthem and then turned into a hymn tune. "At the time the anthem was written Williams was a member of a chapel in Rhos, Pontardawe, called 'Ebenezer.' Thomas John Williams was born in Wales and became an insurance man. He studied music in Cardiff with David Evans, wrote hymn tunes and anthems, and served Zion Church and Calfaria Church in Llanelly as organist and choirmaster. Richard Hillert "prepared the keyboard setting from the harmonization written by the composer." 

Opening Voluntary: “All Praise to God,” Craig Phillips (1961)

Craig Phillips is a distinguished and popular American composer and organist and Director of Music at All Saints’ Church, Beverly Hills. His choral and organ music is heard Sunday by Sunday in churches and cathedrals across the United States, and many of his works have been performed in concert throughout North America, Europe and Asia. He was named the American Guild of Organists Distinguished Composer for 2012 — the seventeenth recipient of this special award. Dr. Phillips joins an illustrious list that includes past honorees Virgil Thomson, Ned Rorem, Daniel Pinkham, Stephen Paulus and David Hurd. 

Closing Voluntary: “Thy Strong Word Did Cleave the Darkness,” Healey Willan (1880-1968) 

Healey Willan was an Anglo-Canadian organist and composer, best known for his church music compositions. This quote he used to describe himself suggests he had quite a sense of humor: "English by birth; Canadian by adoption; Irish by extraction; Scotch by absorption." Willan was able to make his livelihood as a composer, an encouraging detail not lost on the young Canadian musicians who followed him.

Today's closing voluntary comes from Willan's three collections of Hymn Preludes, 30 in all, published in 1957. These pieces are based on a well-known hymn or chorale tune.  Full and festive, the basic structure is that of a short introduction followed by the phrases of the tune alternating with interludes and offering a richness of harmonic beauty typical of Willan’s compositions.

Hymn of the Day: “Faith Begins by Letting Go,” ACS 1004
Text: Carl P. Daw Jr, (1944)
Tune: RATISBON, J. G. Werner, Choralbuch, 1815

This text by Carl Daw, an Episcopal priest and former director of The Hymn Society in the United States and Canada, examines the life of faith. The beginning of the faith journey can feel risky and insecure, even though we trust in God. In the second stanza, faith is likened to an enduring plant whose roots of memory are kept alive in the hope of future fruit. Finally, faith matures in the third stanza, allowing us to reach beyond ourselves and to recognize God even in the ordinary things of life.

Choir Anthem: “The Lord Bless You and Keep You,” Peter Lutkin (1858 -1931)

The words of “The LORD Bless You and Keep You’ come entirely from Numbers 6:24-26 (RSV), well known as the priestly blessing and the Aaronic benediction. Martin Bucer and John Calvin introduced the Aaronic blessing to Reformed worship after the example set by Martin Luther's Formula Missae.

Although it appears in at least 47 hymnals this music is more an anthem than a hymn; it was called a "Farewell Anthem with Sevenfold Amen." The popularity of this song can be attributed in part to its use for many years at the end of the weekly radio broadcasts of the Back to God Hour, an international ministry of the Christian Reformed Church.

Orphaned at an early age, Peter Lutkin was raised in Chicago and had his early musical training in the choir school of the St. James Episcopal Cathedral. He studied under prominent organ teachers in Chicago, continued his education in Europe, and earned a doctorate in music from Syracuse University. Lutkin was one of the founders of the American Guild of Organists. He also established the Chicago North Shore Festivals and founded the Northwestern University School of Music, of which he was the first dean. At several different times Lutkin was president of the Music Teacher's National Association. A composer of organ and choral music, he served on the editorial committees for both the Methodist Hymnal (1905) and the Episcopal Hymnal (1918).

The Lord bless you and keep you,
The Lord lift His countenance upon you,
And give you peace, and give you peace,
The Lord make His face to shine upon you,
And be gracious unto you, be gracious,
The Lord be gracious, gracious unto you.
Amen

Opening Voluntary: Cantilène, Gabriel Pierné (1863-1937)

Gabriel Pierné has been called the most complete French musician of the late Romantic/early twentieth century era. Pierné’s compositional style can be described as very traditional and classical in form while possessing a modern spirit. He was able to eloquently balance his own personal language with the elements of both discipline and instinct. Evidence of his studies with both Massenet and Franck are very apparent. From Massenet he acquired a sense of melody and lightness, while from Franck he developed a sense of structure and consciousness of art, and an inspiration for religious music. Though much of his music is overshadowed by other French composers from his day, it is because his time was devoted primarily to conducting.

Cantilène is the second of Trois Pieces, Op. 29.

Closing Voluntary: “Allegro maestoso e vivace” from Sonata #2 in C Minor by Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847)

Jakob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy born and widely known as Felix Mendelssohn was a German composer, pianist, organist and conductor. As a composer he was one of the most influential of the German Romantic period. As an organist, Mendelssohn was well known and respected for his diversified organ improvisations with seemingly endless varieties of new ideas, and this added new dimensions to what one normally heard played on the organ at the time. As one might expect, these qualities are evident in the organ sonatas, which were commissioned in1844 as a set of voluntaries, or preludes, and published in 1845. In fact, all of the music in these Sonatas was composed between August,1844, and January,1845, so it is not surprising to find certain general characteristics appearing, almost like a recurring theme, throughout all six sonatas, which unifies the whole collection.

Hymn of the Day: “Hope of the World” ACS 1085 Text:
Georgia Harkness, 1891–1974, alt.
Music: Trente quatre pseaumes de David, Geneva, 1551; arr. Claude Goudimel, 1514–1572

Although she was repeatedly denied admission as a seminary student, Georgia Harkness became the first woman to teach theology at an American seminary. She was ordained by the Methodist Church in 1926, but along with all women in that denomination, she was unable to serve as a minister until 1956. This text was the winning entry from a field of more than five hundred submissions in a hymn contest for the Second Assembly of the World Council of Churches in 1954, whose theme was “Jesus Christ, Hope of the World.” The tune name comes from the first line of Psalm 12, “Give help, O Lord.”

Hymn of the Day “Lord, teach us how to pray aright” ELW 745
Text: James Montgomery (1771-1854)
Tune: SONG 67, Orlando Gibbons (1583-1625)

Written in 1818, and first printed on a broadsheet with Montgomery's "Prayer is the soul's sincere desire;“ “What shall we ask of God in prayer?" and "Thou, God, art a consuming fire ;" for use in the Nonconformist Sunday Schools in Sheffield. This hymn, in full or abridged, is in numerous collections. The variations of text which are found have arisen in a great measure from some editors copying from Cotterill's Selection of 1819, and others from the Christian Psalmist of 1825.

SONG 67 was published as a setting for Psalm 1 in Edmund Prys's Welsh Llyfr y Psalmau (1621). Erik Routley suggests that the tune should be ascribed to Prys. Orlando Gibbons supplied a new bass line for the melody when it was published with a number of his own tunes in George Withers's Hymnes and Songs of the Church (1623). There it was a setting for the sixty-seventh song (thus the title), a paraphrase of Acts 1:12-26. The tune originally had "gathering" (long) notes at the beginning of each of the four phrases. A rather sturdy tune, SONG 67 is built on a few melodic motives.

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