(If you do not see the music link icon, you must click on the above Weekly Music Notes title for Apr. 26, 2020.)
Chorale Prelude on “Erschienen ist der herrlich Tag” by Ethel Smyth and Hymn 201 “On earth has dawned this day of days”
Today I chose a piece of music by British composer Ethel Smyth (1858-1944). Throughout her career, she was often marginalized by critics because she was a woman; but she did achieve success in her time. In 1922, she became the first professional female composer to be given a damehood.
After leaving home as a young woman, Smyth studied in Leipzig and met many of the most prominent European composers of the time. She wrote extensively in many different genres of music in the ensuing decades.
Smyth also became involved in political as well as literary pursuits. In 1910, she joined the Women’s Social and Political Union, and in 1911, she wrote “The March of the Women,” which was the song that became the anthem for the women’s suffrage movement. In the 1920s and 30s, Smyth also began writing autobiographical works; and during that time, she published ten very successful books.
For the organ piece today, I chose Smyth’s chorale prelude on the old Lutheran hymn “Erschienen ist der herrlich Tag.” In this piece, the tune is played in long, high notes in the pedal part, and the harmonies happening against the tune are a little different than what you might expect if you’re used to Hymn #201 in our hymnal. I recorded myself playing that as well, since I thought it’d be interesting to compare. Here are my recordings of Ethyl Smyth’s “Erschienen ist der herrlich Tag” and verses 1 and 4 of Hymn 201, “On earth has dawned this day of days.” Thanks for listening!
1. On earth has dawned this day of days, whereon the faithful give God praise! For Christ is risen from the tomb, and light and joy have conquered doom. Alleluia.
4. So let our songs to heaven wing, the vault with alleluias ring, in praise of Christ, our risen Lord; new life to all he doth afford. Alleluia!