Monthly Archives: May 2012

For additional listening – Veni Creator Spiritus

This is a nice version of the Veni Creator Spiritus sung by the Portuguese ensemble, Coral Vértice: Click the link below to listen. You may right/control click to download

Veni Creator Spiritus

Whitsunday, The Feast of Pentecost – 27 May 12

Opening Voluntary:  Prelude on Komm, heiliger Geist, Herre Gott – Dietrich Buxtehude (1637/9 – 1707)

At the Communion: Prelude on Komm, Gott Schöpfer, heiliger Geist – Johann Pachelbel (1653-1706)

Closing Voluntary: Prelude on Komm, Gott Schöpfer, heiliger Geist – J. S. Bach (1685-1750)

The Opening Voluntary  for today is based on the German Chorale Tune, Komm, heiliger Geist, Herre Gott.  Both the tune for this chorale as well as the text for the first Stanza are by unknown persons.  This hymn, known in English translation as “Come Holy Ghost, God and Lord,” first appeared in 1524 in the Erfurt Gesangbuch, one of the first hymnals of the German reformation and which consisted, in major part, of hymns previously printed as “single sheet” publications known usually in English as “broadsheets.”  The first verse of the chorale is a versification of the antiphon Veni Sancte Spiritus, whilst the 2d and 3d are compositions of Martin Luther. Of the 26 hymn texts in the publication, 18 were the creation of Martin Luther, either in whole or in part.  This particular chorale was a popular subject for arrangement by German composers.  Today’s version is chorale prelude in which the melody appears in the highest/treble line in an ornamented form, accompanied by lower imitative voices in manuals and pedals.  It is typical of many other compositions of this type by German composer Dietrich Buxtehude (1637/9 – 1707).   In translation, the first stanza of the hymn reads:

Come, Holy Ghost, God and Lord, with all your graces now outpoured on each believer’s mind and heart; Your fervent love to them impart. Lord, by the brightness of your light, in holy faith your Church unite; from every land and every tongue, this to your praise, O Lord, our God, be sung: Alleluia! Alleluia!

The pieces At the Communion and The Closing Voluntary are both based on another German chorale, Komm, Gott Schöpfer, heliger Geist, sung today as our Offertory Hymn (#501, The Hymnal 1982). Both the tune and the text of this metrical version derive from the 9th Century Latin plainsong hymn, Veni Creator Spiritus, found in The Hymnal, 1982 as #504, attributed to the 9th century Benedictine monk and later Archbishop of Mainz, Rabanus Maurus (c. 780-856).  In the Latin rite, this hymn has traditionally been appointed for the offices of Terce and Vespers on the feast of Pentecost.  In the post-reformation Anglican liturgy, it appears in the Ordering of Priests and the Consecration of Bishops in the Prayerbook of 1662.  Luther’s metrical version, which we sing today, dates again to 1524 and also was first published in the Erfurt Gesangbuch.  The organ  settings performed today were written as chorale preludes by Johann Pachelbel  (1653-1706) and Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750).  Although based on the very same hymn, they are vastly different treatments of this chorale melody.  The version by Pachelbel sets a mood of quite contemplation, whilst the version by Bach is one of jubilant celebration.

Easter 7 – 20 May 2012

Opening Voluntary: Prelude on HYFRYDOL – George A. Lynn (1915-1989)

At the Communion: Adagio – Heinrich Schütz (1585-1672)

Closing Voluntary: “Fugue in D Major á 3” – Georg Friedrich Händel (1685-1759)

The Opening Voluntary is a brief prelude on the popular hymn tune HYFRYDOL sung today as our Offertory hymn to the text “Alleluia! Sing to Jesus.” (The Hymnal 1982, #460) This Welsh hymn tune was composed by Rowland Huw Prichard in 1844 before he was 20 years of age and was included in his book Cyfaill y Cantorion (The Singer’s Friend).  This was a handbook to the Lutheran Hymnal and was a publication intended for the use of children.  It appears in The Hymnal 1982 with the text of “Alleluia! Sing to Jesus” as well as the tune to accompany “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling” (The Hymnal 1982, #657). One of a number of Welsh hymns in use today (we sing another Welsh hymn today as our entrance Hymn as the tune LLANFAIR (#214, “Hail the day that sees him rise,”), it ranks as one of the most popular hymn tunes in The Episcopal Church in current use. The setting at the Opening Voluntary is from a collection of pieces by George A. Lynn (1915-1989), To God on High, and is a quiet and reflective meditation on this usually-celebratory tune.  G. A. Lynn taught at Westminster Choir College as well as the University of Colorado in Boulder. He was also the organist of several church in Denver and Colorado Springs.

The piece At the Communion is a short composition by the famous German, early- Baroque composer, Heinrich Schütz (1585-1672).  This piece is a transcription of a work originally composed for secular use but follows a common practice of organ transcription of the day in which secular keyboard pieces were often employed in the services of the church for incidental music.

The Closing Voluntary, the “Fugue in D Major á 3,” comes from a set of six pieces published as a collection attributed to the famous German-English Composer, Georg Friedrich Händel and usually known as his “Six Little Fugues.”  As to whether these fugues actually were the genuine works of Händel himself or another composer working in a similar style remains a musicological question to this day. All six of these works are fugal and typically English in style, and all are in 3 voices or “á 3.” The particular piece played at our closing voluntary today in D major (one of two works in this key from this collection) is somewhat unusual for fugal composition in that is is in a triple meter, meaning that there are three beats to a measure, a convention that we typically associate with dance music such as waltzes.  It also incorporates a musical device of the day known as the “hemiola” in which two measures in triple meter are converted to three measures of duple (2 beat) meter.  This will occur twice in this work, most notably in the final cadence. These works were first published in London in the year 1776.

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