• Hymns,  Service music

    A canticle for a quarantined people

    We haven’t sung the Te Deum laudamus together since before Ash Wednesday. So to provide some encouragement for the parish to sing this canticle at home, the choir (with Wallace’s help) has made a recording of it. Be assured that social distancing was observed; the average distance between singers was probably about 60 miles, with James in Northern Virginia, Braxton in Fluvanna, and myself sequestered in the County of Greene. This permanent page also includes our humble recording, and will soon include information about many other ways this text has been and is still being sung throughout the Church’s history.

  • Hymns,  Service music

    Te Deum laudamus, “We praise thee, O God”

    If one excludes hymns with texts taken from the Bible, the Te Deum laudamus is the best known hymn in the history of the Western Church. It was long claimed to have been spontaneously improvised by St. Augustine and St. Ambrose, but other venerable saints have also been named as its author. In his book Te Deum: The Church and Music, music historian Paul Westermeyer summarizes the theology in this venerable text: Long associated with morning prayer, it is cast in three parts. First, praise to God everlasting includes a ‘Holy, holy, holy’ Sanctus-like section in which apostles, prophets, martyrs, and the whole church praise the Father, Son, and Holy…

  • Hymns

    Hymns for Easter

    Enjoy singing along with these hymns at home this Easter. If you don’t have one of our Hymnals at home, here is a pdf of the hymns included on this page. (The words sung on these recordings may differ slight from what is in our Hymnal, and all of the stanzas may not be sung.) Jesus Christ is ris’n today (#85) This week, each member of the All Saints choir recorded themselves in their own homes, singing the hymn with which we usually open our Easter service. The recordings were then mixed together, along with an organ track recorded by Wallace Hornady (safely in Alabama). Here is the result, in…

  • Hymns

    Music for Passiontide, X — “Ah, holy Jesus”

    One of the hymns that we often sing at Good Friday services is “Ah, holy Jesus.” The hymn powerfully combines an expression of grief at the horrible suffering of the innocent Jesus with the sorrowful recognition of the guilt of each individual believer, whose sin was the occasion for Christ’s death. Our hymn is an English translation of a German hymn inspired by a passage of devotional prose written in Latin by an an Italian-Norman Benedictine monk. Leaving most of the genealogical details aside for now, the German hymn — known as Herzliebster Jesu — was written in 1630 by Johann Heermann (1585-1647), a Lutheran pastor and poet. Our Hymnal’s…

  • Hymns

    Music for Passiontide VIII — “Sing, my tongue, the glorious battle”

    Every year on Good Friday, we sing this ancient hymn to a traditional plainchant tune (you can read more about the hymn here). Father Glenn often quotes this hymn in his Good Friday sermons, citing what is in our Hymnal the 4th stanza, which begins: “Faithful cross! above all other, one and only noble tree.” Since we’re not together to sing it this year, I thought it would be edifying to find a recording of a choir and/or congregation singing it to encourage our homebound worship. The recording below includes some of the stanzas from the original hymn that our Hymnal doesn’t have (and omits one of them). But the…

  • Hymns

    Kind Maker of the world

    Hymn #56Text: St. Gregory the Great (ca. 540-604)Music: Traditional French carolTune name: JESU DULCIS MEMORIA THE TEXT Although the familiar form of liturgical singing bears his name, Pope Gregory I (in office from 590 to 604 A.D.) cannot really be credited with having devised or even consolidated what we know as Gregorian Chant. That development in the Church’s musical life happened in the 9th and 10th centuries. Gregory’s reputation was such that a number of hymn texts have also been attributed to Gregory the Great, most of which were almost certainly not his work. But “Kind Maker of the world” has a greater likelihood of having been written by him…

  • Hymns

    Jesus, the very thought of thee

    Hymn #462Text: St. Bernard of Clarivaux (?) (c. 1091-1153)Music: William Damon’s Booke of Musicke (1591)Tune name: WINDSOR THE TEXT While this hymn has long been attributed to St. Bernard of Clairvaux, there has long been some doubt about his authorship. The Hymnal 1940 Companion notes: “Whatever its source, it remains one of the most moving expressions of medieval piety. Its basic theme is the love of the soul for God, beginning with an introduction which defines a sense of the mystic presence of God as the supreme joy of mankind.” The original poem dates to about 1150, and had 42 stanzas. In the 15th century, nine additional stanzas were added…

  • Hymns

    While shepherds watched their flocks by night

    Hymn #13Text: Nahum Tate (1652-1715)Music: Christopher Tye (c. 1505-c. 1573)Richard Storrs Willis (1819-1900)Tune names: WINCHESTER OLDCAROL THE TEXT The text first appeared in the supplement to the New Version of the Psalms by Dr. Brady and Mr. Tate (1708 edition). Nicholas Brady was an Anglican priest and poet, Nahum Tate an Irish poet from a family of Puritan clerics who became England’s poet laureate in 1692. Their collaboration on metrical paraphrases of the psalms had a huge influence on English-language hymnody. Like their Psalm paraphrases, “While shepherds watched,” is a straightforward metrical paraphrase of the Gospel account of the angels appearance to the shepherds (St. Luke 2:8-20). THE TUNE According…

  • Hymns,  Repertoire

    “We stand and swell the voice of thunder”

    Wake, awake, for night is flyingAdvent hymn arrangementF. Melius Christiansen (1871-1955) Norweigian-born F. Melius Christiansen was for over thirty years the choral director of the choir at St. Olaf’s College, one of the most accomplished college choirs in the U.S. His robust arrangements of hymns remain a staple for many Christian college choirs, especially those Lutheran schools whose choral tradition he influenced. Christiansen’s vigorous arrangement of “Wake, awake, for night is flying” is sung here by one of those groups, the Luther College Nordic Choir, conducted by Allen Hightower.

  • Hymns

    Wake, awake, for night is flying

    Hymn #3Text: Philipp Nicolai (1556-1608)Music: Philipp Nicolai (1556-1608)Tune name: SLEEPERS, WAKE(WACHET AUF) THE TEXT Both text and tune are the work of Philipp Nicolai, a Lutheran pastor whose parish in Westphalia witnessed the death of over 1,300 members during an epidemic which raged between July 1597 and January 1598. During those dreadful months, Nicolai found himself burying up to thirty of his parishioners every day. To maintain some sense of hope, Nicolai re-read Augustine’s City of God. The following year he published the text and tune to this hymn as an appendix to a book of meditations called Freudenspiegel des ewigen Lebes (Joyful Reflection of Eternal Life). In that book’s preface, Nicolai…