Opening Voluntary: Psalm 27: “The Lord is my light” – Richard T. Gore (1908-1994)
Our opening voluntary today is a composition by American composer, Richard Taylor Gore, born 25th June, 1908 in Takoma Park, MD and died 15 December 1994 in Wooster, OH. Gore studied in Berlin, at the Eastman School in Rochester, NY from which he received a doctorate and with famous American organist, Seth Bingham (1882-1972). He was organist of Cornell University and then taught at Wooster College from 1945 until his retirement in 1974. Dr. Gore was also a Fellow of the American Guild of Organists.
According to Dr. Gore’s own notes, this piece formed one of an original collection of more than 20 similar pieces from which he chose 10 for publication in 1976. His original inspiration, he wrote, was Charles Tournemire’s (1870-1939) L’Orgue Mystique, a monumental composition of 51 sets of five pieces, each covering the cycle of the liturgical year and each based on the appointed Gregorian chants for the day. The first piece of Gore’s set to be composed was based on Psalm 70. Gore wrote in the foreword to the collection, “While on leave in 1975/75 I set about writing organ music based on plainsong melodies for other psalms, trying, as in the case of the 70th, to catch the moods of the poem. From the more than twenty I wrote that year, I chose the nine most successful and added the 70th to round out the ten. Instead of adopting the complexities of Tournemire’s musical language, I stayed within the tones that make of the mode of each psalm melody.” He concludes “If these psalm preludes suggest some of the glories of those inexhaustible poems, they will have accomplished their task.”
The piece played today as our voluntary is fourth in the collection and is based on the plainchant melody for the Introit for the 4th Sunday after Pentecost. We chant a simpler version of selected verses as our Gradual Psalm today at mass.The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom then shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom then shall I be afraid? Psalm 27:1 (Prayerbook Psalter, BCP, 1979)