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Sunday Music Musings June 5, 2021

June 6, 2021

1. When in our music God is glorified,
and adoration leaves no room for pride,
it is as though the whole creation cried,
Hallelujah!

2. How often, making music, we have found
a new dimension in the world of sound,
as worship moved us to a more profound
Hallelujah!

3. So has the church, in liturgy and song,
in faith and love, through centuries of wrong,
borne witness to the truth in every tongue:
Hallelujah!

4. And did not Jesus sing a Psalm that night
when utmost evil strove against the Light?
Then let us sing, for whom he won the fight:
Hallelujah!

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! Amen.

Our hymn of the day is When in Our Music God is Glorified, (Hymnal #420) tune 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 hymnary.org 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.

Our Trisagion is Hymnal S-102, by Russian composer and conductor Alexander Andreyevich Arkhangelsky (1846-1924). This gives me a chance to utilize some harmony from my newly-reinstated adult choir singing from the gallery. They will also join our cantors (Elizabeth and Grace are back) in chanting the psalm.

Our anthem is the Duet from Cantata 15. The piece was initially thought to be an early work of Johann Sebastian Bach. However, Bach scholars reattributed the piece to his cousin, Johann Ludwig Bach (1677 –1731). It was likely composed in Meiningen in 1704 for Easter Sunday.  It may have been performed again under Johann Sebastian Bach in April 1726 in Leipzig, so no wonder history got confused! The title of the whole work is Denn du wirst meine Seele nicht in der Hölle lassen (For you shall not leave my soul in hell), and this soprano/alto duet is the 7th movement. When I have done this with the children’s choirs they have enjoy singing about foiling the devil and the about laughing — with clear text painting (the music sounds like mocking laughter).

Ihr klaget mit Seufzen, ich jauchze mit Schall,
Ihr weinet, ich lache: ob einerlei Fall;
Euch kränket die plötzlich zerstörete Macht,
Mir hat solch Verderben viel Freude gebracht,
So künftig Tod, Teufel und Sünde verlacht.
 I sing for joy, I laugh
I sing resoundingly for joy
you mourn with sighs

you weep over the same cause
the sudden destruction of your power distresses you,
to me such ruin has brought great joy,
since in future death,devil and sin will be mocked.

Also, please be careful of singing translations! ‘verlacht’ means ‘mocking laughter!’

Our communion hymn is my favorite, King of Glory, King of Peace, #382. I don’t know which I love more, the words by George Herbert (1593-1633), or the tune by David Charles Walker (1938-2018), 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. He composed two hymn tunes included in Hymnal 1982: “General Seminary,” with the text “King of Glory, King of Peace” by George Herbert (Hymn 382), and “Point Loma,” with the text “Baptized in water” (Hymn 294).  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 is one of my favorite poets: a Welsh-born metaphysical poet, orator, and priest. One of my other favorite texts by George Herbert is Bob Chilcott’s setting of “Vertue” , I just love discussing these profound concepts of what is transient (day, spring, rose) and what lasts (soul) with the children. One of my choristers gave me this framed text as a gift—it is his favorite hymn as well!

After we sing the last hymn, we will troupe out into the garden for some more live singing and a little choir recognition. We will pray the real chorister’s prayer, not the Covid version I wrote last year, and each group will sing a round, ending with all of us singing Siyahamba. I have prizes and bling for these kids who were so faithful and cheerful in zoom choir and submitting virtual choir videos all year.

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.
Amen.

Our bell choir of 6 choir women will play everybody out to the garden with “Come Thou Almighty King” arranged by Bill Ingraham. You can hear it here.

Here’s wishing you all a safe, steady and happy return to in-person music making!

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