Opening Voluntary: “Interlude” from Sonatina for Worship No. 5. – Robert W. Jones
At the Communion: Prelude – Earnest H. Smith (1862-?)
Closing Voluntary: Fantasia aus D – Johann Krieger (1651-1735)
Composer Spotlight – George Calvin Hampton (1938-1984)
This Sunday sees the return of the musical setting of the Nicene Creed (S-105) by contemporary Episcopal composer, Calvin Hampton. Hampton was born 31 December 1938 in the small borough of Kittaning in western Pennsylvania and grew up in Ravenna, Ohio. A graduate of Oberlin Conservatory and Syracuse University, Hampton was, from 1963 to 1983, organist in New York City at Calvary Episcopal Church, Gramercy Park. Musically, Hampton was a noted 20th century composer of both church and secular music. In addition to his regular work at Calvary, Hampton instituted a recital series known as “Fridays at Midnight,” which, from 1974 to shortly before his death in 1983, became one of the most popular organ recital series in American history. Hampton died tragically in 1984 at the height of his musical abilities and the early age of only 45 of complications of AIDs.
Although a noted composer of non-church music, Hampton is especially remembered in The Episcopal Church for his compositions and arrangements in The Hymnal 1982, which consist of six hymns as well as three pieces of liturgical music, including our only non-chant version of the contemporary-language creed. Published originally in 1974, his creed was originally written for organ, four-part choir and congregation. As The Hymnal 1982 was intended for congregations, the choral parts were omitted in this publication. Musically, the setting is characterized by the composer’s use of a single melodic theme which he expands and contracts to fit the irregularities of the text. The organ accompaniment (except for the contrasting section of “he suffered death and was buried”) consists of a constantly flowing pattern of parallel sixths in the left hand over a fairly-steady pedal and a right hand that doubles the melody at unison or in parallel thirds.
Opening Voluntary: Prelude on Aus tiefer Not – F. W. Zachow (1663-1712)
At the Communion: Prelude on Aus tiefer Not – Marcel Dupré (1886-1971)
Closing Voluntary: Variation on Mit Freuden zart – Scott Withrow (1932-1993)
Both the opening voluntary and the music at the communion are based on the German chorale, Aus tiefer Not schrei ich zu dir, sung today as our offertory hymn, #151, and which was written by German reformer and musician, Martin Luther (1483-1546). A metrical version of Psalm 130, this was one of the earliest hymns written by Luther, dating to about the year 1523. Although suspected to have been initially published as a “broadside,” its first known printing was in the first German reformation book of hymns, the Achtliederbuch (Literally, “Eight-Song Book”) published in Nuremberg in 1524. Psalm 130, De profundis, (BCP p. 784) is one of the so-called “Seven Penitential Psalms,” a selection known from the 6th century from the commentaries of Flavius Cassiodorus (c. 485-c.585) and which included Psalms 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130 and 143. In Lutheranism, the metrical version of this penitential psalm became associated with one of the six sections of Luther’s catechism (the section on penitence). This, along with its frequent usage in German post-reformation funerals, led to many musical compositions based on the tune with which it is most commonly associated and which was likely composed by Luther himself.
The Chorale Prelude on Aus tiefer Not at the opening voluntary was composed by Friedrich Wilhelm Zachow (1663-1712). Zachow was cantor and organist of the Market Church in Halle and was particularly known for his cantata compositions. He was criticized, however, by the community’s pietists for his “excessively long and elaborate” music that could be appreciated only by “other organists and cantors.” He is chiefly remembered today as the first teacher of music to Georg Frideric Händel (1685-1759). The short setting of Aus tiefer Not played at the communion is by the famous French organist and composer, Marcel Dupré (1886-1971) and is from his Seventy-Nine Chorales for the Organ of 1932. Intended primarily as an educational work to assist the organist in preparation for studying the chorale settings of J. S. Bach, it was conceived with a view to “making the student familiar with the magnificent melodies of the Chorales.” Although quite brief, its dissonant harmonization beautifully sets this famous hymn tune.
Opening Voluntary: Trio No. 6 – Josef Rheinberger (1839-1901)
At the Communion: Trio No. 1 – Josef Rheinberger (1839-1901)
Closing Voluntary: Excerpt from Prelude on Lasst uns erfreuen – David Johnson (1922-1987)
Both the opening voluntary and the music at the communion are compositions of German organist and composer, Josef Rheinberger. Rheinberger was born in Vaduz, the capital of the Principality of Liechtenstein, in 1839 and was the son of the treasurer to the prince. A child prodigy, he became organist of his parish church in Vaduz at the age of only 7 and performed the first of his own compositions the following year. In 1851, at the age of 14, he entered the Munich conservatory where he was afterwards professor of composition and piano. Although the original conservatory was later dissolved, at the new Munich conservatory, he became professor of organ and composition, a post he retained until his death in 1901. Rheinberger composed in multiple genres to include symphonies, operas, chamber music and multiple choral works, but is chiefly remembered today for his organ compositions. The anonymous writer of his Wikipedia entry rightly terms his organ works “elaborate and challenging,” and his major organ compositions remain to this day some of the most technically difficult pieces ever written for the organ.
The trios performed at St. Mary’s today are, in contrast to his very complex works, simple in form and not of profound difficulty, but nevertheless individual gems of organ composition. Both are from his Opus 49, Zehn Trios für die Orgel, and as the title suggests, comprise two of the ten trios in this collection. The Number 6 trio, played as the opening voluntary, is designated for a single manual and pedal and to be registered for “Volles werk,” or “Full Organ” as we would translate into English. Although the composition is in three parts, the effect is more akin to that of a fugue and harkens back to compositions for organ of the Baroque era. The Number 1 trio, played today at the communion, is designated for 2 manuals and pedal and to played with a “Sanfte register” or “gentle registration.” The trio in this piece is realized as a delicate melody in the soprano line that moves back and forth seamlessly from major to minor mode and is accompanied by a moving eighth note pattern in the lower register. Both are grounded over a simple, slower bass line completing to the chordal structure suggested by the patterns of the upper voices.