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Sunday Music Musings September 12, 2020

September 12, 2020

What is happening in “choir”?

The Daughters of Zion met on zoom, and talked about (and rehearsed) some virtual projects and how to mentor the younger kids virtually. It was so great to see them! The adults met after them-we talked a lot about the teachers and kids in our families and we will be presenting a zoom Chanted Compline on the last Thursdays of the month. The Gargoyles had a great meet-up of 6 teen guys and Brandon, to rehearse for our virtual ‘reunion’ of The Promised Land, which is a sacred harp staple of our repertoire for most of our years of existence.

Gargoyles sing “The Promised Land” in 2013

Next week the younger kids start up ½ hour zoom rehearsals, and they’ll be receiving a special delivery of supplies (including a hymnal, stickers, pinwheels, staff paper and other surprises).

As a nod to Holy Cross Day, which is Monday, I often have us sing Lift High the Cross this weekend, so (although I chose a different hymn) I am playing organ settings of the tune for Prelude and Postlude. The tune CRUCIFER by Sydney Nicholson 1875-1947, the founder of the Royal School of Church Music, is set here by Ohio organist Janet Rupp Linker. The “Meditation” sets the tune clearly and lyrically in the right hand, while the “Finale” (postlude) is triumphant and more contrapuntal.

When we are back in person, but there is no singing, I hope you will be ready to let these organ meditations on hymns be a way of worshipping in your hearts. If not singing, meditating on the words. Just like when the choir sings prayers for you in Evensong, and you worship by listening, I hope you can let the organ meditations do the same.

Here is some further biographical information from MorningStar Music: Janet Linker received her Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Organ Performance from Capital University and The University of Michigan (with Marilyn Mason).  She held church positions in Lubbock and Waco, Texas, Sacramento, California and Columbus, Ohio. She is now organist at Trinity United Methodist Church in Upper Arlington, Ohio. Mrs. Linker’s first teaching position was at Texas Tech Univ. in Lubbock, Texas. She taught at the Capital University Conservatory of Music for over 30 years. For many years she played for various events at the Ohio Theatre, on the well-known “Mighty Morton” theatre organ. She has published twenty six books of organ music, several anthems, and, in collaboration with Jane McFadden, over 60 works for organ (or piano) and/or brass and handbells, and a piano/organ duet book.

Janet Linker - Hope Publishing Company

I am happy that although I could not give my summer recital of organ music of women composers, I have been about to play much of it virtually this summer, aspiring to gender equity of the composers we have presented. Because representation matters! 🙂

A well-known and well-loved hymn is LAUDA ANIMA, Praise my Soul the King of Heaven. I hope you are singing loudly in your homes!

Let’s start with the words by Henry Francis Lyte (1793-1847). 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.”

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. Goss published Parochial Psalmody (1826) and Chants, Ancient and Modern (1841); he edited William Mercer’s Church Psalter and Hymn Book (1854). With James Turle he published a two-volume collection of anthems and Anglican service music (1854). (

Portrait of Goss inscribed to his former pupil Sir Arthur Sullivan

Goss also wrote the re-harmonizations that you hear under verses 1 and 3. (the “Father-like he tends and spares us” gets particularly creepy and “feeble” with chromaticism. The descant is by C. S. Lang (1891–1971), a New Zealand-born British organist, composer and music teacher.

The other thing that is really on my mind this weekend is our “virtual premiere” that is, YouTube release, of Open Minds, a cantata Harmonium sang last March 1 – which makes it the last thing we sang before lock-down. It is a challenging and beautiful work to open up a dialogue about mental health, and I hope you will “join us” at 7, or watch it afterwards at your leisure.

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