Forest Hill & 43rd Street
Richmond, VA 23225

To Know Christ and to Make Him Known

Weekly Music Notes

Aug. 21, 2016: Tune of “New every morning is the love”

Music Notes: The opening hymn tune is by Elkanah K. Dare (d. 1826), a noted American contributor to early hymnody collections, especially shape-note music. The modal tune, with the notable iambic rhythm in the fifth measure, sounds rather eastern, and the tune name also sounds Hebrew, but I have been unable to pin down the connection between name and tune. The best possibility may be that Kedron was the name of an early patriarch of the Orthodox Church at Alexandria. David Boelzner

Aug. 14, 2016: Francis Poulenc’s movements from Sonata for Flute and Piano

Today’s Music: As prelude and offertory, Francile and Ann will play movements from the wonderful Sonata for Flute and Piano by Francis Poulenc (1988-1963). Twentieth-century French composers loved the flute, and Poulenc is no exception. His music has been noted for elegance, clarity, and droll wit, all of which are present in this work. The opening melody of the first movement (Prelude) illustrates all three, with its fluttering beginning and long flowing lines. The second theme is one of my favorite melodies ever, so simple yet novel. The Cantilena (Offertory) consists of a flowing, rather wistful melody, interrupted only occasionally by small flourishes. D. Boelzner  

Aug. 7, 2016: The King of love my shepherd is

Music Notes: Today’s Offertory music is a semi-improvised reworking of Hymn 645, arranged for solo piano. The text and title of this famous hymn -which paraphrases parts of the 23rd Psalm – was written by Sir Henry Williams Baker (1821-1877). Sir Henry (who assumed a baronetcy following the passing of his father) studied at Trinity College, Cambridge, became a vicar, and was well-known as the editor of the best-selling hymnal of its time, the important Hymns Ancient and Modern. It was revealed by a close friend that Sir Henry’s final words upon his death were the third stanza of this hymn. Incidentally, the sixth and final stanza serves as a de facto anthem for Good Shepherd Episcopal School with its final line: “Good Shepherd, may I sing thy praise within thy house forever.”   For music to set his text, Sir Henry chose the beautiful Irish melody St. Columba. Saint Columba was famous for helping to introduce Christianity to Scotland, but additionally renowned for banishing a “water-beast” to the depths of the River Ness in the year 565. Because the River Ness flows out of the celebrated Loch Ness, it would seem that our melody’s namesake was perhaps the first person to spar with the Loch Ness Monster! Pete Mathis

July 31, 2016: Vivaldi’s “Laudamus Te”

Music Notes: The anthem is one of the more popular numbers from the setting of the Gloria by Antonio Vivaldi (d. 1741), which the choir sang in its entirety several years ago. The duet “Laudamus te” sets the portion of the text “We praise, we adore (worship) you, we glorify you.” It was originally scored for soprano duet, but our version employs two tenors. Vivaldi worked at a girls’ school – maybe he didn’t have any tenors! The writing uses the imitative (echo) technique throughout, with the voices switching position as to leading or echoing, punctuated by recurring material played by the piano, appropriately called “ritornello” (from the Italian root for “return”). David Boelzner

July 24, 2016: “Peace” and “This is the hour of banquet and song” by D. Boelzner

Music Notes: The Yogi-ism “deju vu all over again” may come to mind: the offertory is a reprise of my anthem “Peace,” which the choir has done with piano. This version is for a quartet and is sung a cappella. For communion Tricia, Ann and I will reprise my setting of the text, “This is the hour of banquet and of song,” (text at Hymns 316-317) which we first did last summer. The melody may suggest English folk song; it is primarily in Dorian mode, which is the same minor-sounding scale that was used for one version of the famous tune “Greensleeves.” David Boelzner

July 17, 2016: “Ave Maria”

Today’s Music: This morning we hear two instrumental settings of the Latin hymn to the Virgin Mary, “Ave Maria,” each of which is actually an adaptation. The prelude was originally from Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier collection. Is a sequence of broken (arpeggiated) chords, which was later fitted with a new overlaid melody (originally improvised) by the French composer Charles Gounod (d. 1893).  The offertory, by Franz Schubert, is widely believed to have been written as a setting of the Latin hymn. But actually the piece was originally a song, Ellen’s Song III, based on an episode from Sir Walter Scott’s epic poem, The Lady of the Lake. The song is a prayer addressed to the Virgin but the only part of the Latin text used is the opening words “Ave Maria”; some later arranger adapted the full Latin text to Schubert’s music. D. Boelzner

July 10, 2016: “Hyfrydol”

Music Notes: Our opening hymn (#460), “Alleluia! sing to Jesus!” is to the tune called “Hyfrydol,” a Welsh name meaning “cheerful.” It was composed by Welsh musician Rowland Pritchard (d. 1887) while still in his teens, for inclusion in a collection of hymns for children. The tune moves mostly in scalar steps, which makes it flexible for various harmonies. The postlude is a set of variations on the tune composed by the great Ralph Vaughan Williams. David Boelzner

July 3, 2016: David’s Compositions

Music Notes: One of the afflictions of being a composer is that sometimes one has an urge to add a countermelody to a masterwork by someone else. So it was that the prelude came about: Ann plays the famous slow movement from Beethoven’s “Pathetique” sonata while I play a countermelody on horn. Taking advantage of the summer sojourn of our Good Shepherd violist in Richmond, the offertory is a reprise of Abraham’s Walk, my depiction of God’s call to Abraham to sacrifice his only son Isaac. God calls three times, each time louder, before Abraham (viola) responds slowly, then with gradually increasing agitation. The rest of the piece is the fearful but determined trudge up the mountain, culminating in three more calls from God for Abraham to stay his hand. David Boelzner

June 12, 2016: “Proclaim the Greatness of the Lord” by Andrew Hofer

The anthem this morning is “Proclaim the Greatness of the Lord,” by Andrew Hofer, O.P. (b. 1972). The words by Andrew Hofer are set to a traditional Irish tune (“The Flight of the Earls”), which was also the tune for an earlier hymn. O.P. stands for the Order of Preachers, (Ordo Praedicatorum in Latin) which is the Dominican Order within the Catholic Church, founded by St. Dominic in 1216. The Dominicans are known for their outstanding preaching, so Hofer wrote this song as a celebration of the preaching of the Gospel of God’s redeeming love, “what Christ Himself did preach.” Dick Hickman