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Sunday Music Musings December 17, 2022 Magnificat!

December 17, 2022

Johannes Brahms (1833 – 1897) included a meditative setting of Es ist ein Ros (Lo How A Rose) in his last opus of eleven sublime organ preludes which is the prelude. The choir will sing this hymn by Michael Praetorius (1571-1621) during communion, and I will play a modern setting by the prolific Michael Burkhardt which also quotes “O Come Emmanuel.”

We’ve been singing Veni Emmanuel as the Presentation hymn for all of Advent, so this week we are up to verses 7&8. But the hymn is actually meant for this week, as each verse is one of the Great “O” Antiphons. These originated in the Middle Ages as antiphons (refrains) to the Magnificat on the seven days preceding Christmas Eve. Each is a title for the Messiah, and each one refers to the prophecy of Isaiah. They are called “O” antiphons because they all start with the word “O.” During the pandemic we made a virtual video for each verse using Daughters of Zion (teen girl) soloists:

17 December: O Sapientia (O Wisdom) Avery Benjamin

18 December: O Adonai (O Lord) Anne Bolt

19 December: O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse) Mia Melchior

20 December: O Clavis David (O Key of David) Claire Waskow

21 December: O Oriens (O Dayspring) Elisabeth Wielandy

22 December: O Rex Gentium (O King of the Nations) Claire Siebert

23 December: O Emmanuel (O God with Us ) Niamh Kane

Our processional hymns is one of my favorites, a good welsh tune LLANGLOFFANRejoice Rejoice Believers from a German poem by Laurentius Laurenti (1660-1722) cantor and director of music at the cathedral church at Bremen, translated by Sarah Findlater (1823-1907).

The children are singing a setting of the Magnificat by George Dyson(1883-1928). The Magnificat (Latin for “[My soul] magnifies [the Lord]) is a canticle whose text is taken from the Gospel of Luke (1:46-55) where it is spoken by Mary upon the occasion of her Visitation to her cousin Elizabeth who is pregnant with John the Baptist.  In the narrative, after Mary greets Elizabeth, the baby moves within Elizabeth’s womb.  Elizabeth praises Mary for her faith and Mary responds with what is now known as the Magnificat.

Sir George Dyson was an English musician and composer who studied at the Royal College of Music and became its director in 1938. Dyson’s father was a blacksmith, but also organist and choirmaster at a local Yorkshire church, and his mother was a weaver and amateur choir singer. Dyson studied at the RCM in London, with Stanford and Parry, from whom he learned a traditional style which served him well.  He served in the army in the First World War, suffered from shell-shock but later returned to the war as a major in the newly formed Royal Air Force, organizing RAF bands. After the war he was a schoolmaster and college lecturer at Wellington College and then Winchester. In 1938 he became director of the RCM, and saw it through the Second World War. He retired in 1962 to enjoy a fruitful compositional period, and died in Winchester in 1964.

The offertory is another favorite Renaissance piece of mine, also telling the story of Mary’s visit to Elizabeth, Űbers Gebirg, by Johannes Eccard (1553–1611), a German composer and kapellmeister. He was an early principal conductor at the Berlin court chapel.

Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872 –1958) as you must know by now is celebrating his 150th birthday this year. The Gargoyles will sing his arrangement of The Cherry Tree Carol.

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.

Make sure to come back for Evensong at 4! The kids (and adults) are doing an excellent job with Vivaldi’s Magnificat, and with some fantastic strings!

Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741) known as the “red priest” because of his flaming red hair, worked at the Ospedale della Pieta in Venice, an orphanage for foundling children.  It was for these orphan girls that he wrote his concertos and church music, which would be performed by his virtuoso girl pupils and older staff from behind a screen to preserve their modesty.

Magníficat ánima mea Dóminum.

Et exultávit spíritus meus: in Deo salutári meo.

Quia respéxit humilitátem ancíllae suae:

Ecce enim ex hoc beátam me dicent omnes generatiónes.

Quia fécit mihi mágna qui pótens est: et sánctum nómen eius.

Et misericórdia eius in progénies et progénies timéntibus eum.

Fécit poténtiam in bráchio suo: dispérsit supérbos mente cordis sui.

Depósuit poténtes de sede: et exaltávit húmiles.

Esuriéntes implévit bonis: et dívites dimísit inánes.

Suscépit Ísrael púerum suum: recordátus misericórdiae suae.

Sicut locútus est ad patres nostros: Ábraham, et sémini eius in saecula.

Glória Patri, et Fílio, et Spirítui Sancto,

Sicut erat in princípio, et nunc, et semper, et in sæcula sæculórum. Amen.
My soul doth magnify the Lord.

And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior.

Because He hath regarded the humility of His slave:

For behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.

Because He that is mighty hath done great things to me; and holy is His name.

And His mercy is from generation unto generations, to them that fear Him.

He hath shewed might in His arm: He hath scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart.

He hath put down the mighty from their seat, and hath exalted the humble.

He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich He hath sent empty away.

He hath received Israel His servant, being mindful of His mercy:

As He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his seed for ever.

Glory be the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,

As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, forever and ever, Amen.

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