I was Director of Music and Organist at Saint Peter’s Episcopal Church, Purcellville, Virginia for almost 20 years until moving to Washington, DC. I have Master of Music degrees from the Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore and while an undergraduate at Douglass College, Rutgers University I studied organ with University Organist, David Drinkwater. But I consider myself mostly a student of my father, as I was his regular page-turner for the postlude each Sunday.
I’ve had a varied career teaching and performing in addition to my work in the area of church music ministry. While working in all combinations of church organist and choir director for the past 40 years, I have also been on the faculties of Northern Virginia Community College and Shenandoah Conservatory of Music along with teaching in my private studio. I founded a chamber music series in Purcellville and a community chorus, which grew into what is now the Loudoun Chorale. In addition to working as pianist and flutist with the Loudoun Symphony Orchestra and the Loudoun Wind Symphony I have performed in solo and chamber music recitals and accompanied a wide range of instrumentalists and vocalists, given organ recitals in Italy and served as organist for week-long residencies at the cathedrals of Canterbury, York and elsewhere in Great Britain and Ireland.
The Italian language and choral singing are my avocations. I thoroughly enjoy trying to speak Italian and discovering Italian literature, and as a choral singer (much simpler and easier than the language thing!) have continually been a member of choral groups ranging from chamber to symphonic in size. An exceptional result of my choral activity was that of meeting the man who became my husband. Bob and I met in our college chapel choir and we will soon celebrate our 49th wedding anniversary.
Currently I am Rehearsal Pianist for the Choir and Festival Chorus at Westmoreland Congregational United Church of Christ, and Rehearsal Assistant for the Thomas Circle Singers in Washington, DC. Bob and I both sing with this group. Maybe we can convince you to come to a concert!
We live in Foxhall Village in DC with our dachshund, Piccola and have two daughters, a son-in-law and a grandson soon to be four years old. All live close by in Virginia.
During the current upset created by COVID-19 I feel quite fortunate to be able to offer my part in combination with many others at RELC to provide comfort and hope during this pandemic. With all of you I look forward to the time when it will be safe to resume meeting together for services on Sundays, to continue getting to know you and make music together with you and the choir here at RELC!
With a voice of singing, Barbara
Hymn of the Day: “O Living Breath of God” ELW 407
Text: Osvaldo Catena (1920-1986), tr. Gerard M. Cartford (1923)
Tune: VARVINDAR FRISKA, Swedish folk tune
This Pentecost hymn by Osvaldo Catena was first published in Camcionero Abierto, vol. 4 (1979). Gerhard M. Cartford translated it for Libro de Liturgia y Cántico (1998), through which it comes to Evangelical Lutheran Worship.
Osvaldo Catena was a Roman Catholic priest who dedicated his life to living and working among the people of the slum areas of Santa Fe, Argentina. He was a gifted musician and wrote many of the songs that have renewed Latin American liturgy. When Catena was appointed a liturgical adviser for the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), he had already begun using Argentine folk music in worship. He said, “I realized the music I used was like a strange language I spoke. People did not understand me. So I thought Liturgy could be a way to understanding, since it is the expression of the community praying as it sings. That is how I began composing my first songs for the Mass. We organized a choir…and in that group a process of reflection took place, for the vocation of a musician is not just something intimate and personal, but also the voice of the whole community. Music became the accompaniment of life.”
Gerhard Cartford was born in Madagascar, the son of missionary parents. He spent the years 1950-1951 doing research on Ludvig Lindeman and folk music in Oslo, Norway. That played into his doctoral dissertation ten years later, Music in the Norwegian Lutheran Church: A Study of Its Development in Norway and Its Transfer to America, 1825-1917. Dr. Cartford says this very popular "Swedish folk tune" VARVINDAR FRISKA may be Norwegian or may best be described as Scandinavian. In the Norwegian Norsk Salmebok in a slightly different version it is referenced as a Swedish folk tune. Pablo Sosa says it was probably taken by Catena from a collection of songs in Spanish by the Austrian musicologist Kurt Pahlen, where it is given as a "Norwegian children's song.
Choir Anthem: Unless you Lead Me, Love/Thomas Keesecker
Keesecker's setting of poetry by 13th cent. mystic Mechtild of Magdeburg invites us to dance and sing with the love that created the world. The music is not simplistic in its message or writing, and this anthem is a wonderful combination of metaphor, poetry, and beautiful melodic writing.
Mechthild of Magdeburg’s ideas are inspiring in their own right, but are all the more amazing considering the era she lived in (1207-1282) – a time from which women’s voices are mostly lost in the mists of time. What seems today as a literary jewel, was a “stone of offence” back then, because a FEMALE Beguine composed writings with a theological content in vernacular German and not in Latin, and she referred to a divine authorization for her mission. Her criticism of church dignitaries, religious laxity and claims to theological insight aroused so much opposition that some called for the burning of her writings. How fortunate we are that her words survive so we can bask in her reflected light.
Thomas Keesecker has served as a musician in Lutheran and Roman Catholic parishes in Virginia, Montana, and Maryland. His award-winning choral music has been published by several publishers. His studies at the Berklee College of Music in Boston and the Catholic University School of Music in Washington, D.C. prepared him for a career in which he has mixed classical technique and jazz improvisation. During the last decade, he has explored the nexus of creativity and healing and its implication for liturgical musicians.
I cannot dance, Lord,
unless you lead me.
If you want me to leap with abandon,
You must intone the song.
Then I shall leap into love,
From love into knowledge,
From knowledge into enjoyment,
And from enjoyment
beyond all human sensations.
There I want to remain,
yet want also to circle higher still.
Organ Voluntaries: March Upon Handel’s “Lift Up Your Heads,” Alexandre Guilmant (1837-1911)
Félix-Alexandre Guilmant was a French organist and composer. He was a student of his father, then of Jacques-Nicolas Lemmens, he became an organist and teacher in his place of birth. In 1871 he was appointed as organist of la Trinité church in Paris, a position that he held for 25 years. From then on he followed a career as a virtuoso; he gave concerts in Europe as well as in the USA. Guilmant created the Schola Cantorum in 1894 with Charles Bordes and Vincent d'Indy. In 1896 he succeeded Charles-Marie Widor as organ teacher of Conservatoire de Paris. With André Pirro, he published a collection of scores, Archives des Maîtres de l'Orgue (archives of the masters of the organ), a compilation of the compositions of numerous classical French composers in ten volumes, from 1898 to 1914. He proceeded in the same manner for foreign masters of the organ, publishing l'Ecole classique de l'Orgue (Classical School of the Organ),
Guilmant was an accomplished composer, particularly for his own instrument, the organ. His organ repertoire includes his 18 collections of Pièces dans différents styles (Pieces in Differing Styles), of which today’s Voluntary is a part.
Hymn of the Day: “Thine the Amen” ELW 826
Text: Herbert F. Brokering (1926)
Tune: Thine, Carl F. S chalk, (1929)
Herbert Brokering wrote this hymn text at Holden Village, the retreat center for renewal in the Cascade Mountains near Chelan, Washington. It was the tenth hymn he wrote in as many days in the summer of 1981. Each morning Walter Bouman led a Bible study, and on the following morning it was reviewed through the singing of a hymn by Brokering, who said, "We sang each study the following morning. This hymn is on the great eucharistic theology in Revelation. It was to be a then to the now."'The "Now" refers to Jaroslav Vajdas "Now the silence" (#460). The hymn comes to Evangelical Lutheran Worship through With One Voice (1995).
At this same Holden Village summer session in 1981, Carl Schalk was the composer for Brokering's hymns. He remembers the schedule like this. "After each morning's Bible study by Walter Bouman, Herb Brokering would fashion a new text, which he had to have finished by about noon that day. I had to write a tune and accompaniment by about three in the afternoon since I had to get it to the print shop, which closed at four in the afternoon, for duplication so we could use it the following morning. This pattern continued each day for two weeks.” One day Schalk mentioned to Brokering that since he (Schalk) had set a text by Jaroslav Vajda called “Now" that Brokering might write one called "Then." Within a day or so Brokering "had written a text in which almost each line began with 'Thine. Thus the idea of Then' became ‘Thine.' The tune was published with this text as an anthem in 1983 and in Christians, Awake! A Hymn Supplement (1989). It appeared in the same year in The Carl Schalk Hymnary
(1989), where it was called THEN. The name was subsequently changed to THINE.
Opening Voluntary: Reflection on Savannah, David Blackwell (1961)
David Blackwell is an award-winning composer and freelance arranger, writer and editor. Undoubtedly one of our finest educational writers, his music is published in the UK and US and performed worldwide. We begin the final service of the Easter season with his setting of the hymn tune “Savannah,” or “Love’s Redeeming Work Is Done.”
The original tunne was composed by Johannes Thommen, (1711-1783). Born in Switzerland, Johannes Thommen was a pietist. He traveled through Scandinavia singing hymns and accompanying himself on his 10-string guitar. He contributed to the Zion's Harp, a collection of hymns and songs.
Sending Voluntary: VICTORY (The Strife Is O'er, the Battle Done), Michael Helman (1956)
To close the Easter season I’ve chosen a setting of “The Strife Is O'er, the Battle Done.” Its tune, VICTORY, comes from the choral mass Magnificat Tertii Toni by the Italian Renaissance composer Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, specifically from the “Gloria Patri.” The opening phrases of the Gloria were adapted by William Monk into the tune we sing now. He also added the final “alleluias” to this very popular hymn.
Michael Helman is currently Director of Music/Organist at Faith Presbyterian Church in Cape Coral, Florida. Prior to moving to Florida in 2006, Michael was Director of Music/Organist for fifteen years at St. Paul’s United Methodist in Wilmington, Delaware.
Hymn of the Day: “O Blessed Spring” ELW 447
Text: Susan Palo Cherwien (1953-2021)
Tune: BERGLUND, Robert Buckley Farlee (1950)
The images of “O Blessed Spring” draw the singer into the seasons of life with warmth and beauty. Many hymns have a theological treatise to prove. Each stanza advances information like a legal case that culminates in a closing argument in the final stanza. By contrast, each stanza of “O Blessed Spring” unfolds like a bud into a blossom. The singer comes to the final stanza, not with the triumph of a well-made theological argument, but with a sense of wonder that comes from glimpsing sacred mystery.
A baptismal image was the source for “O Blessed Spring.” Susan Palo Cherwien describes her inspiration: “Above the baptismal font in Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd in Minneapolis hangs a striking bronze sculpture by the late Paul Granlund, a sculpture which embodies the image of John 15:5 ‘I am the vine; you are the branches.’ Granlund cast a tree with four branches depicting the four ages of human life, with Christ as the central trunk. This bronze provided the structure for the text ‘O Blessed Spring,’ the words of which are woven around a central Christ image.”
In stanza two of the hymn, Mrs. Cherwien equates the “summer heat” with “youthful years” and “uncertain faith, rebellious tears.” During the season of autumn (stanza three), the limbs of the tree are ripe with “heavy harvest.” This season offers “beauty, wisdom, love.” Stanza four explores the season of winter where “We breathe our last, return to dust.” Yet, “in Christ, our souls take wing”; thus the lifecycle is complete in the “promise of spring.” The final stanza introduces a baptismal, sacramental tone, the original inspiration of the hymn, in “this blest mystery” as
Word and water thus revive
And join us to your Tree of Life.
Mrs. Cherwien is a freelance writer and musician. She received her bachelor’s degree in church music and voice from Wittenberg University, her Abschlussprüfung (final examination) in voice from the Hochschule der Künste Berlin, and a Master of Liberal Studies from Mundelein College, where she focused on spirituality, ritual, and the arts.
Though in the ELW this text is paired with another tune, the poet originally wrote the text so that it would fit the melody O WALY WALY, an English folk melody.
Choir Anthem: Creator Spirit By Whose Aid, Vernon Hoyle (1948)
With a text by John Dryden (based upon Veni Creator Spiritus), Vernon Hoyle gives us a broad, grand anthem in the English cathedral style.
Curiously The poems of Dryden show high excellence in fields widely different from another. He was for years the leader of the English stage, a writer of tragedy, comedy, and tragi-comedy. Though the gross immorality of his dramas has long made them unreadable, his influence on poetry has been enduring. His name has recently assumed a new importance to the students of hymns, from a claim made on his behalf in regard to a considerable body of translations from the Latin published after his death. Until recently, Dryden's known contributions to hymnody consisted of only three pieces, the best known of these the translation of “Veni Creator.”
Vernon Hoyle was born in Hatfield, South Yorkshire. In his sundry capacities as chorister, organist, choral director, composer, arranger and editor he has been active in Anglican church music for over fifty years. His compositions and arrangements, many of which are published, comprise educational works and choral music, much of this for the Anglican church.
Opening Voluntary: “Easter Hymn”, Michael Bedford
As Eastertide nears its completion, I hope you will enjoy a few quiet moments with a meditation on the usually boisterous “Jesus Christ is risen today.”
Michael Bedford is Organist/Choirmaster Emeritus of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma. After 50 years in the church music business, and 25 of those years at St. John’s Church, he is now retired. Currently he serves as President of the American Guild of Organists. In his spare time he continues to compose and write mystery novels.
Closing Voluntary: “Dance: Gaudeamus Pariter” Mary Beth Bennett (1954)
Today’s Closing Voluntary is a setting of the hymn tune Gaudeamus Pariter, by Johann Roh (1487-1547), which leads us to speak of pseudonyms. Johann Roh was a native of Bohemia. Roh was his name in Bohemian, but when he wrote in Latin he called himself Cornu, and when he wrote in German, he called himself Horn. In the ELW, this tune is paired with the text “Come, You Faithful, Raise the Strain.”
Mary Beth Bennett is a recognized performer, improviser and composer living in historic Richmond, Virginia. She serves on the adjunct music faculty of the University of Richmond, and is Director of Music Ministries at Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church in Gloucester, Virginia.. She has previously held various positions in Washington, D.C., including at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
Hymn of the Day: “Day of Delight and Beauty Unbounded” ACS 933
Text: Delores Dufner, OSB, b. 1939
Music: Giovanni Giacomo Gastoldi, 1556–1622
The wonder and delight of this holy day is always something to sing about. A spritely sixteenth-century Italian dance tune beckons us to sing the story of our salvation and join in dancing with all creation in praising the triumph of life over death. Fasting turns to feasting, water from Jesus’ side makes new saints at the font, and sunlight breaks through the night. As participants in the paschal mystery of Christ’s suffering, death, resurrection, and ascension, we sing again and again: Alleluia!
Giovanni G. Gastoldi served as a deacon and singer in the chapel of the Gonzaga family in Mantua. He directed music in the Church of Santa Barbaras in Mantua from 1592 to 1608. Little is known about the rest of his life. Gastoldi composed a considerable body of court music, such as madrigals, and some church music, but he is best known for his Balletti, which influenced composers such as Monteverdi, Hassler, and Morley.
Choir Anthem: Have You Heard God’s Voice, Frederick Chatfield (1950)
Frederick Chatfield has arranged this haunting tune and lyrics by Jacqui Jones into an anthem for our time. He has served as Director of Music and Organist of Christ United Methodist Church in Kettering, Ohio, a position he held for thirty years. Mr. Chatfield holds a Bachelor of Music in Organ from New England Conservatory in Boston and a Master of Arts in Religion (Music and Worship) cum laude from Yale University where he was named the 1985 Hugh Porter Scholar. One of his great enjoyments is his 1982 BMW R100RS motorcycle which he restored in the spring of 2006.
Have you heard God's voice; has your heart been stirred?
Are you still prepared to follow?
Have you made a choice to remain and serve,
though the way be rough and narrow?
Will you use your voice; will you not sit down
when the multitudes are silent?
Will you make a choice to stand your ground
when the crowds are turning violent?
Will you walk the path that will cost you much
and embrace God's love and sorrow?
Will you trust in One who entrusts to you
the disciples of tomorrow?
Will you watch the news with the eyes of faith
and believe it could be different?
Will you share your views using words of grace?
Will you leave a thoughtful imprint?
In your city streets will you be God's heart?
Will you listen to the voiceless?
Will you stop and eat, and when friendships start,
will you share your faith with the faithless?
We will walk the path that will cost us much
and embrace God's love and sorrow?
Will you trust in One who entrusts to you
the disciples of tomorrow.
Opening Voluntary: Simple Gifts, J. Wayne Kerr (1958)
J. Wayne Kerr currently serves as pastoral deacon and kantor for West Portal Lutheran Church and School, a position he has held since 2004. Kerr is well known for his handbell, organ, and choral compositions.
Closing Voluntary: Lasst Uns Erfreuen, Mark Sedio (1954)
LASST UNS ERFREUEN derives its opening line and several other melodic ideas from GENEVAN 68. The tune was first published with the Easter text "Lasst uns erfreuen herzlich sehr" in the Jesuit hymnal Ausserlesene Catlwlische Geistliche Kirchengesänge (Cologne, 1623). LASST UNS ERFREUEN appeared in later hymnals with variations in the "alleluia" phrases.
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. In 2008, the faculty of Luther Seminary (St. Paul) granted him the title of Musician Emeritus for his service in various musical capacities from 1982 through 2008. He holds a B.A. in music from Augsburg University and an M.A. in choral music from the University of Iowa. He has studied in the M.Div. program at Luther Seminary and the liturgical studies program at St. John’s University. A charter member of the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians, Sedio served on the organization’s founding board and as its first Director of Ecclesiastical Concerns. He chaired the worship committee for the 2008 national convention of the American Guild of Organists.
Hymn of the Day: “You, Lord, are Both Lamb and Shepherd” ACS 954
Text: Sylvia G. Dunstan, 1955–1993
Music: PICARDY, French folk tune, 17th cent.
The author of this poignant text, Sylvia Dunstan, was an ordained minister in the Anglican Church of Canada who died at a young age after a battle with cancer. The hymn, originally titled “Christus Paradox,” presents images of Christ that are seemingly contradictory. Consider, for example, an “everlasting instant.” At the crux of these paradoxes stand death and resurrection with the cross at the center of it all. This particular paradox is the heart of the Christian faith. The text is paired with a familiar tune, PICARDY, which many will recognize from singing “Let all mortal flesh keep silence” (ELW 490).
PICARDY is a French carol dating from the seventeenth century, and taken from the song book Chansons Populaires des Provinces de France, published in 1860 – four years before the hymn was first published in Britain in 1864.
Opening Voluntary: Christ lag in Todesbanden J. S. Bach (1685-1750)
The Easter chorale tune drawn from the Easter hymn “Christ ist Erstaden,” was published in Germany in 1529. In this chorale prelude setting Bach demonstrates how to clearly harmonize a tune with a vigorously active and ornamented accompaniment both dramatic and triumphant in nature, emphasized by its minor key setting.
Choir Anthem: The King of Love, Robert Lee (1951)
Robert Lee is an Alabama native and has been a church organist since age 16. With a BMusEd in organ performance from Samford University and a MEd in history from Mississippi College, Mr. Lee has worked as a choral director and history teacher for 25 years. He has been active with college and professional musical theater groups and is currently the assistant organist at St. Francis in the Fields Episcopal Church in Louisville, KY.
Today two pieces of music focus on Psalm 23. The choir anthem, “The King of Love,” is a new, tender setting of this much loved paraphrase text of Psalm 23, while the Closing Organ Voluntary is a setting of the Irish tune, St Columba which is long associated with this text.
The King of love my Shepherd is,
Whose goodness faileth never,
I nothing lack if I am His
And He is mine forever.
Where streams of living water flow
My ransomed soul He leadeth,
And where the verdant pastures grow,
With food celestial feedeth.
Perverse and foolish oft I strayed,
But yet in love He sought me,
And on His shoulder gently laid,
And home, rejoicing, brought me.
And so through all the length of days
Thy goodness faileth never;
Good Shepherd, may I sing Thy praise
Within Thy house forever.
Closing Voluntary: Fantasy on St. Columba, Kenneth Leighton (1929-1988)
Paired with the text The King of Love My Shepherd Is, Fantasy on Columba is based on the Irish tune St Columba. In this setting a decorated version of the tune is heard in canon, beginning calmly before growing in intensity. Remarkably, this simple, flowing melody is surrounded and almost swallowed up in intense, tortured harmonies, arriving at the end with a sense of resolution rather reassuring in our current circumstances.
As a treble chorister from 1938, many of Kenneth Leighton’s formative musical experiences were accompanied by the 1905 Abbott and Smith organ of Wakefield Cathedral, in the West Yorkshire city where he was born and educated. Leighton repeatedly praised the importance of his time in the choir stalls throughout his life, stating ‘My whole background is choral church music. I think one’s early background is terribly important’ and ‘[...] my career as a Cathedral chorister left some of the most vivid impressions in my mind of that time of life [...] what a marvelous musical training.’ Given this musical upbringing that left such a mark, it was perhaps inevitable that Leighton would go on to write a great deal of choral music, mostly liturgical, as well as works for the organ. Although initially, the organ was not an instrument for which Leighton felt particularly compelled to write, or even with which he felt particularly comfortable, turning to it only in his mid-thirties. He was most concerned overall with the instrument’s architectural possibilities, at various times lamenting how the lack of clarity in the organ bothered him. As late as 1979 in a published interview, Leighton stated how he ‘[...] found the organ frustrating, there’s very little good music to play on it anyway apart from Bach’. While it seemed to present a significant challenge for him to overcome, however, his solo organ music constitutes a significant part of his output as a whole. Indeed in the same 1979 article he also goes on to say how ‘[...] I’ve found writing for the organ very exciting recently and I’ve kept on at it’. I’m glad he did!
Hymn of the Day: “Touch that Soothes and Heals” ACS 939
Text: Mary Louise Bringle, b. 1953
Tune: See My Hands and Feet, Gregg DeMey, b. 1972
This hymn describes the embodied dimensions of Jesus’ ministry: with human hands and feet, Jesus heals, feeds, carries, and serves. The refrain proclaims the ongoing power of Jesus’ incarnation as love risen from the dead. The musical setting facilitates a natural feeling as it reflects on Jesus’ physicality. The refrain gently turns from contemplation to action, alluding to Teresa of Avila’s assertion that “Christ has no body now on earth but yours.”
Choir Anthem: “Christ Is Living”, Pablo D. Sosa, 1933–2020; arr. Robert Buckley Farlee, b. 1950
This music is a true collaboration. Nicolás Martínez (1917–1972), writer of the Spanish text, brought this poem to fellow pastor and hymn collaborator, composer Pablo Sosa, who set the poem to this lively tune. Sosa was a leader in ecumenical activities worldwide and did more than perhaps any other person to foster the composition of Spanish-language hymnody. “Cristo vive” is a paraphrase of 1Corinthians15:12-23.
Pablo Sosa grew up and was educated in Argentina, the U.S. (Westminster Choir College), and Germany. For years he pastored a large Methodist congregation in Buenos Aires, Argentina while composing songs, leading choirs, editing hymnals, producing religious broadcasts, and teaching liturgy and hymnology at a seminary.
Meanwhile, life in Argentina pushed him to question his assumptions about what’s best for congregational singing. During Argentina’s “dirty war,” two young women from his church were disappeared, possibly for working among the poor. As Catholic and Protestant churches hesitated whether to speak out, remain silent, or support the government, many people lost faith. Economic meltdown after the war plunged many middle-class Argentinians into poverty. Sosa’s growing social awareness widened his vision for “lifting up hope with a song.” He often describes worship as “the fiesta of the faithful,” where all are welcome and all music is seen as “part of the ‘song of the earth,’ which answers the psalmist’s call ‘Sing joyfully to God, all the earth!’ (Psalm 98:4).” Whether in his home church in Buenos Aires, or at churches or conferences around the world, he urges people, “Put your body into worship!” And he reminds them of the biblical connection between justice and worship.
Christ is risen, Christ is living
dry your tears, be unafraid!
Death and darkness could not hold him,
nor the tomb in which he laid.
Do not look among the dead for
one who lives for evermore;
tell the world that Christ is risen,
make it known he goes before.
If the Lord had never risen,
we’d have nothing to believe.
But his promise can be trusted:
‘You will live, because I live’.
As we share the death of Adam,
so in Christ we live again.
Death has lost its sting and terror.
Christ the Lord has come to reign.
Death has lost its old dominion,
let the world rejoice and shout!
Christ the firstborn of the living
gives us life and leads us out.
Let us thank our God who causes
hope to spring up from the ground.
Christ is risen, Christ is giving
life eternal, life profound.
Sending Voluntary: “Cristo vive,” Robert Buckley Farlee (1950)
In addition to arranging the hymn, Robert Buckley Farlee has set this tune which you will hear in the pedals against a dance-like accompaniment. He 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 Worship.
Opening Voluntary: “O Bread of Life from Heaven” G. Winston Cassler (1906-1990)
G. Winston Cassler studied at Oberlin College and was a professor at St. Olaf College, Northfield, MN.
Hymn of the Day: “Christ Has Arisen, Alleluia!” (ELW 364)
Text: Bernard Kyamanywa (1938) tr. Howard S. Olsen (1922)
Music: Tanzanian traditional
There is a wonderful spirit to the singing of people in countries that seem poor, but whose songs reveal their richness of faith and strength. “Christ Has Arisen, Alleluia,” is a Lutheran text built on a Tanzanian song we call “Mfurahini, Haleluya.” The tune is an old song from the Haya people of northwestern Tanzania. They are an ancient people notable for their support of and hunger for education. Historical evidence suggests that they invented a process for forging steel well before Europeans. They would sing the verse and refrain unaccompanied except by a drum pulse.
Bernard Kyamanywa gave the tune a Swahili text while he was studying at the Lutheran Theological College—now Makumira University College—in Arusha, Tanzania. He had been trained as an elementary school teacher and received basic musical training, but came to the college to earn a degree in theology. He was an excellent linguist, and was part of an ecumenical group of scholars who first translated the Bible into Haya. He also served as a pastor and bishop of the Lutheran Church in Africa. He wrote the text in a very African style, envisioning a story-teller and congregation responding; the story-teller presents the simple story of the Easter Gospel, and the congregation responds with the refrain, although it can be sung in unison.
Hymn of the Day: “Jesus, I Will Ponder Now” ELW 345
Text: Sigismund von Birken (1626-1681)
Music: JESU KREUZ, LEIDEN UND PEIN, Melchior Vulpius (1570-1615)
This is a meditation on Jesus' passion in six German stanzas by Sigismund von Birken, first published in Johann Michael Dilherr’s “Blessed Holy Week," Heilige Karwochen (Nürnberg, 1653). August Crull translated all six stanzas, which are given in the Evangelical Lutheran Hymn Book (1889) at #70, Evangelical Lutheran Worship, like Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), prints an updated
version of four stanzas from Crull's translation. They are 1-3 followed by the first half of 4 elided with the last half of 6 to form the final stanza. Sigismund von Birken was a poet who wrote about fifty hymns, of which this is the best-known. He was the son of a Lutheran pastor, born in Bohemia. When he was three, his father~-with other Lutheran pastors who were also persecuted—was forced to leave Bohemia. They came to Nürnberg. Sigismund studied at the Gymnasium there. In 1643 he went to the University of Jena, where he studied law and theology. Lack of money kept him from finishing his studies at Jena, but, because of his poetic abilities, he was inducted into poetic societies, became a tutor, and in1654 was made a nobleman by Ferdinand III.
This melody is by Melchior Vulpius. It is named for a text by Petrus Herbert for which it was the tune. The marriage of "Jesus, I will ponder now" with this tune is an auspicious one. Walter Blankenburg regards Melchior Vulpius as the most important hymn tune composer of his period and sees him as the link between Martin Luther and Johann Crüger. He was born of poor parents near Meiningen in Germany. He studied there and at Speyer and married in 1589. Though he did not study at a university, he became a cantor and teacher at Schleusingen and then at Weimar~-the latter from 1596 until his death. He was a student of Johann Steurlein, whose late-sixteenth-century tunes were smoother and more regular than the earlier ones by Luther. Blankenburg says Vulpius's originality lay in introducing to hymn tunes the rhythm of the balletto, a sixteenth- and seventeenth-century light-hearted stylized Italian dance, which at the time had a vocal component. His move kept the smoother regularity from becoming stale. Vulpius's tune GELOBT SEI GOTT is more obviously dance-like, because it is faster and more buoyant. JESU KREUZ, LEIDEN UND PEIN has a quieter, slower, and more reflective though still a dance-like quality. Vulpius wrote more than hymn tunes. He was a prolific and popular composer of Latin and German choral music for Lutheran worship. His works include a setting of the St. Matthew Passion.
Choir Anthem: "I See His Blood Upon the Rose", Michael Bedford (1962)
This is a beautiful setting by Michael Bedford of a beautiful poem by Joseph Mary Plunkett (1887 –1916). Michael Bedford was born in Ireland. Joseph Mary Plunkett was an Irish nationalist, poet, journalist, and a leader of the 1916 Easter Rising.
I see his blood upon the rose
And in the stars the glory of his eyes,
His body gleams amid eternal snows,
His tears fall from the skies.
I see his face in every flower;
The thunder and the singing of the birds
Are but his voice—and carven by his power
Rocks are his written words.
All pathways by his feet are worn,
His strong heart stirs the ever-beating sea,
His crown of thorns is twined with every thorn,
His cross is every tree.
Sending Voluntary: “Calvary,” Richard Billingham (1934)
Calvary comes from one of the darkest periods in American culture. By identifying with the pain and suffering of Jesus on the cross (Matthew 27: 32-50), African slaves could also claim hope of salvation and the promise of an afterlife free of pain. Calvary, like many spirituals, works on multiple levels: the recounting of particular Biblical scenes gives insight into the plight of the slave in America’s difficult social history, while testifying that, through the outpouring of song, the human spirit can transcend even inhumane conditions and endure for generations to come.
Richard Billingham worked for many years as Associate Professor of Music at the University of Illinois and Organist at the First Methodist Church, Chicago.
Hymn of the Day: “Holy God, Holy and Glorious” ELW 637
Text: Susan Briehl (1952)
Music: NELSON Robert Buckley Farlee (1950)
In 1993 Paul Nelson was appointed director for worship in the Division for Congregational Ministries of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. He died on October 28, 2000, after a lengthy disease for which he received a blood and bone marrow transplant. Susan Briehl wrote this hymn two or three weeks before he died. Here is how she describes it.
I wrote "Holy God, holy and glorious" not as a hymn text, but as a gift to our friend Paul Nelson as he grew mysteriously weaker and weaker. A theologian of the cross to the end, Paul proclaimed Christ to me and to many in his dying, just as he had in his living. Later, when he invited me to pray the intercessions at his funeral I drew images from this poem for the prayers. Because it was not intended as a hymn I am especially grateful to Robert Buckley Farlee, who was willing to work with this odd meter. The hymn sings what Martin Luther called a theology of the cross. God’s glory and majesty are hidden under their opposites. The eternal Word becomes frail flesh in Jesus (John 1:14) in whose life, suffering, death, and resurrection we behold God. God's strength is revealed in weakness (Philippians 2:5-11), God's beauty in what humans despise (Isaiah 53:1-3), God’s wisdom in foolishness (1Corinthians 1:18-26), and God's life in death (John 15:12-15).
The Rev. Susan R. Briehl is a pastor of the ELCA. She holds both a B.A. and an M.A. in English from Washington State University and a Master of Divinity from Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley, CA. She was ordained in 1981and has written numerous books, hymns, and worship songs.
Robert Buckley Farlee is Associate Pastor and Director of Music at Christ Lutheran Church in Minneapolis. He also serves on the worship editorial staff at Augsburg Fortress Publishers, and was deeply involved in the publication of Evangelical Lutheran Worship.
Choir Anthem: "I Will Bow" Frederick Chatfield (1950)
This is a simple, yet graceful setting of a Shaker text.
Frederick Chatfield served as Director of Music and Organist of Christ United Methodist Church in Kettering, Ohio, a position he held for thirty years.
I will bow and be simple, I will bow and be free,
I will bow and be humble, yea, bow like the willow tree.
I will bow, this is the token, I will wear the easy yoke,
I will bow and be broken, yea, I'll fall upon the rock.
Opening Voluntary: Rockingham (When I Survey the Wondrous Cross) Rosalie Bonighton (1946-2011)
Born in Ballarat, Australia, Rosalie Bonighton was raised among organs as her parents ran an organ technician business. Bonighton's compositions consistently display a strong academic foundation and dedicated craftsmanship. Her musical style shows influences of plainchant modes, British and Celtic folk song, the richness and complexity of late German Romanticism, and more recently, the harmonies and rhythms of jazz.
Edward Miller (1735-1807) composed the tune, ROCKINGHAM, which has long associations in Great Britain and North America with Isaac Watts' "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.” The tune title refers to a friend and patron of Edward Miller, the Marquis of Rockingham, who served twice as Great Britain's prime minister. Miller was active in the musical life of the Doncaster region and composed keyboard sonatas and church music. ROCKINGHAM (or ROCKINGHAM OLD) is one of the finest long-meter tunes in the history of church music and is much loved by those who sing in harmony.
Closing Voluntary: Finale: Andante from Sonata #6 in D minor, Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847)
The last of Felix Mendelssohn's Op. 65 organ sonatas, the Organ Sonata in D minor/D major, Op. 65, No. 6, was finished in late January of 1845. Once again the composer delves into the archives of the Lutheran chorale in the first movement, and once again there is a fugal movement at the heart of the sonata, the second movement. But unlike most of the other sonatas in the group, the Sonata No. 6 underwent almost no revision after it was completed (whereas for many of the other sonatas the composer's recorded dates of completion are deceptive). It was originally conceived in the same three-movement format, and with the same specific three movements, as found in the version printed in mid-1845.
The Sonata No. 6 opens with 25 measures of a traditionally scored chorale harmonization in D minor on Vater unser im Himmelreich. The movement continues with four variations on the chorale tune. The second movement is a fugue in four voices, relatively short and admirably lean. The final Andante is likewise only a couple of pages long, but it doesn't sound particularly lean -- after the saturation of D minor in the first two movements, the sudden move to D major in the finale's first bar seems almost cushy. The melody reflects the tune, ROCKINGHAM.
Hymn of the Day: “My Hope is Built on Nothing Less” ELW 597
Text: Edward Mote (1797-1874), alt.
Music: MELITA, John B. Dykes (1823-1876)
As Edward Mote was walking to work one day in 1834, the thought popped into his head to write a hymn on the “Gracious Experience of a Christian.” As he walked up the road, he had the chorus, “On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand; All other ground is sinking sand.” By the end of the day, he had the first four verses written out and safely tucked away in his pocket. Later that week, he visited his friend whose wife was very ill, and as they couldn’t find a hymnal to sing from, he dug up his newly written verses and sang those with the couple. The wife enjoyed them so much she asked for a copy, and Mote went home to finish the last two verses and sent it off to a publisher, saying, “As these verses so met the dying woman’s case, my attention to them was the more arrested, and I had a thousand printed for distribution” (Lutheran Hymnal Handbook). Almost two centuries later, we continue to sing these words of hope and assurance, our declaration that in the midst of all trials and storms, we will cling to the rock that is our Savior. Indeed, hymns with this text are published in 1008 hymnals.
Originally a chant melody associated with the text "Eternal Father, strong to save" MELITA is found in most hymnals of denominations where chant has played a role, including the Lutheran tradition, which has produced much organ music on this well-known chant. The setting here is by John B. Dykes, originally composed as a setting for William Whiting's "Eternal Father, Strong to Save." Published in Hymns Ancient and Modern (1861) with that text, MELITA is often referred to as the "navy hymn." The tune is named after the island of Malta where Paul was shipwrecked. A fine tune, MELITA is marked by good use of melodic sequences and a harmony that features several dominant sevenths, both Dykes's trademarks.
Offertory: Suite for Three Flutes - Movement II
Noted composer and scholar Thom Ritter George has taken four movements from Domenico Cimarosa’s piano works and created an elegant suite of 18th-century jewels for flute trio. Suzanne, Claire and Carole are playing the second movement.
Opening Voluntary: “Jesu, Still Lead On” (Jesu geh vorhan), Op. 65
Sigfrid Karg-Elert (1879-1933)
"Seelenbräutigam, Jesu, Gotteslamm!" (Soul's bridegroom, Jesus, God's Lamb) is an Adam Drese hymn of 15 six-line stanzas set to the associated melody, first published in Geistreiches Gesang-Buch, then in the Darmstadt Geist-reiches Gesang-Buch, and the Freylinghausen Gesang-Buch. In Wagner's Gesang-Buch it begins, "Jesu, Gottes Lamm." It makes numerous references to Jesus in pietist terms of "Lamb" and "Bridegroom" as well as the traditional "Hero From David's tribe" and "Prince of Peace" In English its title is "Jesus, still lead on.”
The 66 Chorale improvisations for organ, Op. 65, were composed by Sigfrid Karg-Elert between 1906 and 1908, and first published in six volumes in 1909. The composition was dedicated to "the great organist Alexandre Guilmant".
Closing Voluntary: “Olivet”
Karl Osterland (1956)
Today’s Closing Voluntary is a setting of the tune OLIVET (“My Faith Looks Up to Thee.” The original tune was composed by Lowell Mason, who was an American music director and banker and a leading figure in 19th-century American church music. Lowell composed over 1600 hymn tunes, many of which are often sung today. His best-known work includes an arrangement of Joy to the World and the tune Bethany, which sets the hymn text Nearer, My God, to Thee. Mason also set music to Mary Had A Little Lamb. He is largely credited with introducing music into American public schools, and is considered the first important U.S. music educator. He has also been criticized for helping to largely eliminate the robust tradition of participatory sacred music that flourished in America before his time.
As so often happens in America, the so-called arbiters of good taste looked across the Atlantic for their models and scorned that which was home-grown. And such was their influence that an uncertain population, striving for cultural respectability, embraced the common practice of European art music. These arbiters of taste did not represent the mean of the population. Their influence left the many congregations without a music to which they could identify. An interest in church singing waned, giving way to the quartet choir. New England would not hear again the stimulating strains of the fuge-tune coming from all parts of the sanctuary.
As a farm boy, Karl Osterland began playing the organ at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, in Fair Haven, Michigan when he was ten years old. He has his BA and MM in Organ Performance from the University of Michigan, studying with Robert Clark and Marilyn Mason. He also studied composition with William Bolcom
Hymn of the Day: “Mothering God, You Gave Us Birth” ELW 735
Text: Julian of Norwich (1343-1419) Jean Janzen (1933) alterer
Tune: NORWICH, Carolyn Jennings (1936)
“Mothering God, you gave me birth in the bright morning of this world.” So reads the opening phrase of a text by poet Jean Wiebe Janzen. Ms. Janzen’s text has been associated with such contemporary issues as “feminism” and “inclusivity,” and some commentators have expressed discomfort with its unusual imagery. It may come as a surprise then that the inspiration for Ms. Janzen's text comes from the writings of a 14th-century mystic, Julian of Norwich (c. 1342–c. 1416).
Ms. Janzen was born on the central Canadian prairies and grew up in Mountain Lake, Minn. During her college years she fell in love with literature, and was especially enthralled by the writings of enigmatic poet Emily Dickinson. She went on to study with poets Peter Everwine, Philip Levine and C.G. Hanzlicek, and has grown into an established and celebrated poet in her own right.
As for the lyricist, Julian of Norwich lived a life of prayer and solitude at the church of St. Julian, from which she took her name. Scholar Anna Maria Reynolds described medieval England as a place of “violence, cruelty and pessimism,” these conditions heightened by the Hundred Years’ War (1337-1453) and the Black Death.
In light of all this, the colorful and encouraging words of Julian, informed by her solid faith, stand out in even sharper contrast. Scholar Austin Cooper called Julian “a very intelligent woman . . . of great warmth and charm whose religious experience is expressed with vivid precision and gentle humanity.” In 1373, the deathly ill anchoress experienced a series of 16 profound visions, later published as her Showings. Julian saw Christ as our “true mother,” saying, “The human mother will suckle her child with her own milk, but our beloved Mother, Jesus, feeds us with himself.”
Ms. Janzen was asked to contribute some new hymn texts for the 1992 Hymnal: A Worship Book of the Mennonite church, using the writings of some of the English mystics for inspiration. Ms. Janzen was enthralled by “the rich language of these mystics and their startling ways of speaking to God and about God.”
In this text, Ms. Janzen, a mother herself, weaves the metaphor of God as nurturing mother into a hymn describing the Holy Trinity. “When I read the words of Julian of Norwich as she refers to God as her mother . . . I was astounded,” Ms. Janzen said.
Carolyn Jennings is a Professor Emerita of Music at St. Olaf College where she taught for many years and also served in administrative roles, including Chair of the Music Department and Associate Dean for the Fine Arts. She also served as a church musician for over thirty years, at St. John's Lutheran Church in Northfield, Minnesota.
Over many years she has served on arts advisory panels, as a workshop presenter, and in leadership roles in several professional organizations. She has been active in promoting the use of inclusive language in texts for singing, and has worked to heighten awareness of how language shapes as well as expresses thought. She has been active in the American Choral Directors Association, the Music Teachers National Association, the Minnesota Composers Forum, the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians, and as a guest conductor and workshop leader.
Choir Anthem: Beautiful Savior, Robert Farrell (1945)
This composition features an original melody combined with a familiar and much-loved text.
Robert G. Farrell studied composition with Nikolai Lopatnikoff at Carnegie Mellon University. He graduated with degrees in Piano Performance and Music Education and taught music in the East Allegheny School District for thirty years. During that time, he also held various church positions in the Pittsburgh area as organist and choir director. Following his retirement from active church work, he became composer in residence for St. Paul's Cathedral in Pittsburgh. Farrell has composed hundreds of works in many genres, and his music for the church appears in the catalogs of a number of publishers.
King of creation,
Son of God and Son of all!
Truly I'd love thee, Truly I'd serve thee,
Light of my soul, my joy, my crown.
Fair are the meadows,
Fair are the woodlands,
Robed in flowers of blooming spring;
Jesus is fairer, Jesus is purer,
He makes our sorrowing spirit sing.
Fair is the sunshine,
Fair is the moonlight,
Bright the sparkling stars on high;
Jesus shines brighter, Jesus shines purer
Than all the angels in the sky.
Beautiful Savior, Lord of the nations,
Son of God and Son of all,
Glory and honor, praise, adoration
Now and forevermore be thine!
Opening Voluntary: “Stockton,” Noel Rawsthorne (1929-2019)
The tune “Stockton,” by Thomas Wright, is most often found paired with the text “O For a Heart to Praise My God” and sometimes with “In Christ there is no East or West.”
Christopher Noel Rawsthorne was a British liturgical and concert organist and composer of music for his own instrument, as well as choral music.
At the age of eight he became a chorister at Liverpool Parish Church which started his interest in the pipe organ. Two years later, he became a chorister at Liverpool Cathedral and started organ lessons under Caleb Jarvis.
In six years time later pursued organ studies under Harold Dawber after receiving a coveted exhibition. In 1949, he later became the Assistant Organist of the cathedral, and also received Associateship of the Royal College of Organists (ARCO) and was later elected a fellow (FRCO) in 1953.
He also studied in Italy with Fernando Germani and later in Paris with Marcel Dupré. He became Organist of Liverpool Cathedral in 1955, succeeding Harry Goss-Custard, and served in this capacity until 1980. Until 1993, Rawsthorne was Senior Lecturer in Music at St Katharine's College, Liverpool
Closing Voluntary: “Consolator,” J. Bert Carlson (1937-2017)
CONSOLATOR was originally set for solo voice to "Alma redemptoris mater" by Samuel Webbe, Sr. in his Collection of Motetts and Antiphons (1792). Thomas Hastings adapted the tune for use with Moore's text in Spiritual Songs for Social Worship (1831). CONSOLATOR is also known as ALMA and CONSOLATION, paired with “Come, ye disconsolate” in 998 hymnals.
Pastor Carlson ministered to many congregations for over 50 years in NJ, PA and IN. He was also an accomplished musician and published composer.
Hymn of the Day: “O Lord, Throughout These Forty Days” (ELW 319)
Text: Claudia Frances Hernaman (1838-1898)
Tune: CONSOLATION, A. Davisson, Kentucky Harmony, 1816
Claudia Frances Ibotson Hernaman’s hymn, “Lord, who throughout these forty days,” signals the beginning of Lent and is often sung during Ash Wednesday services or throughout the season of Lent. Forty is a number with special biblical significance. It rained for forty days and nights when the earth was overtaken by floodwaters, and Noah waited another forty days before opening the window of the Ark. Israel wandered in the desert for forty years. Jesus was seen on earth following the resurrection for forty days. In this case, Christ’s forty days in the wilderness provides the primary paradigm for the forty days of Lent.
Claudia Hernaman was born in Surrey, England, and died in Brussels, Belgium. She was the daughter of an Anglican minister, and she married a minister who also served as a school inspector. Like so many other women hymn writers of the nineteenth century, she was devoted to the religious education of children. Toward this end, she wrote 150 hymns in several collections, some original and some translated from Latin. "Lord, Who Throughout These Forty Days" appeared first in her Child’s Book of Praise; A Manual for Devotion in Simple Verse (1873). It was not included in hymnals, however, until the mid-twentieth century, when it appeared in the Irish Church Hymnal (1960) and Hymns for Church and School (1964).
By the 1970s, “Lord, who throughout these forty days” was a standard hymn in most hymnals in the United States. It is based on the account of the temptation of Jesus found in three Gospels -- Matthew 4:1-11; Mark 1:12-13; Luke 4:1-13. As is the case with many hymns, Christ’s life becomes a model for how his followers should confront temptation. The first two lines of the stanzas focus on a response of Christ when he faced temptation; the last two lines encourage Christians to model their behavior on Christ’s example. This is a familiar pattern for children’s hymns from the days of Isaac Watts. It obviously strikes a chord with adult believers as well. The classic themes of the Lenten season are presented in the stanzas of this hymn: fasting and prayer (stanza one); struggle with Satan and sin (stanza two); dying to self, meditation on scripture (stanza three); penitence (stanza four); looking toward the joy of Easter (stanza five).
MORNING SONG is a folk tune that has some resemblance to the traditional English tune for "Old King Cole." The tune appeared anonymously in Part II of John Wyeth's Repository of Sacred Music (1813). In the original harmonization the melody was in the tenor. The tune is also known as CONSOLATION (and KENTUCKY HARMONY), its title in Ananias Davisson's Kentucky Harmony (1816), where it was set to Isaac Watts' morning song, "Once More, My Soul, the Rising Day."—C. Michael Hawn
Choir Anthem: “Bread of the World,” Robert Benson (1942)
A gently flowing anthem on this prayer by Reginald Heber asking Christ to look on us with mercy and to feed us with his grace. Reginald Heber was born in 1783 into a wealthy, educated family. He was a bright youth, translating a Latin classic into English verse by the time he was seven, entering Oxford at 17, and winning two awards for his poetry during his time there. After his graduation he became rector of his father's church in the village of Hodnet near Shrewsbury in the west of England where he remained for 16 years. He was appointed Bishop of Calcutta in 1823 and worked tirelessly for three years until the weather and travel took its toll on his health and he died of a stroke. Most of his 57 hymns, which include "Holy, Holy, Holy," are still in use today.
A native of Kansas City, Missouri, Robert Benson began organ studies in high school with William Lemmens and continued at the University of Kansas with Richard Gayhart. Since the age of sixteen he has served as organist and/or choirmaster at a number of churches and as church musician, choral conductor and composer in the Cincinnati area.
Bread of the world in mercy broken,
wine of the soul in mercy shed,
by whom the words of life were spoken,
and in whose death our sins are dead.
Look on the heart by sorrow broken,
look on the tears by sinners shed;
and be thy feast to us the token
that by thy grace our souls are fed.
Opening Voluntary: “On Eagle’s Wings", Sylvia Berg Oines
Sylvia Berg Oines, a native of the Pacific Northwest, has taught, performed and studied in the Seattle area for 30 years. As a graduate of Seattle Pacific University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music Education, Sylvia has taught both in public and private schools and currently serves as Organist for Bethany Presbyterian Church on Queen Anne Hill. Previous positions include general music instructor at King's Schools and Organist/Youth Choir Director at Bethel Lutheran Church of Shoreline. Areas of special interest and study include arranging hymn accompaniments for organ, choral arranging and jazz piano.
“On Eagle's Wings" is a devotional Hymn composed by Michael Joncas. Joncas wrote the piece in either 1976 or 1979, after he and his friend, Douglas Hall, returned from a meal to learn that Hall's father had died of a heart attack. has become popular as a contemplative hymn at Catholic masses as well as at Protestant services of worship.
Closing Voluntary: “Ein feste Burg,” Barbara Harbach
Dr. Barbara Harbach, Curators’ Distinguished Professor Emerita of Music at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, has a large catalog of works. She is also involved in the research, editing, publication and recording of manuscripts of eighteenth-century keyboard composers, as well as historical and contemporary women composers.
Hymn of the Day:“Jesus on the Mountain Peak”, ELW 317
Text: Brian Wren (1936)
Tune: BETHOLD, Mark Sedio, (1954)
A fine hymn for Transfiguration is “Jesus on the mountain peak” (ELW 317). Its author, Brian Wren, a minister of the United Reformed Church in Great Britain who now resides in the United States, has crafted many hymns that exemplify the need for worship materials that speak inclusively about the Christian community and expansively about God. In Wren’s Transfiguration hymn, all who worship have witnessed the transfigured Jesus. This is the last time until Easter that we sing “Alleluia.”
Choir Anthem: Cantique de Jean Racine
Gabriel Faure (1845-1924)
Composed in 1865, when Fauré was just twenty, it’s very much a precursor to the Requiem, with similarly lush, intense choral writing layered on top of sparse accompaniment. As with the Requiem, it takes a religious text as its inspiration – in this case, words by the French playwright Jean Racine.
Fauré studied composition at the École Niedermeyer in Paris, and submitted this piece for the school’s composition competition. He won first prize and his success spurred him on to write more religious music.
Despite coming in for some criticism during his lifetime for a failure to embrace larger-scale works, Fauré stuck to his guns and resolutely refused to move away from chamber music and elegant choral miniatures. While the Cantique de Jean Racine is only five minutes long, it’s none the worse for that, and it confirms Fauré’s status not just as an outstanding young musician but as one of France’s most influential and important composers.
The text is a loose translation of a Latin hymn for Tuesday matins. The work has also been arranged for strings and organ, and it was in that format that it was first performed in August 1886.
O Word, equal of the Most High,
Our sole hope, eternal day of earth and the heavens,
We break the silence of the peaceful night.
Divine Saviour, cast Thine eyes upon us!
Shed the light of Thy mighty grace upon us.
Let all Hell flee at the sound of Thy voice.
Dispel the slumber of a languishing soul
That leads it to the forgetting of Thy laws!
O Christ, be favorable unto this faithful people
Now gathered to bless Thee.
Receive the hymns it offers unto Thine immortal glory
And may it return laden with Thy gifts.
Opening Voluntary: “All Glory Be To God On High,”
A. Armsdorf (1670-1699)
The tune name ALLEIN GOTT derives from the opening words of Decius's rhymed text in High German. The tune was first published in Georg Schumann's Geistliche Lieder. Decius adapted the tune from a tenth-century Easter chant for the Gloria text, beginning at the part accompanying the words "et in terra pax. . . " ("and on earth, peace. . . "). Because the Gloria became part of the ordinary (the unvarying parts) of the Roman Catholic Mass, there are many choral settings of the Latin text. Anglican composers have set the English text in their "great services," while Lutheran composers have written various chorale preludes on ALLEIN GOIT for organ. Bach used the hymn in cantatas 85, 104, 112, and 128 and composed about ten preludes on the tune.
Andreas Armsdorff was a German composer and organist. He was born in Mühlberg, near Gotha, and studied music and law. At some point in his early life he moved to nearby Erfurt where he may have studied with Johann Pachelbel.
Closing Voluntary: “DEO GRACIAS"
Healey Willan (1880-1968)
Born in London in 1880, Willan was a prolific composer of some 800 works, including operas, symphonies, concerti and keyboard music. As a teenager, he gained both ARCO and FRCO diplomas and for 10 years, held the position of organist at St John the Baptist Church, Holland Road, London. In 1913, Willan emigrated to Canada, where he lectured in music at Toronto University. In 1921, he became precentor at the Church of St Mary Magdalene, where he remained until his death.
Willan left a substantial body of organ music, and this Prelude on the tune 'Deo Gracias' is the fourth piece of the second set of hymn preludes, first published in 1957. Willan prefaces the score with the hymn tune written out (dated 1415) and in his harmonization, there is a robustness and dignified sense of drive as the music unfolds, working up to a powerful climax on full organ. In 3/4 time, the music is not dissimilar in spirit to Whitlock's 'Allegro risoluto' from the Plymouth Suite, and it would be interesting to know if Willan was influenced by the rhythmic energy and restrained grandeur of Whitlock's style.