Skip to content

Sunday Music Musings March 12, 2022

March 12, 2022

We have some meaningful music planned which I hope is not high-jacked by the Daylight Savings time change!

Organ Scholar Henry will play a prelude from J. S. Bach’s Orgelbüchlein on the tune Ich ruf zu dir. This old German tune can be found in our hymnal at #634, with a translation by Miles Coverdale (1487-1568). Bach’s plan for the “Little Organ Book” was to set 164 chorales covering the whole liturgical year. “Only” 46 were set in this collection, but they do span the church year, and although fairly short, many are deeply profound. Most were written during Bach’s Weimar period between 1708 and 1717. The tune is set out clearly in the melody, somewhat ornamented, with a 16th notes accompaniment in the left hand and pulsing heart-beat-like eighths in the pedal.

Much of today’s music prays for peace, like the children’s opening song of praise, a traditional round. “What a goodly thing if the children of the world could dwell together in peace.”

The offertory, as well, calls for justice and peace. It is a recent composition by Alice Parker (b.1925) — a call and response between the School Choirs and the Adult Choir:

Help me, Lord, find the common ground

Between the high and the low,

Between the poor and the rich,

Between the old and the young,

Between the black and the white.

Help me find the common ground

Between the shouting and the silence,

Between the bound and the free,

Between the grief and the joy,

Between the heart and the mind.

Open us, Lord, guide us to that meeting place,

Where we can see each other, hear each other,

Care for each other.

Where we can sing together, work together,

Play together on the common ground.

Come, let us meet together on the common ground.

— Alice Parker

Alice Parker (who recently celebrated her 96th birthday) is well-known for her arrangements for the Robert Shaw Chorale and has composed a wide variety of wonderful musical compositions. Her music is frequently heard at conferences and conventions, and she is often found at the intersection of teacher, composer, and singer. She is a graduate of the Juilliard School and Smith College, and the founder and artistic director of Melodious Accord. This piece was composed in 2020 in response to the many events in the world.

With Alice Parker in 2009

Before the Gospel we will sing a verse of the tune BOURBON with the words “Now Let Us All with One Accord,” attributed to Gregory the Great (540-604), and Henry will play a short setting by Nebraska composer Charles Ore (b. 1936) at communion. (Last year, the Honohans and I and some of our friends commissioned a flute piece based on this tune which you can enjoy here). It is a southern folk tune attributed to Freeman Lewis (1780-1859), a Pennsylvania surveyor. There are two Lenten texts in our hymnal, this #147 and #675, Take Up Your Cross.

The communion hymn is O Love of God How Strong and True to the tune DE TAR by Calvin Hampton, a tune which always makes my choristers say “oo I love this one!” The text is by Scottish pastor and author Horatius Bonar (1808-1889), who wrote many hymns texts including “I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say.”

The tune is by one of the greats of our 20th century Anglican composers and organists, Calvin Hampton (1938-1984). He received his musical training at Oberlin Conservatory and Syracuse University. For many years (1963 – 1983), he was organist at Calvary Episcopal Church NYC. He was a fantastic organist, and also loved to improvise and transcribe such things as Modest Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition and César Franck’s Symphony in D minor for organ. His wildly popular “Fridays at Midnight” organ recital series ran from 1974-83. The late Eric Routley, an authority on church music, called Hampton as “the greatest living composer of hymn tunes.” Hampton also wrote important works for orchestral and chamber forces, consulted on organ building, and recorded and concertized extensively. He composed through the last year before his death from AIDS at the age of 45. The tune is named for another great NYC organist Vernon de Tar (1905-1999), a predecessor at Calvary who went on to serve the church of the Ascension. The tune is also found in our hymnal at #659 with the words “O Master Let me Walk with Thee.”

The closing hymn of the day is The God of Abraham Praise to the tune of LEONI (a Hebrew tune also known as Yigdal). The text is attributed to Daniel ben Judah, a Jewish liturgical poet who lived in Rome, as paraphrased by Thomas Olivers (1725-1799), an itinerant minister, and for a while, associate of John Wesley.

The postlude is an exciting Toccata on “The God of Abraham Praise” by the prolific Michael Burkhardt (b.1957), choral clinician, organ recitalist, and hymn festival leader, who is currently Director of Worship and the Arts at Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Livonia, Michigan.

In other news, the School Choirs are doing great in their Friday rehearsals as we start to work on Holy Week and Easter music. We had a great discussion about composers of hymns tunes, as some kids noticed that “O Love of God” was also hymn 455 as well as 456, and they wondered how the “HYMNAL 1982” could include Calvin Hampton’s death date of 1984 (good question!).

This Friday I will give a recital of women composers, all new works to me, so I think I’d better practice more than usual! The composers’ birthdates range from 1590 to 1990! Join us Friday at 12:15 live or livestreamed.

As we continue to pray for the situation in Ukraine, I share this video from last week’s Harmonium Concert in which the audience sang with us

From → Uncategorized

One Comment

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Sunday Music Musings March 26, 2022 | maestrasmusings

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: