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Sunday Music Musings Jan. 14, 2023

January 15, 2023

PHOTO: Treasured family photo: my grandfather, newsman Taylor Grant interviews Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Dear friends, it is so nice to do some pieces for MLK weekend that we have done before. Also, as I said last week, the choristers are starting to remember stuff from last year (although we also have some new singers we are bringing along…it is so nice to be far enough out of pandemic that the kids remember things from last year –which they do way better than adults—and they really sing out and rehearsals move along more quickly and confidently!).

One of the weirdly nice things about pandemic was that I had lots of time to write, so please look at this blog from 2021 when I wrote a lots about Let Justice Roll by Mark Miller and Adolphus Hailsork, the composer for the prelude and postlude, plus Lift Every Voice which we sing in honor for Dr. Martin Luther King.

Our opening hymn is SALZBURG, by Jacob Hinze (1622-1702) as harmonized by J.S. Bach. According to Bert Polman on “Partly as a result of the Thirty Years’ War and partly to further his musical education, Hintze traveled widely as a youth, including trips to Sweden and Lithuania. In 1659 he settled in Berlin, where he served as court musician to the Elector of Brandenburg from 1666 to 1695. Hintze is known mainly for his editing of the later editions of Johann Crüger’s Praxis Pietatis Melica, to which he contributed some sixty-five of his original tunes.” This hymn a tune is used for many texts including “At the Lamb’s High Feast.”

This Epiphany hymn has 3 verses by priest and writer Christopher Wordsworth (1807-1885) nephew of the great poet, William Wordsworth. The fourth verse, about Transfiguration, is by American (Virginian) priest and writer F. Bland Tucker (1895-1984). Thus the hymn covers all of the “manifestations” of Jesus as God in Epiphany. The choristers and I discussed the meaning of “manifest” and they will count how many times in the hymn the word appears. I will play a setting of the tune by Johann Pachelbel (1653-1706) at communion.

For the offertory, I am so lucky to have a fantastic soprano saxophone player in the choir, so Erik will join us for Paul Halley’s “Agnus Dei (A Winter’s Dream).” Paul Halley (b.1952) gained fame as Organist and Choirmaster at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City from 1977-1989, and as a member of the Paul Winter Consort. After leaving the Cathedral in 1989, Halley settled in rural Connecticut and founded the children’s choir, Chorus Angelicus, and the adult ensemble, Gaudeamus.  In 1999, Halley became Director of Music at Trinity Episcopal Church, Torrington, CT where he inaugurated a Choral and Organ Scholars program in conjunction with Yale University’s Institute of Sacred Music. Next Halley served for fourteen years as Director of Music at The University of King’s College Halifax, from July 2007 to December 2021, during which time he expanded the chapel music programme, initiated choral scholarships for students, and directed the acclaimed King’s Halifax Chapel Choir in weekly Evensongs and Choral Eucharists at the college chapel as well as the ‘King’s at the Cathedral’ concert series. His many compositions are available through his publishing and recording company, Pelagos Music.

The presentation hymn is God of Mercy God of Grace by the author of Praise My Soul the King of Heaven, Henry Francis Lyte (1793-1847). Born in Scotland he spent most of his childhood in an orphanage. Lyte distinguished himself at Trinity College, Dublin, by winning the English prize poem three times. He abandoned Medicine for Theology and took Holy Orders in 1815. His first curacy was in Wexford and in 1817. In 1818 he moved to Cornwall and had a spiritual conversion over the death of a fellow clergyman. Lyte says of him:— “He died happy under the belief that though he had deeply erred, there was One whose death and sufferings would atone for his delinquencies, and be accepted for all that he had incurred;”…“I was greatly affected by the whole matter, and brought to look at life and its issue with a different eye than before; and I began to study my Bible, and preach in another manner than I had previously done.” Lyte was tall, handsome, eccentric, well-read and played the flute. He wrote many hymns-the other most famous one being Abide with Me. Both of these hymns were included Queen Elizabeth II’s royal wedding on November 20, 1947, exactly 100 years after his death.

The tune is LUCERNA LAUDONIAE by David Evans (1874-1948). With a name like that he is of course a Welsh composer. He succeeded Joseph Parry, his former teacher, in the music department at Cardiff, where he was appointed a professor in 1908. Among his students was Grace Williams. He wrote many hymns and anthems as well as orchestral and choral works.

During Communion we will sing HYMNAL 294, the tune POINT LOMA by David Charles Walker (1938-2018), with words by Michael Seward (b. 1932-2015). Seward was residentiary Canon of St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, and also served several congregations and as radio and television officer for the Church Information Office, as well as writing over 60 hymns. David Charles Walker was an American organist/choir director turned priest who served a number of parishes, as a hospital chaplain, as a teacher at seminary/college. His most well-known hymn is GENERAL SEMINARY, a setting of the George Herbert text, “King of Glory, King of Peace,” and my favorite hymn!


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