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Trinity Sunday Music Musings June 6, 2020

June 7, 2020

What a strange and sad week it has been in the world. I wanted to have prelude music that responded, and Mark Miller always sets the right tone. Show us How to Love…Mark is an amazing composer, Assistant Professor of Church Music at Drew Theological School, Lecturer in the Practice of Sacred Music at Yale University and Minister of Music of Christ Church in Summit, New Jersey. On his website Mark says: “I believe in Cornell West’s quote that ‘Justice is what love looks like in public.’” His dream is that the music he composes, performs, teaches and leads will inspire and empower people to create the beloved community.  Thanks as always to our staff singers, Katie Hendrix, and Brandon Johnson-Douglas, and for Paula Roper for editing us into a trio. Last week Mark wrote a new song in response to the killing of George Floyd, Lament.

Mark Miller

We have a new canticle for the month of June, and some new (and old) faces from the choirs took the time to lead it. “Glory to You” by John Rutter sets Canticle 13, which is one of the lectionary choices for Trinity Sunday. It is sometimes called the “Song of the Three Young Men” from three Jewish companions of Daniel thrown into a fiery furnace by the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar because they refused to worship an idol. If Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego could praise so well from the fiery furnace, hopefully we will sing loudly on our houses during quarantine church!

Sir John Rutter is a beloved English composer, choral conductor, editor, arranger, and icon of the choral world. His most famous quote is “Choral music is not one of life’s frills. It’s something that goes to the very heart of our humanity, our sense of community, and our souls. You express, when you sing, your soul in song.” That is something to hold on to right now, as we are not able to sing together, which makes us choir people sad. Kirk Peterson wrote an article for the Living Church this week unfortunately called “Choirs are Dangerous” which I was interviewed for, and which is a bit more nuanced than the title suggests. The UK also came out with a less drastic study, and an “unprecedented international coalition” led by performing arts organizations has commissioned COVID-19 study from the University of Colorado.

Meanwhile, I’ve been teaching the “red choir” sight-singing on zoom, and it’s pretty fun! Some of our teens met up this week, and when asked what they like about choir they answered (typed in the chat)


The sense of community

hanging with everyone before and after services and concerts

interacting with people

when your voices blend

the sense of community

Revisiting favorite songs from year to year with new groups of people

I like getting to hang out with everyone who I don’t get to see on a daily basis 🙂

You are such good musicians. I miss the crunchy harmonies and the silly choreography

This week’s Trinitarian hymn is the classic “Holy, Holy, Holy” . Remember, “hymn” means text, and this text is by Reginald Heber, a poet and rector in the village of Hodnet near Shrewsbury. He was appointed Bishop of Calcutta in 1823 and worked there for three years until he died of a stroke. Most of his 57 hymns, which include “Holy, Holy, Holy,” are still in use today. The tune is by John Bacchus Dykes (1823-1876). This bio is from The, a wonderful site: “In 1849 he became the precentor and choir director at Durham Cathedral, where he introduced reforms in the choir by insisting on consistent attendance, increasing rehearsals, and initiating music festivals. He served the parish of St. Oswald in Durham from 1862 until the year of his death. To the chagrin of his bishop, Dykes favored the high church practices associated with the Oxford Movement (choir robes, incense, and the like). A number of his three hundred hymn tunes are still respected as durable examples of Victorian hymnody.”

John Bacchus Dykes – Primephonic
Dykes also wrote Melita, the tune to the Navy Hymn

The tune NICAEA is named after the Council of Nicaea (A.D. 325) at which church leaders began to formulate the doctrine of the Trinity to oppose the heresies of Arius. (Think “Nicene creed” as well…)

If I had rehearsed with little kids this week, I would have asked “what is this in numbers” (intervals) and some smart 8 year olds would have responded “1,1,3,3,5,5,6,6,6,5,3”. Since choir is on zoom now, we use a lot of solfege (because we can see hand signs even when on mute) which would give us d,d,m,m,s,s,l,l,l,s,m. if you don’t know what I am talking about, try singing a major scale on 12345678, or do, re, mi, fa…or ask a chorister!

Classics For Kids

I continue to want to have as many people as possible make musical offerings from home, wherever that may be. Thank you to Charlie Love for our piano postlude, “Air” from The Harmonious Blacksmith by G.F. Handel, originally from Suite No. 5 in E major, for harpsichord, but now beloved of piano students everywhere. Charlie will be a sophomore, and sings (tenor, but probably not anymore from listening to him talk-bass!) in the Gargoyles and Harmonium.

So that is our music for Trinity Sunday. Be well, be kind. Keep listening.

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  1. Sunday Music Musings May 29, 2021 | maestrasmusings

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