Forest Hill & 43rd Street
Richmond, VA 23225

To Know Christ and to Make Him Known

Weekly Music Notes

Oct. 29, 2017: Reformation hymns

Music Notes: It is highly appropriate that a service to recognize the Reformation includes a large number of congregational hymns. Along with making the gospel available in the language of the people, the reformers were also concerned that music not be the sole province of the priests or trained singers.  So they encouraged and promoted congregational singing. Catholic chants were rewritten or recast to psalm-tunes that were easier for lay people to sing. Eventually these simple tunes came to be used, especially by J.S. Bach, as the underpinnings of large compositions incorporating them, much the way chants had been used in the music of Palestrina and others. David Boelzner

Oct. 8, 2017: Medieval Melody, “O love, how deep, how broad, how high”

Today’s Music: The melody for our processional (#49) is over 500 years old. The Medieval quality of the tune can be seen in the triple rhythm, shifting between long-short and then short-long (see the third measure, on “broad, how”). The tune is also modal, most apparent in the lowered leading-tone (ti in the do-re-mi scale) in what would otherwise be a minor mode. David Boelzner

Sept. 24, 2017: Favorite hymns

Today’s Music: The fact that we are singing three of my very favorite hymns this morning leads me to ask, what is it about a piece of music that moves us, that makes it a particular favorite? The fine Welsh hymn, (#527: “Singing songs of expectation”), that serves as the processional, with its robust martial rhythm in a minor key, seems to embody urgency. The recessional, (#541: “Come labor on”), progressively builds, climbing up in the last phrase to the highest note of its melody, declaiming indeed “Servants, well done.” And Calvin Hampton’s gently lilting “O master, let me walk with thee” is simply hauntingly beautiful.  D. Boelzner

Sept. 17, 2017: “Nun danket alle Gott” and connections

Today’s Music: There are underground connections between several of our musical selections this morning. The opening hymn, (“Now thank we all our God,” 397), is set to a tune written by Johann Cruger c. 1647, the German text for which is “Nun danket alle Gott.”  The standard harmonization used for this tune, including in our hymnal, is by Felix Mendelssohn. Ann is playing a movement from his organ sonata as the prelude (Sonata #3: Andante). The postlude is another arrangement of “Nun danket,”(by Walther).  D. Boelzner

Sept. 10, 2017: Something old, new, borrowed, and blue

Today’s Music: This morning something old: the lovely Locus Iste anthem from A. Bruckner, which we’ve sung before. Something new: our seasonal service music, with a brand new Gloria. Something borrowed: the opening hymn (” O day of radiant gladness”) tune from a German folk song. Something blue: the prelude (Bach) in a minor key. David Boelzner

Aug. 27, 2017: Rich heritage of our worship music

Today’s Music: This morning’s service demonstrates the rich heritage of music used in our worship.  From 16th century France we have the tune of the communion hymn (“Bread of the world, in mercy broken” ), 301; from late 19th century France comes the lovely Cantique de Jean Racine by Faure, sung by our quartet. The recessional tune (“Glorious things of thee are spoken”) is attributed to the great 18th century Austrian composer, Franz Joseph Haydn, and the opening hymn (“God has spoken to his people”) is an old Hasidic melody! D Boelzner

Aug. 20, 2017: Blue Grass Sunday

Today’s Music: You won’t find Bluegrass Sunday on the liturgical calendar, but it has become a summer tradition at Good Shepherd. Bluegrass music blends elements of country, folk, Gaelic and jazz into a genre all its own. It’s a lot of work getting ready for Bluegrass Sunday! Many thanks to our musicians: Mandolin: Rick Curtis, Guitar: Dick Hickman, Cello/bass: Ann Boelzner, Vocals: Sandi Bray, Maggie Southwick, Stuart Fulcher, David Boelzner. Ann

Aug. 13, 2017: Antique Suite by John Rutter

Today’s Music: For communion Francile and Ann will play the opening movement from John Rutter’s Suite Antique. The Suite was commissioned for a music festival that also featured one of J.S. Bach’s Brandenburg concertos on the program, which Rutter has said inspired him to pay homage to the Baroque style, albeit somewhat playfully. Rutter (b. 1945) is perhaps the most highly successful composer of church music today, somewhat ironically because he has said he does not consider himself to be a particularly religious man, characterizing himself as more spiritual. D. Boelzner

Aug. 6, 2017: “Here I am, Lord” by Dan Schutte

Today’s Music: The offertory this morning is Dan Schutte’s most famous song, “Here I am, Lord (I, the Lord of sea and sky).” Schutte (b. 1947), a Jesuit, is probably the most prominent composer associated with the movement to create liturgical music for the Roman Catholic Church in a soft folk style, following the dictates of the Vatican II Council, which decreed that music should be accessible to the common people and thus largely discarded from the liturgy the centuries of music composed for the Church. Whatever one thinks of that development, this song is justifiably admired. David Boelzner