Forest Hill & 43rd Street
Richmond, VA 23225

To Know Christ and to Make Him Known

Weekly Music Notes

Aug. 5. 2018: “Jesus, lover of my soul”

Today’s Music: The men’s chorale sings the anthem this morning, “Jesus, lover of my soul,” a Charles Wesley text long associated with Joseph Parry’s tune, Aberystwyth. Parry (d. 1903) was a Welsh composer who worked as a child in the mines of Wales and later in the iron works in Pennsylvania, not receiving any musical training until age 17. Nonetheless, he became an organist and prolific composer, eventually becoming head of the music department at the university in Aberystwyth, Wales, hence the tune’s name. Like so many Welsh tunes, it is in minor mode (its first four notes are identical to our recessional, no. 571, another Welsh tune). Many believe that the pan-African anthem “Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika,” the national anthem of several African nations and part of South Africa’s anthem, is based on the Parry tune, but the tunes are little alike.  David Boelzner

July 29, 2018: Dick Hickman’s compositions

Today’s Music: The text to this morning’s prelude, O Gladsome Light, arranged for guitar and mandolin, can be found in the hymnal, page 36. The Venite is my own composition written in 2015. The Offertory is The Rising Dawn, my adaptation of the verses beginning with Job 38:12. Dick Hickman

July 22, 2018: “Joyful, joyful, we adore thee”

Today’s Music: Our recessional is the stirring “Joyful, joyful, we adore thee,” a text written by Henry van Dyke, English professor at Princeton who had previously been pastor and, apparently, a spellbinding preacher at a Presbyterian church in Manhattan. He wrote the words after being inspired by the beauty of the Berkshire Mountains in Massachusetts. Although he didn’t write the tune, when he handed the poem to his friend, President Garfield, he did apparently say that it must be sung to Beethoven’s Ode to Joy melody (from the Ninth Symphony). Not all hymnbooks preserve Beethoven’s syncopated anticipation of the beginning of the fourth line, but ours does. David Boelzner

July 15, 2018: “Sicilienne” and “Berceuse” for violin

Today’s Music: Our special music this morning will include two pieces for violin and piano, featuring Randy Allen. The offertory, “Sicilienne,” is attributed to the late 18th--century blind pianist Maria Theresia von Paradis, but this is spurious; the piece is in a 19th-century style. Communion music is “Berceuse” by Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924). Although its composer attached no particular importance to the early work, it caught on with violinists and secured a publisher for Fauré’s music. A berceuse is a lullaby, and as adapted by composers for performance it has a rocking sort of accompaniment and a flowing melody. David Boelzner

July 8, 2018: “Lord, for thy tender mercies sake”

Today’s Music: Our quartet will sing as the anthem “Lord, for thy tender mercies sake,” by English Renaissance-era composer and playwright Richard Farrant (d. 1580, known for founding Blackfriar’s, a company that featured children’s productions, and for serving at the court of Edward VI). The choral setting is relatively simple, moving homophonically (all voices simultaneously in harmony) at first, but then shifting to imitative on “that we may walk with a perfect heart.” The bass begins (with tenor counterpoint), followed by the alto and then the soprano. David Boelzner

Jun. 24, 2018: Antonin Dvorak

Today’s Music:  The offertory is one of the ten Biblical Songs composed by Czech composer Antonin Dvorak in 1894 while was working in New York. He selected the texts from the Psalms himself.  No. 4 is first part of the well-known twenty-third psalm, “The Lord is My Shepherd.” The texts were originally in Czech but Dvorak provided both English and German translations, which he insured were comfortable for the musical lines. The Czech operatic soprano Eva Urbanova has said, “Even if Dvorak had only written Biblical Songs and nothing else, it wouldn’t have mattered. Whenever I get the chance to sing them, I feel like I’m in heaven.” David Boelzner

Jun. 17, 2018: “El Shaddai”

Today’s Music: The offertory, “El Shaddai,” is a Christian popular song composed (and recorded) by Michael Card (b. 1957) and John Thompson, but made famous by Amy Grant. Card considers himself principally a writer on biblical subjects, and not primarily a songwriter, though he has released 19 individual albums of mostly his music. About half the words of “El Shaddai” are in Hebrew and translate to: God Almighty (or perhaps the all-sufficient), God in the highest, O Lord, we will love you, O Lord. David Boelzner

Jun. 10, 2018: “Chant du Menestrel” by Glazunov

Today’s Music: The anthem is Chant du Menestrel (Song of the Minstrel) by the Russian late-Romantic composer Alexander Glazunov (1865-1936). The piece was originally written for cello and orchestra but will be performed for us by Warren Chapman on alto saxophone with Ann accompanying. Composed in 1900, the piece was a huge favorite in the early years of the century, in part because it was performed at the Royal College of Music in 1907 by a 17-year old English cello prodigy named Beatrice Harrison, with Glazunov conducting. The main theme is a melancholy tune, relieved by a slightly lighter theme in the middle section, with the sadder tune returning at the end. David Boelzner

Jun. 3, 2018: Tune “Ebenezer” by Thomas John Williams

Today’s Music: The recessional, (#381, “Thy strong word did cleave the darkness”), is the stirring tune called Ebenezer or Ton-y-Botel. The latter name means “tune in a bottle,” from a legend that the tune was found in a bottle washed up on the Welsh coast. Actually it was composed by the Welsh organist and hymn writer, Thomas John Williams (1869-1944). Like so many musicians, Williams had a day job – in his case as an insurance man – while he played organ in chapels in Pontardawe and Llanelli. Composed as part of an anthem in 1890, the tune has been matched with many texts, including “Once to every man and nation” by James Russell Lowell. David Boelzner