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Sunday Music Musings November 13, 2021

November 14, 2021

I really will have to keep today’s blog shorter as Camille and I spent several hours at church updating the School Choir crosses to the correct color per years of service. Tomorrow the “red choir” (grades 2-5) will sing in church for the second time this fall, at the beginning, and then (big excitement) join the older kids in the gallery to sing Simple Gifts during communion. We will promote novices (give them white cottas) at the beginning, and the Chapel Choir (ages Pre-K to 6) will even join us in our singing of a verse of I Sing a Song of the Saints of God. Here are our robes all updated!

I Sing a Song of the Saints of God is the tune GRAND ISLE, by John Henry Hopkins (1861-1945). The words are by Lesbia Scott (1998-1986), first published in England in 1929. In the first verse, “one was a doctor” (St. Luke) and one was a queen (St. Margaret of Scotland), and “one was a shepherdess on the green” (Joan of Arc). Learn about the other verses from this wonderful book:

Henry, our organ scholar turned 18 this week-happy birthday! He will play the prelude, a setting of Simple Gifts, by George Lachenauer (b.1933), for many years Organist and Choir Director First Presbyterian Church, Roselle NJ. He has written many educational organ works for Wayne Leupold Editions.

In place of a psalm, the reading tomorrow is from Samuel, the Song of Hannah, who was barren but then prayed to the Lord and was the mother of Samuel. The new testament parallel is the Magnificat, and this setting by Carolyn Jennings (b. 1936) weaves the two together in her New Magnificat. The adult women will sing the part of Hannah, and the gallery (School Choir II trebles) will sing Mary’s Magnificat text as a counterpart. Carolyn Jennings is a Professor Emerita of Music at St. Olaf College where she taught for many years and also served in administrative roles, including being Chair of the Music Department and Associate Dean for the Fine Arts. She also recently retired as Music Coordinator and Director of the Senior Choir at St. John’s Lutheran Church, Northfield, Minnesota, where she served as a church musician for over thirty years.

Many of you know that my daughter Virginia attended St. Olaf Choir. Their Christmas Festival was founded in 1912, and takes place in a field house that was especially built not just for sports, but to accommodate the 800 singers in 5 choirs and orchestra who participate in Christmas Festival. The Choirs are the Manitou (Freshman women), the Vikings (Freshmen men), the Chapel Choir, the Cantorei, and the premiere St. Olaf Choir, in which Virginia sang for 3 years. Jabez and I managed to somehow get to Minnesota the first week in December for those 4 years (without getting snowed in). In 2008 (her senior year) I heard the massed choirs and orchestra sing this beautiful setting and have since been doing it with the Grace choirs.

Here is the Samuel text:

“My heart exults in the Lord;
my strength is exalted in my God.

My mouth derides my enemies,
because I rejoice in my victory.

“There is no Holy One like the Lord,
no one besides you;
there is no Rock like our God.

Talk no more so very proudly,
let not arrogance come from your mouth;

for the Lord is a God of knowledge,
and by him actions are weighed.

The bows of the mighty are broken,
but the feeble gird on strength.

Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread,
but those who were hungry are fat with spoil.

The barren has borne seven,
but she who has many children is forlorn.

The Lord kills and brings to life;
he brings down to Sheol and raises up.

The Lord makes poor and makes rich;
he brings low, he also exalts.

He raises up the poor from the dust;
he lifts the needy from the ash heap,

to make them sit with princes
and inherit a seat of honor.

For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s,
and on them he has set the world.

“He will guard the feet of his faithful ones,
but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness;
for not by might does one prevail.

The Lord! His adversaries shall be shattered;
the Most High will thunder in heaven.

The Lord will judge the ends of the earth;
he will give strength to his king,
and exalt the power of his anointed.”

In Jenning’s setting inclusive language is used.

At the offertory, The Daughters of Zion (High School Girls) will sing a three-part setting of the American folk hymn Wondrous Love.

During communion I will play an organ setting of Wondrous Love by the prolific Charles Callahan (b. 1951), and then our youth will sing Simple Gifts, by Shaker Joseph Brackett Jr. (May 6, 1797 – July 4, 1882). The Shakers were millenians (they believed in Christ’s imminent second coming – as a woman). They practiced confession of sins, communal ownership, celibacy and withdrawal from the world. They were known for praying themselves into a frenzied dance, shaking their bodies wildly to get rid of evil spirits.

Our hymn of the day is Judge Eternal, Throned in Splendor. The text is  by Henry Scott Holland (1847-1918) Canon of St. Paul’s, London, from 1884. This hymn, also entitled Prayer for the Nation, appeared in the Commonwealth for July 1902, and in The English Hymnal, 1906. The tune, also known as ST. LEONARD is attributed to both Heinrich Held (1620-1659) and Joachim Neander (1650-1680). I like to teach it to novices to show then that if you know ta, ti-ti and ta-ah (quarter eight, and half-notes) you can clap almost any hymn. I wrote the descant yesterday.

All the rythm you need…

The postlude is based on this tune, soloing out the trumpet stop by Vermont Composer David Lasky. Lasky earned his Bachelor of Music in 1979 at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell, where he also earned his Master of Music in organ performance. In 2005, he earned his Master of Arts in church music and liturgy at St. Joseph’s College in Renssalaer, Indiana. He is organist and director of music at St. Cecelia’s Church in Leominster, Massachusetts.

On a final note, the cold snap in the weather has finally given us the beautiful reds in the trees. Happy November!

Choir Recognition/Promotion November 2021

Congratulations to our hard-working choristers for their continued years of service!


Novice Promotion: Charlotte Camporin, Olivia Harter, Chloe McKeever

♫ First Year: (cross) Maggie Donough

Second Year (yellow ribbon): Eve Albiston, Hadley Bendelius, Nicholas Huang, Annabelle Palmer

Third Year (green ribbon): Cathleen Nunn, Mary Nunn, Ian Finlay, William Marinovic†, Wynne Waterstredt

Fourth Year (red ribbon): Joy Albiston, Campbell Sacher, Meredith McKeever*

Fifth Year (purple ribbon): Audrey Bendelius, Katelyn Finlay, Presley Sacher

Sixth Year (lilac ribbon) Justen Morales†, Peter Munter†, Claire Waskow*, Henri Weilandy*

Eighth Year (silver ribbon): Luke Deane†, Camryn Morales*

Ninth  Year (gold ribbon): Avery Benjamin*, Charlie Love†, Niamh Kane*, Mia Melchior*, Claire Siebert*, Claudia Sydenstricker*, Elisabeth Wielandy*

Thank you this year’s Head Choristers, Elisabeth Wielandy, Mia Melchior, Luke Deane, Charlie Love, and Claudia Sydenstricker, co-chapel choir director


*Daughters of Zion

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  1. Sunday Music Musings Nov. 20, 2021 | maestrasmusings

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