Music Notes for November 12, 2023

Hymn of the Day: “Rejoice, Rejoice, Believers” ELW 244
Text: Laurentius Laurenti (1660-1722) tr. Sarah B. Findlater (1823-1907)
Tune: HAF TRONES LAMPA FARDIG, Swedish Folk Tune

Considered to be one of the finest hymn writers of the Pietistic period, Laurentius Laurenti wrote the text for this hymn based on the parable of the wise and foolish maidens (Matt. 25: 1-13). Stanzas 1 and 2 focus on the expected coming of the bridegroom; stanza 3 is a prayer for Christ's return to complete the work of redemption and to set his people free. Born Lorenz Lorenzen (1660-1722) in Schleswig, Laurenti studied at the University of Rostock and in Kiel. In 1684 he moved to Bremen, where he was appointed music director and cantor in the Lutheran Cathedral Church. He is a well known writer of German hymns in the Pietist tradition, and based most of his hymn texts on the gospel lessons for the church year. They were published in Evangelia Melodica (1700).

Sarah Borthwick Findlater translated the text into English and published it in Hymns from the Land of Luther (1854), a collection of 122 hymns translated by her (53 hymns) and her sister Jane. Findlater was a fine linguist, and as a translator of German chorales, she is considered second only to Catherine Winkworth. As an author, Sarah wrote fiction, juvenile works, music scores, anthems, and musical parts.

There are quite a number of different tunes published in combination with this text. In the ELW we find the setting, HAF TRONES LAMPA FÄRDIG, a Swedish Folk tune. It is one of the 3 most used.

Offertory: Awake My Heart and Render, Jane Marshall (1924- 2019)
Text: Paulus Gerhardt, Translation: Winfred Douglas

This marvelous anthem won the American Guild of Organists prize in 1958. It was and has continued to be a stalwart anthem of the church. The effect for morning, evening worship and any festive worship day is as thrilling as ever.

In the early 1950s, Jane Marshall was a young homemaker and Methodist church choir member, albeit one with an unusually strong music background. She decided to write an anthem. The grand slam result was “My Eternal King,” published in 1954 by Carl Fischer Music. It became one of that venerable sheet music company’s all-time bestselling anthems and remains popular with choirs across denominations.

Marshall would go on to write more than 200 anthems, hymns and other sacred music works. A revered figure among fellow United Methodist musicians as well as the broader church music world, she was one of the most sensitive and text-oriented hymn tune composers of the late 20th century.

Awake, my heart, and render
to God - thy sure defender,
thy maker, thy preserver
A song of love and fervor.

Confirm my deeds and guide me:
my day, with thee beside me -
beginning, middle, ending -
will all be upward tending.

My heart shall be thy dwelling,
with joy and gladness swelling;
thy word, my nurture;
given to bring me on toward heaven.

Opening Voluntary: Schmucke dich (Deck Thyself, My Soul) J. S. Bach (1685-1750)

This text is often considered the best and most popular of the Lutheran chorales for the Lord's Supper. The dominant tone is one of deep joy enhanced by a sense of awe. We express joy and praise for "this wondrous banquet" (st. 1), and we show reverence in receiving Christ (st. 2). Thankful for "heavenly food" and drink (st. 3), we rejoice in Christ's love for us and in its power to unite us (st. 4).

Johann Cruger composed the hymn tune specifically for the text. Johann S. Bach used this tune in his Cantata 180; he and many other composers have written organ preludes on the melody.

Closing Voluntary: Fanfare from Five Pieces for Organ, Healey Willan (1880-1968)

James Healey Willan was born on October 12, 1880, in Balham, Surrey, England. He had a wide experience as a composer of a full-length opera, a symphonic work, countless organ and choral works, as a music educator, a choral director, and a church musician. He played his first service at the age of eleven in 1891 and his last service on Christmas Eve, 1967, just two months before he died on February 16, 1968.

Having served churches in England, Willan left for Canada in 1913 to serve as organist and choirmaster at St. Paul’s Anglican Church in Toronto as well as head of the Theory Department at the Toronto Conservatory of Music. In 1921, he accepted the position of organist-choirmaster at St. Mary Magdalene Church, an Anglo-Catholic parish in Toronto, where he was to remain for the rest of his life. During his tenure there, Willan also accepted in 1938 the position of Professor in the Music Faculty at the University of Toronto.

Most of his hymn-based motets and organ preludes came into existence after his retirement from the University of Toronto in 1950, the most prolific compositional period of his life. Willan is probably best known for his sacred and liturgical music, especially that written for St. Mary Magdalene Church. His anthems, hymns, motets, mass settings, and carol settings contributed to his reputation as the “dean of Canadian composers.”

Written in 1959 for the dedication of a new organ in St. Matthew's Church, Ottawa, this festive piece recalls the joy of a congregation rejoicing in the sound of their new instrument.