Service music

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 thus appropriately “A mighty fortress is our God.” This tune has a rich history, about which you can read (and listen) here.

Our Sermon hymn today — “Lord, when we bend before thy throne” — was written by Joseph Dacre Carlyle (1758-1804) for use before Divine Service in St. Cuthbert”s Church, Carlisle. Carlyle was an Arabic scholar and Anglican priest. The tune MARTYRDOM is the work of Hugh Wilson, an amateur musician and shoemaker from the village of Fenwick, Ayrshire.

The Offertory anthem and Communion motet are from the Mass for Three Voices by Antonio Lotti (1667-1740). Lotti’s career began in Venice, and he later served as composer and musician in the Dresden court of Friedrich Augustus I, Elector of Saxony.

Today’s Communion hymns are “Deck thyself, my soul, with gladness” and “Father, we thank Thee Who hast planted.” This latter hymn is a metrical paraphrase of several brief devotional prayers found in The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, known also as the Didache, a Greek treatise that may date back to the first century. The paraphrase we sing is by F. Bland Tucker.The tune RENDEZ À DIEU is the work of the renowned French Psalmodist Louis Bourgeois (c.1510 to 1515–1559 or later), editor of the Geneva Psalter. Bourgeois is best-known for his composition of the tune OLD HUNDREDTH, to which the Doxology has been sung in thousands of churches for hundreds of years (see in our Hymnal, #277 and #278).

Our Hymnal attributes the text to “Crown him with many crowns” to Matthew Bridges (1800-1894). However, only the first stanza belongs to Bridges. If you’ve sung this hymn from other hymnals, you may wonder why our Hymnal makes no reference to “fair flowers of paradise” or “Creator of the rolling spheres” or “rich wounds, yet visible above, in beauty glorified.” Those lines are in Bridges’s original, but not in the stanzas in our Hymnal, which are actually the work of Godfrey Thring (1823-1903). Why Thring’s words have replaced those of Bridges is a story I’ll relate the next time we sing this hymn.

Meanwhile, you may be interested in listening to a cantata written by J. S. Bach for the Tenth Sunday after Trinity. It is a sober reflection on some lessons from today’s Gospel reading, and you can learn more here.