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To Know Christ and to Make Him Known

Weekly Music Notes

Oct. 14, 2018: “Le Cygne” (the Swan) by Charles Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921)

Today’s Music: For the prelude this morning we have Warren Chapman and Ann playing a transcription for saxophone and piano of “Le Cygne” (the Swan) by Charles Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921). The piece is very well known, originally scored for cello and two pianos, part of the suite The Carnival of the Animals. This was the only movement from that wonderful work that the composer would allow to be performed in public during his lifetime; he felt the other movements were too frivolous and would harm his reputation as a serious composer. The calm gliding of the swan is evoked by the perpetual rolling arpeggios in the piano part and the flowing lyrical melody played by the sax.  David Boelzner

Oct. 7, 2018: “And now the bread is broken” by Cliff Brock

Today’s Music: This morning, in addition to the usual offertory, the choir will sing a communion anthem, “And now the bread is broken.” It is a relatively new piece, a premiere by our choir, written by composer Cliff Brock (b. 1982), whose “day job” is horticulturist at the Georgia State Botanical Garden. He is also organist at an Episcopal church in Lawrenceville, GA. We’ve done another of his anthems previously. Brock has a knack for writing an engaging melody, and this piece is no exception. The simple melody has a haunting modal quality. David Boelzner

Sept. 30, 2016: Alessandro Stradella

Today’s Music: As the prelude this morning, Ross and Ann play an aria (originally for voice) by Alessandro Stradella (d. 1682). Stradella, whose entire name was Antonio Alessandro Boncompagno (“good companion”) Stradella, was from an aristocratic Tuscan family, and he was a highly influential composer in his day. He apparently was aptly named “Boncompagno,” at least as far as the ladies were concerned, because he was notorious for his many affairs, one of which got him murdered by hirelings of a noble family. His melodramatic life inspired several operas, including an unfinished one by Cesar Franck. David Boelzner

Sept. 23, 2018: “Rise, crowned with light” by Healey Willan

Today’ Music: The anthem this morning is “Rise, crowned with light” by Canadian organist and composer (James) Healey Willan. Born in 1880 in England, he emigrated to Canada in 1913 and became organist at Toronto’s largest church, St. Paul’s, Bloor Street. Before leaving England, however, Willan had become interested in the Anglo-Catholic revival movement, and when in 1921 his royalties from composition allowed him the financial freedom to do so, he left “low church” St. Paul’s for the “high church” St. Mary Magdalene, where he remained until his death in 1968. He transformed the church into a mecca for Anglican church musicians. The tune of the arrangement is “Old 124th,” from a 1551 psalm collection. David Boelzner

Sept. 16, 2018: “The spacious firmament on high” from an oratorio by Haydn

The processional hymn (#409), “The spacious firmament,” is adapted from a joyful chorus, “The heavens are telling,” from an oratorio by Franz Joseph Haydn (d. 1809) entitled The Creation. Haydn was deeply religious and, like Handel in composing his oratorio Messiah, Haydn felt divinely inspired during the composition. An oratorio is a dramatic musical work on a sacred theme, a form that originated in the 16th century. The most famous oratorio is, of course, Messiah, but there are many other oratorios, even by Handel, and Messiah is actually atypical, in that most oratorios are more theatrical, just short of being fully staged like an opera. David Boelzner

Aug. 26, 2018: Blue Grass Sunday, “Wayfaring Stranger” and “Magnificat”

Today’s Music: We have two songs being performed for the first time today. The first is the traditional spiritual “Wayfaring Stranger.” Its origins have been traced back as far as 1780. It may be a reworked African spiritual or a creation from Southern Appalachia. In the song, the singer contemplates a better world in the afterlife with his family and Christ. Singers who have performed “Wayfaring Stranger” include Burl Ives, Joan Baez, Emmylou Harris, and Johnny Cash. The second song is the “Magnificat” which was composed by Dick Hickman for this morning’s Bluegrass Sunday. It is performed in the country rock style with an upbeat tempo. The Magnificat is Mary’s song of praise to the Lord found in Luke’s Gospel (1:46-55) Rick Curtis

Aug. 19, 2018: Ave Maria

Today’s Music: M. Bergman provides our special music this morning, singing the Ave Maria to music of Jacques Arcadelt, a piece the choir has sung numerous times as an anthem. The music, however, was originally a 16thcentury three-voice secular madrigal, which would most often have been sung by a small group of singers, or by a single singer or two with the other parts covered by instruments. Nineteenth century French composer Pierre-Louis Dietsch used the music from the 16thcentury love song to make a choral setting of the Latin hymn of praise to the Virgin Mary, Ave Maria. David Boelzner

Aug. 5. 2018: “Jesus, lover of my soul”

Today’s Music: The men’s chorale sings the anthem this morning, “Jesus, lover of my soul,” a Charles Wesley text long associated with Joseph Parry’s tune, Aberystwyth. Parry (d. 1903) was a Welsh composer who worked as a child in the mines of Wales and later in the iron works in Pennsylvania, not receiving any musical training until age 17. Nonetheless, he became an organist and prolific composer, eventually becoming head of the music department at the university in Aberystwyth, Wales, hence the tune’s name. Like so many Welsh tunes, it is in minor mode (its first four notes are identical to our recessional, no. 571, another Welsh tune). Many believe that the pan-African anthem “Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika,” the national anthem of several African nations and part of South Africa’s anthem, is based on the Parry tune, but the tunes are little alike.  David Boelzner

July 29, 2018: Dick Hickman’s compositions

Today’s Music: The text to this morning’s prelude, O Gladsome Light, arranged for guitar and mandolin, can be found in the hymnal, page 36. The Venite is my own composition written in 2015. The Offertory is The Rising Dawn, my adaptation of the verses beginning with Job 38:12. Dick Hickman