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 Play of the Godhead” ACS 946
Text: Mary Louise Bringle (1953)
Tune: PERICHORESIS William P. Rowan (1951)

Mary Louise Bringle, professor of philosophy and religious studies at Brevard College (North Carolina), was inspired to compose hymn texts after attending the Hymn Writer’s Workshop in Boston sponsored by The Hymn Society in the United States and Canada in 2000. She left the workshop with composer William Rowan’s words of encouragement and a collection of his compositions — eighteen “hymns without words”. That year, she penned “The Play of the Godhead,” a Trinitarian hymn that she originally paired with Rowan’s PERICHORESIS, a tune having the same name as the theological concept that inspired Bringle’s text.

The mystery of the Trinity—God, Three in One—is a concept that may need to be danced rather than explained. It’s a three-person dance—or maybe four, if we are included. The text uses images of mist, flowing water, crystals of ice, nourishing taproot, growing shoot, and ripe fruit, natural analogies for the Trinity that have historically been found wanting. Mary Louise Bringle says that the three repeating phrases of music in the middle of the song made her first think of the dance of the Trinity.

Offertory Anthem: “When Silence Filled the Formless Night,” Richard Shephard (1949-2021)

Richard Shephard was a British composer, educator, and Director of Development and Chamberlain of York Minster. He was acclaimed as one of the most significant composers of church music of his time. Today’s anthem is based on his original hymn tune (Huttons Ambo) with a text by Mary Holtby.

When silence filled the formless night
And worlds unmade in darkness waited,
God spoke the word and gave us light,
And loved what he created.

Beyond the ancient writer's art
The word affirms our primal story:
How love illuminates the heart
As heav'n declares his glory.

His voice still speaks through clouded years,
Past prisons of our own devising,
And still to shadowed lives appears
The brightness of his rising.

He comes in Pentecostal flame,
In tongues unloosed, in bondage broken;
to all united by his name
The word of life is spoken.

Let there be light and hearts be stirred
to know in Christ their sun ascending;
In our beginning is the word,
and in the word our ending.

Opening Voluntary: “Nicea” Robert Buckley Farlee (1950)

The tune NICAEA is named after the Council of Nicaea (A.D. 325) at which church leaders began to formulate the doctrine of the Trinity to oppose the heresies of Arius. NICAEA is one of the finest tunes composed by John B. Dykes and the only one of his many tunes that resembles the style of the Lutheran chorale – its similarity to WACHET AUF is noted by various scholars. Dykes wrote NICAEA as a setting for Reginald Heber’s text, and ever since their first publication together in Hymns Ancient and Modern (1861), the text and tune have been virtually inseparable.

Robert Buckley Farlee is Associate Pastor and Director of Music at Christ Lutheran Church in Minneapolis.

Closing Voluntary: Prelude in G Major, BWV 541, J. S. Bach (1685-1750)

One of the most sparkling organ works by Johann Sebastian Bach, the Prelude and Fugue in G major, BWV 541, was probably originally written around the middle of Bach's formative period in Weimar, 1708-1717, but revised in Leipzig sometime after 1740. The Prelude is an ebullient affair, a joyful stream of 16th-notes punctuated by repeated chords.

Hymn of the Day: “Come, Holy Ghost, God and Lord” ELW 395
Text: German hymn, 15th cent., st. 1; Martin Luther, 1483–1546, sts. 2–3; tr. composite
Tune: Komm, Heiliger Geist, Herre Gott

From an eleventh-century Latin antiphon for the Vigil of Pentecost, "Veni Sancte Spiritus, reple tuorum corde fideliu”, came the fifteenth-century single-stanza German Leise "Komm, Heiliger Geist, Herre Gott." Martin Luther, in a hyperbolic mode around the dinner table, said the Holy Spirit wrote it, both text and music. He slightly altered the work of the Holy Spirit and then added two more stanzas. The three appeared in 1524 in the Erfurt Enchiridion and Walter' Geistliche Gesangbüchlein. The translation in Evangelical Lutheran Worship is a composite. With only slight alterations it takes over the version from Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), which with variations was taken from The Lutheran Hymnal (1941), which in turn was based on Catherine Winkworth's translation in Lyra Germanica, first series (1855).

This is one of the finest hymns from the Lutheran heritage, a potent chorale that summarizes many of the Holy Spirit's attributes - love, brightness, light, guide, teacher, fire, comfort - and spins out graphic petitions from them. It appropriately initiates the Pentecost, Holy Spirit section of this hymn collection.

The tune is equally potent. Ulrich Leupold viewed it as "a simplified version of the rather melismatic plainchant melody of the German" Leise (not the melody of the Latin antiphon, which was not used). Whatever small arranging Luther or Johann Walter may have done here, what we get is a skillful congregational adaptation "of older materials.”

Offertory Anthem: “Lift Up Your Heads” William Matthias (1934-1992)

William Mathias’s ebullient, joyful choral writing, drawing on a variety of musical traditions, is immediately accessible and likeable while demonstrating an architectural sophistication that brings it into the top rank of twentieth-century liturgical music. He had a particular flair for brilliance, drama and display, which made his music highly suited to ceremonial and festive occasions; present too in his music is a sense of Celtic mysticism and deep spirituality which enhances these works.

Lift up your heads, O ye gates,
and be ye lifted up, ye everlasting doors,
And the king of glory shall come in.
Who is this king of glory? The Lord strong and mighty
The Lord mighty in battle.

Opening Voluntary: Prelude in G Minor, Marcel Dupre (1886-1971)

Dupré's most often heard and recorded compositions tend to be from the earlier part of his career. During this time he wrote the Three Preludes and Fugues, Op. 7 (1914), with the First and Third Preludes (in particular the G minor with its phenomenally fast tempo and its pedal chords) being pronounced unplayable by no less a figure than Widor. Such, indeed, is these preludes' level of complexity that Dupré was the only organist able to play them in public for years.

In many ways Dupré may be viewed as a Paganini of the organ. Being a virtuoso of the highest order, he contributed extensively to the development of technique (both in his organ music and in his pedagogical works) although, like Paganini, his music is largely unknown to musicians other than those who play the instrument for which the music was written. A fair and objective critique of his output should take into account the fact that, occasionally, the emphasis on virtuosity and technique can be detrimental to the musical content and substance. Nevertheless, his more successful works combine this virtuosity with a high degree of musical integrity.

Closing Voluntary: “Sonne der Gerechtigkeit,” David Schack (1947)

The tune, SONNE DER GERECHTIGKEIT, was originally the tune to a fifteenth-century folk song, "Der reich Mann war geritten aus," and it was adopted by the Bohemian Brethren for 1566 hymnal, Kirchengeseng. The tune is thus a contrafactum, changed from the folk/court use to church use. The title is the German incipit for the chorale most commonly associated with the tune.

David Schaak studied at Valparaiso University and Indiana University. Five different publishers have published his many choral and organ compositions and his liturgical works have found wide acclaim through appearance in three major Lutheran hymnals. He has been honored by guest appearances at several regional and national conferences of the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians.

Hymn of the Day: “I Come with Joy” ELW 482
Text: Brian A. Wren (1936)
Tune: DOVE OF PEACE, W. Walker, Southern Harmony, 1835

“I come with joy” was written in 1968 by Brian Wren, an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ, who is renowned for the expansive imagery in his hymns. In this spritely song, befitting the Easter season, we come together as one, gathered by the Spirit of the Risen Christ. The emphasis in the hymn on the oneness of the community fits well with today’s selection from John.

— Gail Ramshaw

Offertory Anthem: “The Waters of Life” James Biery (1956)

James Biery holds degrees in church music and organ from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. He has served as Director of Music at cathedrals in Hartford, Connecticut, and St. Paul, Minnesota. Currently he is Minister of Music and Organist at Grosse Pointe Memorial Church in Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan.

The Father’s voice calls us above the waters,
The glory of the Son shines on us,
The love of the Spirit fills us with life.

Opening Voluntary "Halton Holgate” David Thorne (1950)

HALTON HOLGATE (also called SHARON) is a version of a psalm tune originally composed by William Boyce (1710-1779) and published circa 1765 in his Collection of Melodies.

With over 30 years as a Cathedral Organist, David Thorne is also widely recognized as a composer and arranger. His church service music exhibits strong melodic writing and a harmonic strength which are of wide appeal to both choirs and congregations alike, eminently singable and sensitive to the liturgy. His anthems and arrangements reflect a similar style enhancing the nature of the text.

Closing Voluntary: “Christ Has Arisen, Alleluia” (Mfurahini, haleluya) Emanuel Vogt (1925-2007)

“Christ Has Arisen, Alleluia” (Mfurahini, haleluya) comes to us from African Lutheranism. The tune appeared in a compilation of a number of African songs in Set Free (1993). Many were folk tunes to which Christian Swahili texts were later added. In their original form these tunes were sung with uninhibited improvisation. Consequently the form in which these songs appear in print represents only one of several possibilities.

The German composer Emanuel Vogt studied harmonium, piano, organ, trombone and harmony, and sang in a choir. He worked as a church organist and music teacher in Windsbach.

As part of his compositional work, numerous works for organ, wind players, choirs and mixed ensembles were created. His contact with the Windsbach boys' choir under Hans Thamm and his successor Karl-Friedrich Beringer led to numerous performances of his compositions and releases on records and CDs. In addition, he was a member of a team of composers for the Breitkopf & Härtel publishing house in Wiesbaden, who published the four-volume organ book In Ewigkeit Dich loben.

Hymn of the Day: “We Know That Christ Is Raised” ELW 449
Text: John B. Geyer (1932)
Tune: ENGLEBERG Charles V. Stanford (1852-1924)

The author, John B. Geyer, writes:

“We Know That Christ Is Raised" was written in 1967, when I was tutor at Cheshunt College, Cambridge, U.K At that time a good deal of work was going on 'round the corner (involving a number of American research students) producing living cells ("the baby in the test tube"). The hymn attempted to illustrate the Christian doctrine of baptism in relation to those experiments.

The text was first published in the British Methodist supplementary hymnal Hymns and Songs (1969) but has since been altered in various other hymnals, including the Psalter Hymnal. The controlling thought comes from Romans 6:3-5, in which Paul teaches that in baptism we are united with Christ in his resurrection–that is the basis for our new life. Like 269, this song ends each stanza with a note of praise–in this case with an "alleluia" refrain line.

John B. Geyer is an Old Testament scholar who has written widely in his field. He wrote a commentary on The Wisdom of Solomon (1973) as well as a number of hymns that were first published in various British supplementary hymnals. Educated at Queen's College, Cambridge, and Mansfield College, Oxford, he also studied Old Testament under Gerhard von Rad in Heidelberg. In 1959 Geyer was ordained in the Congregational Union of Scotland. He served as a chaplain at the University of St. Andrews, pastor of Drumchapel Congregational Church in Glasgow, Scotland, and a college tutor. In 1969 Geyer became minister in the (now) United Reformed Church in Little Baddow. Since 1980 he has served as pastor at Weoley Hill, Birmingham, and as chaplain at the University of Birmingham, England.

Charles V. Stanford composed ENGELBERG as a setting for William W. How's "For All the Saints." The tune was published in the 1904 edition of Hymns Ancient and Modern with no less than six different musical settings. It is clearly a fine congregational hymn.

A distinguished composer and teacher of composition, Stanford began his musical career at an early age. Before the age of ten he had composed several pieces and given piano recitals of works by Handel and Bach. He studied at Queen's College, Cambridge, England, as well as in Leipzig and Berlin. At the age of twenty-one he was asked to become organist at the famous Trinity College, Cambridge. At that time he also began a prestigious career in conducting, which included appearances with the London Bach Choir from 1885 to 1902, and he traveled widely in England, Europe, and the United States. His teaching career was equally impressive. Stanford taught composition at both the Royal College of Music and Cambridge University; among his students were Ralph Vaughan Williams and Gustav Holst. He was knighted in 1902. Stanford wrote over two hundred compositions in nearly all musical genres, including symphonies, operas, chamber music, and songs. Most notable in his church music are several complete services, anthems, and unison hymn tunes.

Offertory Anthem: “Christ Jesus Lay in Death’s Strong Bands,” JS Bach

CHRIST LAG IN TODESBANDEN is an adaptation of a medieval chant used for "Victimae Paschali laudes" (the same chant is the source for CHRIST IST ERSTANDEN). The tune's arrangement is credited to Johann Walther (1496-1570), in whose 1524 Geystliche Gesangk Buchleyn it was first published. But it is possible that Luther also had a hand in its arrangement.

Walther was one of the great early influences in Lutheran church music. At first he seemed destined to be primarily a court musician. A singer in the choir of the Elector of Saxony in the Torgau court in 1521, he became the court's music director in 1525. After the court orchestra was disbanded in 1530 and reconstituted by the town, Walther became cantor at the local school in 1534 and directed the music in several churches. He served the Elector of Saxony at the Dresden court from 1548 to 1554 and then retired in Torgau.

Walther met Martin Luther in 1525 and lived with him for three weeks to help in the preparation of Luther's German Mass. In 1524 Walther published the first edition of a collection of German hymns, Geystliche gesangk Buchleyn. This collection and several later hymnals compiled by Walther went through many later editions and made a permanent impact on Lutheran hymnody.

One of the earliest and best-known Lutheran chorales, CHRIST LAG IN TODESBANDEN is a magnificent tune in rounded bar form (AABA) with vigor and lightness characteristic of Easter carols. Many organ compositions are based on this tune; Johann S. Bach incorporated it extensively in his cantatas 4 and 158. The chorale is introduced by Bach’s organ chorale prelude.

Christ Jesus lay in death’s strong bands
for our offenses given;
but now at God’s right hand he stands
and brings us life from heaven.
Therefore let us joyful be
and sing to God right thankfully
loud songs of alleluia! Alleluia!

Opening Voluntary: Noël Nouvelle, Michael Bedford (1949)

Most often found paired with the text “Now the green blade rises,” NOEL NOUVELLE is also sung to “Sing we now of Christmas.” If you are familiar with this tune as a French Christmas carol, you are not alone as this tune has been associated with this carol text since the 17th century. In1928 it was repurposed with the Easter text written by John Macleod Cambell Crum.

Michael Bedford, a full-time church musician since 1973, currently serves as organist/choirmaster of St. John's Episcopal Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he plays the organ and supervises a full graded choir program including three singing choirs, one handbell choir and a chamber ensemble. He has held similar positions in Texas and Colorado.

Closing Voluntary: “Good Christian Friends, Rejoice and Sing”, Healey Willan (1880–1968)

It is always a pleasure to play a piece by Healey Willan. His harmonies are full and resonant and the settings, whether quiet and introspective or sonorous and vibrant, are always moving.

James Healey Willan was born on October 12, 1880, in Balham, Surrey, England. He had a wide experience as a composer of a full-length opera, a symphonic work, countless organ and choral works, as a music educator, a choral director, and a church musician. He played his first service at the age of eleven in 1891 and his last service on Christmas Eve, 1967, just two months before he died on February 16, 1968.

Having served churches in England, Willan left for Canada in 1913 to serve as organist and choirmaster at St. Paul’s Anglican Church in Toronto as well as head of the Theory Department at the Toronto Conservatory of Music. In 1921, he accepted the position of organist-choirmaster at St. Mary Magdalene Church, an Anglo-Catholic parish in Toronto, where he was to remain for the rest of his life. During his tenure there, Willan also accepted in 1938 the position of Professor in the Music Faculty at the University of Toronto.

Most of his hymn-based motets and organ preludes came into existence after his retirement from the University of Toronto in 1950, the most prolific compositional period of his life. Willan is probably best known for his sacred and liturgical music, especially that written for St. Mary Magdalene Church. His anthems, hymns, motets, mass settings, and carol settings contributed to his reputation as the “dean of Canadian composers.”

This organ piece is based on the well-known hymn “Good Christian Friends, Rejoice and Sing,” tune name Gelobt sei Gott, by Melchior Vulpius (1570-1615). 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: “Here, O Lord, Your Servants Gather” ELW 530
Text: Tokuo Yamaguchi (1900–1995); tr. Everett M. Stowe (1897-1997)
Tune: TOKYO, Japanese Gagaku mode; Isao Koizumi (1907–1992)

Tokuo Yamaguchi was a Methodist pastor in Sawara, Tanimura, Fujieda, and Asahikawa, following his graduation with a theology degree from Aoyama Gakuin University in 1924. His longest term of service was as pastor of the United Church of Christ in Toyohashi in the Aichi Prefecture (1937-1979). He translated The Journal of John Wesley into Japanese in 1961 and was honored by the Christian Literature Society of Japan in 1983 for his translation work.

The tune TOKYO is based on the ancient Japanese Gagaku mode of musical composition. Gagaku is the name for all traditional Japanese court music, much of it dating back to the eighth century, with previous roots in Chinese music. Composed by Isao Koizumi for Yamaguchi's text, TOKYO was first published in the English-language Japanese hymnal Hymns of the Church (1963). A writer and translator of books and articles on church music, Koizumi has also composed and arranged hymn tunes. He is considered a leading figure in modern Japanese hymnody.

Offertory Anthem: “Christ Is Our Cornerstone,” Phillip Stopford (1977)

The Diocese of Ardagh and Clonmacnois of Ireland commissioned Phillip Stopford to compose an anthem on this foundational text. The result is a rousing piece with some unexpected and arresting harmonic progressions.

Philip W J Stopford is an English organist and composer best known for his choral works. Stopford began his musical career as a chorister at Westminster Abbey from 1986 to 1990, during which time he also took up the piano, organ and violin. Later he studied for a Bachelor of Arts in music at the University of Oxford, where from 1996 to 1999 he also served as organ scholar at Keble College. Stopford is known for his contemporary a cappella and accompanied settings of traditional Latin and English prayers and hymns.

Christ is our cornerstone,
on him alone we build;
with his true saints alone
the courts of heav’n are filled.
On his great love our hopes we place
of present grace and joys above.

Here may we gain from heav’n
the grace which we implore,
and may that grace, once giv’n,
be with us evermore
until that day when all the blest
to endless rest are called away.

Oh, then, with hymns of praise
these hallowed courts shall ring;
our voices we will raise
the Three in One to sing
and thus proclaim in joyful song,
both loud and long, that glorious name.

Opening Voluntary: “Lord, Enthroned in Heavenly Splendor,” Kristina Langlois (1956)

Dr. Kristina Langlois has been the Director of Music and Worship at Westwood Lutheran Church in St. Louis Park, MN, since 2000, and Organist there since 1993. She administers an extensive choral and instrumental music program within the context of liturgical worship.

Closing Voluntary: “Truro,” Michael Bedford (1949)

Michael Bedford, a full-time church musician since 1973, currently serves as organist/choirmaster of St. John's Episcopal Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he plays the organ and supervises a full graded choir program including three singing choirs, one handbell choir and a chamber ensemble. He has held similar positions in Texas and Colorado.

TRURO is an anonymous tune, first published in Thomas Williams's Psalmodia Evangelica, as a setting for Isaac Watts' "Now to the Lord a noble song." The tune is named for an ancient city in Cornwall, England, famous for its cathedral and for its pottery. The entire tune is influenced by George F. Handel's style and bears relationship to similar tunes.

Hymn of the Day: “Savior, like a Shepherd Lead Us” ELW 789
Text: attr. Dorothy A. Thrupp, 1779-1847
Tune: BRADBURY, William B. Bradbury, 1816-1868

The text of "Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us" first appeared in Hymns for the Young, 1840, which was edited by Dorothy Ann Thrupp. Although no author's name appears with the text, it is thought that Thrupp wrote it, since she often published hymns anonymously, under the pseudonym "Iota," or simply using her initials.

The tune we sing today was written by William Bradbury expressly for this text and appeared in his Sunday School collection, Oriola, 1859. Bradbury was a protege of the great music educator, Lowell Mason. Bradbury sang in Mason's Bowdoin Street Church choir and Boston Academy of Music as a youth, and later started similar church and school music programs in New York where he served as organist at First Baptist Church. Beyond his work as an educator and church musician, Bradbury studied composition in Europe, founded the Bradbury Piano Company with his brother, and edited a number of music books. Bradbury is probably most famous for writing the music to "Jesus Loves Me."

It's interesting that "Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us" was originally intended for children. In fact, many classic hymns like "Morning Has Broken" and "All Things Bright and Beautiful" were originally written for youth. Certainly this proves that educating our children and creating lasting music need not be mutually exclusive goals.

Offertory Anthem: “The 23rd Psalm” Bobby McFerrin (1950)

Bobby McFerrin has blurred the distinction between pop music and fine art. His exploration of uncharted vocal territory inspired a whole new generation of a cappella singers and the beatbox movement. McFerrin’s calling has always been to connect people through the unlimited possibilities of music. His original paraphrase of this text produces a very contemporary perspective on the well-known words of assurance.

The Lord is my Shepard, I have all I need,
She makes me lie down in green meadows,
Beside the still waters, She will lead.

She restores my soul, She rights my wrongs,
She leads me in a path of good things,
And fills my heart with songs.

Even though I walk, through a dark and dreary land,
There is nothing that can shake me,
She has said She won't forsake me,
I'm in her hand.

She sets a table before me, in the presence of my foes,
She anoints my head with oil,
And my cup overflows.

Surely, surely goodness and kindness will follow me,
All the days of my life,
And I will live in her house,
Forever, forever and ever.

Glory be to our Mother, and Daughter,
And to the Holy of Holies,
As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be,
World, without end. Amen

Opening Voluntary: “Fantasy on St. Columba,” Kenneth Leighton (1929-1988)

“Fantasy on St. Columba” is based on the Irish tune ST COLUMBA (The King of Love My Shepherd Is). In this setting a decorated version of the tune is heard in canon, beginning calmly before growing in intensity. Remarkably, this simple, flowing melody is surrounded and almost swallowed up in piercing, tortured harmonies, arriving at the end with a sense of resolution that is rather reassuring in today’s world.

As a treble chorister from 1938, many of Kenneth Leighton’s formative musical experiences were accompanied by the 1905 Abbott and Smith organ of Wakefield Cathedral, in the West Yorkshire city where he was born and educated. Leighton repeatedly praised the importance of his time in the choir stalls throughout his life, stating ‘My whole background is choral church music. I think one’s early background is terribly important’ and ‘[...] my career as a Cathedral chorister left some of the most vivid impressions in my mind of that time of life [...] what a marvelous musical training.’ Given this musical upbringing that left such a mark, it was perhaps inevitable that Leighton would go on to write a great deal of choral music, mostly liturgical, as well as works for the organ, although initially, the organ was not an instrument for which Leighton felt particularly compelled to write, or even with which he felt particularly comfortable, turning to it only in his mid-thirties. He was most concerned overall with the instrument’s architectural possibilities, at various times lamenting how the lack of clarity in the organ bothered him. As late as 1979 in a published interview, Leighton stated how he ‘[...] found the organ frustrating, there’s very little good music to play on it anyway apart from Bach’. While it seemed to present a significant challenge for him to overcome, however, his solo organ music constitutes a significant part of his output as a whole. Indeed in the same 1979 article he also goes on to say how ‘[...] I’ve found writing for the organ very exciting recently and I’ve kept on at it’. I’m glad he did!

Closing Voluntary: “Good Christian Friends, Rejoice and Sing”, Healey Willan (1880–1968)

It is always a pleasure to play a piece by Healey Willan. His harmonies are full and resonant and the settings, whether quiet and introspective or sonorous and vibrant, are always moving.

James Healey Willan was born on October 12, 1880, in Balham, Surrey, England. He had a wide experience as a composer of a full-length opera, a symphonic work, countless organ and choral works, as a music educator, a choral director, and a church musician. He played his first service at the age of eleven in 1891 and his last service on Christmas Eve, 1967, just two months before he died on February 16, 1968.

Having served churches in England, Willan left for Canada in 1913 to serve as organist and choirmaster at St. Paul’s Anglican Church in Toronto as well as head of the Theory Department at the Toronto Conservatory of Music. In 1921, he accepted the position of organist-choirmaster at St. Mary Magdalene Church, an Anglo-Catholic parish in Toronto, where he was to remain for the rest of his life. During his tenure there, Willan also accepted in 1938 the position of Professor in the Music Faculty at the University of Toronto.

Most of his hymn-based motets and organ preludes came into existence after his retirement from the University of Toronto in 1950, the most prolific compositional period of his life. Willan is probably best known for his sacred and liturgical music, especially that written for St. Mary Magdalene Church. His anthems, hymns, motets, mass settings, and carol settings contributed to his reputation as the “dean of Canadian composers.”

This organ piece is based on the well-known hymn “Good Christian Friends, Rejoice and Sing,” tune name Gelobt sei Gott, by Melchior Vulpius (1570-1615). 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: “We Who Once Were Dead” ELW 495
Text: Muus Jacobse (1909-1972) tr. composit
Tune: MIDDEN IN DE DOOD Rik Veelenturf (1936)

Muus Jacobse wrote this Dutch hymn text in 1961. It was first published in 102 Gezangen (The Hague, 1964). In brief and poignant phrases, the hymn poses life and light in Christ against death and night. Then it moves to an overlay of eucharistic images - Christ received in bread and wine and our sharing in Christ's death and rising.

Muus Jacobse is the pen name for the Dutch poet Klaas Hanzen Heeroma. He studied Dutch literature with Albert Verway at Leiden. Before World War II he was part of a group called "Young Protestants." He taught in Wassenaar from 1936 to 1937. During the War he wrote poems, metrical psalms, and hymns. From 1947 to 1948 he was one of the editors of the Woordenboek der Nederlandsche Taal. He went to Indonesia in 1949 to teach at the University of Djakarta, and from 1953 until his death he taught at the State University of Groningen.

Rik Veelenturf (1936) wrote this tune in 1960 for White Thursday, the name for Maundy Thursday in Holland ("witte donderdag"). Each of its five measures is a phrase. Like the text, they are structured as 2 + 2 + 1, in which five pulses alternate with six, propelling each stanza to its final line. The final lines serve as points of telos. Taken together they form a summation. The tune underlines both the telos and the summary.

Henricus Joseph Veelenturf was born in Holland and joined the Society of Jesus in 1955. Between 1960 and 1966 he was part of the "Werk-groep Volkstaallitur-gie," introducing the Dutch liturgy to Roman Catholic parishes in Holland. In 1967, when he married, he started a liturgical center in Amsterdam. Displeased with what he saw as a retrogressive Catholic Church in Holland, he left the center and joined a community group. He became a teacher in the social academy in Amsterdam.

Offertory Anthem: “Day of Arising,” Carl Schalk

Carl Schalk has woven together an unforgettable new tune with a text from Susan Palo Cherwien's hymn collection, O Blessed Spring. The text compares the story of Jesus appearing to the disciples on the roadway with our own lives and how Christ is revealed to us through the breaking of bread. “Day of Arising” began as a commission for the 1996 Synod Assembly by the Minneapolis Area Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The theme text for the Synod was the Road to Emmaus story (Luke 24:13-35), which serves as the backbone of Cherwien’s text. The text first was written for the tune BUNNESAN (“Morning Has Broken”), which set both the shorter five-syllable lines as well as the fourth- and eighth-line rhyming pattern (

However, a few years after the song was first sung, William and Nancy Raabe commissioned composer Carl Schalk to write a new tune for the text. Perhaps best known for his fine collaborations with Jaroslav Vajda (e.g., “Now the Silence” and “God of the Sparrow”), Schalk’s ensuing tune RAABE deftly underscores the resurrection theme of the text with its ascending melody line. Schalk’s unusually fine sense of melody has created another strong melodic possibility for Cherwien’s text.

Day of arising, Christ on the roadway, unknown companion walks with his own.
When they invite him, as fades the first day, and bread is broken, Christ is made known.

When we are walking, doubtful and dreading, blinded by sadness, slowness of heart, yet Christ walks with us, ever awaiting our invitation: Stay, do not part.

Lo, I am with you, Jesus has spoken. This is Christ's promise, this is Christ's sign: when the church gathers, when bread is broken, there Christ is with us in bread and wine.

Christ, our companion, hope for the journey, bread of compassion, open our eyes. Grant us your vision, set all hearts burning that all creation with you may rise.

Opening Voluntary: “At the Lamb’s High Feast” John Ferguson (1941)

Today’s Voluntary is the second movement of “Partita on ‘At the Lamb’s High Feast.’ ” It is based on the hymn tune SONNE DER GERECHTIGKEIT which has eight stanzas. Each movement reflects one of the 8 hymn stanzas.

John Ferguson is is an American organist, teacher, and composer. His name is often associated with hymnody and the words "hymn festival." He frequently is invited to design and lead such events, both in local congregations and at gatherings of organists, choral conductors, and church musicians. His festivals are ecumenical experiences drawing upon the treasures of Christian song from many centuries, traditions, and styles.

Closing Voluntary: “Dance: Gaudeamus Pariter,” Mary Beth Bennett (1954)

Today’s Closing Voluntary is a setting of the hymn tune Gaudeamus Pariter, by Johann Roh (1487-1547), which is often paired with the text “Come Ye Faithful Raise the Strain.” It is a sturdy and jubilant tune which well expresses the text’s joy. Some may remember last Sunday’s Closing Voluntary which was based on another tune often paired with this text. Johann Roh was a native of Bohemia. Roh was his name in Bohemian, but when he wrote in Latin he called himself Cornu, and when he wrote in German, he called himself Horn.

Mary Beth Bennett is a recognized performer, improviser and composer living in historic Richmond, Virginia. She serves on the adjunct music faculty of the University of Richmond, and is Director of Music Ministries at Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church in Gloucester, Virginia.. She has previously held various positions in Washington, D.C., including at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

Hymn of the Day: “We Walk by Faith” ELW 635
Text: Henry Alford (1810-1871)
Tune: SHANTY, Marty Haugen (1950)

Henry Alford included this hymn in his Psalms and Hymns and his Year of Praise. He wrote it for the commemoration of St. Thomas the Apostle. Not surprisingly it begins with 2 Corinthians 5:7 ("We walk by faith, not by sight) and then quotes from the account of Jesus and Thomas in John 20:19-29. But the hymn is about us, not only about Thomas -about our Emmaus walk and our meeting with the resurrected Lord in water, word, bread, and wine.

Henry Alford was the son of a rector; his mother died when he was born and he committed himself to the work God gave him to do when he was sixteen. He studied at Trinity College, Cambridge, was ordained and first served as a curate with his father, became a vicar and married, and in 1857 was made dean of Canterbury Cathedral, where he founded a choral oratorio society. Though he wrote keyboard and vocal music, played the organ, and painted, he was a parish priest and a Greek scholar who taught and preached well; wrote eighteen hymns; and wrote or edited forty-eight books.

Shanti" is Sanskrit for "shalom" ("peace") and also the middle name of Marty Hagen's daughter. Haugen wrote the tune a century and a half after the hymn was written, but it makes a good fit. It was recorded and included in his Mass of Creation and also in Gather (1998).

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.

Offertory Anthem: “A Song to the Lamb” John Abdenour (1962)

The canticle Dignus est agnus seems to have its origins in American Lutheranism in the late 19th century. It appeared in several service books beginning with the General Synod’s Church Book of 1868. It appears on p. 122 of The Lutheran Hymnal (1941) without music. Earlier books prescribed its use as an option for the main canticle in Matins and Vespers (in place of the Te Deum or Magnificat). Later books suggested it as an alternative song of praise in the Common Service (in place of the Gloria in Excelsis).

The text of this canticle has been reworked into a new canticle, This Is the Feast of Victory / Worthy Is Christ, by poet John W. Arthur. It first appeared as an anthem for choir, Festival Canticle: Worthy Is Christ with music by Richard W. Hillert, and made its first appearance in a hymnal in Lutheran Book of Worship as an alternative to the Gloria in Excelsis in the Divine Service.

John Abdenour sang as a boy in the choir of St. Paul's Cathedral in Detroit and began organ study at the cathedral. He subsequently received degrees in Organ Performance and American History from Oberlin College. After studying law at the University of Michigan and after pursuing a brief career as an attorney, he returned to his first love, sacred music. He undertook further study of Anglican choral training in 1996, when he spent a month in St Albans, singing with and studying the Choir of St Albans Cathedral, then directed by Barry Rose. John is the Director of Music at Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church in Fairfied, CT. He is a member of the Association of Anglican Musicians and has served as Dean of the Fairfield-West Chapter of the American Guild of Organists, and has served as a faculty member of the Bridgeport AGO Pipe Organ Encounter

REFRAIN: Splendor and honor and sovreign power
are yours by right, O Lord our God,

For you created everything that is,
all things took form according to you will.

And yours by right, O Lamb that was slain,
for with your blood you have redeemed for God,
From every nation, people, tribe, and tongue,
a countless priestly host to serve our God.

And to the one who sits upon the throne,
Christ the Lamb, be worship, dominion,
splendor and praise,
For ages past and ages yet to come.

Closing Voluntary: St. John Damascene (Come Ye Faithful, Raise the Strain), Noel Rawsthorne (1929-2019)

Eighth-century Greek poet John of Damascus ( c. 675 - c. 754) is especially known for his writing of six canons for the major festivals of the church year. (A canon is a form of Greek hymnody based on biblical canticles consisting of nine odes, each with six to nine stanzas.) His "Golden Canon" is the source of Easter hymns. Written around 750 and inspired by the Song of Moses in Exodus 15, this text is John's first ode from the canon for the Sunday after Easter.

All canons in the Greek church demonstrated how Old Testament prophecies were fulfilled in Christ's resurrection. The first ode of each canon was based on the Passover event and on Exodus 15 as the metaphor for Christ's delivery of his people from the slavery of sin and death (seen more clearly at 390). That metaphor lies behind stanza 1. Stanza 2 uses images of spring and sunshine as metaphors for the new life and light of Christ. Stanza 3 concludes the text with an Easter doxology.

Organist for many years at Liverpool Cathedral, Noel Rawsthorne emerged as one of the finest organists of his generation, and maintained a non-stop global career as a top-flight concert artist. He proved no less adept as a composer: his numerous introits, carols, chants, anthems, hymn tunes, responses, and imaginative descants, often written for special occasions, have long retained their place in the repertoire.

Hymn of the Day: “Ah, Holy Jesus” ELW 349
Text: Johann Heermann, 1585–1647; tr. Robert Bridges, 1844-1930
Tune: HERZLIEBSTER JESU, Johann Crüger, 1598–1662

Like "My song is love unknown", this hymn locates the guilt at our feet: "it was denied thee; I crucified thee." Then it turns to adoration for God's graciousness in spite of our "treason." Also like "My song is love unknown," one poet has stimulated another. Here, however, the interplay has more players and reaches between languages and cultures. It starts with the Latin Liber Meditationum, often ascribed to Augustine (354-430) but possibly by Jean de Fécamp (d. 1078). It was the basis for a German hymn of fifteen stanzas in sapphic poetic meter (11 11 115) by Johann Heermann. He attributed the Latin original to Augustine. Robert Bridges kept Heermann's meter, but instead of a translation wrote an English paraphrase in five stanzas, including it in his Yattendon Hymnal (1899). He attributed the Latin version to Anselm of Canterbury (c. 1033-1109). The precise attribution of the original Latin is not as telling as the relation or perceived relation of these writers to the text and the influence from the Latin to the German to the English. Evangelical Lutheran Worship follows Lutheran Book of Worship (1978) in using Bridges's five stanzas and keeping the Elizabethan English. The version here also makes slight modifications for inclusivity.

Johann Herman was a fine hymn writer, overshadowed in his time only by Paul Gerhardt. Both cxperienced the Thirty Years' War and suffering. Heermann was born to a poor furrier and his wife in the little Polish town of Rauder near Wolau in Lower Silesia, the only one of five children to survive. On Ascension Day in 1611 he began to work as a deacon at the church in Köben near Fraustadt, and on St. Martin's Day of the same year he was appointed the pastor there. The nearby town of Fraustadt is where the plague struck in 1613. Then trouble followed trouble: Heermann lost almost everything he owned and was almost killed, but in these times this hymn and forty-eight others by him were published in Devoti Musica Cordis. He intended them, as his title said, for "house and heart," not for public worship. His hymn publications continued in 1636 with hymns on the gospel readings for Sundays and festivals. In 1656, nine years after his death, his poetical works were published.

Robert Bridges was born in England, studied at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, and at St. Bartholomew's Hospital, London. He became a doctor in London, planning to retire at the age of forty and to spend the rest of his life writing poetry. Lung disease forced him to retire in 1881, a little earlier than he had anticipated. When he married Mary Monica Waterhouse, they moved to Yattendon. There with his wife and his friend Harry Ellis Wooldridge, he edited the Yattendon Hymnal. In 1913 he was made poet laureate.

The Yattendon Hymnal is an extraordinarily fine compilation of one hundred hymns, of which just over forty are by Bridges. We know the book today primarily for its fine texts, but his first concern (stated in the preface) was as a precentor (director), providing the best possible music for his village church choir. Having found fine tunes, he discovered there were no words for them. So he wrote the words, about which he cared deeply. The book was large, printed elegantly, cleanly, and with much white space. Each hymn was in four parts and took up two pages. Several people could gather around it and read it easily. It was a book for choirs, not congregations.

His work was part of the same thing we and every age grapple with: whether hymn singing and church music are about something more significant than trivial pursuits.

HERZLIEBSTER JESU, named for this text, first appeared in Johann Crüger's Newes vollkömliches Gesangbuch Augsburgischer Confession (1640). Here, as for the text, the influences were broad. The tune seems to have its roots in a melody from the Genevan Psalter for Psalm 23 and in another melody by Johann Hermann Schein (1586-1630), who was one of the cantors in Leipzig at the St. Thomas Church prior to J. S. Bach. The melodic explosion up an octave in the last two measures --Mary Oyer calls it a "desperate cry”-emphasizes all the five-syllable final lines. The three middle ones are the most critical: "I crucified thee," "God interceded," and "for my salvation." The tune is typical of its time, a seventeenth-century smoothing out of the more rugged edges of sixteenth-century chorale tunes. It parallels the more introspective texts of authors like Heermann and Gerhardt in this period.

Offertory Anthem: “The Mild Mother” Robert Convery (1954)

This anonymous text is a reflection on the anguish felt by Mary at the crucifixion, her sorrow and grief emulated by the music.

Robert Convery is among the handful of composers today writing effectively for the voice. His music is expressed in a distinctly personal tone of lyricism, rhythmic vitality, a keen harmonic sense, and transparent textures. He holds degrees from The Curtis Institute of Music, Westminster Choir College and The Juilliard School where he received his doctorate. His teachers have been Ned Rorem, David Diamond, Richard Hundley, Gian Carlo Menotti, and Vincent Persichetti.

Jesus Christ’s mild mother stood,
and beheld her son against the cross,
that He was nailed on.

The son hung, the mother stood,
and beheld her child’s blood,
how it of His wounds ran.

Closing Voluntary: “Meditation on ‘Were You There’” Charles Callahan (1951)

An African American spiritual that probably predates the Civil War, "Were You There" was first published in William Barton's Old Plantation Hymns (1899). The spiritual's earlier roots include a white spiritual known in Tennessee as "Have you heard how they crucified my Lord?" Additional stanzas are available from oral and written tradition.

The melody is a slow and sustained mournful moan in a major key. Charles Callahan’s organ setting sends us out today in a contemplative mood as we anticipate the Three Days.

Charles Callahan is an American composer, organist, and teacher. A graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, his graduate degrees are from the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC.

Hymn of the Day: “To Christ Belong, in Christ Behold” ACS 958
Text: Susan R. Briehl, b. 1952
Tune: WONDERS, Robert Buckley Farlee (1950)

Christ Church Lutheran, Minneapolis, commissioned this text from Pastor Susan Briehl for its one-hundredth anniversary. This centennial is reflected in the text itself: “To Christ belong, in Christ behold God’s wonders still unfold,” and “fruit one hundredfold.” The desire was for a text that proclaimed the paschal mystery of baptism without alleluias so that it could be sung during Lent. The music was crafted by Pastor Robert Farlee, a prominent composer and former editor at Augsburg Fortress, but also cantor at Christ Church. This hymn represents an exemplary collaboration between poet and composer.

Offertory Anthem: Wondrous Love, Carson Cooman (1982)

Carson Cooman has composed a setting of this well known tune from Southern Harmony which is at the same time rustic with a hint of the Celtic influence that's prevalent in the hills of Appalachia.

Carson Cooman is an American composer with a catalogue of works in many forms ranging from solo instrumental pieces to operas, and from orchestral works to hymn tunes. He is in continual demand for new commissions, and his music has been performed on all six inhabited continents. Over 130 new works have been composed for him by composers from around the world, and his performances of the work of contemporary composers can be heard on a number of CD recordings. Cooman is also a writer on musical subjects, producing articles and reviews frequently for a number of international publications. He serves as an active consultant on music business matters to composers and performing organizations.

What wondrous love is this,
O my soul! O my soul!
What wondrous love is this, O my soul!
What wondrous love is this
that caused the Lord of bliss
to bear the dreadful curse,
for my soul, for my soul,
to bear the dreadful curse for my soul.

When I was sinking down,
sinking down, sinking down;
when I was sinking down, sinking down;
when I was sinking down,
beneath God’s righteous frown,
Christ laid aside his crown
for my soul, for my soul.
Christ laid aside his crown for my soul.

to God and to the Lamb,
I will sing, I will sing.
to God and to the Lamb, I will sing.
to God and to the Lamb,
who is the great I AM,
while millions join the theme,
I will sing, I will sing.
While millions join the theme,
I will sing!

Opening and Closing Voluntaries: Martyrdom, Emma Lou Diemer (1927) and Robert Buckley Farlee (1950)

Both the Opening and Closing Voluntaries are based on the hymn tune MARTYRDOM, which was originally an eighteenth-century Scottish folk melody used for the ballad "Helen of Kirkconnel." Hugh Wilson (1766-1824) adapted MARTYRDOM into a hymn tune in duple meter around 1800. A triple-meter version of the tune was first published by Robert A. Smith in his Sacred Music (1825), a year after Wilson's death. A legal dispute concerning who was the actual composer of MARTYRDOM arose and was settled in favor of Wilson. However, Smith's triple-meter arrangement is the one chosen most often. The tune's title presumably refers to the martyred Scottish Covenantor James Fenwick, whose last name is also the name of the town where Wilson lived. Consequently, in Scotland this tune has always had melancholy associations.

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.

Robert Buckley Farlee is Associate Pastor and Director of Music at Christ Lutheran Church in Minneapolis.

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