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Sunday Music Musings Juneteenth, 2021

June 20, 2021

Musically this week, I wanted to celebrate both Pride month and Juneteenth—now a national holiday! The readings are a good set about love and brotherhood—not to mention miracles…don’t you love it when that happens with the lectionary!

Our prelude is by Calvin Taylor (b. 1948), whose Were You There setting I played in my March recital. Calvin Taylor was born in Los Angeles, California. The composer, pianist, and organist made history at Oberlin Conservatory of Music in 1970 when he became the first organist in the school’s over 155-year history to improvise a graduate concert encore. Dr. Taylor is known for his orchestral works as well has his organ music such as Five Spirituals for Organ, 1998, commissioned and premiered by and dedicated to Dr. Marilyn Mason, with whom he studied at the University of Michigan. Talk About a Child that Do Love Jesus (sung here by the great Barbara Hendricks) is a moving spiritual that Taylor sets in an expressive manner.

Our service music is going back to our best known setting by David Hurd (b. 1950), composer, concert organist, choral director and educator who was at General Theological Seminary, New York City, for 28 years and is currently serving The Church of Saint Mary the Virgin. You can read more about him in my February 20 blog.

“Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul.” This Old Testament reading in today’s lectionary, particularly appropriate for Pride month, is followed by Psalm 133 about all people dwelling together in unity. Our setting is an Anglican chant by the Elizabethan composer Richard Farrant (1525 – 1580).

Our anthem is I Dream of a Church by Mark Miller (b.1967), and we had a virtual version August 30 (with our wonderful Brandon Johnson-Douglas singing). You can read all about it and Mark, here.

We will also do another song from Mark’s wonderful publication “Roll Down Justice” called The Open Table (during communion). Grace and I are going to try using the piano and miking the piano as well as the cantor, as we do a little experimenting with what works best for in-person and streamed in this new world.

Our closing hymn is the great God is Love by Timothy Rees (1874-1939), Bishop of Llandaff, Wales. It is set to the wonderful tune ABBOT’s LEIGH which we also use for Lord You Give the Great Commission. The English composer Cyril Vincent Taylor (1907 – 1992) was a chorister at Magdalen College School, Oxford, and studied at Christ Church, Oxford, and Westcott House, Cambridge. Ordained a priest in the Church of England in 1932, he served the church as both pastor and musician. His positions included being a producer for the BBC (1939­-1953), chaplain of the Royal School of Church Music (1953-1958), precentor of Salisbury Cathedral (1969-1975), and composing numerous hymn tunes.

The postlude is based on the popular (better known in Britain) hymn Love Lifted Me. Here is a link to a blog about the British hymnodist James Rowe (1865-1933) which includes the text. This hymn text particularly goes with the Matthew reading of Jesus’ disciples being afraid in the storm. The tune is called SAFETY and is by Howard E. Smith (1863-1918). I first learned it from Richard Tanner as a game/partner song to “lean FORward, lean BACKward, to the LEFT to the RIGHT,” at RSCM Choir Camp! The organ setting is by the very prolific Robert Powell (b.1932) Organist and Choir Director at Christ Church in Greenville, SC from 1968 to 2003.

This week we will have another senior sermon from our graduating senior head acolyte, Charlie Ehrbar, and the acolytes will (literally) “pass the torch” to another set of leaders.  

You can hear last week’s head choristers’ senior sermons here (17:00) Thanks to Chris Cullen for this photo of them after passing on their head chorister badges.

I’d also like to wish a happy graduation to all the graduating seniors, and a Happy Father’s Day to all Dads and those who have mentored us like Dads. There is a lot to be thankful for this weekend, and a lot of work still to be done. Thanks for reading!

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