Tag Archives: Advent

4th Sunday in Advent – 23 Dec 12

Nu kom der Heyden heyland in the Erfurt Enchiridion (1524)

Nu kom der Heyden heyland in the Erfurt Enchiridion (1524)

Opening Voluntary: Variations on  on Nun komm der Heiden Heiland – F. W. Zachow (1663-1712)

 At Communion: Veni Emmanuel – Jan Bender (1909-1994)

 Closing Voluntary: Nun komm der Heiden Heiland – Martha Sobaje (1948-)

The opening and closing voluntaries today are both based on the Advent hymn, Nun komm der Heiden Heiland, which we sing in translation as our final hymn today, “Savior of the nations, come!” (#54, The Hymnal 1982). The commentary on the 1982 hymnal writes of this hymn, “This Advent text and tune are probably among the most important and valuable additions to the Hymnal. For years organ choral preludes based on it have been played by musicians in parishes across the country, but the text and tune were not available to congregations of the Episcopal Church until 1982.” (The Hymnal 1982 Companion, p. 54) This is one of Martin Luther’s earliest hymns written just before Advent of the year 1523. In German, the text is a close translation of St. Ambose’s 4th century advent hymn, Veni redemptor gentium.  In addition to translating the Latin text, Luther creatively restructures the plain chant melody into a distinctive German chorale. Together, the text and tune are one of the masterworks of the German chorale tradition.

The opening voluntary is a series of four variations on this tune composed by Baroque German organist, 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” musc that could be appreciated only by “other organists and cantors.” He is chiefly remembered today s the first teacher of music to Georg Frideric Händel (1685-1759).  The closing voluntary selection was composed by Dr. Martha Helen Sobaje, who was born in 1948 in Alameda, California.  She studied at the University of the Pacific and the Eastman School in New York. She currently serves as organist at Phillips Memorial Baptist Church in Cranston, RI and is a teacher at the Community College of Rhode Island.

The short piece at the communion is based on the Advent hymn tune, Veni, veni Emmanuel, which we sing as our communion hymn today (#56, O come, O come Emmanuel). The text of the stanzas is based loosely on the “Great O” antiphons sung with the Magnificat at Vespers from 17-24 December. The melody was for many years of unknown source, but in the 1960s, it was discovered in a 15th century French Processional formerly belonging to Franciscan nuns where it was a troped verse of a funeral responsory.  The setting played as the organ incidental piece was composed by Jan Bender (1909-1994).  Bender was a student of Hugo Distler (1908-1942) and came to the United States in 1960.  He spent most of this time at Wittenberg University until his retirement in 1975 when he returned to Germany where he remained until his death in 1994.

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3d Sunday in Advent – 16 Dec 12 – “Gaudete”

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Opening Voluntary: Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming – G. Winston Cassler (1906-1990)

At Communion: Pièce en mi mineur– César Franck (1822-1890)

Closing Voluntary: Hark, the Glad Sound! – C. S. Lang (1891-1971)

Gaudete” is the traditional title of the liturgy for the 3d Sunday in Advent (also known as “Rose” Sunday).  Placed at the middle of the formerly penitential liturgical season, the name derives from the introit for this day that begins with “Rejoice (Gaudete) in the Lord always,” This Sunday, along with the mid-Sunday of lent (Laetare), was traditionally a day in which the seasonal fast might be somewhat relaxed.   The music and themes of this day emphasize, therefore,  the joyous anticipation of the Lord’s coming.

The opening voluntary is a Prelude in three sections based on the German carol, Es ist ein Ros’ entsprungen, (#81, The Hymnal 1982).  The words of the carol date from as early as the fifteenth century and may derive from an even earlier Greek hymn by Cosmas the Melodist (d.773 or 794), a bishop and hymnographer of the eighth century.  The chorale prelude was composed by G. Winston Cassler (1906-1990).  Cassler studied at Oberlin College and in England under Sir Ernest Bullock.  He was for many years a professor of music at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota.

The brief selection at communion was composed by French organist, César Franck (1822-1890) and published in a group of “Sept Pièces en mi majeur et mi mineur” (Six pieces in E major and minor) in a larger volume “L’Organiste” in 1890. It was scored and registered for the French harmonium.  The harmonium was an instrument invented  and popularized in France in the 19th century. As keyboard instrument, it is most similar to the reed or parlor organs made in this country in the late 1800s and early 1900s.  Producing sound by metal reeds, it was more stable and required less maintenance than the piano or the harpsichord.  Its construction also rendered it more compact and light, making it suitable for shipping by rail.  Franck, although a traditional organist of distinction, wrote a number of pieces for the harmonium

The closing voluntary is based on the tune of our offertory hymn, “Hark the glad sound!” (#72, The Hymnal 1982) to the tune RICHMOND.  The text, composed by Philip Doddridge dates to the year 1735 and was subtitled “Christ’s message from Luke iv. 18.19” which is itself a quotation from Isaiah 61.  The tune RICHMOND was composed by Thomas Haweis (1734-1820) and later adapted and revised by Samuel Webbe (1740-1816).  The organ composition at the close of today’s service was composed by C. S. Lang (1891-1971).  Lang studied with C. V. Stanford (1852-1924) and was director of music at Christ’s Hospital in Sussex from 1929-1945 after which he resigned to devote more time to composition and examination.


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