• Service music

    Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity (September 15, 2019)

    Our Processional hymn this Sunday, “Hail to the Lord’s Anointed,” is a loose paraphrase of Psalm 72, one of James Montgomery’s 400+ hymns. It was written in 1821 for use in a Moravian Christmas celebration. In addition to the five stanzas in our Hymnal, Montgomery (1771-1854) included the following text after stanza two: By such shall he be feared,while sun and moon endure,beloved, obeyed, revered;for he shall judge the poor,through changing generations,with justice, mercy, truth,while stars maintain their stations,or moons renew their youth. Following stanza three, this text was included in the original: Arabia’s desert-ranger,to him shall bow the knee;the Ethiopian strangerhis glory come to see;with off’rings of devotion,ships from…

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    Twelfth Sunday after Trinity (September 8, 2019)

    On an afternoon in the spring of 1863, Folliott Sandford Pierpoint, a young classics instructor and aspiring poet, surveyed from atop a hill the countryside in the valley of the River Avon outside of Bath, his native city. His gratitude for what he saw resulted in the hymn we sing as our Processional this Sunday, “For the beauty of the earth.” What is not widely known is that Pierpoint was also profoundly grateful for the beauty of the Church and the gifts God had given it; the stanzas of his hymn that reflect this are not included in hymnals. For thy Bride that evermorelifteth holy hands above,offering up on every…

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    Eleventh Sunday after Trinity (September 1, 2019)

    Our Processional hymn — “Father, we praise thee” — announces in the first line its identity as a “Morning Hymn.” Our Hymnal identifies it as a Latin hymn from the 10th century, although it may be even older. As a Latin hymn from that era, this was not a hymn sung by a congregation, nor as part of a Eucharistic service. It was an Office hymn, which means it was part of the Divine Office or the Liturgy of the Hours that formed the official structure of monastic life and worship. The word “hour” in this context refers not to a 60-minute period, but an appointed time for prayer. There are…

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    Tenth Sunday after Trinity (August 25, 2019)

    The Introit in today’s service interweaves several verses from Psalm 55: When I called upon the Lord, he heard my voice, even from the battle that was against me: yea, even God that endureth for ever shall hear me, and bring them down: O cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall nourish thee. Hear my prayer, O Lord, and hide not thyself from my petition: take heed unto me, and hear me. The protection and comfort given by God offered in this Psalm echoes the imagery of Psalm 46, in which God is described as a refuge, a help in trouble, a fortress. Our opening hymn today is…

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    Ninth Sunday after Trinity (August 18, 2019)

    There are in our Hymnal fifteen or so hymns that describe the Church in light of its fulfillment as a “heavenly Jerusalem.” This genre of hymns fuses the earthly and heavenly, the material and the mystical, the sensuous and the spiritual. As the Hymnal 1940 Companion notes, these hymns combine “the imagery of a terrestrial Paradise with the apocalyptic vision of the heavenly City.” This latter element often borrows specific detail from the book of Revelation: gates of pearl, streets of gold, etc. Among such hymns are Peter Abelard’s “O what their joy and their glory must be” (#589), Isaac Watts’s “There is a land of pure delight” (#586), Alexander…

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    Eighth Sunday after Trinity (August 11, 2019)

    Our processional hymn, “Now that the daylight fills the skies,” is sometimes attributed to St. Ambrose. Our Hymnal (probably more accurately) regards it as an anonymous hymn from the sixth century. Around that time, the text began to be chanted during the Office of Prime, the first daylight hour of the Divine Office. The translation in our Hymnal is by the Anglican priest John Mason Neale (1818-1866). There are two tunes available for this hymn in our Hymnal, and the tune we usually sing is HERR JESU CHRIST, first published in a Lutheran hymnal in 1648. J. S. Bach used this tune in several chorales preludes, a few of which…

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    Seventh Sunday after Trinity (August 4, 2019)

    The Collect for today begins with an affirmation of God’s power and might: Lord of all power and might, who art the author and giver of all good things: graft in our hearts the love of thy Name, increase in us true religion; nourish us with all goodness, and of thy great mercy keep us in the same; through Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN. God’s power and might are much in view in the text of our opening hymn, “Give praise and glory unto God” (#287). Throughout the hymn, divine power is portrayed as merciful and protective: God’s might is not a display of sheer unlimited will, but the agency…

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    Sixth Sunday after Trinity (July 28, 2019)

    We are all eagerly awaiting Wallace Hornady’s return next week. Meanwhile, the hymns we’ll sing a cappella this Sunday are all discussed on separate pages linked with the titles below: O day of rest and gladness (#474)Majestic sweetness sits enthroned (#353)Sion, praise thy Saviour (#193, WEMAN)Very Bread, good Shepherd (#194, UNITAS FRATRUM)The King of love my shepherd is (#345)Lord, dismiss us with thy blessing (#489, SICILIAN MARINERS)

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    Fifth Sunday after Trinity (July 21, 2019)

    The author of our opening hymn was identified simply as “K” when “How firm a foundation” was first published in 1787. The text’s remarkable popularity may account for the large number of tunes associated with it. In every previous edition of our Hymnal, a different tune was used. The tune appointed in this edition is LYONS, although in the Supplemental Tunes section in the back of the Hymnal, the more primitive and familiar FOUNDATION is available (and we sometimes sing it). Like many tunes based on folk melodies, FOUNDATION uses a pentatonic (five-note) scale, which means you can play it using just the black keys on the piano. (Try it,…

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    Fourth Sunday after Trinity (July 14, 2019)

    The Processional hymn for this Sunday — “Immortal, invisible, God only wise” — is based on I Timothy 1:17: “Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God . . . ” The text is by Walter Chalmers Smith (1824-1908), a native of Aberdeen, Scotland, and a minister in the Free Church of Scotland. The tune ST. DENIO is one of the many traditional Welsh ballads which have been adapted to sustain vigorous hymn-singing. Each Sunday in the Creed, we affirm that Christ is “Light of Light.” In the Bible, the imagery of light is applied both to Christ and to the revelation we receive in Scripture. The first…