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Sunday Music Musings September 24, 2022

Prelude in G BWV 541 by J. S. Bach (1685-1750) is one of the most joyful pieces I know, and I am joyful that things are getting back to normal singing-wise. The opening arpeggio leads into an ebullient Vivaldi-like tutti. This work was probably originally written around the middle of Bach’s formative period in Weimar, 1708-1717, but revised in Leipzig sometime after 1740.

Our upbeat Processional hymn Tell Out My Soul is a 20th century setting of Mary’s Song, the Magnificat. Timothy Dudley-Smith OBE (b. 1926) is a retired bishop of the Church of England and a noted hymnwriter of over 400 hymns. The tune WOODLANDS is by Walter Greatorex (1877-1949). Greatorix, who became a music teacher, began his musical career as a chorister at King’s College, Cambridge, England.

Our Song of Praise by the children is a partner song of two spirituals, Swing Low, Sweet Chariot and All Night, All Day—both alluding to the angels in today’s Psalm (91). At the Fraction the Adult Choir will sing a setting of a few verses of this psalm as well, Hide me Under the Shadow of thy Wings by the late 19th century composer John Ebenezer West (1863-1929). This beautiful short motet is set in a deliberately antique, almost Renaissance style. Read more about West here. Another connection to today’s service is West’s fame as a conductor of a tenor-bass choir, the famed Railway Clearing House Male-Voice Choir.

The tenors and basses will sing Jester Hairston’s (1901-2000) well known spiritual arrangement of Poor Man Lazarus which goes with the gospel reading as the offertory. Composer, songwriter, film composer, and singer educated at Tufts University, Juilliard, and the University of the Pacific, Hairston was an esteemed choral director as well as actor. You may have encountered him in the movie Lilies of the Field (1963) for which he wrote the song “Amen” and dubbed the singing voice for Sidney Poitier. Read more here.

“Poor man Lazrus sick and disabled. Dip your finger in the water, come and, cool my tongue, ’cause I’m tormented in the flame. He had to eat crumbs from the rich man’s table. Dip your finger in the water, come and, cool my tongue, ‘cause I’m tormented in the flame.

I’m tormented in the flame. I’m tormented in the flame.
Dip your finger in the water, come and, cool my tongue,
’cause I’m tormented in the flame.

Rich man Divies he lived so well. Dip your finger in the water, come and, cool my tongue, ’cause I’m tormented in the flame. And when he died he went straight to hell. Dip your finger in the water, come and, cool my tongue, ’cause I’m tormented in the flame. (Chorus)

I love to shout, I love to sing! Dip your finger in the water, come and, cool my tongue, ’cause I’m tormented in the flame. I love to praise my heav’nly King! Dip your finger in the water, come and, cool my tongue, ’cause I’m tormented in the flame. (Chorus)

Jester Hairston

The short communion organ piece I will play is by a fascinating woman that I just came to learn of this summer at Liedfestival Sindelfingen. Mélanie Hélène Bonis, known as Mel Bonis (1858 – 1937), was a prolific French late-Romantic composer. She wrote more than 300 pieces, including for piano, chorus organ and orchestra. Her life reads like a movie plot that you would have trouble believing. I promise more stories as I play more of her music this year, but for now you can read about her life in Wikipedia as if you were reading a gothic novel!

Mel Bonis

Our communion hymn to the familiar words “There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy” is by Frederick William Faber (1814-1863), a noted English hymn writer and theologian, who converted from Anglicanism to Roman Catholicism in 1845. He was ordained to the Catholic priesthood in 1847. His best-known hymn is Faith of Our Fathers. We will sing it to a less familiar but gorgeous tune (ST. HELENA) by one of the greats of our 20th century Anglican composers and organists, Calvin Hampton (1938-1984). Hampton received his musical training at Oberlin Conservatory and Syracuse University. For many years (1963 – 1983), he was organist at Calvary Episcopal Church NYC. He was a fantastic organist, and also loved to improvise and transcribe such things as Modest Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition and César Franck’s Symphony in D minor for organ. His wildly popular “Fridays at Midnight” organ recital series ran from 1974-83. The late Eric Routley, an authority on church music, called Hampton as “the greatest living composer of hymn tunes.” Hampton also wrote important works for orchestral and chamber forces, consulted on organ building and recorded and concertized extensively. He composed through the last year before his death from AIDS at the age of 45.

Calvin Hampton

Our final hymn is DARWALL’s 148th, Ye Holy Angels’ Bright. It is a wonderfully singable C major based on a tune and bass by John Darwall (1731-1789) and fleshed out by William Henry Monk, (1823-1889), who is best known for his music editing of Hymns Ancient and Modern (1861, 1868; 1875, and 1889) and the tune  Eventide (“Abide with Me”). The words are also by a team; original by Richard Baxter (1615-1691) revised later by John Hampton Gurney (1802-1862).

The postlude a setting of this by is by the Anglo-Canadian great Healey Willan, who I wrote about extensively here.

Sunday Music Musings September 17, 2022

Frelinghusen Arboretum – just because

The tortured reading from Jeremiah :

Is there no balm in Gilead?
Is there no physician there?

Why then has the health of my poor people
not been restored?

is answered with hope and faith by the spiritual There Is A Balm in Gilead, a traditional African-American spiritual dating back at least to the 19th century. According to Wikipedia, a version of the refrain can be found in Washington Glass’s 1854 hymn “The Sinner’s Cure”. There is an allusion to the song in Edgar Allen Poe’s poem The Raven (1845). The spiritual longs for healing, both physical, and spiritual. Sunday’s prelude is a setting by Richard Billingham (b. 1934), who worked for many years as Associate Professor of Music at the University of Illinois and Organist at the First Methodist Church, Chicago. It is a straightforward if jazz-chordy setting. The adult choir will sing a simple setting at the fraction.

What hymn could be more Welsh than the tune CWM RHONDDA by John Hughes (1873-1932), with words by William Williams (1717-1791) the “Watts of Wales,” translated by Peter Williams (1722-1796)? So let’s emulate the Welsh and sing LOUDLY on our processional hymn! You can read LOTS more about these three Welshmen in my blog from July 2021.

Our school choirs are back and will lead us in the Song of Praise, appropriately Song for Beginnings by Kevin Riehle. It uses the same text as our Compline Song “Keep Me, Keep Me” so we are using the same sign language we know for that: “Keep me as the apple of the eye” (which is a gesture meaning keep me cherished) and “Hide me under the shadow of thy wings.” Riehle is the director of the Parish Choir of St. Martin’s Episcopal Church, Houston Texas.

When I wrote to Dr. Adolphus Hailstork to ask for permission to sing Look to This Day, now out of print (which was kindly granted) last year with Harmonium, I asked him if he wanted to say anything about it. He responded simply, “Why not check out the text?” This text above is meant to be invoked every morning – and what wisdom! “Look to this day” is set as a theme of four rising pick-up notes, until the very penultimate statement, when the composer accents “Look to THIS day” to emphasize the meaning.

Look to this day!

For it is life,

the very life of life.

The bliss of growth,

The glory of action,

The splendor of beauty.

For yesterday is but a dream

And tomorrow is only a vision;

But today, well-lived,

Makes ev’ry yesterday a dream of happiness

And ev’ry tomorrow a vision of hope.   – Kālidāsa, 4th century

Adolphus Hailstork (b. 1941) received his doctorate in composition from Michigan State University, having previously studied at the Manhattan School of Music under Vittorio Giannini and David Diamond, at the American Institute at Fontainebleau with Nadia Boulanger, and at Howard University with Mark Fax. Dr. Hailstork has written numerous works for chorus, solo voice, piano, organ, various chamber ensembles, band, orchestra, and opera, which have been performed by major ensembles around the country. In a wonderful recent video, Dr. Hailstork admitted that setting music for choirs is something he does often. He also credited the excellent opportunities given him growing up in the New York State public school system, having opportunities as a chorister, and having a teacher who performed his compositions for chorus and orchestra. He also explains how although his music is influenced by African-American culture, he is steeped in classical and liturgical traditions. He is currently working on his Fourth Symphony, and A KNEE ON A NECK (tribute to George Floyd) for chorus and orchestra. Dr. Hailstork resides in Virginia Beach and is Professor of Music and Eminent Scholar at Old Dominion University in Norfolk.

Dr. Adolphus Hailstork

Text author Kālidāsa (4th century) was a Classical Sanskrit author who is often considered ancient India’s greatest playwright and dramatist. His surviving works consist of three plays, two epic poems, and two shorter poems.

Since not everyone is in church on Good Friday, and Herzlich tut mich verlangen (the “Passion Chorale”) is such a gorgeous and important tune, by the great German Baroque composer Hans Leo Hassler (1564-1612) which is found so many times in Bach Passions and cantatas, I am glad we can sing it to these comforting words “Commit Thou All that Grieves Thee.” The words were originally German by Paul Gerhardt (b. 1607-1676), famous author of Lutheran evangelical hymns, and theologian. Living through the era of the Thirty Years’ War, he certainly knew about grief: four of his five children died young, followed by his wife.  John Wesley,  Catherine Winkworth and in this case Arthur Farlander (1898-1952) and Charles Winfred Douglas (1867-1944) made famous English translations of Gerhardt’s texts. With the choristers we discussed how the PASSION story is the story of Jesus’ death, in case you wonder why they came home with purple PASSION buttons left over from Harmonium’s 2019 performance (I hope it will help them remember!)

Our last hymn LOBE DEN HERRN (“Praise to the Lord”) is an old German tune from the Erneuerten Gesangbuch (1665), paired with a text by Joachim Neander (1650-1680), teacher, poet, preacher, lover of nature and hymn-writer; that was translated into English for the 1940 hymnal. The postlude by J.G. Walther (1684 – 1748) sets the tune clearly in the pedal, as well as using each phrase as the basis of the counterpoint of each section. Walther was a music theorist and organist of the Baroque era who wrote many practical chorale.

Thanks to Erik Donough for capturing the baritone’s eye view of choirs being back last week!

For my music-loving friends, Erik has a new podcast called Take A Cue, discussing life as a junior high band director. Check it out!

SEE YOU IN CHURCH for LOUD in person singing! We have a Ministry Fair and picnic afterwards with lots of free stuff at the music table, and flyers for our upcoming Grace Community Music Season, including Vaughan William’s Birthday Hymnsing (Oct. 12), and the Halloween Concert (Oct. 29). Meet our head choristers and Camille and Paul! Hand in your emergency forms! I’m so happy to have all this singing back!

Sunday Music Musings September 10, 2022

Clematis at Windsor, Choir trip 2015

Sunday September 11 our choirs are back in full, and we of course are mindful of the day, both the anniversary of 9/11 and now the queen’s passing. The Prelude is an organ transcription of Edward Elgar’s (1857 –1934) Nimrod from the Enigma Variations for orchestra. This variation has an elegiac quality and is often used for funerals or remembrance, in this case, 9/11 remembrance. It was played by the band of the Grenadier Guards at Prince Philip’s funeral service at Windsor Castle, and I am guessing we will hear it again in royal remembrance events to come.

Very often, because of how the lectionary lessons fall in the autumn, Praise My Soul (LAUDA ANIMA) is the processional on our first Sunday back. After we rehearsed it Thursday night my husband Jabez reminded me that was one of Her Majesty’s favorite hymns.

The words are by Henry Francis Lyte (1793-1847)-born in Scotland he spent most of his childhood in an orphanage. Lyte distinguished himself at Trinity College, Dublin, by winning the English prize poem three times. He abandoned Medicine for Theology and took Holy Orders in 1815. His first curacy was in Wexford and in 1817. In 1818 he moved to Cornwall and had a spiritual conversion over the death of a fellow clergyman. Lyte says of him:—

“He died happy under the belief that though he had deeply erred, there was One whose death and sufferings would atone for his delinquencies, and be accepted for all that he had incurred;”…

“I was greatly affected by the whole matter, and brought to look at life and its issue with a different eye than before; and I began to study my Bible, and preach in another manner than I had previously done.”

Lyte was tall, handsome, eccentric, well-read and played the flute. He wrote many hymns-the other most famous one being “Abide with Me.” Both of these hymns were included Queen Elizabeth II’s royal wedding on November 20, 1947, exactly 100 years after his death.

By the way, the word “hymn” means the text—please if you are uncomfortable singing, open your hymnal and meditate on these beautiful poems of our faith. (And then come see me for a few free voice lessons and I’ll get you going!)

I often think it is interesting to look at the full stanzas and see what our hymnal has omitted. Here is the omitted verse:

Frail as summer’s flower we flourish,
Blows the wind and it is gone;
But while mortals rise and perish
Our God lives unchanging on,
Praise Him, Praise Him, Hallelujah
Praise the High Eternal One!

The composer of the tune, John Goss (1800-1880) is an important Victorian Anglican musician, with lots of chants in our hymnal too. Born in Hampshire, as a boy Goss was a chorister at the Chapel Royal and later sang in the opera chorus of the Covent Garden Theater. He was a professor of music at the Royal Academy of Music (1827-1874) and organist of St. Paul Cathedral, London (1838-1872); in both positions he exerted significant influence on the reform of British cathedral music. In 1872 he was knighted by Queen Victoria, and four years later was awarded an honorary Doctor of Music degree by Cambridge University.

The Song of Praise is a brand new work by one of my favorite contemporary composers, Elizabeth Alexander, sung by our Gargoyles.

Do not leave your cares at the door.

Do not leave them there when you come into this place.

Be open to forgiveness and transformation —

Come on in; you are welcome here;

And do not leave your cares at the door.

Bring your pain and sorrow and joy,

There’s a place for them upon the altar of life.

Be open to forgiveness and transformation —

Come on in; you are welcome here;

And do not leave your cares at the door.

This is a place of grace,

Of losing and finding the way upon the winding road,

Meeting and parting,

Stumbling and starting over.

Every journey is sacred here, even yours.

Do not leave your cares at the door.

Do not leave them there when you come into this place.

Be open to forgiveness and transformation —

Come on in; you are welcome here;

And do not leave your cares at the door.

Original poem © 1997 by Norman V. Naylor, Adapted text © 2006 by Elizabeth Alexander

Elizabeth Alexander (b.1962) grew up in the Carolinas and Appalachian Ohio, the daughter of a piano teacher and a minister/prison warden. Her love of words nearly eclipses her love of music – a passion reflected in her more than 100 songs and choral works, which have received thousands of performances worldwide. A McKnight Composition Fellow, she has received many other awards and fellowships She received her doctorate in music composition from Cornell University.

The adult choir offertory anthem is My Shepherd Will Supply My Need arranged by Virgil Thomson. As well as responding to the gospel of the 99 sheep, there is a 9/11 story for this. A few days after those terrible events, the town of Madison held a memorial on the steps of Hartley-Dodge, and we joined with the church choirs from St. Vincent’s and the Presbyterian Church to sing this. It turns out it was pouring rain, and when it can time to sing together on the steps, we just all put down our umbrellas and went for it. Of course the music itself got soaking wet. I was all ready to throw it away but one of the altos (Dorothy Hayes) took the music home and dried it and ironed it! Now when I a copy that is slightly wrinkled I remember all of that.

Virgil Thomson (1896-1989), was a many faceted American composer of great originality and a brilliant music critic. He studied at Harvard, then in Paris where he studied with Nadia Boulanger Among his most famous works are the operas Four Saints in Three Acts and The Mother of Us All (both with texts by Gertrude Stein with whom he formed a legendary artistic collaboration), and film scores to The Plow That Broke the Plains,The River, and Louisiana Story. This simple arrangement of the American folk tune RESIGNATION is a fine example of Thomson’s musical style rooted in American speech rhythms and hymnbook harmony, and influenced by Satie’s ideals of clarity, and simplicity. The text is Isaac Watts’ metric paraphrase of Psalm 23. The tune RESIGNATION is from The Sacred Harp.

Note the tune in tenor

Speaking of The Sacred Harp, some of our teen sopranos and altos, the Daughters of Zion, will sing Wondrous Love at the Fraction.

The organ piece before communion is a Charles Callahan setting of MATERNA (America the Beautiful) which I wrote more extensively about here. I always like to point out New Jersey conncections: the tune is by Samuel Augustus Ward (1847-1903) a native of Newark, who became organist/choirmaster at Grace Church in Newark.

The communion hymns is an unusual one verse by American hymnodist and Lutheran pastor Jaroslav J. Vajda (1919-2008). Born of Czechoslovakian parents, Vajda was educated at Concordia College in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and Concordia Theological Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri. You can read more about him here.

The tune NOW is by another great Lutheran church musician, Carl F. Schalk (1929-2021), who also attended Concordia Seminary as well as Eastman School of Music.

Our final hymn is Immortal, Invisible to the rousing tune ST. DENIO with words by Walter Chalmer Smith (1824-1908), (like Lyte) another Scottish hymnodist and priest.

ST. DENIO is based on “Can mlynedd i nawr” (“A Hundred Years from Now”), a traditional Welsh ballad popular in the early nineteenth century. It was first published as a hymn tune in John Roberts‘s Caniadau y Cyssegr (Hymns of the Sanctuary, 1839). The tune title refers to St. Denis, the patron saint of France.

Here is some more information from the Psalter Hymnal Handbook, 1988:

“ST. DENIO is a sturdy tune in rounded bar form (AABA’); its bright character in a major key should put to rest the notion that all Welsh tunes are sad and in minor key. John Roberts (b. near Aberystwyth, Wales, 1822; d. Caernarvon, Wales, 1877) is also known by his Welsh name, Ieuan Gwyllt (Wild John) to distinguish him from many other John Roberts. He began conducting choirs at the age of fourteen and was a schoolteacher at sixteen. Ordained in the (Calvinist) Methodist ministry in 1859, he served congregations in Aberdare and Llanberis. In 1859 he also founded the Welsh singing festival “Gymanfa ganu” and compiled the important Calvinist Methodist hymnal Llyfr Tonau CynulleidfaolPHH 73) hymnal, Swn y Iiwvili (1874).

Finally, I will not play the listed postlude, but will instead play a setting of THAXTED by John Ignatowski. THAXTED is the name of a beloved tune by Gustav Holst (1874 –1934) originally the theme of Jupiter from The Planets. Like many tune names, it is named for the English village where Holst lived much of his life. He adapted the theme in 1921 to fit the patriotic poem “I Vow to Thee, My Country” by Cecil Spring Rice (1859 –1918) – as a unison song with orchestra. It did not appear as a hymn-tune called “Thaxted” until his friend Ralph Vaughan Williams included it in Songs of Praise in 1926. The words sum up the life of service of the late great Queen Elizabeth II.

I vow to thee, my country
All earthly things above
Entire and whole and perfect
The service of my love

The love that asks no questions
The love that stands the test
That lays upon the altar
The dearest and the best

The love that never falters
The love that pays the price
The love that makes undaunted
The final sacrifice

And there’s another country
I’ve heard of long ago
Most dear to them that love her
Most great to them that know

We may (we may not count her armies)
We may (we may not see her King)
Her fortress is a faithful heart
Her pride is suffering

And soul by soul and silently
Her shining bounds increase
And her ways are ways of gentleness
And all her paths are peace

Sunday Music Musings Sept. 4, 2022

Dr. Anne’s blog is back! I might not write about EVERY SINGLE PIECE OF MUSIC like I did during pandemic (the only way I could talk to you all!), but I will highlight the most interesting choir news of the week!

I am going to play the prelude on the flute to the tune BOURBON – one of the tunes I requested in the set of Three Lenten Works for Solo Flute that I commissioned from Thomas Keesecker during the pandemic. Thomas Keesecker (b. 1956) has enjoyed a long career as a church musician, which has allowed him the freedom to be creative in composing music in a variety of styles. He studied at the Berklee College of Music in Boston and the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.  Thomas wrote “Three Lenten Preludes for Solo Flute” with the dedication “For flutists everywhere during the Pandemic of 2020-2021. Commissioned by Anne Matlack, Melissa Honohan, Tom and Judy Honohan, Kris Lamb, and Maureen Lewis.”

We will use this hymn at communion. The tune Bourbon is a southern folk tune attributed to Freeman Lewis (1780-1859), a Pennsylvania surveyor. There are two texts in our hymnal, #147, “O Let us All with one Accord,” and the one we are using today, “Take Up Your Cross,” #675. This is a text by Charles William Everest (1814-1877), a priest from Connecticut.

Our Processional hymn (#9) often comes up in the fall, and it reminds me of fall with its minor key and poetry referencing “the royal robes of autumn moors”. The text of “Not here for high and holy things” is by Geoffrey Anketel Studdert Kennedy (1883-1929). According to Wikipedia, he was an English Anglican priest and poet. He was nicknamed Woodbine Willie during World War I for giving Woodbine cigarettes along with spiritual aid to injured and dying soldiers. After serving as chaplain and initially supporting the British war effort with enthusiasm (and rousing speeches), he became a pacifist and Christian Socialist. After the war, Studdert Kennedy led a church Lombard Street, London. His books Lies (1919), Democracy and the Dog-Collar (1921), Food for the Fed Up (1921), The Wicket Gate (1923), and The Word and the Work (1925) reflected his change of heart. He toured the country speaking on behalf of the working classes, and died in Liverpool, exhausted at the age of 45. The poor working people flocked to pay their respects at his funeral, but The Dean of Westminster refused burial at Westminster Abbey, because he said Studdert Kennedy was a “socialist,” even though he had distrusted most politicians and had refused to join any political party.

I don’t know how such a distinctly British poet came to be paired with such an American tune. Perhaps because MORNING SONG is a folk tune that has some resemblance to the traditional English tune for “Old King Cole,” a tune which appeared anonymously in Part II of John Wyeth’s Repository of Sacred Music (1813). Morning Song is attributed to Elkanah Kelsey Dare (1782-1826), a Methodist minister who was born in New Jersey (a lot of these!) and moved to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania sometime before 1818. Dare was probably the music editor for John Wyeth’s Repository of Sacred Music, Part Second (1813), a shaped-note collection that includes more than a dozen of his own tunes. The tune is also known as CONSOLATION, its title in Kentucky Harmony (1816), where it was set to Isaac Watts’ morning song, “Once More, My Soul, the Rising Day.” Other texts that use this tune include “The King shall Come when Morning Dawns,” and “O Holy City, Seen of John.”

The postlude on this tune, by Gardner Read, actually references the title “Once More My Soul the Rising Day,” which explains the upward-leaping toccata figures in the hands, over the tune in the pedals, not to mention the morphing of the whole piece from minor up to major! Read (1913 – 2005) was born in Illinois. According to his obituary, he was a prolific composer of orchestral, choral, and chamber works and pieces for piano, organ, and solo voice. In addition, he authored a number of texts on musical notation and composition. Between 1941 to 1948, Read headed the composition departments at the St. Louis Institute of Music, the Kansas City Conservatory of Music, and the Cleveland Institute of Music. In 1948, he was appointed composer-in-residence and professor of composition at the School of Music, Boston University, retiring in 1978. In addition, Read served as principal conductor with the St. Louis Philharmonic Orchestra in 1943 and 1944, and put in guest conducting appearances over the years with the Boston Symphony, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Kansas City Philharmonic, and various university orchestras in performances of his own works.

The summer choir will sing an offertory anthem by Martin How, a very influential English church musician who died in July at the age of 91.  You can read about him here.

The text “Day by Day” is known as “Prayer of St. Richard of Chichester” and is possibly most famous for its use in the musical Godspell. When we were in residence at Winchester in 2015 we visited Chichester Cathedral on a very British rainy day!

St. Richard window at Chichester

I was so excited to start choirs this week! The children are working on an anthem for Sept. 18, service music and hymns, Halloween songs (for our concert October 29 at 7) and LOTS of Vaughan Williams, whose 150th  birthday we will celebrate with a hymn sing on Wednesday October 12 at 7 (please come!).

Last but not least, please welcome our new Gargoyles director/tenor Paul Salierno. Here is his bio: Paul graduated Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University with a BM in Music Education with a concentration in voice. Throughout his time there he sang with the Rutgers University Glee Club and the Rutgers University Kirkpatrick Choir, both under the direction of Patrick Gardner. He also participated in student theatre as a music director and performer at Cabaret Theatre and Livingston Theatre Company. Since then, he has begun teaching elementary general/vocal music  in the Verona Public Schools where he grew up and is now entering his fourth year as a music teacher. Paul also has had the amazing opportunity to be the music director for the Verona High School Spotlight Players, working on shows such as The Mystery of Edwin Drood and Footloose.

Paul is beyond excited to share his talents and work with the amazing congregation and staff at Grace Episcopal. He is looking forward to meeting everyone! Some of his interests outside of music include cooking, exercising, traveling, and spending time with loved ones.

Summer vacation June-Aug. 2022

After over 2 years of reaching out through the pandemic, Dr. Anne’s Sunday Music Musings is taking a summer break! I have found it fun to look back a year or two and see how far we’ve come, it helps me appreciate the singing we have now! So do browse back!

The choir will sing a few anthems in June, and summer choir, meeting at 9:30 Sundays will lead hymns in July while our organ scholar Henry plays, Camille organizes us, and Dr. Anne tours the Balkans with Harmonium followed by some time with family in Germany!

Please join us on Monday June 27 at 7:30 p.m. at Grace to hear the concert we will sing on tour!

And DO watch last Sunday of you missed it for some wonderful choir singing and 4 moving senior sermons.

Sunday Music Musings June 11, 2022

I am so happy to celebrate another choir year, get a chance to thank choir members and acolytes and hear senior sermons from kids once in the red choir! Five new choristers and 4 adults will receive their first year crosses and all the other kids are recognized with new color ribbons representing their years of service.

5. Let every instrument be tuned for praise!

Let all rejoice who have a voice to raise!

And may God give us faith to sing always: Hallelujah!

Our processional hymn is When in Our Music God is Glorified, (Hymnal #420) tune (ENGLEBERG) originally by the great late Romantic Irish composer Charles Villiers Stanford (1852-1924), and text by the Rev. Fred Pratt Green (1903-2000)-one of the most important 20th century hymn composers. According to the text “is the only hymn text in Christendom that explains the reasons for church music while simultaneously offering “alleluias” to God. The various stanzas deal with our humility in performance (verse. 1), the aesthetics of musical worship (verse. 2), and the history of church music (verse. 3). The final two stanzas present a biblical model (verse. 4) and quote Psalm 150 (verse. 5).”

The prelude is Robert Hobby’s joyful setting which sets this tune clearly in the trumpet in the left hand, and later in canon between hands and feet. Hobby is a prolific composer and church musician who serves as Director of Music for Trinity English Lutheran Church, Fort Wayne, Indiana. Hobby received his Bachelor’s Degree in Church Music from Wittenberg University in 1985 and a Master’s Degree in Organ Performance from the University of Notre Dame in 1987.

The School Choirs Song of Praise is a piece by Jim Papoulis (b. 1961) that affirms their inner life. “Now I am learning the spirit within me, and that is the reason I’m standing so tall.” When I Close My Eyes is a favorite and we actually sang it for a year of zoom choir just because it is so loved. I am so proud of these children and the leadership and singing they have done under challenging circumstances!

Jim Papoulis’ work focuses on combining the music of his roots – classical and jazz. As well as having his work performed all over the world, he is passionately dedicated to Arts in the Schools programs. As a composer he loves to write for young people, often using their own words. He is also active as a professional percussionist in New York City.

In place of the psalm, the adults are singing God of All Creation by my RSCM colleague David Kelley, Minister of Music at Church of the Holy Comforter in Vienna, Virginia, He has broad classical training, including a Doctorate in Organ Performance from Peabody Conservatory; degrees in Music Theory, Composition, and Liturgical Music; and professional certificates from the American Guild of Organists.

The text is newly written text by the Reverend Canon Gordon Giles (b. 1966)

God of all creation,

for whom the church, in liturgy and song,

has borne faithful witness through the centuries;

let us be your instruments of praise,

that in us may be found that new dimension of sound

which tunes our souls and bodies to the infinite beauty of your truth

and the profound glory of your eternal light.

This week we had two college Gargoyles return and sing with us, and what with the state of the world, we really wanted to sing a gorgeous and moving piece, Kurt Bestor’s The Prayer of the Children. Originally written for young victims of the war in Sarajevo, it is dedicated to all young victims of war and gun violence. Here is a deep dive into the story of its creation. I am so moved by the dedication of these guys, and happy that we could end our rehearsal with the traditional trip to McCools.

The Daughters of Zion (including 3 of Sunday’s preachers, Mia, Claire and Niamh) have learned a few pieces from the Justice Choir Songbook over the past 2 years, and will sing When We are Singing at the beginning of communion. “When we are singing, we are bound together…“ (lyrics and arr. Kevin T. Padworski from a  Mexican hymn, Somos del Señor).

Our communion hymn will be Dr. Anne’s favorite, King of Glory, King of Peace, #382. I don’t know which I love more, the words by George Herbert, or the tune by David Charles Walker, named after General Seminary in New York City (remember, hymn means text, and tunes are usually named for places).

Walker died in 2018—here is an excerpt from his obituary: “The Rev. David Charles Walker, Class of 1973 (General Seminary), — priest, chaplain, organist and composer — died Dec. 3, 2018. He served as chaplain and director of pastoral care at Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles from 1991 – 2003 and previously served congregations in San Diego, Beverly Hills, and Brooklyn New York. Walker also served General as Organist and Director of Music. After serving three years on General’s faculty, he moved to parish life, becoming rector of St. Philip’s, Dyker Heights-Brooklyn for the next four years. In 1980 he moved to San Diego to become associate rector at All Souls’ Church. Five years later, he began his ministry in the Diocese of Los Angeles as associate for worship and pastoral care at All Saints, Beverly Hills. Walker became interim priest-in-charge at St. Luke’s, Monrovia, in 1990 before moving to Good Samaritan Hospital, by then a century-old diocesan institution, where he served as chaplain and director of pastoral care until his retirement.”

George Herbert (1593-1633) is one of my favorite poets: a Welsh-born metaphysical poet, orator, and priest. Just a few weeks ago, we sang “The Call.”

Our closing hymn is When the Morning Stars Together (WEISSE FLAGGEN) by British minister Albert F. Bayly (1901-1984), also known for “Lord Whose Love through Humble Service.” The kids have a joyous bell part and there is a descant by yours truly, and possibly some dramatic text painting with organ and cymbals…

Henry, our organ scholar will play a grand postlude: The Toccata from Suite gothique by French composer Léon Boëllmann (1862 –1897).

We will conclude with more thank-yous, and some special farewells in the coffee hour! Please take a moment to thank a choir singer or acolyte, and bid adieu to our Chapel Choir co-director, Claudia, who is moving to Colombia to finish high school. She has given so much to the choirs, especially the little ones, and me in particular, and her parents Diana and Stuart have been so supportive of our program here.

Bless, O Lord, us thy servants,

who minister in thy temple.

Grant that what we sing with our lips,

we may believe in our hearts,

and what we believe in our hearts,

we may show forth in our lives.

Through Jesus Christ our Lord.


Sunday Music Musings June 5, 2022

Happy Pentecost—wear red! I am grateful for the creator spirit which we express through music.

Komm, Heiliger Geist, Herre Gott” (“Come, Holy Ghost, Lord God”) by Martin Luther is based on the ancient plainsong “Veni Sancte Spiritus, reple tuorum corda fidelium.” This is the basis of the quite ornamented Prelude by Dietrich Buxtehude (1637- 1707). (I think I put Georg Bohm in the program—sorry-I was still at home getting over Covid when I sent in the bulletin.) Buxtehude’s style greatly influenced other composers, such as his student Johann Sebastian Bach. Originally from Denmark, in 1668 he got a major position at the Marienkirche, Lübeck. In 1705, J.S. Bach, then a young man of twenty, walked from Arnstadt to Lübeck, a distance of more than 250 miles, and stayed nearly three months to hear the Abendmusik concerts and meet the famous organist and learn from him. In addition to his musical duties, Buxtehude, like his predecessor Tunder, served as church treasurer!

The first hymn is the wonderful DOWN AMPNEY. Hymn tunes are often named for places, and The Old Vicarage in Down Ampney was the birthplace of the composer Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1934) whose father, the Reverend Arthur Vaughan Williams (1834–1875) was vicar of All Saints. In 1906 Vaughan Williams composed this in honor of his birthplace.  The text is by 14th century Italian hymnodist Bianco da Siena who followed the rule of St. Augustine.  “Discendi, Amor santo” was translated by scholar and theologian Richard Frederick Littledale (b. Dublin, 1883; d. London, 1890) into “Come Down O Love Divine.”


By ChurchCrawler, CC BY-SA 2.0,

The chorister’s Song of Praise is You are Sealed with the Spirit by Kaye Saunders (b.1963), Organist and Director of Music at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Durham, North Carolina. It is a canon with handbells.

The offertory is Thomas Tallis’ (c. 1505-1585) beloved If Ye Love Me. It is truly a mark of genius that Tallis could so excel in the grand and the simple that two of his most famous works – Spem in Alium (40 separate parts, in Latin-here is Harmonium singing it in 2016) and If Ye Love Me (simple, beautiful SATB motet in English, sung by my friends at my wedding!) – are both so perfect. Tallis, also an entrepreneur, was granted an exclusive patent in 1521 with William Byrd to print and publish music.

The communion hymn is the great plainsong Veni Creator Spiritus (“Come, Creator Spirit”) at HYMNAL # 504. Gregorian chant, also known as plainsong, is church music’s ancestor! It is named for Pope Gregory, not because he wrote it all, but because it was codified under him into uses for each season and time of day (office). The notes are called neumes. This gorgeous Pentecost chant was written in the 9th century. As well as being for Pentecost the text is used in the Anglican communion in ordination services. Musicians, especially composers, feel a particular affinity for the calling of the Holy Spirit as the “Creator Spirit” and you can find settings for the rest of music history.

Our last hymn is Hail Thee Festival Day SALVE FESTE DIES, with words by Venantius Honorius Clematianus Fortunatus (b. Cenada, near Treviso, Italy, c. 530; d. Poitiers, France, 609), and another great tune by Vaughan Williams. Legend has it that while a student at Ravenna Fortunatus was miraculously healed of blindness after anointing his eyes with oil from a lamp burning before the altar of St. Martin of Tours. There are versions for Easter and Ascension, but our tradition at Grace has been to save it for Pentecost. Yes, there are two different tunes for verses 1/3 and 2/4, but also a catchy refrain to hang onto each time, and a descant by yours truly. On May 22, 2021 it was our first congregational hymn in 15 months!

Finally, in honor of HRH Jubilee, Erik Donough will join me playing trumpet in a setting of THAXTED arranged by Oklahoma organist/composer David Howard Petit. THAXTED is a beloved tune by Gustav Holst (1874 –1934) originally the theme of Jupiter from The Planets. It is beloved of the Brits who sing it to the words “I Vow to Thee My Country,” and was played at the end of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Service. Holst and Vaughan Williams were lifelong friends.

I vow to thee, my country
All earthly things above
Entire and whole and perfect
The service of my love

The love that asks no questions
The love that stands the test
That lays upon the altar
The dearest and the best

The love that never falters
The love that pays the price
The love that makes undaunted
The final sacrifice

And there’s another country
I’ve heard of long ago
Most dear to them that love her
Most great to them that know

We may (we may not count her armies)
We may (we may not see her King)
Her fortress is a faithful heart
Her pride is suffering

And soul by soul and silently
Her shining bounds increase
And her ways are ways of gentleness
And all her paths are peace

Finally, I invite you to Harmonium’s Open Hearts Concert at 3 pm Sunday in South Orange, with Prince Manvendra Singh Gohill and a world premiere by Mark Miller.

Sunday Music Musings May 28, 2022

Since I am recovering from this pesky very contagious strain of Covid, I won’t be in church tomorrow—please give Henry all your support! I’m doing fine and had monoclonal antibodies!

Our first hymn, See the Conqueror Mounts in Triumph (IN BABILONE) celebrates the Sunday after the Ascension and we used it last year as well so I wrote about it here.

The gargoyles will cover the offertory singing Nick Pages’ TTB arrangement of Stephen Stills’(b.1945) Find the Cost of Freedom. Stills refers back to the fallen soldiers of the Civil War with his reference to blue and gray (he wrote it after visiting a Civil War battlefield), but he also wrote it at the time of the Vietnam war as a lament to the young dead which is sadly appropriate this week as well. It appeared on Crosby, Stills & Nash fourth album So Far, with cover art by Joni Mitchell. After 9/11 they appeared on the Tonight Show singing this at 27 minutes in.

I am grateful when I realize this time last year, the guys got together to sing this outside masked in the gazebo. So as frustrating as this is, we’ve come a long way.

Our last hymn is the Navy Hymn, Eternal Father and you can read all about it here. Did you know there are over 100 verses?

Have a safe and healthy weekend!

Next week is a concert I have been preparing for for months, including the visit of a Prince from India to play harmonium with Harmonium! Please conside gertting a ticket for the concert or fundraiser and read all about it here.

Rogation Sunday Music Musings May 21, 2022

What is Rogation?

The word “rogation” comes from the Latin rogare, which means “to ask,” and the Rogation Days are set apart to bless the fields, and ask for God’s mercy on all of creation. On these days, the congregation used to march the boundaries of the parish, blessing every tree and stone, while chanting or reciting a litany. At Grace Church we have a tradition of doing this at the the end of the service as we march out to the garden singing “All Things Bright and Beautiful” with our butterfly banner! All of our hymns and anthems will celebrate the gifts of the earth.

The prelude is based on Fairest Lord Jesus to the tune ST. ELIZABETH which we will sing during communion. According to the hymnary ST. ELIZABETH appears to be an eighteenth-century tune from the Glaz area of Silesia. It has always been associated with this text. No factual data exists for the legend that this text and tune date back to the twelfth-century crusades, although those apocryphal stories explain one of the names by which this tune is known, namely, CRUSADER’S HYMN. After Franz Liszt used the tune for a crusaders’ march in his oratorio The Legend of St. Elizabeth (1862), the tune also became known as ST. ELIZABETH. This tune is also associated with the text “Beautiful Savior” which St. Olaf Choir (and others) always sing at the end of their concerts.

Garth Edmundson (1892 -1971) studied music in Pittsburgh, New York, London, Paris, and at the Leipzig Conservatory. His instructors were Harvey Gaul, Lynnwood Farnam, Joseph Bonnet, and Isidor Philipp. He was an organist, music teacher, and director of music in several churches and schools in western Pennsylvania and composed hundreds of pieces for organ. This setting of Fairest Lord Jesus is very pastoral with flute and clarinet stops duetting and leading into an iteration of the tune on the strings.

The processional hymn is one of my favorite tunes, KINGSFOLD, and I just wrote a new descant for it this morning! According to, “Thought by some scholars to date back to the Middle Ages, KINGSFOLD is a folk tune set to a variety of texts in England and Ireland. The tune was published in English Country Songs (1893), an anthology compiled by Lucy E. Broadwood and J. A. Fuller Maitland. After having heard the tune in Kingsfold, Sussex, England (thus its name), Ralph Vaughan Williams (1897- 1958) introduced it as a hymn tune in The English Hymnal (1906) as a setting I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say.” We certainly will enjoy a lot of Ralph (‘Rafe’) Vaughan Williams this month, and I wrote more extensively about him last week.

The text by Edward White Benson (1829-1896) celebrates the gifts of the earth as the gifts of Jesus. Benson was a head of school at several distinguished places including Rugby School, Wellington College, Lincoln, and then Bishop of Truro. Benson went on to become The Archbishop of Canterbury in 1883 until his death in 1886. This hymn was written during Dr. Benson’s Headmastership of Wellington College, and first printed in the Hymn-Book for the Use of Wellington College, 1860.

The Gargoyles will sing a beautiful piece, Nature’s Hymn by Jennifer and Omar Samaniego as the Song of Praise. The Gargoyles and Daughters of Zion also did me proud last Friday when they joined alto Patricia Ruggles in a concert which raised funds for Ukraine.

Our older trebles will be up front on camera for a change, singing a setting of Psalm 67 by Robert Powell (b.1932) Organist and Choir Director at Christ Church in Greenville, SC from 1968 to 2003. He has approximately 300 works in print for choral, solo, organ, handbells, and instrumental ensembles in major American and English church music publishers.

We are so excited about our Rogation Day offertory, Tree Song by Ken Medema. This has been a favorite of the choirs for many years and it’s been way too long since we sang it! Elizabeth Chiminec taught the ASL back in the day, and 12 years ago it was our first “viral” video on YouTube with 71 thousand likes!

The composer actually called me up to complement us on this recording! You can find one of our gargoyles in the chapel choir, our Christian Ed Director Miss Kathryn and several head choristers-to be.

I finally got to meet this amazing singer-song-writer two weeks ago at Drew University when he performed with Mark Miller. Kenneth Peter Medema (born December 7, 1943) was born almost blind; his eyes only let him tell light from shadow and see outlines of major objects. He began playing the piano when he was five years old, and three years later began taking lessons in classical music through braille music, playing by ear and improvising in different styles. In 1969, he majored in music therapy at Michigan State University in Lansing, studying both piano and voice. Afterwards he worked as a music therapist in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and later at Essex County Hospital in New Jersey. In 1973, he began performing and recording his own songs while at Essex County Hospital. “I had a bunch of teenagers who were really hurting,” he says, “and I started writing songs about their lives. Then I thought, ‘Why don’t you start writing songs about your Christian life?’ So I started doing that, and people really responded.”

His lyrics generally provide social commentary on themes such as justice, hunger, poverty, homelessness, and Christian charity as it pertains to them. At the Drew performance he improvised songs on the spot based on poignant stories shared by random audience volunteers. He is one of the most charismatic performers I have ever met, singing and using the piano with a synthesizer on top–a real one-man-band! Afterwards I got to meet him and his wife Jane. He remembers the Grace Church Tree Song!

Dr. Anne meets Ken Medema!

All the singers will join included some Chapel Choir and Charlie Love (in chapel choir himself in the above video) will play glockenspiel.

All Things Bright and Beautiful (read about it here) will take us outside with kids ringing bells, and a “Rogation Band” of adults and kids playing “For the Beauty of the Earth” from the porch as postlude. Happy Rogation Sunday!

Sunday Music Musings May 14, 2022

One of the best known Lutheran Easter chorales is Christ lag in Todesbanden. Based on the medieval Easter sequence Gregorian chant, Victimae, paschali laudes (“Christians to the paschal victim” HYMNAL #183), it is a strong robust minor key tune, the Germans’ idea of “cheerful.” J.S. Bach (1685-1750) used this as the basis of his famous Cantata #4. It is often confusing to English speakers how a text “Christ Jesus Lay in Death’s Strong Bands” is an Easter Cantata. But the whole hymn describes an epic Game-of-Thrones type battle between death and life! And life does win. Many, many Baroque composers set this as a chorale-prelude. The prelude today is Georg Böhm’s expressive setting with the chorale tune ornamented in the right hand, and imitative entrances in the lower parts. Böhm (1661 – 1733) spent most of his life as organist in Lüneburg, and may have tutored a young Johann Sebastian Bach at one time.

On May 18, 1857 Bishop George Washington Doane (1799-1859) consecrated Grace Church. He wrote the text to Thou Art the Way, Hymn 457 (ST. JAMES) which we often sing in May to celebrate this anniversary.

The School Choirs are finally going to sing a piece we even worked on in pandemic, a snippet of the Credo from Francisco Nuñez’s Misa Pequeña Para Niños (Little Mass for Children). Nuñez is Artistic Director/Founder of Young People’s Chorus of New York City, a 2011 MacArthur Fellow, 2018 Educator of the Year (Musical America),Principal conductor of American Young Voices, and composer, music educator, and lecturer around the world. Claudia Sydenstricker, who is fluent in Spanish (and our Chapel Choir co-director) will be the soloist. Claudia will be moving to Columbia for her senior year soon, and we will really miss her!

Creo en Dios, Padre todopoderoso I          (we) believe in God, the Father almighty

Un solo Dios, Padre todopoderoso            One God only, the Father almighty

Creador del cielo y de la tierra                    Maker of heaven and earth

De todo visible y invisible                            Of all that is seen and unseen

Psalm 148 is one of my favorites—who doesn’t love a psalm with sea-monsters in it! The choir will be exercising their Anglican chant chops on a lovely new chant by Sarah MacDonald. Sarah MacDonald FRCO (b. 1968) is a Canadian-born organist, conductor, and composer, living in the UK, who currently holds the positions of Fellow and Director of Music at Selwyn College, Cambridge, and Director of the girl choristers at Ely Cathedral. She has been at Selwyn since 1999, and is the first woman to hold such a post in an Oxbridge Chapel.

The second reading from Revelations calls to mind Edgar Bainton’s iconic anthem And I Saw a New Heaven. It has such a gorgeous tenor line, and dramatic setting of the text! Edgar Leslie Bainton (1880 – 1956) was a British-born, later Australian-resident composer. 1896 he won an open scholarship to the Royal College of Music to study theory with Walford Davies. In 1899 he received a scholarship to study composition with Sir Charles Villiers Stanford. In the summer of 1914 Bainton visited Germany to attend the Bayreuth Festival, but was arrested after war broke out, sent to the civilian detention camp at Ruhleben, near Berlin, where he remained for the next four years, put in charge of all the music at the camp. In March 1918 his health deteriorated and he was sent to The Hague to recuperate. Following the Armistice, he became the first Englishman to conduct the Concertgebouw Orchestra, in two concerts of British music before returning to England. The New South Wales State Conservatorium of Music offered him the directorship in the summer of 1933 and in 1934 Bainton and his family started a new life in Australia. Bainton conducted the choral and orchestral classes at the Conservatorium, and founded the Opera School. Bainton conducted the inaugural concert of New South Wales Symphony Orchestra (later renamed the Sydney Symphony Orchestra). Bainton wrote a considerable amount of music during his career, including a choral symphony, two instrumental symphonies, a Fantasia for piano and orchestra, several operas and many piano pieces, chamber works and songs. He is still best know for this anthem (1928). I remember singing it in choir as a teen chorister at St. Pauls’ Chestnut Hill.

“Who wrote the tune and pronounce his name correctly?” is always a giveaway in the choir room that it is the prolific Ralph (‘Rafe’) Vaughan Williams (1872-1958). In a long and extensive career, he composed music notable for its power, nobility and expressiveness, — the essence of “Englishness.” Although described by his wife as a “cheerful agnostic,” Vaughan Williams is beloved for his anthems, hymns and carols, and his editing of The English Hymnal (1906). “The Call” which is found as Hymn #487, is from Five Mystical Songs, a choral/baritone set of poems of George Herbert (1593-1633) often used as Easter or wedding texts. Like the Song of Songs these are love poems which function allegorically as a relationship between God or Christ as Love, and the believer as the beloved.

The organ piece that Henry will play is a setting of The Call by E. Harold Geer (1886-1957). Strangely enough, it is miss-spelled in the music as Greer but I had asked my friend The Reverend Victoria Geer McGrath if it was a relation, and she figured out it actually was a 4th cousin. According to Mother Vicki, his son Hardy (now about 95) is a parishioner at St. Mary the Virgin.

Our last hymn is the tune GELOBT SEI GOTT by Melchior Vulpius (ca. 1570-1615). Born into a poor family named Fuchs, Vulpius had only limited educational opportunities and did not attend the university. He Latinized his name after becoming a Latin teacher in Schleusingen, and 1596 until his death he served as a Lutheran cantor and teacher in Weimar. A distinguished composer, Vulpius wrote a St. Matthew Passion (1613), nearly two hundred motets in German and Latin, and over four hundred hymn tunes, many of which became popular in Lutheran churches, and some of which introduced the lively Italian balletto rhythms into the German hymn tunes. ( The text is by Cyril Argentine Alington (1872 –1955) English educator, scholar, cleric, and author. He was successively the headmaster of Shrewsbury School and Eton College. He also served as chaplain to King George V and as Dean of Durham.

The postlude is based on this hymn, a grand setting by our favorite Anglo-Canadian Healey Willan (1880-1968) who I wrote about previously.