Music Notes for November 13, 2022

Hymn of the Day: “When Our World Is Rent by Violence” ACS 1052
Text: David Bjorlin (1984)
Tune: FORTUNATUS NEW Carl F. Schalk, (1929-2021)

The music of lament is not always slow and mournful. Sometimes it can be agitated and despairing. Hymnwriter David Bjorlin, a pastor in the Evangelical Covenant Church, gives us a text in the great tradition of sung lament that goes back to the Psalms. The painful naming of afflictions that beset our world is joined to prayers for justice and relief. The musical urgency of Carl Schalk’s sturdy hymn tune gives strong voice to this plea for justice, mercy, and peace.

Opening Voluntary “Chant de Paix” Jean Langlais (1907-1991) 

Jean Langlais was a blind French composer of modern classical music, organist, and improviser. He was born in La Fontenelle, a small village near Mont St Michel, France. He became blind when he was only two years old, and was sent to study at the National Institute for the Young Blind in Paris, where he began to study the organ. From there, he progressed to the Paris Conservatoire, obtaining prizes in organ, which he studied with Marcel Dupré, composition, which he studied with Paul Dukas, and improvisation, which he studied with André Marchal.

After graduating, he returned to the National Institute for the Young Blind to teach, and also taught at the Schola Cantorum from 1961 to 1976. However, it was as an organist that he made his name, following in the steps of César Franck and Charles Tournemire as Organist Titulaire at the Basilica of Sainte Clotilde in Paris in 1945, a post in which he remained until 1987. He was much in demand as a concert organist, and toured widely across Europe and the United States.

Outside music, Langlais was a colorful and charismatic character, for many years living with both his first wife and his mistress (later to become his second wife), and fathering a child at the age of 73.

Langlais died in Paris aged 84, and was survived by his second wife Marie-Louise Jaquet-Langlais.

Offertory Anthem “Lost in the Night” Hal H. Hopson. 

This anthem is based on a Finnish folk tune most often paired with this text which appears in 8 hymnals. This is a haunting hymn of longing for morning to come and vanquish the dark night's despair. It comes from the Scandinavian Lutheran heritage through Lutheran Book of Worship (1978). The basis of the hymn is a Finnish love song. The last line can be translated "Are you coming soon?" It can be found in The Covenant Hymnal (1996) at #769 with an English translation that begins "Hide not your face." No other tune in Evangelical Lutheran Worship starts like this one, with an upward minor sixth--which, when coupled to this text, helps to explain the haunting quality.

Hal H. Hopson (1933) is a prolific composer, arranger, clinician, teacher and promoter of congregational song, with more than 1300 published works, especially of hymn and psalm arrangements, choir anthems, and creative ideas for choral and organ music in worship.

Lost in the night do the people yet languish 
Longing for morning the darkness to vanquish, 
Plaintively sighing with hearts full of anguish, 
Will not day come soon? Will not day come soon? 

Must we be vainly awaiting the morrow? 
Shall those who have light no light let us borrow, 
Giving no heed to our burden of sorrow? 
Will you help us soon? Will you help us soon? 

Sorrowing wand’rers, in darkness yet dwelling, 
Dawned has the day of a radiance excelling, 
Death’s deepest shadows forever dispelling. 
Christ is coming soon! Christ is coming soon! 

Light o’er the land of the needy is beaming; 
Rivers of life through its deserts are streaming, 
Bringing all peoples a Savior redeeming. 
Come and save us soon! Come and save us soon!

— Tr. Olav Lee (1859-1943) alt.

Closing Voluntary: “LAUDES DOMINI” (When Morning Gilds the Skies) Robert A. Hobby (1962)

Robert Hobby is an organist, choir director, clinician and composer based in Fort Wayne, Indiana.