Forest Hill & 43rd Street
Richmond, VA 23225

To Know Christ and to Make Him Known

Weekly Music Notes

Aug. 18, 2019: Calvin Hampton, organist/composer

A note about the Offertory Hymn: The women’s chorale makes its summer appearance the week, singing “There’s a wideness in God’s mercy,” (469), one of the exquisite hymns by American organist and composer Calvin Hampton. (He also wrote a setting of “O, Master, let me walk with thee,” (659), which we’ve sung numerous times, sometimes featuring a young lady playing a viola obbligato.) Hampton’s music is both inventive and hauntingly beautiful. He died tragically young, in 1984, of AIDS. -D. Boelzner

June 30, 2019: “Andantino in the style of Martini” by Fritz Kreisler

Today’s Music: The offertory, played by Randy Allen and Mark Koontz, is Fritz Kreisler’s Andantino in the style of Martini. Kreisler was a renowned Austrian virtuoso violinist and composer in the early 20th century. He wrote several pieces ostensibly in the style of Baroque composers such as Martini, which were for a time mistakenly attributed to those earlier composers before Kreisler owned up to having written them. Martini was a well-known violinist and teacher in the 18th century, whose students included the young Mozart. Any confusion about Kreisler’s piece is a little hard to understand, because the piece is not really in a Baroque style but instead is a Romantic era vehicle for Kreisler’s famous lyrical melody. David Boelzner

June 23, 2019: “Meditations on St. Keverne” by David Boelzner

Today’s Music: The offertory is one of (currently) three pieces that I call “meditations” on favorite hymn tunes, this one on Craig Sellar Lang’s tune St. Keverne, which we sing to “From glory to glory” (Hymn 326). The tune, its rhythm slightly changed, appears three times, each one in a different setting. The first begins chant-like, with “hollow” open fifths in the harmony, then moves to a delicate passage in the high register, resolving with a marching bass line. The second iteration is contrapuntal (one melody line moving against another). The third repetition begins with the thinnest of textures but builds to a climax to end the piece. David Boelzner

June 16, 2019: “Listen to the Wind” by Dick Hickman

Today’s Music: The Anthem today is “Listen to the Wind,” which represents my attempt, written in 2017, to express in song the miracle of Pentecost (which of course was last Sunday). It is based on Acts, Chapter 2, verses 1-21. The last verse of the song is a direct quotation from Pope John Paul II, on the occasion of his historic pilgrimage to Poland in June, 1979. At an outdoor mass on Pentecost for hundreds of thousands of believers in Krakow, 40 rears ago, he inspired the Polish people and the world when he declared: “Let your spirit descend and renew the face of the earth, the face of this land!” His words were a turning point in the fall of the Soviet Empire, marking the renewal of the faith in Poland and the beginning of the triumph of the spirit over communism.  Dick Hickman

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