Music Notes for August 7, 2022

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.

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.