• Service music

    Third Sunday in Advent (December 16, 2018)

    Our service will open with one of the most familiar of Advent hymns, “O come, O come, Emmanuel.” This hymn conveys ancient texts in the life of the Church, but its recovery within English-Language hymnody is in large measure thanks to priest-poet-translator John Mason Neale (1818-1866). His involvement with the Oxford Movement led to efforts to restore to more common use a number of profound hymns from the Church’s first millennium. The Introit chanted (or said) on the third Sunday in Advent is from the 4th chapter of St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians: “Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.” If our choir chanted that text in Latin,…

  • Service music

    Gaudete in Domino semper

    The Introit for the third Sunday of Advent is from Philippians 4:4-6 — “Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice: let your moderation be known unto all men: the Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing: but in every thing, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God.” This is followed by the first verse from Psalm 85: “Lord, thou art become gracious unto thy land: thou hast turned away the captivity of Jacob.” Here is the Latin text: Gaudete in Domino semper: iterum dico, gaudete. Modestia vestra nota sit omnibus hominibus: Dominus enim prope est. Nihil solliciti sitis: sed…

  • Service music

    Second Sunday in Advent (December 9, 2018)

    This Sunday, our processional hymn is “Savior of the nations, come.” For some reason, this venerable hymn didn’t get included in the 1940 Hymnal we sing from (although it is in the 1982 Hymnal of the Episcopal Church and in the recent Book of Common Praise, the hymnal used by our brothers and sisters in the Reformed Episcopal Church). We’ll sing it from an insert in the bulletin with a harmonization taken from the final chorale of one of J. S. Bach’s cantatas for Advent. Our sequence hymn will again be “Creator of the stars of night.” Some remarkable arrangements of this melody are featured on the recording of Advent music I…

  • Service music

    First Sunday in Advent (December 2, 2018)

    This Sunday, the choir will commence our Advent observation with a choral prelude just before the processional hymn. “Come down ye heavens from above” is a setting of portions of Rorate caeli. This text its sometimes called the “Advent Prose,” and is often sung in masses during Advent. Composer Judith Weir (b. 1954) has taken the plainchant tune for this ancient song of the Church and embellished it for a cappella choir. Our processional hymn is Charles Wesley’s “Come, thou long-expected Jesus,” and our sequence hymn during Advent is “Creator of the stars of night.” Our sermon hymn, “O Word, that goest forth on high,” is sometimes attributed to Thomas Aquinas,…

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    Sunday next before Advent (November 25, 2018)

    This Sunday’s Holy Eucharist will be one of our a cappella services. In lieu of an organ prelude, the choir will sing a chorale by J. S. Bach, taken from Cantata BWV 38, Aus tiefer Not schrei’ ich zu Dir. This cantata is based on Martin Luther’s early (1524) paraphrase of Psalm 130, and we’re singing this chorale since that text is the focus of some attention in the last few weeks of the Church year; the Offertory and Communion propers feature a verse from Psalm 130: “Out of the deep have I called unto thee, O Lord: Lord, hear my voice.” The story of the tune and text for…

  • Service music

    Music for Trinity 25 (November 18, 2018)

    Although the Pilgrims never planned it so, our national harvest festival (some of us still call it Thanksgiving) occurs near the end of the Church’s liturgical year. Families and friends typically gather together at this time in a faint, secular echo of our Eucharistic feast, which in turn anticipates the great wedding feast ushered in with the second advent of our Lord. The music in our worship this Sunday resonates with Thanksgiving and anticipates Advent. Our processional hymn, “We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing,” has often been sung at Thanksgiving as a national hymn, the “We” taken to mean “America.” It is important to remember that the “We”…

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    Music for Trinity 24 (November 11, 2018)

    During Communion on Sunday, we will sing a familiar hymn text to a not so familiar tune. The bulletin will feature an insert with the music to “O Food to Pilgrims given.” You may recognize the words as almost exactly the same as hymn #192 in our Hymnal, “O Food of men wayfaring.” The story of the two different tunes and the slightly different texts is told here. The music sung by the choir during the Offertory and during Communion is from a 1641 setting of the Mass by Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643). This page offers more information about this work, and this article presents a introduction to the significance of…

  • Service music

    Music for Trinity 23 (November 4, 2018)

    The Collect for this Sunday speaks of God as our refuge, an image referenced in our opening hymn, Charles Wesley’s “Jesus, Lover of my soul.” Originally titled “On Temptation” — since sin and temptation are the foes from which the believer is most urgently seeking refuge — this hymn was first published in 1740, about two years after Wesley’s conversion experience. The words of the opening lines were sometimes regarded as too intimate for public worship, so, in the nineteenth century, some hymnal editors altered the text to describe God’s love less vividly. Our sermon hymn, “O God of earth and altar,” with its prophetic text by G. K. Chesterton, first…

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    Music for All Saints Day (November 1, 2018)

    Our opening hymn in this service is “For all the saints,” one of the most popular hymns written by Ralph Vaughan Williams. (His work on the editing of the The English Hymnal, published in 1906, was discussed in an article I wrote that was published in Touchstone in November/December 2017.) The Offertory proper for this feast day is from the deuterocanonical book of Wisdom 3:1-2a, 3b. “The souls of the just are in the hand of God, and the torment of death shall not touch them. In the sight of the unwise they seemed to die; but they are in peace.” The Latin rendering of this text has been set to music by many composers:…

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    Music for SS. Simon & Jude (Trinity 22, October 28, 2018)

    This year, the 22nd Sunday after Trinity falls on the feast-day of St. Simon and St. Jude. The Collect for the day: “O ALMIGHTY God, who hast built thy Church upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the head corner-stone; Grant us so to be joined together in unity of spirit by their doctrine, that we may be made an holy temple acceptable unto thee; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.” Our Offertory Anthem on this Sunday is “Blessed are those that be undefiled,” a setting of the first six verses of Psalm 119 by Thomas Tallis (1505-1585). The Communion Motet for this Sunday is…