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Music Notes for July 3, 2022

Hymn of the Day: “Lord, You Give the Great Commission” ELW 579
Text: Jeffery W. Rowthorn (1934)
Tune: ABBOT'S LEIGH, Cyril V. Taylor (1907)

Jeffery W. Rowthorn wrote this text in 1978 while he was Chapel Minister at Yale Divinity School, New Haven, Connecticut. The text was first published in Laudamus (1980), a hymnal supplement edited by Rowthorn and used at the Yale Divinity School.

This powerful text about the various ministries of the Christian church has two striking features: each stanza includes a quotation of Christ's words (usually from Matthew), and a concluding refrain line turns each stanza into a prayer. Christ's words are applied to the tasks of God's people in the world with a fervent prayer that the Spirit equip the saints to carry out these ministries faithfully.

Rowthorn graduated from Cambridge and Oxford Universities, Union Theological Serninary in New York, and Cuddeson Theological College in Oxford. Ordained in 1963 in the Church of England, he served several congregations in England before immigrating to the United States, where he was chaplain at Union Theological Seminary and a faculty member in liturgics at the Yale Institute of Sacred Music, which he helped to establish. He was then elected Suffragan Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut. The writer of several hymns, Rowthorn was also coeditor with Russell Schulz-Widmar of A New Hymnal for Colleges and Schools (1991). Rowthorn has since moved to Paris, where he is Bishop in Charge of the American Churches in Europe.

Cyril V. Taylor composed ABBOT'S LEIGH in May of 1941 when he was working for the Religious Broadcasting Department of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). The BBC had received complaints about the use of AUSTRIA (tune for the Austrian national hymn) during this time of war, a tune then set to "Glorious Things of You Are Spoken." Thus Taylor originally composed his tune for that text. First printed in a leaflet, ABBOT'S LEIGH was published in Hymns Ancient and Modern Revised (1950), Congregational Praise (1951), and the BBC Hymn Book (1951), of which Taylor was editor. No modern hymnal would want to omit this great twentieth-century tune! ABBOT'S LEIGH is named for a village near Bristol, England, where Taylor composed the tune. (Bristol was wartime headquarters for the BBC).

Opening Voluntary: “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus,” John Carter (1930)

JOHN CARTER is a well-known composer with several hundred choral compositions to his credit as well as several musicals, an opera, and a dozen collections for keyboard and organ. He and his wife, Mary Kay Beall, often collaborate as writers and in Music Ministry. He is a recognized clinician and choral conductor, and is particularly noted for his versatile writing style and his long-standing creative productivity.

Closing Voluntary: “Woodlands,” (Tell Out My Soul), J. Wayne Kerr (1958)

WOODLANDS is a perfect match for the bold text, “Tell Out My Soul” with which it is most often paired. Walter Greatorex (1877-1949) composed this tune in 1916, and it was published in the Public School Hymn Book in 1919. The tune's title refers to one of the schoolhouses at Gresham's School, Holt, Norfolk, where Greatorex was director of music

J. Wayne Kerr is well known for his handbell, organ, and choral compositions. He has held positions as a school music teacher as well as a music director for various congregations in Arkansas and Texas. He received his BME from the University of Arkansas in Little Rock and his MM in music theory from the University of Central Arkansas. He became a deacon in 2006.