Music Notes for April 3, 2022

Hymn of the Day: “Holy God, Holy and Glorious” ELW 637
Text: Susan Briehl (1952)
Music: NELSON Robert Buckley Farlee (1950)

In 1993 Paul Nelson was appointed director for worship in the Division for Congregational Ministries of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. He died on October 28, 2000, after a lengthy disease for which he received a blood and bone marrow transplant. Susan Briehl wrote this hymn two or three weeks before he died. Here is how she describes it.

I wrote "Holy God, holy and glorious" not as a hymn text, but as a gift to our friend Paul Nelson as he grew mysteriously weaker and weaker. A theologian of the cross to the end, Paul proclaimed Christ to me and to many in his dying, just as he had in his living. Later, when he invited me to pray the intercessions at his funeral I drew images from this poem for the prayers. Because it was not intended as a hymn I am especially grateful to Robert Buckley Farlee, who was willing to work with this odd meter. The hymn sings what Martin Luther called a theology of the cross. God’s glory and majesty are hidden under their opposites. The eternal Word becomes frail flesh in Jesus (John 1:14) in whose life, suffering, death, and resurrection we behold God. God's strength is revealed in weakness (Philippians 2:5-11), God's beauty in what humans despise (Isaiah 53:1-3), God’s wisdom in foolishness (1Corinthians 1:18-26), and God's life in death (John 15:12-15).

The Rev. Susan R. Briehl is a pastor of the ELCA. She holds both a B.A. and an M.A. in English from Washington State University and a Master of Divinity from Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley, CA. She was ordained in 1981and has written numerous books, hymns, and worship songs.

Robert Buckley Farlee is Associate Pastor and Director of Music at Christ Lutheran Church in Minneapolis. He also serves on the worship editorial staff at Augsburg Fortress Publishers, and was deeply involved in the publication of Evangelical Lutheran Worship.

Choir Anthem: "I Will Bow" Frederick Chatfield (1950)

This is a simple, yet graceful setting of a Shaker text.

Frederick Chatfield served as Director of Music and Organist of Christ United Methodist Church in Kettering, Ohio, a position he held for thirty years.

I will bow and be simple, I will bow and be free,
I will bow and be humble, yea, bow like the willow tree.
I will bow, this is the token, I will wear the easy yoke,
I will bow and be broken, yea, I'll fall upon the rock.

Opening Voluntary: Rockingham (When I Survey the Wondrous Cross) Rosalie Bonighton (1946-2011)

Born in Ballarat, Australia, Rosalie Bonighton was raised among organs as her parents ran an organ technician business. Bonighton's compositions consistently display a strong academic foundation and dedicated craftsmanship. Her musical style shows influences of plainchant modes, British and Celtic folk song, the richness and complexity of late German Romanticism, and more recently, the harmonies and rhythms of jazz.

Edward Miller (1735-1807) composed the tune, ROCKINGHAM, which has long associations in Great Britain and North America with Isaac Watts' "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.” The tune title refers to a friend and patron of Edward Miller, the Marquis of Rockingham, who served twice as Great Britain's prime minister. Miller was active in the musical life of the Doncaster region and composed keyboard sonatas and church music. ROCKINGHAM (or ROCKINGHAM OLD) is one of the finest long-meter tunes in the history of church music and is much loved by those who sing in harmony.

Closing Voluntary: Finale: Andante from Sonata #6 in D minor, Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847)

The last of Felix Mendelssohn's Op. 65 organ sonatas, the Organ Sonata in D minor/D major, Op. 65, No. 6, was finished in late January of 1845. Once again the composer delves into the archives of the Lutheran chorale in the first movement, and once again there is a fugal movement at the heart of the sonata, the second movement. But unlike most of the other sonatas in the group, the Sonata No. 6 underwent almost no revision after it was completed (whereas for many of the other sonatas the composer's recorded dates of completion are deceptive). It was originally conceived in the same three-movement format, and with the same specific three movements, as found in the version printed in mid-1845.

The Sonata No. 6 opens with 25 measures of a traditionally scored chorale harmonization in D minor on Vater unser im Himmelreich. The movement continues with four variations on the chorale tune. The second movement is a fugue in four voices, relatively short and admirably lean. The final Andante is likewise only a couple of pages long, but it doesn't sound particularly lean -- after the saturation of D minor in the first two movements, the sudden move to D major in the finale's first bar seems almost cushy. The melody reflects the tune, ROCKINGHAM.