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To Know Christ and to Make Him Known

Weekly Music Notes

April 9, 2020: Maundy Thursday: “Verum Corpus” and “Go to dark Gethsemane”

(To play the music, you must be on the individual Weekly Music Notes page for April 9, 2020. Please click on the title above.) Music for Maundy Thursday Mozart’s Ave, verum corpus and Hymn #171–Go to dark Gethsemane I’m sure that this year the story of the Last Supper and the story of the upcoming Passion are both even more heart-wrenching than usual as we think about the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.  The necessary prohibition of worshiping together right now is heart-wrenching as well–and one of the many reasons this is hard, of course, is that so many of the great pieces of music appropriate for today require that the choir be present singing for us.  Since that is not possible right now, I’ll at least offer a recording of myself playing the accompaniment (and paste the lyrics below) to one of the best-loved settings of one of the texts often used for today–Ave, verum corpus–the setting of it by Mozart: Ave, verum corpus natum de Maria Virgine, vere passum immolatum in cruce pro homine, cujus latus perforatum unda fluxit et sanguine. Esto nobis praegustatum in mortis examine. Hail, true body born of the Virgin Mary, who truly suffered, sacrificed on the cross for man, whose pierced side overflowed with water and blood. Be for us a foretaste in the test of death.   Another very poignant piece often done during Holy Week is Hymn #171 Go to dark Gethsemane.  I thought I’d offer the accompaniment to that as well (again, along with the words for us to follow along): Go to dark Gethsemane, Ye that feel the tempter’s pow’r; Your Redeemer’s conflict see; Watch with Him one bitter hour; Turn not from His griefs away; Learn of Jesus Christ to pray. Follow to the judgment hall; View the Lord of life arraigned; O the worm-wood and the gall! O the pangs His soul sustained! Shun not suff’ring, shame, or loss; Learn of Him to bear the cross. Calv’ry’s mournful mountain climb There, adoring at His feet, Mark the miracle of time, God’s own sacrifice complete: “It is finished!” hear Him cry; Learn of Jesus Christ to die.   Thanks for listening, and I hope that everyone is staying safe and healthy–and also that we all can still find ways celebrate a joyful Easter in a few days time (even though we’ll remain apart).

April 5, 2020: “O Sacred Head, Now Wounded” chorale prelude by Paul Manz

(If you do not see the music link icon, you must click on the above Weekly Music Notes title for April 5, 2020.) In honor of Passiontide, this week I chose to prepare Paul Manz’s chorale prelude on O Sacred Head, Now Wounded.  Paul Manz was a hugely popular composer of modern church music as well as a fine organist/choirmaster and a professor of sacred music.  He passed away just eleven years ago at the age of 90. Probably Manz’s most famous piece is the Advent choral anthem E’en so, Lord Jesus, Quickly Come, which is popular at many, many churches–including here–according to Ann and David, the choir at Good Shepherd has done the piece several times in previous years. Manz has left quite a legacy in many ways besides that one piece, though.  Based for many years in Chicago and also in Minneapolis, Manz is still remembered fondly in both places.  For example, at the Lutheran School of Theology (which shares part of its campus with the University of Chicago), a new concert organ is named after Manz.  At his church in Minneapolis (Mount Olive Lutheran), a statute was built of Manz in order to honor his many years of service there. Having lived for a year near Minneapolis and for a couple years near Chicago, I can tell you that Manz’s presence is still felt by many local musicians and church goers in both places.  I’ve played many of Manz’s organ pieces, and I hope to learn more of them (there are still quite a few for me to get through).  I hope you enjoy the one I have selected for today–Chorale Prelude on O Sacred Head, Now Wounded by Paul Manz.   -Danny Corneliussen (To play the music, you must be on the individual Weekly Music Notes page for April 5, 2020. Please click on the title above.)

March 28, 2020: Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott by Dieterich Buxtehude

(If you do not see the music link icon, you must click on the above Weekly Music Notes title for March 28, 2020.) This week I was inspired by Tim’s choice of “A Mighty Fortress” as a hymn to reflect on.  That hymn is a piece that has special significance for me as well.  I spent several years working at Lutheran churches, and my father’s parents were both Lutheran. Especially on Reformation Sunday in October (a date which is not necessarily cause for a huge celebration in the Episcopal church), this hymn is typically a big feature at Lutheran churches—and has been for hundreds of years. One of my favorite organ pieces that uses the tune “A Mighty Fortress” is by North German composer Dieterich Buxtehude, a hugely important composer for organists.  He held the organist post at Saint Mary’s Church in Luebeck for several decades in the late seventeenth century, and many prominent German composers (including a young J.S. Bach) made special trips to hear him there. Buxehude’s chorale prelude on “A Mighty Fortress” captures the bold and uplifting spirit of the hymn even though the tune is highly ornamented and hard to pick out when you listen to it (I promise you it is there).  This piece is a firm favorite of mine, and I used it on several occasions as a prelude on Reformation Sunday.  I hope you enjoy here today: my performance of Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott, an organ chorale prelude by Dieterich Buxtehude.  Danny

March 23, 2020: “Go Down, Moses” arr. by Calvin Taylor

During this stressful time, it’s important to count our blessings where we can.  While we can’t meet as normal right now at church for our service on Sunday morning, I thought I could still take the opportunity to offer an organ piece through e-mail every week.  It’s just on my electronic organ in my apartment (please excuse the squeaking organ bench), but it’s a nice chance to prepare something special I might not otherwise get to do. It’s often trickier than one might think to pick out music that will fit with the lessons each week.  For example, I remember one year at my church on Long Island, we prepared an anthem specially for Epiphany, but, as you can imagine, getting the choir all back together after Christmas wasn’t as possible as I had first thought it might be, and we had to move the piece to the week after.  Our minister very graciously added some extra context during his sermon that Sunday so that the piece still seemed to fit even though it had clearly been meant for the reading from the week before.  It’s not always the case that things work out so well though. I often might think of a piece that will fit perfectly with a certain reading only for it to turn out there’s not quite enough time to learn it before the date.  I then will have to wait until that reading comes around again.  One of the readings given in the lectionary for last week was from Exodus.  Whenever there’s a lesson from that part of the Old Testament, it always makes me think of one of my favorite organ pieces: Go Down, Moses arranged by Calvin Taylor. Although we’ll have to wait until August for the readings that tell the story of Moses leading the people of Israel out of Egypt, I thought I’d go ahead and use this time to go ahead and offer a performance of Go Down, Moses.  I first heard this piece at an American Guild of Organists concert in Minnesota in 2014, and then didn’t get a chance to play it until a couple years later when I was working at a church in Illinois. The composer and concert artist Calvin Taylor was born in 1948, and he studied organ and composition at several prestigious music schools in the country.  He has written several sets of pieces that make use of African-American spirituals, and Go Down, Moses is number one in a set entitled “Five Spirituals for Organ.”  I hope you enjoy this selection from his music.  -Danny Corneliussen

Dec. 29, 2019: “Ave Maria” by Vladimir Vavilov

Today’s Prelude: “Ave Maria” was composed by Vladimir Vavilov, who was a Russian composer, guitarist and lutenist. Vavilov played an important part in the early music revival in the Soviet Union. He often ascribed his works to other composers of previous eras. His works achieved enormous circulation and some of them achieved true folk-music status, with several poems set to his melodies. “Ave Maria” was originally mis-attributed to Giulio Caccini and is often performed by Andrea Bocelli, among others. Vavilov died in poverty, in 1973 at age 47, of pancreatic cancer a few moths before the release of his composition “The City of Gold,” which became a hit overnight. Danny A Note from Anastasia and Warren: Today’s prelude, anthem (“Chant du Menestrel” by Alexandr Glazunov), and postlude (“Carol of the Bells” by Mykola Leontovych arr. by A. Gross and W. Chapman) are offered in honor of Ross to express our deep gratitude to him for his support of us as musicians and more especially as Christians over these past years. Thank you, sir.

Dec. 22, 2019: Dixit Maria ad Angelus by Heinrich Scheidemann

Music Note: Today’s offertory is by German composer Heinrich Scheidemann, an organist based in Hamburg in the seventeenth century. The piece is written in a style of music called intabulation (which means an instrumental, ornamented arrangement of a piece of music originally written for a vocal ensemble). Scheidemann’s intabulations served a practical purpose at Sunday morning services. In the seventeenth century, the city of Hamburg employed a specially trained choir called the Kantorei, which only performed at Scheidemann’s church about six times a year since they also supplied music to the other local churches. The Kantorei’s absence for most services, however, did not mean that the choir pieces were absent: the organist simply played an intabulation of an appropriate choir piece at the moment in the service when the choir would normally have been heard. -Danny Corneliussen

Nov. 10, 2019: “Remembrance” by David Boelzner

A special note: Today’s prelude and anthem are dedicated to those who served. A note about the Offertory music: I entitled the offertory piece for alto saxophone and piano “Remembrance,” not for any specific recollection but because of its general mood; so it certainly fits for remembrance of veterans. But in writing it, my first composition for sax, I was reminded of a long-ago revelation: I had always thought of the sax as a jazz instrument, associated with those wailing solos a la Coltrane, but I heard a student at North Texas play the instrument so sweetly that I found a new appreciation for it as a lyrical instrument. Warren plays it that way, which is what motivated me to write the piece the way I did.  – D.Boelzner

Oct. 3, 2019: “Non nobis, Domine” by William Byrd/setting by Douglas E. Wagner

Today’s anthem: The composer of our anthem, “Non nobis, Domine,” was William Byrd (d. 1623). an interesting character from the Elizabethan era in England. If you recall your English history, the 16th century was a time of shifting religious belief for the monarch and thus for the official religion of the nation. Henry VIII broke with Rome over his divorce from Katherine of Aragon and made the English church Protestant; his daughter (“Bloody”) Mary converted back to Catholicism, but when she died, Edward’s brief reign and then Elizabeth’s much longer one returned to Protestantism. Byrd managed to survive and even prosper under Elizabeth even though he maintained Catholic loyalties and wrote many settings of Latin texts, including this one.  – D Boelzner

Sept. 15, 2019: St. Columba (arr. by Robin Milford)

A note about the Prelude: Good Shepherd parishioners will easily recognize the tune on which Danny’s prelude is based. St. Columba by name, it is the Irish tune that we frequently sing on Good Shepherd Sunday for hymn 645, “The king of love my shepherd is.” Robin Milford (d. 1959), who made the arrangement, 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 a very prominent presence in our hymnal.– D. Boelzner