• Hymns,  Service music

    Sunday after Ascension (May 24, 2020)

    If we were together this morning, our processional hymn would probably be Charles Wesley’s triumphant “Hail the day that sees him rise.” Since we’re not together, as part of our continuing Choir-in-Quarantine series, we’ve recorded this hymn from our individual spaces (you can sing along at #104, second tune). Wesley’s original poem (first published in 1739) contained ten stanzas (our Hymnal includes four of these, with some alterations). The hymn affirms Christ’s kingly rule (he is seated at the right hand of the Father to rule, not to relax), his continued full humanity (his human hands still bear the scars of his crucifixion), and our destiny to behold him face…

  • Hymns,  Poetry

    Christopher Wordsworth, “See the Conqueror mounts in triumph”

    One of the most compelling hymns about the Ascension, “See the Conqueror mounts in triumph” was written by Christopher Wordsworth (1807-1885), Bishop of Lincoln (1869-1885) and nephew of the poet William Wordsworth. Between 1830 and 1836 he was a fellow at Trinity College, Cambridge. The most celebrated Greek scholar of his day, from 1836 until 1844 Wordsworth was headmaster at Harrow. As Sheila Doyle explains, this hymn was “First published in The Holy Year (1862), where it was a long hymn of 10 stanzas in the author’s favoured metre. It was originally intended for both Ascension Day and Pentecost, and was subsequently divided to give two separate hymns, five…

  • Hymns,  Service music

    Rogation Sunday music

    Our singing hymns together has been suspended for some time. I hope that there is music in your homes. The choir recorded a hymn for Rogation Sunday (and the next three Rogation days), which you can listen to here. It is hymn #101, if you care to sing along. With Wallace’s help, we’ve also recorded one of the parish’s favorite Communion hymns: “Deck thyself my soul with gladness.” You listen to our quarantine-style recording right here. You may be interested in reading more about this hymn here, and reading the text to the 6 stanzas in the original that are missing from our Hymnal. Since we’ve been unable to take…

  • Hymns,  Service music

    More music from quarantine

    During Lent, our Eucharistic service does not include the singing of the Gloria. This means that it has been a long time (February 23rd) since we have been able to sing one of the most ancient and joyous portions of our liturgy. So our choir has made a recording (each recording in our discrete spaces) of the Scottish Chant setting of the Gloria (p. 739 in the Hymnal) to aid in your singing together at home. We have also made a new recording of one of the favorite hymns in our parish, “The King of Love my Shepherd is.” The sixth stanza features a stirring descant that our sopranos can’t…

  • Service music

    The Introit, two hymns, and three cantatas for Jubilate Sunday

    The Introit for the third Sunday after Easter is from Psalm 66, which begins “O be joyful in God, all ye lands.” The first words of this Introit in Latin are Jubilate Deo, so this Sunday has traditionally been known as Jubilate Sunday. This Sunday is known as “Jubilate Sunday,” because the first word in the Introit (when sung in Latin) is Jubilate, “Be joyful.” (By the way, if you’re explaining this to your kids, remember that the initial “J” in the word is silent.) The persistent presence of alleluias reminds us that we are still in Eastertide. One Introit O be joyful in God, all ye lands, alleluia: sing…

  • Psalms,  Service music

    Psalm 23 chanted, for Good Shepherd Sunday

    One of the most frequently chanted settings of Psalm 23 is by Charles Hylton Stewart (1884-1932). The son of an Anglican organist who was also a priest, Stewart served as an organist in Rochester Cathedral and St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle. Stewart’s setting of Psalm 23 does not conform to the strict structure of Anglican chant, but is one of our choir’s favorite Psalm settings. It is sung here by the choir of St John’s Anglican Church in Elora, Ontario, directed by Noel Edison.

  • Hymns

    A hymn for Good Shepherd Sunday

    The gospel reading for the second Sunday after Easter is from St. John 10:11-16, in which Jesus proclaims himself the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep. This text invites us to reflect on Psalm 23, in which the attributes and gifts of a divine Shepherd are also expressed. In past years, we have often on this day sung “The King of love my shepherd is,” the text of which contains one of the many English-language paraphrases of Psalm 23. Here is an enthusiastic rendition of this hymn by the Cardiff Festival Choir, conducted by Owain Arwel Hughes.

  • 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.

  • Service music

    Two Propers (& two anthems) for Low Sunday

    Within the Anglican Communion, the first Sunday after Easter day is traditionally called Low Sunday. The origins of that name are at best obscure. It is often suggested that the name alludes to the relative inferiority of this Sunday to the Great Sunday that we celebrated last week. The term “Octave of Easter” is used to designate the eight-day period that starts on Easter Sunday, so the “Octave Day of Easter” — Easter’s eighth day — is also used to designate the Sunday after Easter. The Offertory for today is from St. Matthew’s Gospel: The Angel of the Lord descended from heaven,and said unto the women:He whom ye seek is…

  • Repertoire

    Choral music for Easter, Part V — Bach, Easter Oratorio

    “Come, hurry and run, you nimble feet; reach the cavern that sheltered Jesus! Laughing and jesting attend our hearts, for our Salvation is raised.” The first chorus in Bach’s Easter Oratorio (BWV 249) captures the joy unleashed by the Resurrection. As Bach tells the story of the discovery the empty tomb, Easter joy is revealed to be complex. It is more than excitement; it comprises comfort, consolation, hope, love, praise, and thanksgiving. Below — at the bottom of this post — is a complete performance of Bach’s Easter Oratorio by the Netherlands Bach Society. But the first embedded video is a helpful 6-minute introduction to the work, featuring comments by…