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Sunday Music Musings December 18, 2021

December 18, 2021

There’s a lot of Covid spiking and a nasty colds going around so we all have our fingers crossed and are learning to sing our own parts, cover solos, ring a different bell etc. I am joyful to be making music and what will be will be, and will be LIVE.

Sunday’s featured hymns include the Michael Praetorius (1571-1621) Lo How a Rose which the choir will sing during communion. Johannes Brahms (1833 – 1897) included a meditative setting in his last opus of eleven sublime organ preludes which is the prelude, and Henry will play a modern setting by the prolific Michael Burkhardt which also quotes “O Come Emmanuel.”

The choristers will sing He Shall Feed His Flock from G.F.Handel’s Messiah. We will also sing the Taizé Magnificat Canon which will reappear in the 3 pm pageant service Christmas Eve.

Since the Magnificat is the canticle of the day, the adult choir will sing Vaughan Williams in C, which we did for All Saints’ Evensong. Everyone who knows me knows that Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872 –1958) is one of my favorite composers, bridging the romantic era into the twentieth century, and is arguably the greatest composer Britain had seen since the days of Henry Purcell. Vaughan Williams is beloved for his anthems, hymns and carols, and his editing of The English Hymnal (1906). “His command of choral writing is wide and natural, seeming to come to him in much the same way that English and Scottish sailors get their sense of the sea”(Marion Scott, Christian Science Monitor, 1920s). This service setting is metered in the rhythm of the words, and in a good range for a parish choir, hence its nickname “The Village Service.”

The anthem is also an arrangement by Vaughan Williams of an old English carol The Cherry Tree which will be sung by Gargoyles.

Our closing hymn is the Marian carol The Angel Gabriel, a Basque carol, translated by Sabine Baring-Gould (1834-1924) British priest and hymnodist of “Onward Christian Soldiers” fame. (Many choristers have been known to not-so-secretly miss-sing “Most highly flavored Lady”!). The great and most prolific Lutheran composer Paul Manz’s setting closes the service.

Following the service we will multi-task by greening the church and having pageant rehearsal. Returning at 3:30, adult choir and instrumentalists will practice for the 5 pm Evensong which includes Sergei Rachmaninoff’s (1873 – 1943) Bogoroditse Devo (Rejoice O Virgin) sung in Russian, the carol I Wander as I Wander including a bell choir version, and lots of Taizé. It will be a quiet break in a hectic season (at least for the congregation!)

Tonight, as last night, I take Harmonium members to sing a carol program for a Christmas dinner at a Country Club to raise money for our upcoming season. Last night, as I was using my phone to give pitches (since blowing a pitchpipe does not work with a mask on), the pitchpipe app suddenly turned into a festive but hard to read Christmas wreath.

Good luck everyone with all your seasonal singing.

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