Hymn of the Day: “The Angel Gabriel from heaven Came” ELW 265
Text: Basque carol; para. Sabine Baring-Gould(1834-1924)
Tune: GABRIEL’S MESSAGE, C. Edgar Pettman (1865-1943)
This carol is based on a Basque one, “Birjina gaztettobat zegoen”, published in the series Archives de la tradition basque, 1895. Sabine Baring-Gould, who wrote several novels and hymns (including “Onward Christian Soldiers”) and who had spent a winter as a boy in Basque lands, translated the carol into English, reducing the original 6 stanzas to 4 and giving Gabriel the very beautiful and very Victorian “wings as drifted snow”.
This tune has a long association with this text and may date from the 16th to the 18th centuries. Charles Edgar Pettman was born in England, studied organ at the Royal Academy of Music, worked as an organist, wrote church music, edited carol books and became editor tor the music publisher A. W. Ridley and Co.
Musical Meditation: Fantasia on "Helmsley", Alan Rideout (1934-1996)
Born in England, Alan Ridout studied at the Royal College of Music, London with many notable composers of that period, including Herbert Howells and Michael Tippett. He went on to teach at the Royal College of Music, the University of Birmingham, the University of Cambridge, the University of London, and at The King's School, Canterbury. He also broadcast musical talks on the radio.
John Wesley attributed the tune HELMSLEY to Thomas Olivers in Wesley's 1765 Sacred Melodies with his brother's text of "Lo! He Comes with Clouds Descending." However, Olivers is said to have heard the tune on the street somewhere. Since the first line resembles a tune by violinist and composer Thomas Augustine Arne composed for Thomas and Sally, or The Sailor's Return in 1761, it is speculated the tune was composed by Arne. Most likely, the tune comes from a 1763 edition Martin Madan's Collection of Psalms and Hymn Tunes Sung at the Chapel of Lock Hospital. Madan was the chaplain at Lock Hospital.
The O Antiphons
ELW hymn #257 “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” 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” begins with “O” and describes 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.
“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.
Each verse of this beautiful hymn will be preceded by the “O” Antiphon chanted by the choir.