Category Archives: Ordinary of the Mass

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.

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Trinity Sunday – 26 May 13

Opening Voluntary: Fantasy on the Hymn Tune NICAEA – Piet Post (1919-1979)

At the Communion: Prelude on Kyrie, Gott Vater in Ewigkeit, BWV 672 – J. S. Bach (1685-1750)

Concluding Voluntary: Memorial Day Tribute – Traditional

Our Opening Voluntary today is a modern composition based on the Hymn tune NICAEA, (sung today as our Offertory Hymn,  “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God, Almighty!” #362, The Hymnal, 1982) by contemporary Dutch composer, Piet Post (1919-1979).  Piet Post studied with A. van der Horst in Amsterdam and with Hendrik Andriessen and Jan Zwart.  He was the organist from 1949 to 1979 of the Jacobijnerkerk in Leeuwarden.  The piece is an extended one and consists of a declamatory “Introduction and Hymn” followed by four variations and then concludes with a “Finale and Hymn.”

The piece At the Offertory is a brief chorale prelude on the German hymn, Kyrie, Gott Vater in Ewigkeit, BWV 672by J. S. Bach. The German hymn is derived from a 12th century Latin original based upon the Gregorian Kyrie fons bonitatis, and is by an unknown author and composer. In format, it mimics a “troped” Kyrie from the Mass with each stanza beginning with the word “Kyrie” followed by a short vernacular verse in German and then concluding with the word “Eleison.” The three stanzas together form a Trinitarian invocation addressed to “God, Father in heaven above,” “O Christ our King,” and “O God the Holy Ghost.”

Memorial Day is a United States holiday observed every year on the final Monday of May. Formerly known as Decoration Day, it originally was intended to commemorate the the Union and Confederate soldiers who died in the Civil War. By the 20th century, Memorial Day had been extended to honor all Americans who have died while in military service.  More recently still, the custom of the decoration of graves of the war dead on this day led naturally to the practice of decoration of graves of non-war dead as well.  As such, it has evolved into a day, similar to the traditional All Souls Day of the old world, in which the memories of all the departed are honored.


4th Sunday in Lent – 10 Mar 13 – Lætare

François Couperin

François Couperin

Opening Voluntary: “Elevation” – Tierce en Taille – François Couperin (1668-1733)

Final Voluntary:Deo Gratias” Petit Plein Jeu – François Couperin (1668-1733)

Both of today’s incidental organ works are compositions of the French Classical Period master composer, François Couperin (1668-1733) known often by his title of “Couperin Le Grand” or “the great Couperin” in order to distinguish him from other composers and organists of this French musical dynasty. Couperin was born in Paris on 10th November, 1688 and was taught initially by his father Charles until his death and then later by Jacques Thomelin, who was organist to Louis XIV. At the age of only 17 years, Couperin followed his father as organist of the great Paris church of St. Gervais.  He succeeded his teacher, Thomelin, in 1695 as the titular organist of the Chapelle Royale at the palace of Versailles and was styled “organiste du Roi” (organist to the King) by appointment of Louis XIV.

Although Couperin composed many pieces for voices, harpsichord and various instruments, only one of his organ compositions survives – his two-part masterwork of the organ masses, respectively titled “for the Parishes” and “for the Convents.”  These works were composed by Couperin when he was quite young, and he was granted a license  from Louis XIV to publish them in about 1690, when only 21 years of age.   Both works are in a style, popular at the time, known as “alternatim” organ masses in which lines of plainchants of the mass were sung in “alternation” with solo organ music.  There were, as well, pieces such as “offertories” and “elevations” set as musical accompaniments to their respective liturgical actions.

Both our opening and closing voluntaries are from the “Mass for the Convents” intended for use in convents and abbeys.  Although the “Mass for the Parishes” is clearly based on the Gregorian plainchant mass, Cunctipotens genitor Deus, the mass for the Convents is based on no recognizable plainchant melody.  Speculatively, it is believed that it was written in this manner as each religious institution typically maintained its own, non-standard collection of chant music.

Following typical French practice, each organ piece is subtitled with a notation that indicates the intended registration (selection of stops) to be used (and which we must, understandably, adapt for our non-French style organ).  These “standardized” registrations were also typically associated with a particular style or texture of musical composition such that the “Tierce on Taille” for example, has the melody in a clear solo registration in the tenor line and is typically played rather slowly and is also greatly ornamented and embellished.  Such pieces made extensive use of the French practice of “notes inégales” in which the performer varies the written note lengths/rhythms according to musical taste and established convention to create an individualistic and more expressive musical performance.  The closing voluntary is designated a “Petit Plein Jeu,”  essentially a small, “full organ” registration.


For additional listening – Kyrie fons bonitatis

Here is a nice rendition of the Kyrie fons bonitatis, the basis for the German Hymn, Kyrie, Gott Vater in Ewigkeit, which was the subject for the J. S. Bach Chorale prelude heard this past Sunday.

 


Trinity Sunday – 03 June 12

Opening Voluntary: Fantasy on the Hymn Tune NICAEA – Piet Post (1919-1979)

At the Communion: Prelude on Kyrie, Gott Vater in Ewigkeit, BWV 672 – J. S. Bach (1685-1750)

Concluding Voluntary: “Allegro” from an 18th Century Voluntary – Anon. English, 18th Century

Our Opening Voluntary today is a modern composition based on the Hymn tune NICAEA, (sung today as our Offertory Hymn,  “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God, Almighty!” #362, The Hymnal, 1982) by contemporary Dutch composer, Piet Post (1919-1979).  Piet Post studied with A. van der Horst in Amsterdam and with Hendrik Andriessen and Jan Zwart.  He was the organist from 1949 to 1979 of the Jacobijnerkerk in Leeuwarden.  The piece is an extended one and consists of a declamatory “Introduction and Hymn” followed by four variations and then concludes with a “Finale and Hymn.”  We will reprise a portion of the concluding section as an interlude between the third and fourth stanzas of our Offertory hymn, as well.

The piece At the Communion is a brief chorale prelude on the German hymn, Kyrie, Gott Vater in Ewigkeit, BWV 672by J. S. Bach. The German hymn is derived from a 12th century Latin original based upon the Gregorian Kyrie fons bonitatis, and is by an unknown author and composer. In format, it mimics a “troped” Kyrie from the Mass with each stanza beginning with the word “Kyrie” followed by a short vernacular verse in German and then concluding with the word “Eleison.” The three stanzas together form a Trinitarian invocation addressed to “God, Father in heaven above,” “O Christ our King,” and “O God the Holy Ghost.”

The  Concluding Voluntary is an Allegro movement excerpted from an anonymous 18th Century English organ voluntary which was published in London in the year 1765.  The works appeared as a collection of “Voluntaries for Organ or Harpsichord composed by Dr. Green, Mr. Travers and several other eminent masters.”  Unfortunately, it has not proven possible to identify the composers of the individual pieces.  All of them are quite typical of English organ works of the period and consist of multiple movements in several tempos and registrations.  Inasmuch as our Whalley 1907 organ shares much in common tonal tradition with early English organs, it is ideally presented on this instrument.


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