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 stranger
his glory come to see;
with off’rings of devotion,
ships from the isles shall meet,
to pour the wealth of ocean
in tribute at his feet.

The sturdiness evident in the confident tune WOODBIRD is a hint of its origins in a German folk-tune, first published in an early-seventeenth-century manuscript. The tune is also employed in our Hymnal to sing “O day of rest and gladness” (#474).

Our sermon hymn, “Before thy throne, O God, we kneel,” is the work of William Boyd Carpenter (1841-1918). As an Anglican priest, he served as chaplain to the Bishop of London and honorary chaplain to Queen Victoria. In 1884, he was consecrated Bishop of Ripon, a post which he left in 1911 to become canon at Westminster. Boyd was regarded as one of the greatest orators of the Victorian era, and many of his lectures have been published. The tune ST. PETERSBURG was written by Dimitri Stepanovitch Bortniansky (1751-1825), whose other compositions influenced later Russian composers, particularly Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovsky.

At the Offertory, the choir sings George Herbert’s paraphrase of Psalm 23, set to a tune by Thomas Tallis (1505-1585). This melody was one of nine tunes written by Tallis for use in a Psalter published in 1567. This Psalter featured metrical paraphrases of all 150 Psalms by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Matthew Parker (1504-1575), one of the primary architects of the Thirty-nine Articles. The tune to which we sing Herbert’s Psalm 23 paraphrase (and which in our Hymnal is used to accompany “I heard the voice of Jesus say,” hymn #424) originally served to accompany Bishop Parker’s paraphrase of Psalm 2, a text with a much more vigorous character than Psalm 23.

At Communion, the choir sings a setting of O sacrum convivium by Tomás Luis de Victoria (c.1548-1611). This work is available in two arrangements, one for four men’s voices (which we have sung before) and the present one for three female and one male voice.

Our Communion hymns are “Let thy blood in mercy poured” and “This is the hour of banquet and of song.” The three stanzas of this latter hymn by Horatius Bonar (1808-1889) are from a ten-stanza hymn Bonar wrote in 1855; four of the other stanzas are in hymn #208, “Here, O my Lord, I see thee face to face.” Below are the three additional stanzas:

I have no wisdom, save in Him who is
my Wisdom and my Teacher, both in one;
no wisdom do I lack while Thou art wise,
no teaching do I crave, save Thine alone.

I know that deadly evils compass me,
dark perils threaten, yet I would not fear,
nor poorly shrink, nor feebly turn to flee;
thou , O my Christ, art buckler, sword, and spear.

But see, the pillar-cloud is rising now,
and moving onward through the desert night;
it beckons, and I follow; for I know
it leads me to the heritage of light.

Our service concludes with “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord,” by Christopher Wordsworth (1807-1885), Bishop of Lincoln, nephew of the poet, William Wordsworth, and the most celebrated Greek scholar of his day. In 1862, Wordsworth published The Holy Year, or, Hymns for Sundays and holy days throughout the year. Our closing hymn was the Trinity Sunday hymn in that collection. As is the case with many hymns, this one has also been truncated for contemporary use. Here are the original final stanzas:

In thy Name baptized are we,
with thy blessing are dismissed;
and thrice-holy chant to thee
in the holy Eucharist;
life is one doxology
to the Blessed Trinity

To the Father; and the Son,
who for us did deign to die;
and to God the Holy One,
who the Church doth sanctify;
sing we with glad Jubilee,
Hallelujah! Lord, to thee.