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To Know Christ and to Make Him Known

Oct. 18, 2020: Prelude on “Charterhouse” by L. Sowerby and Hymn 590, “O Jesus Christ, may grateful hymns be rising”

Music Message for October 18, 2020 from Danny
(If you do not see the music icons/links within this post, please click on the Oct. 18, 2020 title/link above.)

Prelude on “Charterhouse” by Leo Sowerby
Hymn 590 “O Jesus Christ, may grateful hymns be rising”

For this week, I chose to do a piece by one of my favorite American organists: Leo Sowerby, who was famous as a church musician in Chicago in the first half of the twentieth century and was the winner of the Pulitzer Prize in composition in 1946.  The piece of his that I picked, “Prelude on Charterhouse,” is based on a hymn tune by the Welsh organist David Evans, who held several church music jobs in the United Kingdom (also throughout much of the first half of the twentieth century).

In this piece, the hymn tune melody is played in high, long notes in the pedal part.  I’m playing this line using a “principal” rank of pipes (actually, since I’m in my apartment, this is on an electric instrument rather than a real pipe organ, but it’s pretty close to the right sound).  Principal pipes are the wide, cylindrical, metal pipes that are open at the top (as opposed to the wooden pipes with stoppers at the top–these also have a flute-y sound, but they aren’t as full-bodied and the air going through them isn’t made quite as puffy).

You might be wondering about the name “Charterhouse.”  Composers often name their hymn tunes in honor of a particular place, and this is probably the case for this one.  Unfortunately, I can’t seem to find much information about David Evans though and whether this tune of his was named after the boarding school called Charterhouse or after a religious site called Charterhouse.  I’ll have to investigate more and then come back to this hymn another week.
Anyway, the words that go with this tune in our hymnal (#590) are by Bradford Gray Webster, a Methodist minister from New York State.  Webster served as a young man in World War One, and after that held jobs as a preacher for some forty years.

Please read the words or sing them as you listen.  Thanks very much, everybody!  Best to you guys.

1 O Jesus Christ, may grateful hymns be rising
in every city for your love and care;
inspire our worship, grant the glad surprising
that your blest Spirit rouses everywhere.

2 Grant us new courage, sacrificial, humble,
strong in your strength to venture and to dare,
to lift the fallen, guide the feet that stumble,
seek out the lonely and God’s mercy share.

3 Show us your Spirit, brooding o’er each city,
as once you wept above Jerusalem,
seeking to gather all in love and pity,
and healing those who touch your garment’s hem.