Forest Hill & 43rd Street
Richmond, VA 23225

To Know Christ and to Make Him Known

Weekly Music Notes

June 9, 2019: “The Holy Spirit”, #515, composed by George Henry Day

Today’s Music: Hymn 515, (“The Holy Spirit”), is new to our congregation, at least in recent memory. Its composer was George Henry Day (1883-1966), who became a professional musician after beginning a career as an auditor for a manufacturing company. He was appointed choirmaster at St. Peter’s in New York City’s Chelsea Square, but continued his auditor’s job for two more years while taking music courses, graduating from New York College of Music in 1915. The hymn very explicitly changes mode from F minor to F major for its second half, with the melody nearly identical in each section. David Boelzner

June 2, 2019: “Rise, crowned with light” by J. Healey Willan

Today’s Music: The anthem, “Rise, crowned with light,” is by English-born Canadian organist and composer J. Healey Willan (1880-1968). After working as an organist in England, Willan emigrated to Canada in 1913 and eventually established himself as “the dean of Canadian composers.” He was the first non-English musician to be awarded the Lambeth Doctorate by the Archbishop of Canterbury, he appeared on a Canadian postage stamp, and there is a small park named for him adjacent to the church where he worked principally, St. Mary Magdalene’s in Toronto. He was interested in plainchant and in high church Anglo-Catholic worship.  David Boelzner

May 26, 2019: “Like the murmur of the dove’s song”

Today’s Music: The text for our communion  hymn, “Like the murmur of the dove’s song,” #513, as well as several others in our hymnal, was written by Carl P Daw, Jr., a Louisville, KY native who was educated, among other places, at the University of Virginia and served as assistant rector in Petersburg. (He also was, like your annotator, an associate professor at William & Mary.) He served on the committee that compiled the 1982 hymnal. The music for this hymn is by Peter Cutts, an English-born organist active in Methodist churches in Massachusetts. DB

Apr. 28, 2019: “Now the green blade rises”

Today’s Music: The anthem is the traditional Easter text, “Now the green blade rises,” with its vivid imagery linking the resurrection to the springing forth of new wheat. It is most often set, as it is in our arrangement, to the old French Christmas carol tune “Noel nouvelet,” which kind of links musically Christ’s advent into the world and his reappearance after death. David Boelzner

April 21, 2019: Gloria from “Twelfth Mass”

Today’s Music: After a composer becomes famous, publishers are desperate to be able to bring out more works by him. This morning’s anthem is “attributed to Mozart.” More accurately, it was attributed to Mozart in its first publication by Novello in 1819 (28 years after Mozart’s death), but most scholars, including the cataloguer of his works, Köchel (Mozart’s works are given a “K” number), now reject it as a composition by him. To this annotator’s ear, the writing is unsophisticated even for the juvenile Mozart. But it has remained popular for a reason: it is joyous and fun to sing, certainly appropriate to the mood of the Easter season. David Boelzner

Mar. 31, 2019: David Boelzner’s Compositions

Today’s Music: This Sunday we are featuring two of David’s compositions. The prelude, Meditation No.2, his most recent work, was written for auction at a 2019 William & Mary Law School fundraiser. The basis of the melody is the names of the bidder and his fiancee. (We understand that a bidding war ensued.) The anthem, “Lord, You Have Been Our Refuge,” based on Psalm 90, was written in 2017 and was inspired by the faith and strength of a Good Shepherd parishioner who was faced with a period of serious illness.  Ann Boelzner

Mar. 24, 2019: “Kind maker of the world”

Today’s Music: Our opening hymn invokes a couple of things that have been discussed in our Sunday School sessions on hymns. First, the text, “Kind maker of the world,” etc., is attributed to Pope Gregory the Great, who reigned from 590 to 604 and has had ascribed to him a great many poems and hymns because of his authority and his achievement in restructuring the liturgy; indeed, he was reputed to have received the whole body of chant from God via dictation through a bird (hence “Gregorian” chant, though he likely was not a musician and could not have written down any music because there was no system of notation at the time). The hymn is also in Dorian mode, one of those alternatives to our major and minor scales where some of the notes sound a little “off.” David Boelzner

Mar. 17, 2019: “O Lord, Increase my Faith”

Today’s Music: The anthem is by Orlando Gibbons, a great English organist and composer who died in 1625, having served as head of the royal chapel for King James I (he of the Bible commissioning). Gibbons lived during the transition from the imitative polyphony of the Renaissance to the simpler textures of the early Baroque period. Texture is how “busy” the music is, and “O Lord, increase my faith” illustrates the transitional style. It begins with all the voices singing in the same rhythm. But soon you hear some imitation, tenors beginning with “endue me with wisdom” and the other voices echoing and piling on. This is even more noticeable “in all my adversity,” but the texture simplifies at “sweet Jesus say Amen.” David Boelzner

Feb. 24, 2019: “Benediction” by Dorothy Christopherson

Today’s Music: The choir sings “Benediction” by piano teacher and composer Dorothy Christopherson, who was schooled in Minnesota and South Dakota and active in churches there. The setting includes an obbligato line, for either viola or French horn; despite its name, obbligatos are usually considered optional, but here it adds some variation to harmony that is very lush, comprising primarily 7th and 9th chords, but also somewhat repetitious. The effect is, to this writer, one of wistful sweetness. David Boelzner