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Sunday Music Musings March 19, 2022

March 20, 2022

Yesterday I played an organ recital celebrating women composers. Really, celebrating the blessing that I was able to practice organ more during the last two years and really came to love learning new repertoire as an old dog. It was all works that I bought in the last year, none of which I had performed before. You can find the program notes here and watch the recital here. Next week’s recital is Magnificats and More in honor of Annunciation Day, with Patricia Ruggles, alto (12:15 Friday).

One of the pieces, Weary Land by Emily Maxton Porter is the prelude Sunday. I was thinking about the Moses story of exiles in the wilderness and also thinking of the millions Ukrainian exiles. The work combines the spiritual “My God is a rock in a weary land” with the new testament-referencing Protestant Hymn “Beneath the Cross of Jesus” with words by Scottish hymnodist Elizabeth Cecilia Clephane (1830-1869) and tune ST. CHRISTOPHER by Frederick Charles Maker (1844-1927) found in our Hymnal at #498.

The children will sing words to the Moses and the Burning Bush story that my husband Jabez Van Cleef and I made up for Bible School last summer. We use the wonderful American folk tune LAND OF REST, and the youngest children (Chapel Choir) have hand motions. There is something about singing I AM the great I AM and flinging your arms wide which makes even the littlest child sing out!

Now Moses and his little flock
Across the desert came,
And there they found God’s angel in
A bush of burning flame:

God said, Take off your sandals now,
You’re in a holy place!
And Moses was afraid of God,
And so he hid his face.

So then they bowed before the bush
The bush of burning flame.
God said, I AM the great I AM,
I AM the great I AM.

Our sequence hymn is another great American Folk Hymn Wondrous Love. Then the offertory is another Sacred Harp tune, DETROIT, “Do Not I Love Thee,” words by Philip Doddridge. Philip Doddridge (b. London, England, 1702; d. Lisbon, Portugal, 1751) belonged to the Non-conformist Church (not associated with the Church of England). Its members were frequently the focus of discrimination. Offered an education by a rich patron to prepare him for ordination in the Church of England, Doddridge chose instead to remain in the Non-conformist Church. For twenty years he pastored a poor parish in Northampton, where he opened an academy for training Non-conformist ministers and taught most of the subjects himself. Doddridge suffered from tuberculosis, and when Lady Huntington, one of his patrons, offered to finance a trip to Lisbon for his health, he is reputed to have said, “I can as well go to heaven from Lisbon as from Northampton.” He died in Lisbon soon after his arrival. Doddridge wrote some four hundred hymn texts, generally to accompany his sermons. These hymns were published posthumously in Hymns, Founded on Various Texts in the Holy Scriptures (1755); relatively few are still sung today. (

Henry has been working on more pieces from J.S.Bach’s Orgebüchlein, and will play Christe du Lamm Gottes, a German setting of the Agnus Dei in 3 part canon. Then the Gargoyles will sing Healey Willan’s Agnus Dei from the Mass of St. Hubert. Learn more about Willan here.

The Adult choir will sing a short Lenten “carol” Remember O Thou Man by Thomas Ravenscroft (c. 1588 – 1635)  which we sometimes use as our motet at Compline on Thursdays (8:30-8:45 pm). Ravenscroft was an English musician, theorist and editor, notable as a composer of rounds and catches, and especially for compiling collections of British folk music.

Our last hymn is an “oldie-but-goodie.” I say this because the kids always take to “Rock of Ages.” The tune is TOPLADY named for the text author, Augustus Toplady (1740-1778). The tune composer is the American Thomas Hastings (1784-1872), born in Lichfield Connecticut, raised in the frontier of Colorado, who then returned to New York State.

For the postlude, Henry will play the Little Prelude in G Minor long attributed to a J.S.Bach early work (BWV 558), but now thought to be the work of a contemporary such as Krebs.

In choir practice we are working on Holy Week and Easter music, and it seems unbelievable that we have not done this live in two years!

Enjoy the lengthening days! See you in church.

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