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Sunday Music Musings April 30, 2022 Saul! Saul!

April 30, 2022

Egil Hovland (1924-2013) is a Norwegian especially known for his church music. His gorgeous and lyrical Stay With Us is a particular favorite of Lutheran choirs. Saul!, opus 74, for mixed choir (SATB), speaker and organ  (1971) is very different, a dissonant composition meant to actually recreate part of our lesson from Acts, in which Saul is struck down. It includes a lot of aleatoric singing for the choir, that is, the singers sing a phrase over and over at their own pace, creating an atmosphere.

Narrator: And on that day a great persecution arose against the church in Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the region of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.  Devout men buried Stephen, and made great lamentation over him.  But Saul laid waste the church, entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison.  Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word.  Unclean spirits came out of many who were possessed, crying with a loud voice; and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed.

Chorus: Saul breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord.

Narrator: Saul breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord.  He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus.  So that if any be found belonging to the WAY, men or women, he might bring them bound in chains back to Jerusalem.

Chorus: So that if any be found belonging to the WAY, men or women, he might bring them bound in chains back to Jerusalem.

Narrator: Now as he journeyed he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed about him and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him:

Chorus: Saul, why, why, why do you persecute, why do you persecute me?

The choristers will sing an anthem at the offertory by Mark Miller (b. 1967), Feed My Sheep. This is not published, but part of a children’s musical he wrote with Laurie Zelman (a frequent collaborator) and it has been a favorite of my children for 20 years. Mark serves as Assistant Professor of Church Music at Drew Theological School and is a Lecturer in the Practice of Sacred Music at Yale University. He also is the Minister of Music of Christ Church in Summit. He is a Yale and Julliard educated passionate composer and advocate for the power of music to change the world. You can catch Mark Sunday afternoon at Chatham United Methodist Church doing a FREE workshop and community sing with the New Jersey Youth Chorus!

Mark and Anne – possibly younger than today

I’ve had a great time with the choristers continuing to work with bells for Eastertide, and they are ringing in the Gloria and two hymns.

The last hymn, Now the Green Blade Riseth (NOEL NOUVELET) is another example of a good Christmas tune being used for Easter (like last week’s PUER NOBIS NASCITUR). The text by Anglican theologian and poet John McCleod Campbell Crumm (1872-1958) compares resurrection to budding seeds that have seemed dead through the winter. Henry will play a setting by Raymond Haan (b. 1938), Director of Music for the Cutlerville East Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, since 1960. The postlude is a setting by Mark Sedio who serves Cantor at Central Lutheran Church in downtown Minneapolis. In addition he has held teaching positions both at Augsburg University and Luther Seminary.

Sorry I have not had time to write about every piece today. You can tell the world is getting back to pre-pandemic performance levels, which feels so great! Friday night a wonderful harpist, Merynda Adams gave a recital at Grace, which was well attended and raised almost $1500 for the Madison Baptist Food Pantry which we support at Grace. I had the JOY of playing Marcel Grandjany (1891-1975) Aria in Classic Style for organ and harp in the program — which is a most gorgoues piece! There was a whole group of scouts at the concert, learning about attending live performance, and they all had their picture taken with the harp! After that I asked if they wanted to see the organ and their enthusiastic response lead to a nice organ demo during which they asked lots of fantastic questions!

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