Monthly Archives: November 2012

Feast of Christ the King – 25 Nov 12

Opening Voluntary:
Prelude on DIADEMATA – Wilbur Held (1914-)

At Communion: Composition in D Major – Georg Rathgeber (1869- ?)

Closing Voluntary: Fanfare in Bb – Charles Ore (1936- )

Today’s opening voluntary is based on the hymntune, DIADEMATA, which we sing today as our entrance hymn, “Crown him with many crowns,” (The Hymnal 1982, #494). Composed specifically for the text by Sir Georg J. Elvey (1816-1893), this tune has been irrevocably married to this particular text from its first publication in Hymns Ancient and Modern in the year of 1868. The tune name is derived from the Greek word for “crowns.” The opening voluntary based on the hymn tune was composed  by Episcopal organist, Wilbur Held (1914-) and was published in 1979 in a collection of Hymn Preludes for the Pentecost Season. It is a composition in an ABA format with the “A” sections presenting an elaborated version of hymn tune in the melody accompanied by passing notes in the manuals and scale passages in the pedal.  The “B” section is a minor key variation which is followed by a brief transition passage before the return to the “A” theme ending with a concluding fanfare that echoes the structure of the “B” section. The solemn and festive character of the composition as well as the tune upon which it is based are highly appropriate for today’s feast day celebration of Christ the King.

The brief piece at the communion is by German 19th century composer, Georg Rathgeber , born 7th June, 1869 in Laudenbach, Germany.  He was a choir director and teacher in Hechingen, near Stuttgart.

The closing voluntary is a free composition by contemporary organist and composer, Charles William Ore, born in 1936 in Winfield, Kansas.  Ore studied at Northwestern University in Evanston and at the University of Nebraska. He later taught at Concordia College in Seward, Nebraska and was organist of Pacific Hills Lutheran Church in Omaha and currently serves at First Presbyterian Church in Lincoln, Nebraska. This piece is the eighth and last in a collection published in 1981 as Eight Fanfares and Intradas by Augsburg Publishing House. Like the opening voluntary, this is also a composition in an ABA format and is subtitled as a “Fanfare for the Baroque Spirit.”  The A sections at the beginning and the ending suggest a horn call in fourth and third and fifth intervals in the melody and are contrasted with the central “B” section in a g minor key.

24th Sunday after Pentecost – 11 Nov 12

Jan Bender

Opening Voluntary: Prelude on Gottes Sohn ist kommen – Jan Bender (1909-1994)

At Communion: Prelude on Gottes Sohn ist kommen – Johannes Petzold (1912-1985)

Closing Voluntary: Allegretto – Georg Böhm (1661-1733)

Today’s opening voluntary and voluntary at communion are both based on the Moravian hymn, Gottes Sohn ist kommen, which we sing today as our offertory hymn (#53, Hymnal 1982). Written by Moravian bishop, Johann Roh (1487-1547), it was first published in 1544.  The tune with which the text has been paired since its first publication, however, is at least a century older and is first found in a Czech manuscript from 1410 and was used in Unitas Fratram (Moravian) congregations from their very earliest days.  Both text and tune represent a welcome expansion of Episcopal hymnody to include texts and tunes from non-English musical traditions. Originally a hymn of 9 stanzas, the Hymnal 1982 selects four and uses the translation of English hymnologist and translator, Catherine Winkworth (1827-1878).  The setting for the opening voluntary was composed by Jan Bender (1909-1994) and published in 1980 in a fourth volume of hymn preludes during the time in which he lived in the US.  A native of Holland, Bender moved, after the death of his father, to Lübeck at the age of 13, when he began his organ studies.  He became a student of Hugo Distler (1908-1942) and was later drafted into the German military in World War II. He was made a prisoner of war in 1944 and interred in a prison camp in France before his release home a year later, when he returned to his work in church music.  Bender came to the United States in 1960, working first at Concordia Teacher’s College in Nebraska and later at Wittenberg University in Ohio, where he remained until his retirement in 1975. He returned afterwards to Germany where he lived until his death in 1994.  The short setting of the tune played at the communion is by another German composer, Johannes Petzold (1912-1985).  Petzold was Kantor and organist in Bad Berka, Thuringia and a teacher in the church music school at Eisenach.

The closing voluntary for today was composed by Baroque period German organist, Georg Böhm (1661-1773). Böhm became the organist of the principal church of Lüneburg, the Johanneskirche, in 1698 and held this position until his death. Although evidence is somewhat circumstantial, it is believed that he knew and probably tutored the young Johann Sebastian Bach (1687-1750) from 1700-1702. C.P.E Bach (1714-1788) wrote that his father loved and studied Böhm’s work. The piece at the closing voluntary is of uncertain origin and may have originally been intended as a sacred solo, although no vocal part is now known to exist.

All Saints Sunday – 4 Nov 12

Henry Thomas Smart

Opening Voluntary: March in G – Henry Thomas Smart (1813-1879)

Closing Voluntary: Voluntary in G – Henry Thomas Smart (1813-1879)

Henry Thomas Smart (1813-1879)

Today’s opening and closing voluntaries are both works by Victorian-era,  English organist and composer, Henry Thomas Smart.  Smart was born in London on 26 October, 1813.  Although his father was a musician and music publisher, Smart initially studied for a law career.  He turned, however, after only four years at the bar, to a career in music which he continued for the rest of his life.  Smart served as organist at several prominent London parishes including St. Philip’s, Regent street, St. Luke’s, Old Street, and lastly at St. Pancras for 14 years until his death.  Plagued by problems with his vision that began in early life, Smart was totally blind by the age of fifty-two. His musically talented daughter, however, was able to transcribe his compositions for him, and his improvisatory skills allowed him to continue performing in spite of his disability. He was particularly noted for his use of the pedals, which was said to be more inventive than other British organists of the time.  In addition to organ works and choral music, Smart composed non-religious works including several secular cantatas, an oratorio and an opera.  Somewhat against the trends of his day, he was vehemently opposed to the re-introduction of plainchant which he characterized as a “style of music utterly barbarous.” Although Smart’s music was extremely popular in his own time and his organ compositions figured prominently in recitals through the end of the 19th century, changing musical tastes would later denigrate much of his work as “Victorian stodge,” and the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica article describes his organ compositions as “effective and melodious, if not strikingly original.”  Sadly, Smart’s works are now little remembered apart from his hymn tune compositions which include REGENT SQUARE, which is frequently paired with the Christmas carol text, “Angels from the realms of glory” (#93, The Hymnal 1982) and LANCASHIRE, usually sung with the text “Lead on O King eternal” (#555, Ibid.). Smart died in London on 6 July 1879 at the age of only 65 years. Such was his popularity in his day that services and recitals were organized across the country on the last Sunday of July of that year in his honor and memory.  His biographer, William Spark, records a full 109 of these events, including the music performed.

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