Music Notes for December 18, 2022

Hymn of the Day: “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” ELW 257
Text: Psalteriolum Cantionum Catholicarum, Köln, 1710; tr. composite
Tune: VENI, EMMANUEL, French Processional, 15th century

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” is set to the tune VENI, EMMANUEL, adapted from the chant by Thomas Helmore. This haunting and pleading tune beautifully supports the words of longing found in the text, and compliments the sense of hope in the refrain.  

The text is based on a series of Antiphons (a short sentence sung or recited before or after a psalm or canticle) appointed for the last days of Advent. Each of these “O Antiphons” begin with “O” and describe the coming Savior using imagery from the Old Testament prophecies which foretold of Jesus’ coming, based on Isaiah’s prophecies. The antiphons refer to the different ancient titles given to the Messiah: O Sapientia (O Wisdom), O Adonai (O Lord), O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse), O Clavis David (O Key of David), O Oriens (O Dayspring), O Rex Gentium (O King of the Nations), O Emmanuel (O With Us is God). These are powerful words for a powerful time of year. December 21st, the darkest day of the year, is when we pray for the morning star to come and enlighten us. Additionally, the first letters of the Latin titles (S.A.R.C.O.R.E.) taken backwards form the Latin phrase ero cras, tomorrow I will come.

Today, each verse of this beautiful hymn will be preceded by the “O” Antiphon chanted by the choir.

Choral Opening Voluntary  “O Come Redeemer of the Earth” Brian L. Hanson

Brian Hanson is Assistant Professor of History at Bethlehem College in Minneapolis.
He has a PhD in History from the University of St. Andrews. He is also a professional
musician and a published composer of choral anthems. He was the recipient of the 2009
John Ness Beck Foundation prize for his anthem, Jesus, Lover of My Soul

O Come, Redeemer of the earth,
and manifest Your virgin birth.
Let every age in wonder fall:
such birth befits the God of all.

Begotten of no human will
But of the Spirit, You are still
the Word of God in flesh arrayed,
The promised fruit to man displayed.  

O, Morning Star, come end our night.
Cast out our sin and shed Your light.
The darkness of our mortal state 
with endless beams illuminate!

All praise, eternal Son, above
whose advent shows Your matchless love, 
whom with the Father, we adore,
and Holy Ghost forevermore. Amen.

Anthem Following The Prayer Of The Day: “O Comfort Now My People” Thomas Pavlechko (1962) 

Based on the composer's own hymn-tune Eastern Sky. The text is a paraphrase of Isaiah
40:1-11. Delightfully mysterious and dark. 

Thom is currently on the staff of Christ the King Catholic Church, Highland/University
Park, Dallas, as director of music and principal organist, where he oversees the music
program of the 6,000-member parish, directs their two fully-professional choirs, the 12
voice Vigil Schola and the 26-voice Christ the King Singers. There are eight organists in
Pavlechko’s family, among them, his mother and great grandfather. He earned his music
degrees from the Dana School of Music of Youngstown State University and the
University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music, both in his native Ohio.
Pavlechko has composed over 25 choral works, over 85 hymns, and over 1,000 Psalm
settings, including today’s setting of Psalm 80, all in print with nine publishers
throughout North America, the United Kingdom and Australia. Pavlechko is also co-
editor of the new Episcopal worship planning resource, Liturgical Music for the Revised
Common Lectionary with Church Publishing. 

O comfort, now my people, says the Lord, your God.
Speak gently to Jerusalem and cry now unto her.
Her warfare is accomplished, her penalty is paid.
A voice cries in the wilderness, “Prepare ye the way!”

So ev’ry valley shall be raised, all mountains, hills, made low,
As desert flow’rs rejoice and praise, and springs of water flow;
Uneven ground, a level field, rough lands become a plain.
The glory of the Lord revealed, God’s children see again.

All humankind is grass and reeds, like flowers of the field;
They wither at the gentlest breeze, their feeble lives to yield.
Yet eyes are opened, ears unstopped, the lame leap like a deer,
And speechless tongues all sing for joy, the weak no longer fear.

For waters in the wild break forth, the desert flows with streams;
The burning sand becomes a pool, the thirsty ground a spring. 
Their highway is the holy way God’s chosen walk along.
The ransomed of the Lord return with gladness, joy and song.

Anthem Following The First Lesson: “There Is No Rose” Mark Sedio (1954) 

This is a new setting of a medieval text in which a rose represents the Virgin Mary. The
text was found in a manuscript roll of carols copied out in the early 15th century,
and now found in the Library of Trinity College, Cambridge. 

Mark Sedio serves as Cantor at Central Lutheran Church in downtown Minneapolis. In
addition he has held teaching positions both at Augsburg University and Luther Seminary.
Sedio is an active recitalist, clinician, conductor and composer, having presented hymn
festivals and workshops throughout North America and Europe. Over 125 of his
compositions for organ, piano, choral and instrumental ensembles are available from a
number of publishers. A number of his hymn tunes, texts and harmonization appear in
various denominational hymnals and supplements. A love of foreign language acquisition
and linguistics combined with interest in folk music and styles has led to a keen interest
in global church music.

There is no rose of such virtue
As is the rose that bare Jesu:

For in this rose contained was
Heaven and earth in little space:
Res miranda (a marvelous thing)

By that rose we may well see
That he is God in person three:
Pares forma (Of equal form)

The angels sung the shepherds to:
“Gaudeamus. Gloria in excelsis Deo"
(Let us rejoice! Glory to God on high!)

Leave we all this worldly mirth
And follow we this joyful birth:
Transeamus (Let us go across)

Anthem Following The Second Lesson: “Lo! He Comes, An Infant Stranger” Simon Mold (1957) 

This text is by Richard Mant (1776 – 1848), an English churchman who became a bishop in Ireland. He was a prolific writer, his major work being a History of the Church of Ireland. His prose works were numerous, and although now somewhat obsolete, they were useful and popular in their day.

Simon Mold was born in Buxton, UK, and following success as a treble soloist in the north west of England became a chorister at Peterborough Cathedral under the legendary Dr. Stanley Vann. After reading English Language and Medieval Literature at Durham University, where he was a cathedral choral scholar, Simon embarked upon a teaching career principally in the south of England, and sang in several cathedral choirs. Upon retirement from teaching he joined Leicester Cathedral Choir just in time to take part in the memorable Richard III Reinterment ceremonies in 2015. His interest in composition began at Peterborough where he directed a performance of one of his own choral pieces in the cathedral while still a boy chorister, and subsequently Simon’s music has been widely published, performed, recorded and broadcast. Simon has additionally been a regular contributor to various musical and literary magazines, and has written widely on diverse aspects of music, language and literature. A verse collection, Poetry of the Peak, was published in 2019. 

Lo! He comes, an infant stranger, Of a lowly mother born,
Swathed and cradled in a manger, Of His pristine glory shorn!
Lo! He comes, the great Creator, Calling all the world to own Him,
the Judge and Lord of nature, Seated on His Father's throne!

Lo! He comes, constrained to borrow shelter from yon stabled shed;
He who shall, through years of sorrow Have not where to lay His head!
Lo! He comes, all grief expelling From the hearts that Him receive!
He to each with Him a dwelling In His Father's house will give.

Man of human flesh partaking, Offspring of the Virgin's womb,
Who, the hopeless wand'rer seeking, Deigned in lowly guise to come!
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Praise to Christ, incarnate word!
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Praise, O Praise ye Him, the living Lord!

Offertory Anthem: “Unexpected and Mysterious” Robert Buckley Farlee (1950)

We are called to ponder mystery and await the coming Christ.” With these words, Jeannette Lindholm (1961) begins the
final stanza of her Advent hymn “Unexpected and Mysterious.”  The words offer invitation and challenge. What does it
mean to ponder mystery? How do the hymns we sing serve as one way to embrace the unexpected mystery of God come
among us in Jesus? The fact that Lindholm took up the art of hymn writing is less of a mystery. Music and hymns
surrounded her throughout her childhood in Minnesota. Her mother and grandmother played the piano. “I grew up singing
hymns, she said. This nurturing in music was accompanied by an early love of poetry, culminating in doctoral studies in
women in literature. Lindholm’s interest in the topic and the Bible can be seen in “Unexpected and Mysterious,” written in
1996, early in her career. At the center of this hymn is the story of Mary and Elizabeth as recorded in Luke. Lindholm has
always been drawn to this story for the way the two women relate to one another. “Elizabeth embodies so much grace to
Mary,” she said. “They embodied grace for each other.” When we consider Mary and song, it makes perfect sense to think
first of her song, the Magnificat. But, Lindholm noted, “Mary does not sing this song until after her encounter with
Elizabeth.” We wonder if Elizabeth’s affirmation encouraged Mary in her song.

Robert Buckley Farlee is a graduate of Christ Seminary-Seminex, St. Louis, Missouri. He also serves on the worship
editorial staff at Augsburg Fortress Publishers, and was deeply involved in the recent publication of Evangelical Lutheran

Unexpected and mysterious
is the gentle word of grace.
Everloving and sustaining
is the peace of God's embrace.
If we falter in our courage
and we doubt what we have known,
God is faithful to console us
as a mother tends her own.

In a momentary meeting
of eternity and time,
Mary learned that she would carry
both the mortal and divine.
Then she learned of God's compassion,
of Elizabeth's great joy,
and she ran to greet the woman
who would recognize her boy.

We are called to ponder myst'ry
and await the coming Christ,
to embody God's compassion
for each fragile human life.
God is with us in our longing
to bring healing to the earth,
while we watch with joy and wonder
for the promised Savior's birth.

Text: Jeannette M. Lindholm, b. 1961
Text © 2002 Jeannette M. Lindholm, admin. Augsburg Fortress.

Communion Anthem  “Song of the Advents” Russell Schulz-Widmar (1944) 

This is a new setting of a hymn text by Godfrey Thring (1823-1903). Thring wrote many hymns and published several hymnals, including Hymns Congregational (1866), Hymns and Sacred Lyrics (1874), and the respect­ed A Church of England Hymn Book Adapted to the Daily Services of the Church. The text has passed into numerous hymn-books in Great Britain and America, and is one of the most widely used of Thring's compositions. In the American Baptist Praise Book, 1871, it is given in an abridged form, beginning with stanza iii., "Jesus comes to souls rejoicing." The text is slightly modified throughout.

Russell Schulz-Widmar is a composer, author, and conductor, and a former Professor of Liturgical Music at the Seminary of the Southwest in Austin, Texas. For much of his career he lived in Austin, Texas and upon retirement he has divided his time between Berlin, Germany and Dallas, Texas. 

Jesus came, adored by angels,
came with peace from realms on high;
Jesus came for our redemption,
lowly came on earth to die:
Alleluia, alleluia!
came in deep humility.

Jesus comes again in mercy,
when our hearts are bowed with care;
Jesus comes again in answer
to our earnest heartfelt prayer;
Alleluia, alleluia!
comes to save us from despair.

Jesus comes to hearts rejoicing,
bringing news of sins forgiven;
Jesus comes in sounds of gladness,
leading souls redeemed to heaven;
Alleluia, alleluia!
now the gate of death is riven.

4 Jesus comes on clouds triumphant,
when the heavens shall pass away;
Jesus comes again in glory;
let us then our homage pay:
Alleluia, alleluia!
till the dawn of endless day.

Closing Voluntary: "Toccata on 'Veni Emmanuel'" Adolphus Hailstork (1941)

Adolphus Hailstork is an American composer and educator. His works blend musical ideas from both the African American and European traditions. He is currently working on his Fourth Symphony, and A KNEE ON A NECK (tribute to George Floyd) for chorus and orchestra.