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Sunday Music Musings Nov. 6, 2021

November 6, 2021

The hymn of the day is of course the great tune SINE NOMINE by Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958), and one must have robust (if masked) singing, so I actually did not do it with our cantor only last year—that would have been too hard! The eight verses are by the Anglican Bishop of Wakefield, William Walsham How (1823-1897). If you think 8 verses is a lot, you may want to see the three our hymnal omits from the orginal eleven, which make reference to the Te Deum.

For the Apostles’ glorious company,

Who bearing forth the Cross o’er land and sea,

Shook all the mighty world, we sing to Thee:

Alleluia, Alleluia!

 For the Evangelists, by whose blest word,

Like fourfold streams, the garden of the Lord,

Is fair and fruitful, be Thy Name adored.

Alleluia, Alleluia!

 For Martyrs, who with rapture kindled eye,

Saw the bright crown descending from the sky,

And seeing, grasped it, Thee we glorify.

Alleluia, Alleluia!

The prelude is a set of variation on For All the Saints by the great American church musician Richard Proulx (1937-2010), who was a consultant to our Hymnal 1982. The first movement sets the tune out clearly, the second movement adds a canon, the third movement is a lively Gigue, and the fourth is an homage to Vaughan Williams’ famous prelude Rhosymedre.

Our offertory is a setting of Going Home, the tune from Antonín Dvořák’s New World Symphony. The Symphony No. 9 in E minor, “From the New World”, was composed in 1893 while he was the director of the National Conservatory of Music of America from 1892 to 1895. It premiered in New York City in December 1893. The famous Largo was anecdotally inspired by Dvořák’s experience with the African-American spiritual. Dvořák was said to have chosen the cor anglais (English horn) for the theme because it reminded him of the voice of Harry Burleigh, the great black singer/composer who he had championed. Dvorák’s pupil, William Arms Fisher wrote the lyrics in 1922. This arrangement by Robert Lehman (b. 1960). You can read the full bio of this active church musician here. By the way, a gorgeous “Going Home” is the first piece played in the prelude by a brass quintet yesterday at Washington National Cathedral for Colin Powell’s funeral,

During communion our organ scholar, Henry will play a very short Trio on ‘Where Love is Found’ (O WALY WALY) by Randolph Currie (b. 1943). Trio texture means each hand and the pedals have an independent part. This tune was originally the folksong The Water is Wide, and the church anthem The Gift of LoveHere is more info on this church musician who prides himself on writing accessible yet interesting music.

Jerusalem My Happy Home, the hymn the choir will sing during communion has a wonderful melody:

LAND OF REST is an American folk tune with roots in the ballads of northern England and Scotland. It was known throughout the Appalachians; a shape-note version of the tune was published in The Sacred Harp (1844) and titled NEW PROSPECT as the setting for “O land of rest! for thee I sigh.” The tune was published again with that same text in J. R. Graves’s Little Seraph (Memphis, 1873). The tune was known to Annabel M. Buchanan (1888 – 1983) whose grandmother sang it to her as a child. She harmonized the tune and published it in her Folk Hymns of America (1938), noting similarities between this tune and the tune for “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.” Known especially as a musicologist of American folk music, Buchanan was educated at the Landon Conservatory, Dallas, Texas, and the Guilmant Organ School, New York City. She taught at several colleges, including Stonewall Jackson College, Abingdoll, Virginia. Buchanan published numerous articles on folk traditions of the Appalachian area of the United States. She also lectured widely on this topic and gave recitals of folk music. Her own compositions also show the influence of folk music.” –Psalter Hymnal Handbook

The words are attributed to British cleric Joseph Bromehead (1747—1826), then altered and expanded by Scottish Presbyterian minister David Dickson (1583-1663).

After the singing of SINE NOMINE I will play out the retiring procession with Proulx’s last movement, a Fugato which puts a tune-inspired subject in the minor and also inverts it at the first pedal entrance.

If you missed our All Saints Evensong, you can watch it here. and read about it in the last blog. Thank you for reading!

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