Music Notes for January 22, 2023

Hymn of the Day: “Light Shone in Darkness” ELW 307
Text: Delores Dufner (1939)
Tune: LUX IN TENEBRIS, Mark Sedio (1954)

Here are two complementary views of this hymn. Its author, Delores Dufner, OSB had in mind a hymn of hope for morning prayer or other times. John 1:25, "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it," stands behind the text, with the truth that "the world often looks darkest just before light breaks through.” The writer of the tune, Mark Sedio, says he "was taken by the rather declamatory character of the first two stanzas of Delores Dufner's fine text- -the first focusing on creation, the second on salvation, and the third morphing into a more eschatological forward-looking sense, all three ending curtly with the phrase ‘praise (prays) for the light. Amen!’” Sedio's view graciously carries forward Dufner's intent in ways Dufner herself may not have articulated and illustrates how a hymn moves outside its author.

Delores Dufner was born in North Dakota, attended a one-room country school, studied at the College of St. Benedict in St. Joseph, Minnesota (BA in music, 1960), became a Benedictine sister, continued her studies at DePaul University in Chicago (MA in liturgical music, 1973), and completed another degree at Notre Dame University, Notre Dame, Indiana (MA in liturgical studies, 1990). After teaching elementary school, piano, and organ, and serving as a church organist and choir director, she became liturgical coordinator for St. Benedict's Monastery in St. Joseph, director of the Office for Worship of the Diocese of St. Cloud, Minnesota, liturgical music consultant for the Diocese of Ballarat in Victoria, Australia, and a member of the executive committee of the Hymn Society in the United States and Canada. Her longest lasting legacy, however, will probably be the fine hymns she has written. In 1994 Sing a New Church, a collection of forty-eight of her hymns, was published by OCP Publications, and in 2003 an anthology of seventy-nine more was published as The Glimmer of Glory in Song by GIA Publications. Nathan Mitchell, an unusually perceptive critic, suggests that "perhaps the greatest skill [Dufner] brings to her work is a sensitive ear for natural, unselfconscious speech that is also memorable. Her style is a vigorous modern English whose music and rhythms never seem forced, contrived, or cute."

Mark Sedio wrote the tune at the request of the Evangelical Lutheran Church America’s Renewing Worship hymnody editorial team. The text suggested to him “a style reminiscent of a Gaelic sea shanty with a dynamic climax on the downbeat of the fifth measure ('all, sings, longs'), ending with the snapping whip of the final phrase." Mark Sedio was born in Minnesota and graduated from Augsburg College in Minneapolis (BA in music, 1976) and the University of Iowa (MA in choral literature and conducting, 1979). He also attended St. John's University, Collegeville, Minnesota, and Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota, where he played the organ for chapel services for twenty-five years. He was cantor at Mount Olive Lutheran Church and now is director of music at Central Lutheran Church, both in Minneapolis. A charter member of the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians and an active member of the Twin Cities Chapter of the American Guild of Organists, he is a fine improviser, service player, and clinician who has written hymn tunes, service music, anthems, and organ pieces, as well as articles about church music.

It is worth noting that Dufner and Sedio work and live not far from one another in Minnesota, but it is perhaps even more worthy of note that they come from different traditions (Roman Catholic and Lutheran) that have often been marked by separation from one another. The partnership here may serve as a reminder that, as virtually every hymnal in every one of the church's traditions demonstrates, in the hymnody and music of the church the distances that separate us very often disappear.

Offertory Anthem: “Rise, Shine,” Dale Wood (1934-2003)

Based on the hymn tune WOJTKIEWIECZ, which has become a standard in many congregations and is also today’s Sending Hymn. Dale began playing the organ in church at age 14. His hymns and canticles are found in the Lutheran Book of Worship, Worship II (a Roman Catholic hymnal), Seventh Day Adventist Hymnal, The Presbyterian Hymnal, The United Methodist Hymnal, the Agape Hymnal Supplement, the Moravian Book of Worship, the Chalice Hymnal, and several hymnal supplements.

Wood's musical activities were not limited to sacred music. While still a college student, he entertained as organist at the Orpheum Theater in Los Angeles and appeared on television shows produced in Hollywood. In 1975 he was employed by the Royal Viking Line to entertain passengers on a 70-day cruise of the South Pacific and Orient.

For many years Dale maintained his home and studio at The Sea Ranch, California, 115 miles north of San Francisco. It was here, amidst acres of redwood trees and gentle meadows on the rural and spectacular coastline of Northern California, that he composed most of his organ works, using a three-manual electronic theatre organ. Dale had a strong theatrical streak in him, and he maintained close ties with the American Theatre Organ Society. In his later years he collaborated with his partner, Ivan de la Garza, in designing the ATOS website.

In 1977 Dale and jazz pianist George Shearing created a volume of organ settings of early American folk hymns entitled Sacred Sounds from George Shearing. Over a period of 11 weeks Shearing had recorded a series of improvisations at the piano. After the tapes were transcribed to paper, Shearing visited Dale in his studio at The Sea Ranch. Dale spent hours at the organ making suggestions of registrations and textures, while Shearing with his critical ear listened for accuracy.

In recent years, Dale composed at the computer and was able to hear his work played back via MIDI, obviating the need for tedious proofreading. Most of his pieces were conceived with a three-manual organ in mind but are readily adaptable to smaller instruments. He gave general suggestions for registrations, but he always trusted in the performer's own imagination ("The printed music is just a blueprint, and it is the performer's job to complete the project," he liked to say). He used unusual techniques in several pieces, such as wedges in keys for pedal points. His hymn arrangements were not all easy. Many require a significant amount of finger substitution; several involve "bridging" (playing on two manuals simultaneously with one hand); and his pedal lines sometimes go to the top of the pedalboard.

Rise, shine, you people! Christ the Lord has entered
our human story; God in him is centered.
He comes to us, by death and sin surrounded,
with grace unbounded.

See how he sends the pow'rs of evil reeling;
he brings us freedom, light and life and healing.
All men and women, who by guilt are driven,
now are forgiven.

Come, celebrate; your banners high unfurling,
your songs and prayers against the darkness hurling.
To all the world go out and tell the story
of Jesus' glory.

Tell how the Father sent the Son to save us.
Tell of the Son, who life and freedom gave us.
Tell how the Spirit calls from ev'ry nation
God's new creation.

-Ronald A. Klug

Opening Voluntary: “Dix” (As With Gladness) Wayne L. Wold

Dix, as the son of poet John Ross Dix and named after Thomas Chatterton, would regularly write Christian poetry in his spare time. Dix wrote "As with Gladness Men of Old" on 6 January 1859 during a months-long recovery from an extended illness, unable to attend that morning's Epiphany service at church. As he read the Gospel of Matthew's account of Epiphany in The Bible, he was inspired and started to reflect on the text. He then started to write about his thoughts and did so for the whole day with the eventual result being "As with Gladness Men of Old”. Dix kept the text private until a year later when it was published in Hymns for Public Worship and Private Devotion, which was written for St Raphael's Church in Dix's hometown of Bristol. It was also added to the trial version of Hymns Ancient and Modern before being included in the original publication of that hymnal in 1861. Most hymn writers in the Church of England at the time were clergymen, so Dix, a layman and marine insurance agent living in Glasgow, Scotland, was delighted that his carol was included.[4] It was also self-published by Dix in his own Hymns of Joy and Love hymnal.

The editor of Hymns Ancient and Modern, William Henry Monk, adapted a tune by Stuttgart organist Conrad Kocher as the music for "As with Gladness Men of Old". Dix personally did not like the tune, which was ironic as it was later titled "Dix" as a tribute to him. Despite Dix's opinion of it, the tune became popular and is used for the majority of performances of the hymn. The same melody is also used in the hymn "For the Beauty of the Earth", an example of what is often considered to be a seasonal hymn melody given to a more general hymn text for use in Ordinary Time.

Closing Voluntary: “Prelude #5 on an Old Irish Church Melody” Charles Villiers Stanford (1852-1924)

Sir Charles Stanford has been called the most important single factor in the renaissance of English music during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; indeed, even if one were to overlook Stanford's own vast catalog of compositions, it would be impossible to ignore the pronounced effect Stanford's nearly 40-year teaching career had on several generations of British composers. And Stanford was a prolific composer, completing seven symphonies, eight string quartets, nine operas, more than 300 songs, 30 large scale choral works and a large body of chamber music. He also composed a substantial number of works for the organ, as well as anthems and settings of the canticles for the Anglican Church. He wrote extensively on music including three volumes of memoirs and a popular text on composition. Today he is largely remembered for his songs and religious music as well as his influence on several generations of composition students at the Royal College of Music. These included Sir Arthur Bliss, Frank Bridge, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, Rebecca Clarke, Ivor Gurney, Gustav Holst, Herbert Howells, John Ireland, Ralph Vaughan Williams and Charles Wood.