Monthly Archives: June 2013

Sixth Sunday after Pentecost – 29 Jun 13

Frederick William Faber

Frederick William Faber

Opening Voluntary: Intermezzo – Eric H. Thiman (1900-1975)


There’s a wideness in God’s mercy #469 – ST. HELENA

The text for the offertory hymn today, “There’s a wideness in God’s mercy,” is selected and adapted from a 19th century hymn by Frederick William Faber, born 1814 in Calverly in the West Riding of Yorkshire.  He enrolled in Balliol College at Oxford in 1832 where he became acquainted with the Anglo-Catholic preaching of the Oxford Movement that was beginning to develop within the Church of England. Faber himself received Holy Orders in the Church of England in 1839.  In 1843, he became rector at a church in Elton where he introduced catholic practices such as auricular confession and the use of the sanctoral cycle. There was, however, a strong Methodist presence in the parish, and a number of disaffected persons began to pack his church each Sunday in order to ridicule his catholic leanings.  After a prolonged period of struggle, Faber left Elton and entered the Roman Church in 1845. He is remembered particularly in Anglican and Episcopal churches for his hymns, of which several are included in The Hymnal, 1982, perhaps the most famous of which is #558, “Faith of our fathers!”

Today’s offertory hymn, #469, “There’s a wideness in God’s mercy,” contains only six quatrains from a larger work published in Faber’s Oratory Hymns of 1854.  It is believed that this hymn was first used during parish missions conducted in England as well as in Ireland which was still wheeling from the great potato famine in which as many as a million died and a million more emigrated.  In that setting, such strophes as “There is no place where Earth’s sorrows are more felt than up in heaven” take on a particular poignancy. Faber’s text soon became popular in the hymnals of many different denominations, and this hymn was even translated into Swedish.  Hardly any of the borrowers selected the same stanzas for their use, and it was paired with various tunes.  The tune we use today, ST. HELENA, was newly published in The Hymnal, 1982 and was composed by Calvin Hampton in 1978 specifically for this text.  The tune name honors the Sisters of the Order of St. Helena who were resident for a number of years at Hampton’s church in New York.



Fifth Sunday after Pentecost – 22 Jun 13

Johann Jakob Froberger

Johann Jakob Froberger

Opening Voluntary: Canzona – Johann Jakob Froberger (1616-1667)

At the Offertory: Prelude on HANOVER – Jan Bender (1909-1994)

Closing Voluntary: Prelude on Mit Freuden zart – David Schack (b.1947)

Today’s opening voluntary was composed by early, German, Baroque composer, John Jakob Froberger, who was born most probably in Stuttgart in 1616.  In 1637, he was appointed organist to the Austrian emperor in Vienna. Froberger studied with Frescobaldi for a time in Rome and travelled widely in his career.  He is one of the few great masters who wrote almost exclusively for the keyboard and was the first, in Germany, to give equal attention to the organ and the harpsichord.  Perhaps due to his education and wide travels, his musical style blends features of German, French and Italian keyboard music.  The canzona is a distinctive musical form of the 16th and 17th centuries, of which this is a fairly typical example.  Canzonas are sectional (this one in three sections) and markedly rhythmical, often varying meter between sections. The instrumental canzonas were forerunners of the fugues of the later baroque era.

The short piece at the offertory was composed by Holland-born, Jan Bender (1909-1994).  Bender was a student of Hugo Distler and was drafted into the German military in WW II. He spent a year in a French prison camp before he was released in 1945.  Bender came to the U.S. in 1960 where he lived and taught until his retirement in 1975 when he returned to Germany, remaining there until his death in 1994.  This piece is a brief hymn prelude on the tune HANOVER, sung as our entrance hymn (#388, The Hymnal 1982).

The closing voluntary is based on tune, Mit Freuden zart, sung as our final hymn (#408, The Hymnal 1982). One of the great tunes of the Reformation, Mit Freuden zart was first published in Kirchengesänge, an early hymnal of the Bohemian Brethren, in 1566. David Schack, composer of this setting, was born in 1947 and currently holds the position of organist at First Lutheran Church of Omaha, NE.  He holds a degree in church music from Valparaiso University in Indiana and was later an assistant professor at Concordia University where he taught organ and other musical courses.

Fourth Sunday after Pentecost – 16 June 13

Organ pipes painted

Opening Voluntary: Menuet – Eric H. Thiman (1900-1975)

At the Offertory: Communion Voluntary – William Wolstenholme (1865-1931)

Closing Voluntary: Postlude in 18th Century Style – Eric H. Thiman (1900-1975)

Today’s opening and closing voluntaries are both works of Eric H. Thiman, born Ashford, Kent in September 1900.  Thiman was the son of a Jewish/Polish Congregational minister and was largely self-taught musically. From 1930, he was Professor of Harmony at the Royal Academy of Music and in the 1960s became Dean of the Faculty of Music at the University of London. He served as organist of a number of churches over his career culminating in his appointment as organist of City Temple in London, a congregationalist church where he was apparently known as a skilled improvisationalist. Thiman published over 120 pieces of organ music during his lifetime.  Both of today’s pieces are from his third volume of Interludes for Organ, published in 1952.

The voluntary at the offertory is the work of William Wolstenholme was born in Blackburn, Lancashire in 1865 and died in London in 1932. Blind from birth, he was initially trained at the Worcester College for the Blind Sons of Gentlemen and later took the degree of B. Mus. Oxford University where he was the first blind organist to do so since John Stanley (1712-1786). He served at many churches during his career and was also a noted recitalist and close friend of another blind organist of his day, Alfred Hollins (1865-1942).  Although a prolific composer, most of his music fell out of favor following his lifetime. There has, however, been a revival of interest in his works in recent years.

Third Sunday after Pentecost – 9 Jun 13

Girolamo Frescobaldi

Girolamo Frescobaldi

Opening Voluntary: Toccata Cromaticaper l’Elevazione” – Girolamo Frescobaldi

At the Offertory: Kyrie “della Domenica” Girolamo Frescobaldi

Closing Voluntary: Prelude on Lobe den Herren – A. W. Leupold

The opening voluntary and the music at the offertory were both composed by Girolamo Frescobaldi (1583-1674), one of the greatest of Italian musicians of the late Renaissance and early Baroque periods.  Born in Ferrara, he transferred to Rome in his early 20s and became the organist at the church of Santa Maria in Trastevere. In 1608, he was appointed organist of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, a position that he held intermittently until his death.  Although he was to compose many different types of music, it was instrumental music, particularly keyboard music, that formed the bulk of the composer’s work.  He published eight collections of keyboard music during his lifetime, and it is for these works that he is most remembered today. The selections performed today come from his Fiori Musicali  of 1635. This was his only keyboard collection devoted entirely to church music and his last one containing completely new pieces. The majority of the works are “alternatim” compositions intended for performance in alternation with choir chanting the music of the mass ordinary. The brief “Kyrie” heard at the offertory is one such example.  Other pieces were “occasional” pieces of music intended to accompany the physical actions of the mass, such as today’s “Toccata Cromatica,” originally intended to accompany the elevation in the canon of the Mass. This piece makes use of a “special effect” of Baroque Italian organs known as the “piffaro.”  This effect was produced by using two sets of pipes simultaneously, one of which had been tuned slightly flat to produce an undulating sound.  It is related to the “celeste” stops of organs of the romantic period and later.  We achieve this on our organ today by employing the ability to partially “draw” one of the stops and hence limit its airflow, resulting in a slight reduction in pitch.

The postlude today is a chorale prelude on the tune for our entrance hymn (# 390, The Hymnal 1982), Lobe den Herren. It is the work of Anton Wilhelm Leupold (1868-1940). A native of Austria, Leupold became the organist of St. Peter’s Church, Berlin in 1899, a position he would hold for the next forty years.  Although he composed many types of church music, the bulk of his works were in the genre of the Chorale prelude, of which he left some 200 examples.

2d Sunday after Pentecost – Feast of Corpus Christi (Observed) – 2 Jun 13

Opening Voluntary: 4 Movements from a Partita on “Adoro Te Devote” – Flor Peeters (1903-1986)

 At the Offertory: Adagio on “Adoro Te Devote” – Flor Peeters

 Closing Voluntary: Andante Maestoso on “Adoro Te Devote” – Flor Peeters

A chorale partita composed by Belgian organist, Flor Peeters (1903-1986), on the Gregorian hymn, Adoro Te Devote, is the basis for all of the incidental organ music for this Sunday.  This composition, the first in his Opus 76, comes from one of three separate collections of Chorale Preludes on Gregorian Tunes, each consisting of 10 such works.  The Partita on Adoro Te Devote is from 1955 and was dedicated to his friend, Albert De Klerk, organist in Haarlem, Netherlands. Each of its six sections is an independent variation on the hymn tune.  For the Opening Voluntary we will hear four of the sections, nos. 1-3 and 5.  At the Offertory we will hear the brief, no. 4, and for the Closing Voluntary, no. 6. All prominently feature the hymntune melody which we sing as our first hymn during Benediction today as #314 from The Hymnal, 1982.

Florent Peeters (1903-1986) was born in the village of Telen, east of Antwerp, Belgium in 1903 as the youngest of 11 children, most of whom played musical instruments.  By the age of only 8 years, he deputized for his eldest brother at the local church. He studied formally at the Lemmens Institute in Mechelen and was appointed assistant to his teacher, Oscar Depuydt , at the St. Rombouts Cathedral in Mechelen at the age of 20. Peeters later succeeded to his teacher’s position and remained as the principal organist there for 63 years. He taught at several musical institutions and also performed widely as a recitalist, including 10 separate tours through the United States. Peeters wrote widely in many fields, but mostly for the organ, for which he composed over 550 works.

The Gregorian hymn, Adoro Te Devote, is a Eucharistic hymn attributed to St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1275).  Honored as one of the 33 Doctors of the Church, St. Thomas is known best for his Summa Theologica, an unfinished but still monumental work written as a compendium of the theology of the Western Church.  Although commonly attributed to St. Thomas, the hymn Adoro Te Devote is not conclusively known to be his work, although he is believed to have composed other Eucharistic hymns for the daily office on a commission from Pope Urban IV following the latter’s institution of the Feast of Corpus Christi in the year 1264.

The Latin Hymn, Adoro Te Devote, is in seven stanzas, although only four are included in the translation published in The Hymnal, 1982.  The sixth stanza is of particular interest, as it contains the metaphorical characterization of Jesus as the “Pie Pelicane” or merciful pelican based on the pious ancient belief that the mother pelican would feed her chicks with blood that she obtained by wounding her own breast, a legendary with obvious eucharistic overtones.

Prostrate I adore Thee, Deity unseen,
Who Thy glory hidest ‘neath these shadows mean;
Lo, to Thee surrendered, my whole heart is bowed,
Tranced as it beholds Thee, shrined within the cloud.
Taste, and touch, and vision, to discern Thee fail;
Faith, that comes by hearing, pierces through the veil.
I believe whate’er the Son of God hath told;
What the Truth hath spoken, that for truth I hold.
On the Cross lay hidden but thy Deity,
Here is hidden also Thy Humanity:
But in both believing and confessing, Lord,
Ask I what the dying thief of Thee implored.
Thy dread wounds, like Thomas, though I cannot see,
His be my confession, Lord and God, of Thee,
Make my faith unfeigned ever-more increase,
Give me hope unfading, love that cannot cease.
O memorial wondrous of the Lord’s own death;
Living Bread, that giveth all Thy creatures breath,
Grant my spirit ever by Thy life may live,
To my taste Thy sweetness never-failing give.
Pelican of mercy, Jesu, Lord and God,
Cleanse me, wretched sinner, in Thy Precious Blood:
Blood where one drop for human-kind outpoured
Might from all transgression have the world restored.
Jesu, whom now veiled, I by faith descry,
What my soul doth thirst for, do not, Lord, deny,
That thy face unveiled, I at last may see,
With the blissful vision blest, my God, of Thee. Amen

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