Finally, for your intellectual and devotional interest, here is the entire text of the anthem. I can assure you that the music will be just as beautiful and evocative as the words.
Pentecost 23 (October 24)
The descant in the final stanza (by Thmas Armstrong) is familiar from the Carols for Choirs version of ‘O little town of Bethlehem.’
This was the sequence hymn: the first three stanzas sung prior to the Gospel lesson, and the final two sung as the altar party processed back at the conclusion of the reading.
The choir was off this past week, but a fine quartet (consisting of Lisa Jennings, Fran Gilbert, Stewart Haigh, and Larry Wilson) provided two anthems. The Tallis is very familiar; the other anthem was written by Richard H. Lloyd (b. 1933), who served as organist and choirs master both at Hereford Cathedral and at Durham. The text, by Thomas Campion (1567-1620) is as follows:
View mee, Lord, a worke of thine:
Shall I then lye drown’d in night?
Might thy grace in mee but shine,
I should seeme made all of light.
Clense mee, Lord, that I may kneele
At thine Altar, pure and white:
They that once thy Mercies feele,
Gaze no more on earths delight.
Worldly joyes like shadowes fade,
When the heav’nly light appeares ;
But the cov’nants thou hast made,
Endlesse, know nor dayes, nor yeares.
In thy word, Lord, is my trust,
To thy mercies fast I flye ;
Though I am but clay and dust,
Yet thy grace can lift me high.
The first concert of the Carolina Master Chorale’s 2010-2011 season is this weekend. The Master Chorale has been a great friend to Trinity’s music ministry, and a number of its members sing in our choir here. Please try to catch one of thier concerts!
Ain’t It A Pretty Night . . . At The Opera
Friday, October 22, 2010, 8PM
Seaside United Methodist Church,
1300 Seaside Road, Sunset Beach, NC
Saturday, October 23, 2010, 8PM
Trinity Episcopal Church
3000 N. Kings Hwy., Myrtle Beach, SC
Sunday, October 24, 2010, 4PM
First United Methodist Church
1001 Fifth Avenue, Conway, SC
For tickets, please visit the CMC website here.
Pentecost 21 (October 17)
Alternate harmonization of the third stanza by G. Winston Cassler (1906-1990), professor of music at St. Olaf College from 1949 to 1972.
We celebrated two baptisms at this service, and the little expression of joy heard as the last chords of this anthem are dying away was offered by one of the newly baptized; whether it was baby Sophie or baby Eliza, I couldn’t say for sure.
Pentecost 17 (September 19):
This is a sweet little Moravian anthem that Sebron Hood bought for the choir during his tenure (1967-1991), but none of our current choir members could remeber ever having done it before. I was certainly glad to find it waiting patiently in the file cabinet, and I can assure you that we won’t let it sit for 25 years before we do it again.
Pentecost 18 (September 26):
This was Men’s Chorus Sunday, and they sang this splashy little anthem as an Introit to the opening hymn.
Pentecost 19 (October 3):
In the oratorio, this is an aria that the angel (who is an alto) sings to encourage Elijah as he is about to lose heart in the face of adversity. Personally, I think the aria works just as well if not better in the baritone range, and certainly no one could have sung it more angelically than Rod Sanders did here.
The organ is a machine, and like most machines it runs well so long as it receives its routine maintenance. The most important aspect of this maintenance takes the form of regular tunings. The organ is tuned three or four times a year, and one of these tunings took place this past Monday. I thought it would be interesting for you to know a little bit about what goes in to it.
First of all, it’s a big job. Like the strings on a piano, every pipe must be tuned individually. Each separate sound on the organ, called a stop, has its own set of pipes, called a rank, one pipe for every key or pedal. Keyboard ranks on Trinity’s organ have 58 notes, and pedal ranks have 30 notes. Some stops (called mixtures) have two, three, or even four pipes for each note that combine (or mix) make up that stop’s particular sound. All told, Trinity’s organ has 26 stops with 30 ranks of pipes. This works out to about 1572 pipes, each of which must be tuned individually. As I say, it’s a big job.
Second, tuning the organ is a two-man job. One person (me) has to sit at the console and hold each individual note while another person (the tuner) goes up in the case—sometimes way up—and tunes each pipe. The different sounds on the organ are produced by different types of pipes, which are tune by different methods. Some pipes are wooden, and they are tuned by adjusting a rectangular stopper that rests in the top of the pipe. Other pipes, made of metal, are tuned by moving a cylindrical “tuning collar” (think of a soup can with both ends cut off fitted on the top of the pipe) that changes the length, and thereby the pitch, of the pipe. Other types of pipes are tuned by other methods; I will be happy to give the full lecture and demonstration to anyone who is interested.
Finally, it’s a tedious job. Some of the pipes are pencil sized or even smaller, and the tolerances of correct tuning might be some fraction of a millimeter. Also, it is extremely difficult to hear, really hear, the pitch when a shrill note–which is designed to soar over the sound of the full organ–is blaring right in your face. The tuner must possess not only a good a good ear, but he needs to have good mechanical skills to understand and deal with the organ’s many components. A measure of bodily courage is also helpful for climbing up, through, and around some pretty tight spaces in the case.
The two main factors that affect the tuning are temperature and humidity; fluctuations in those are what necessitate the tuning. Every so often, a pipe will slip out of tune to such a degree that an egregiously sour note results. Most of the time, however, the “out of tune-ness” is more subtle but more widespread; this causes the organ to sound sluggish and rough. The organ having been tuned this week, I think that the primary difference one will notice (barring any wrong notes perpetrated by its operator) will be a sleeker, cleaner sound.
Some organists and choir directors in the area have gotten together to form a local chapter of the American Guild of Organists. The AGO is a national organization whose purpose is to “promote the organ, to encourage excellence in the performance of organ and choral music, and to provide a forum for mutual support, inspiration, and education.” Previously, the nearest AGO chapters were in Wilmington and Charleston; but now we have the newly chartered Grand Strand Chapter, with members from Myrtle Beach, Surfside, Conway, and Georgetown. I have already enjoyed getting to know some of my colleagues both within the diocese and from other denominations.
I mention this here because Trinity had the distinction of hosting the very first meeting of the Grand Strand Chapter this past Friday, the 1st. There were about 25 members and friends present; we shared a meal together and then went upstairs to sing some anthems that had been brought by various members. If you have a minute, please check out some pictures of the event here.
In addition, the chapter’s website (www.agograndstrand.org) has a listing of musical events in area churches. You might find useful in that there, all in one place, is information on all different kinds of concerts and services up and down the Grand Strand, almost all of which are free. Click on the “Events and Concerts” link on the homepage.
This is a 10th-century Matins hymn translated from Latin by Percy Dearmer, the author of ‘Draw us in the Spirit’s tether,’ who collaborated with Vaughan Williams to edit the original English Hymnal just over a hundred years ago. The music is not quite as old; it is a 17th-century French church melody, roughly of the same vintage as the tune for ‘O come, O come Emmanuel.’
In 10th-century monastic practice, Matins was not morning prayer; it was middle-of-the-night prayer, sung well before sunrise as the first office of the day. In fact that Latin of the very first line, nocte surgentes (“rising at night”) has been rendered in English as “now the night is over” to bring it in line with more contemporary understanding of just what constitutes morning.
It is of passing interest to speculate on the significance behind why a particular hymn is selected as the first in a collection. Most Methodist hymnals are prefaced with John Wesley’s “Directions for Singing” followed by his brother Charles’s ‘O for a thousand tongues to sing’ as the first hymn. Traditional Lutheran hymnals (the German ones more so than the American) are arranged according to the seasons of the church year, beginning with the Advent hymn “Savior of the nations, come” (Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland, translated by Luther from St. Ambrose’s Veni, redemptor genitum).
In The Hymnal 1982, I think that beginning with the morning hymns is an acknowledgement of how important the office of Morning Prayer is in traditional Anglican worship, even though that importance has faded (for better or for worse) with the increased Eucharistic practice we have seen in the last several decades. This particular text is a good candidate to “lead off” the hymnal not only because of its venerable origin, but because it was ushered into English-language hymnody by the Anglican all-star team of Dearmer and Vaughan Williams.
This will be a good Sunday for music-loving Anglophiles; all of the choral and organ music is by those two heroes of British music, Stanford and Parry.
Charles Hubert Hastings Parry was a student of S. S. Wesley, and later a partner with George Grove in Grove’s first Dictionary of Music and Musicians. His iconic “I was glad” was written for the coronation of Edward VII in 1902, and has been used at every coronation since. Charles Villiers Stanford was an Irishman whose musical style was clearly influenced by his friend and mentor Brahms. Stanford composed prolifically in all genres, but his mastery and appeal come across most clearly (to me, anyway) in his choral music. Aside from the compositions they left us, both Stanford and Parry leave a goodly heritage as teachers though students like Vaughan Williams, Howells, and a host of others.
Both of the anthems the choir will sing are hymn-tune related. In the case of Stanford’s ‘O for a closer walk,’ the composer used pre-existing music (the Scottish psalm tune Caithness) as the basis for an anthem, adding the choral parts and the flowing organ accompaniment. In the case of Parry’s ‘Dear Lord and Father,’ the opposite process is at work: an editor took a melody from Parry’s oratorio “Judith” (don’t look it up, it’s a real snoozer—even worse than Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius), removed the original words and inserted new ones; from that we get the hymn tune known as Repton.
The elements that make British choral music sound the way it does are its lyrical phrases, its pointed but refined dissonance, and (of course!) its soaring melodies. But even before one gets to the sound, we find that most of the great Anglican choral music begins with an elegant and expressive text. Both of these pieces qualify, and both texts are in the hymnal if you want to look them up. William Cowper’s ‘O for a closer walk’ is at hymn 684, and John Greenleaf Whittier’s ‘Dear Lord and Father’ (which was first published in The Atlantic Monthly) is at hymn 653.