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To Know Christ and to Make Him Known

Weekly Music Notes

June 7, 2020: Chorale Prelude on Nicaea by Healey Willan and Hymn 362 – Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!

Chorale Prelude on Nicaea by Healey Willan and Hymn 362: “Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!” Music and Music Notes by Danny Corneliussen (If you do not see the music mp3 icons below, please click on the June 7, 2020 title line above.) In honor of Trinity Sunday, this week I picked an organ piece (by Anglo-Canadian composer Healey Willan) using the tune “Nicaea.” Most of you will recognize this tune right away. Its melody is by John Bacchus Dykes, and it is named after the Council of Nicaea (AD 325), at which was formulated the doctrine of the Trinity. The words that go with the tune Nicaea were written by poet and minister Reginald Heber in the early nineteenth century and include a beautiful paraphrase of Revelation 4:8. Reginald Heber grew up in an English village, and after studying at Oxford, moved back home to take over his father’s parish–Hodnet, Shropshire, where he worked for sixteen years. During his time there, Heber worked on a collection of texts (fifty-seven in total) for hymns corresponding to the different parts of the church year. These hymns, however, he never saw published during his lifetime. In 1822, Heber was appointed Bishop of Calcutta and was sent to oversee the Church of England’s ministries in India. He travelled widely in India and had many duties there, but he died just four years after arriving because of exhaustion, poor health, and suffering a stroke. After Heber’s death, his widow succeeded in publishing his fifty-seven hymn texts in a collection entitled “Hymns Written and Adapted to the Weekly Service of the Church Year.” Included in that volume is the hymn meant for this week, Trinity Sunday: “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty.” Popular for many generations, this piece is probably now the most famous of all of Heber’s hymns. Here now, I present my recording of Healy Willan’s “Chorale Prelude on Nicaea” along with my accompaniment for Hymn 362. Also included are the words for Hymn 362 as they appear in our hymnal. In our hymnal, this hymn has only a relatively minor alteration from the original text: the third verse line “though the sinful human eye” was originally “though the eye of sinful man.” Anyway, thanks very much for listening and reading/singing along this week. Best to everyone! -Danny 1 Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty! Early in the morning our song shall rise to thee. Holy, holy, holy! Merciful and mighty! God in three Persons, blessed Trinity! 2 Holy, holy, holy! All the saints adore thee, casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea; cherubim and seraphim falling down before thee, who wert, and art, and evermore shalt be. 3 Holy, holy, holy! Though the darkness hide thee, though the sinful human eye thy glory may not see, only thou art holy; there is none beside thee perfect in pow’r, in love, and purity. 4 Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty! All thy works shall praise thy name in earth and sky and sea. Holy, holy, holy! Merciful and mighty! God in three Persons, blessed Trinity!

May 31, 2020: Chorale Prelude on Komm, Gott Schoepfer, heiliger Geist by Johann Pachelbel and Hymn 501, “O Holy Spirit, by whose breath”

Chorale Prelude on “Komm, Gott Schoepfer, heiliger Geist” by Johann Pachelbel and Hymn 501 “O Holy Spirit, by whose breath” (If you do not see the music mp3 icons below, please click on the May 31, 2020 title line above.) In honor of Pentecost, this week I chose to do a piece based on the old Lutheran chorale tune “Komm, Gott Schoepfer, heiliger Geist.” (In English, the title is literally translated as “Come, God, Creator, Holy Ghost.”) This Lutheran chorale is a good example of one of the many reworkings of medieval chant tunes done by Martin Luther in the 1500s, a time when many of the old Catholic texts were being translated into the vernacular for the first time. “Veni Creator Spiritus” was the original hymn—written by the ninth century monk Rabanus Maurus. (Side note: some of you might not realize that the reason that the Martin Luther version of the hymn is called a “chorale” as a opposed to a “chant” is this: chorales are sung metrically and are typically in four-part harmony, and chants are usually done without much notated rhythm and are sung in unison, not in harmony. For an example, if you have a hymnal at home, take a look at hymn #501 compared with hymn #502 —that’s an easy way to spot the differences.) The organ piece I’ve prepared this week is based on “Komm, Gott Schoepfer, heiliger Geist” and is by south German composer Johann Pachelbel (1653-1706), whom many people know today as the composer of the chamber music piece “Canon in D Major for Three Violins,” which became extremely popular in the late twentieth century and is now performed very frequently at weddings. Pachelbel also wrote a large amount organ music, though, and had quite a lot of influence on church composers in south and central Germany in the late seventeenth century. Here it is, my performance of the chorale prelude on “Komm, Gott Schoepher, heiliger Geist” by Johann Pachelbel. In this piece, the melody is played in long notes in the top-most voice: And I’d also like to present a couple verses of hymn #501, which also uses the same Lutheran chorale tune, but the words are a more modern paraphrase of the “Veni Creator Spiritus” text. Here is my accompaniment for verses one and two: O Holy Spirit, by whose breath life rises vibrant out of death; come to create, renew, inspire; kindle in our hearts your fire. You are the seeker’s sure resource, of burning love the living source protector in the midst of strife, the giver and the Lord of life.

May 24, 2020: “I Know That My Redeemer Liveth” from Handel’s Messiah with Ali Haskins-Lisle, soprano

“I Know That My Redeemer Liveth” from Handel’s Messiah -Ali Haskins-Lisle, soprano (If you do not see the music icon at the bottom of this paragraph, please click on the May 24, 2020 title line above.) For this week (the last week of Easter), my good friend Ali Haskins-Lisle has volunteered to sing the aria “I Know That My Redeemer Liveth” from Handel’s Messiah.  Ali very graciously offered to record herself singing with the accompaniment track I made and then sent to her.  The text of this aria is taken from the Book of Job—chapter 19, verses 25-26, and also from 1 Corinthians—chapter 15, verse 20:“I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth. And though worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.  For now is Christ risen from the dead, the first fruits of them that sleep.”These verses are often associated with the Easter season, and for a long time they were also used as one of the sentences in the funeral service in the old prayer book.  These words seem especially fitting to me this year because of the spread of COVID-19, and because of the many people around the world who have passed away or who are suffering because of this pandemic.Here it is, this week’s selection: “I Know That My Redeemer Liveth” from Messiah by George Frideric Handel.  Thanks for listening everyone, and a big thank you to Ali for working on this piece for us! — Danny

May 17, 2020: “Prelude on Down Ampney” by Henry Ley and Hymn 516 “Come down, O Love divine”

“Prelude on Down Ampney” by Henry Ley and Hymn 516 “Come down, O Love divine”   This week’s organ piece was written by English organist Henry Ley (1887-1962).  Ley was a contemporary of Ralph Vaughan Williams, the composer of the piece I played last week.  Ley held several prominent church music posts during his career—including his job as organist at Christ Church Cathedral in Oxford (1909-1926).  He also taught organ at the Royal College of Music in London for many years. Although Ley’s music is not very familiar to a lot of us today, some choral singers might remember him from the old edition of Oxford Easy Anthems—a couple of his pieces are found in that anthology.  For several of his compositions, Ley made use of hymn tunes by contemporary English composers—including the piece for today: the “Prelude on Down Ampney.”   Down Ampney is the tune name of Vaughan Williams’s famous hymn “Come down, O Love divine.”  Another great piece of Ley’s is his choral arrangement of “For All the Saints,” which also makes use of a tune by Vaughan Williams. For today, please enjoy my performance of Ley’s “Prelude on Down Ampney” as well as my accompaniment for Hymn 516 “Come down, O Love divine.” Thanks very much! (If you do not see the music link icon, you must click on the above Weekly Music Notes title for May 17, 2020.) Click to hear Ley’s “Prelude on Down Ampney.” Click to hear Hymn 516, “Come down, O Love divine.” 1 Come down, O Love divine, seek thou this soul of mine, and visit it with thine own ardor glowing; O Comforter, draw near, within my heart appear, and kindle it, thy holy flame bestowing. 2 O let it freely burn, till earthly passions turn to dust and ashes in its heat consuming; and let thy glorious light shine ever on my sight, and clothe me round, the while my path illuming. 3 And so the yearning strong, with which the soul will long, shall far outpass the power of human telling; for none can guess its grace, till Love create a place wherein the Holy Spirit makes a dwelling.

May 10, 2020: “Hymn Tune Prelude on Song 13″ & Hymn 670, “Lord, forever at thy side”

“Hymn Tune Prelude on Song 13″ by Ralph Vaughan Williams and Hymn 670, “Lord, forever at thy side” (If you do not see the music link icon, you must click on the above Weekly Music Notes title for May 10, 2020.) This week’s organ piece is by the beloved English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958).  The influence of music from the Tudor era is often evident in Vaughan Williams’s music — for example, in the great orchestral piece “Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis.”  The piece for this week, “Hymn Tune Prelude on Song 13,” also makes use of an old English tune – in this case a tune written by Orlando Gibbons in the early seventeenth century. “Hymn Tune Prelude on Song 13″ was originally written in 1930 for the pianist Harriet Cohen, but it has also been arranged for organ and works very nicely on that instrument.   The tune is played in long notes in the left hand against the serene, flowing lines of the outer voices.  Here is my performance of “Hymn Tune Prelude on Song 13″ by Ralph Vaughan Williams, arranged by English organist Stanley Roper:   I also wanted to include a couple of the verses that go with the tune SONG 13 in our hymnal.  Here, then are verses 1 and 2 of hymn 670 “Lord, forever at thy side” along with my organ accompaniment. Thanks very much for listening! 1. Lord, forever at thy side, let my place and portion be, strip me of the robe of pride, clothe me with humility. 2. When I come before thy Word, quiet my anxiety; teach me thou alone art Lord, let my heart find rest in thee. -Danny

May 3, 2020: Chorale Prelude on St. Columba and “The king of love my shepherd is”

Chorale Prelude on St. Columba by Robin Milford and Hymn 645: “The king of love my shepherd is” (If you do not see the music link icons, you must click on the above Weekly Music Notes title for May 3, 2020.) This week, in honor of Good Shepherd Sunday, I chose to prepare an organ piece that uses the old Irish tune ST. COLUMBA, which I’m sure most of us will recognize as the tune that goes with the hymn “The King of love my shepherd is.”  Robin Milford (1903-1959), who wrote this organ piece, was an English composer, primarily of orchestral and choir music, who studied with two giants of English 20th century music, Gustav Holst and Ralph Vaughan Williams, the latter we are very used to as Episcopalians because so many of his tunes and harmonizations of tunes can be found in our hymnal.  Milford’s organ piece has the tune in the pedal part played in long notes—listen along and see if you can you can pick it out.   I also prepared this week what I would play for the accompaniment for Hymn 645, “The King of love my shepherd is.” if we sang it on a normal Sunday morning.  One thing you might not know about this hymn: the paraphrase of the psalm was written by Henry Williams Baker, a Church of England priest, in the year 1868.  Baker wrote and labored over a great many of the words to quite a number of our best-loved hymns.  In 1861, his hymnal Hymns Ancient and Modern was first published.  This hymnal went through many revisions, and, later in the nineteenth century, it became the most used hymnal of the Anglican church. Here are the words to Hymn 645 as well as my sound file to listen to as you read (or sing) along.  Thanks and have a nice week, everybody! 1 The King of love my shepherd is, whose goodness faileth never. I nothing lack if I am his, and he is mine forever. 2 Where streams of living water flow, my ransomed soul he leadeth; and where the verdant pastures grow, with food celestial feedeth. 3 Perverse and foolish, oft I strayed, but yet in love he sought me; and on his shoulder gently laid, and home, rejoicing, brought me. 4 In death’s dark vale I fear no ill, with thee, dear Lord, beside me; thy rod and staff my comfort still, thy cross before to guide me. 5 Thou spreadst a table in my sight; thy unction grace bestoweth; and oh, what transport of delight from thy pure chalice floweth! 6 And so through all the length of days, thy goodness faileth never; Good Shepherd, may I sing thy praise within thy house forever.

Apr. 26, 2020: “Erschienen ist der herrlich Tag” and “On earth has dawned this day of days”

(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! Smyth: Hymn 201: 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!

April 19, 2020: “Et introibo” and “Variations sur un thème de Clément Jannequin”

(If you do not see the music link icon, you must click on the above Weekly Music Notes title for April 19, 2020.) “Et introit” by Don Freund and “Variations sur un thème de Clément Jannequin” by Jehan Alain Hi, everyone!  This week I had a few different ideas about what to post for my music message, but I ended up not being quite ready enough for any of them–so I thought I’d use the chance to post a couple of recordings I still have from back when I went to organ school. “Et introit” from “Ordinary Pieces, A Concert Organ Mass” by Don Freund is a piece that I played at a studio recital in 2012 when I was a Performer Diploma student at Indiana University.  Don Freund is on the composition faculty at Indiana, and we gave this recital in honor of the anniversary of the pieces’ composition date. Marked “jaunty,” Et introibo is a charming movement made up of short, bouncy gestures which get combined in different ways. Each hand has an independent voice (and a repeating bass line is in the feet) which take turns shifting back and forth from foreground and background. The piece is deceptively simple-sounding, and includes several difficult moments where one hand is crossing over the other. Here is what the composer had to say about his piece in his notes: “Et introibo… ‘I will go in to the altar of God, to God who gives joy to my youth.’ This is not a movement in the sung Mass, but rather the first exchange between the celebrant and the altar boys. After memorizing all that Latin, I was told I had to choose between being an altar boy or a choir boy; I went with the choir. My organ intrada is a shuffling, syncopated 3-voice procession. The back-beat is in the pedal.” In addition to the recital honoring the faculty member, another event in which I participated that year was a studio recital commemorating the hundredth anniversary of the birth of the French organist and brilliant composer Jehan Alain. Jehan Alain was the brother of the famous organist Marie-Claire Alain, and studied at the Paris Conservatoire in the 1930s with renowned organist Marcel Dupré. Jean Alain unfortunately lived a very short life because he was killed during World War II–to me this fact offers a little perspective for us as we go through another world event–perhaps things could be even worse?Alain was known to have been interested in early music and old instruments—such as the organ at Petit-Andelys, which inspired him to write the “Variations sur un thème de Clément Jannequin.” Despite this, Alain’s treatment of early music has a decidedly modern twist–his treatment of the tune “L’espoir que j’ai d’acquerir voter grace” (which was not in fact written by Janequin) is good example.  Hope you enjoy listening to it here: Anyway, I hope you guys liked the selections for today!  Next week I’ll have some music for the Easter season played in my apartment again–I’ll keep working on these things.  Thanks for listening! -Danny

April 10, 2020: Good Friday; Récit de tierce en taille by Nicolas de Grigny

(If you do not see the music link icon, you must click on the above Weekly Music Notes title for April 10, 2020.) Good morning, everyone!  I hope everyone is doing well today.  Today I thought I’d offer a performance of a very special organ piece–this one was not specifically written for Good Friday, but to me it is evocative of the anguished and expressive pieces of music that are typically used on that day.I thought it would be helpful, though, if I explained a little bit about what the title means–Récit de tierce en taille–if you saw these words in the bulletin on a Sunday morning, you might not necessarily know what they are referring to. (Please disregard the following paragraph if you’d rather just listen to the piece and ignore the music nerd part.) Today’s piece is from the French Classic period in organ music, (which happened during the turn of the eighteenth century), and it makes use of a special color often favored by that style of playing/composition.  “Récit ” refers to a particular division of the organ being used–in this case the part of the instrument being controlled by the keyboard used to play the melody.  “Taille” in this case means that the melody is played in the tenor voice–with another hand playing alto and soprano notes above it on a different keyboard controlling different pipes in the organ (and the feet on the pedals, playing bass notes with different pipes).  “Tierce” refers to a particular stop or rank of pipes in the organ–in this case, though, it means a chorus of several ranks of pipes used in combination with each other.  “Tierce” is a rank of pipes that sound two octaves and a third higher than the basic pitch (which is an unusual sound to have happening in a voice other than the soprano, the voice that most typically has the highest notes at any given time in a piece of music). I hope that last paragraph makes sense to everyone–I think it really does help to understand about the instrument in order to see why the piece is so expressive.  I’ll be happy to explain more another time–hopefully with a real pipe organ at hand, rather than just my electronic instrument at home.  Anyway, best to everyone!  I miss you, and I hope you all have a nice Easter on Sunday! -Danny Corneliussen