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Sunday Music Musings Sept. 19, 2021

September 18, 2021

This week we started our church choir rehearsals, Daughters of Zion, School Choirs and Adults got to meet our new Children’s Choir Assistant, Camille Bourland. Camille graduated with a bachelor’s in music education from Syracuse University, where she is also currently finishing (remotely) her masters in music education. While in Syracuse, she was the musical director for the Syracuse Community Choir Teen & Young Adult Choir. After graduation, Camille hopes to teach elementary general music and chorus. Having sung in several choirs throughout her musical career, she has recently joined the Harmonium Choral Society where she sings in the alto 1 section. Outside of making music, Camille enjoys hiking, thrift shopping, and reading.

New Children’s Choir Assistant Camille Bourland

It was fun on Friday, and the weather cooperated for outdoor snack! The “Red Choir” rehearsed right inside the open door of Grace Hall, and we were also graced with teen helpers Claudia and Elisabeth as we welcomed new novices Chloe and Olivia! It felt like a semblance of normalcy as the parents dropped their kids off! Our older singers then rehearsed in the choir room and welcomed Katie to her first “Blue Choir” rehearsal. These older choristers will go back to singing from the gallery, while we figure out what is safe for the younger crew. For now, look for them at the 4 pm Oct. 3 outdoor St. Francis service!

This Sunday the hymn we will sing during communion has one of my favorite tunes: KINGSFOLD. 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. ‘”

The text we use today (for its second verse reference to bringing the little children to Jesus) is by James Montgomery (1771-1854) “When Jesus Left His Father’s Throne.” Again in the hymnary we learn that Montgomery, born in Scotland, died in England, was “the son of Moravian parents who died on a West Indies mission field while he was in boarding school. Montgomery inherited a strong religious bent, a passion for missions, and an independent mind. He was editor of the Sheffield Iris (1796-1827), a newspaper that sometimes espoused radical causes. Montgomery was imprisoned briefly when he printed a song that celebrated the fall of the Bastille and again when he described a riot in Sheffield that reflected unfavorably on a military commander. He also protested against slavery, the lot of boy chimney sweeps, and lotteries. Associated with Christians of various persuasions, Montgomery supported missions and the British Bible Society. He published eleven volumes of poetry, mainly his own, and at least four hundred hymns. Some critics judge his hymn texts to be equal in quality to those of Isaac Watts and Charles Wesley.” -Bert Polman

The prelude on this tune is a triumphant setting by David Blackwell (b. 1961), an award-winning composer and freelance arranger, writer and editor. Blackwell grew up in Oxford, and studied music at Edinburgh University, graduating First Class in 1983. His educational, choral and organ music is published in the UK and US and performed worldwide. He also works as a freelance publisher for several UK music publishers and writes for Choir and Organ magazine. Toccata on Kingsfold is the final movement of his “Five English Folksongs” Suite.

The setting of Psalm 1 we sing by Susan Calvin is an old favorite, now out of print.

Our Offertory is a beautiful setting by one of my favorite contemporary composers, Melissa Dunphy (b.1980). Born and raised in Australia, Dunphy immigrated to the United States in 2003 and has since become an award-winning and acclaimed composer specializing in vocal, political, and theatrical music. She first came to national attention in 2009 when her large-scale choral work The Gonzales Cantata was featured in The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, and on MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show, where host Rachel Maddow called it “the coolest thing you’ve ever seen on this show.” Her choral work What do you think I fought for at Omaha Beach? won the Simon Carrington Chamber Singers Composition Competition and has been performed nationally by ensembles including GRAMMY Award-winning Chanticleer, Cantus, and the St. Louis Chamber Chorus. (In June Harmonium will perform it). Dunphy has served as composer-in-residence for the Immaculata Symphony Orchestra, Volti Choral Arts Lab, Volti Choral Institute, and the Saint Louis Chamber Chorus. Dunphy has a PhD in music composition from the University of Pennsylvania, where she was a Benjamin Franklin Fellow, and a Bachelor of Music from West Chester University. She currently teaches composition at Rutgers University and is also active as a sound and lighting designer, actor, theater owner, and podcaster (The Boghouse).

Dr. Anne and Melissa Dunphy way too close together in early MArch 2020

If you to the composer’s page for this piece you will find the virtual performance we (Grace Church Choir) did last winter! How cool is that? We are so happy to be able to sing it live on Sunday, when we hear each other (and show off our new organ scholar at the piano!)

If you can only pick one congregational hymn to sing, LOBE DEN HERRN (“Praise to the Lord”) is always a favorite. The old German tune from the Erneuerten Gesangbuch (1665) is 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.  J.G. Walther’s (1684 – 1748) setting has the tune clearly in the pedal as well as 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 tune-based settings that organists still love to play.

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