Tag Archives: Baroque

Whitsunday, The Feast of Pentecost – 19 May 2013

Opening Voluntary:  Prelude on Komm, heiliger Geist, Herre Gott – Dietrich Buxtehude (1637/9 – 1707)

At the Offertory: Prelude on Komm, Gott Schöpfer, heiliger Geist – Johann Pachelbel (1653-1706)

Closing Voluntary: Prelude on Komm, Gott Schöpfer, heiliger Geist – J. S. Bach (1685-1750)

The Opening Voluntary  for today is based on the German Chorale Tune, Komm, heiliger Geist, Herre Gott.  Both the tune for this chorale as well as the text for the first Stanza are by unknown persons.  This hymn, known in English translation as “Come Holy Ghost, God and Lord,” first appeared in 1524 in the Erfurt Gesangbuch, one of the first hymnals of the German reformation and which consisted, in major part, of hymns previously printed as “single sheet” publications known usually in English as “broadsheets.”  The first verse of the chorale is a versification of the antiphon Veni Sancte Spiritus, while the 2d and 3d are compositions of Martin Luther. Of the 26 hymn texts in the publication, 18 were the creation of Martin Luther, either in whole or in part.  This particular chorale was a popular subject for arrangement by German composers.  Today’s version is a chorale prelude in which the melody appears in the highest/treble line in an ornamented form, accompanied by lower imitative voices in manuals and pedals.  It is typical of many other compositions of this type by German composer Dietrich Buxtehude (1637/9 – 1707).   In translation, the first stanza of the hymn reads:

Come, Holy Ghost, God and Lord, with all your graces now outpoured on each believer’s mind and heart; Your fervent love to them impart. Lord, by the brightness of your light, in holy faith your Church unite; from every land and every tongue, this to your praise, O Lord, our God, be sung: Alleluia! Alleluia!

The pieces At the Offertory and The Closing Voluntary are both based on another German chorale, Komm, Gott Schöpfer, heliger Geist, sung today as our Offertory Hymn (#501, The Hymnal 1982). Both the tune and the text of this metrical version derive from the 9th Century Latin plainsong hymn, Veni Creator Spiritus, found in The Hymnal, 1982 as #504, attributed to the 9th century Benedictine monk and later Archbishop of Mainz, Rabanus Maurus (c. 780-856).  In the Latin rite, this hymn has traditionally been appointed for the offices of Terce and Vespers on the feast of Pentecost.  In the post-reformation Anglican liturgy, it appears in the Ordering of Priests and the Consecration of Bishops in the Prayerbook of 1662.  Luther’s metrical version, which we sing today, dates again to 1524 and also was first published in the Erfurt Gesangbuch.  The organ  settings performed today were written as chorale preludes by Johann Pachelbel  (1653-1706) and Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750).  Although based on the very same hymn, they are vastly different treatments of this chorale melody.  The version by Pachelbel sets a mood of quite contemplation, while the version by Bach is one of jubilant celebration.

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Third Sunday of Easter – 14 Apr 2013

François Couperin

François Couperin

Opening Voluntary: “Elevation” from Messe Pour Les Convents – François Couperin (1668-1733)

Offertory: Cromhorne sur La Taille – François Couperin (1668-1733)

Closing Voluntary: Dialogue – François Couperin (1668-1733)

François Couperin “le Grand” was born in Paris on 10th November of 1668, the son of organist and musician Charles Couperin, who was also his first teacher.  In 1685, he became the titular organist of the Church of Saint Gervais in Paris, a position that he inherited from his father and which would be later filled by other members of the Couperin musical dynasty.    He was made organist of the Chapelle Royale with the title “Organiste du Roi” by appointment of Louis XIV in 1693, and was later to receive the further honor of appointment as official court composer in the year 1717. 

Couperin was a prolific composer of keyboard works for the harpsichord, publishing during his later life 4 volumes of pieces numbering some 230 works.  Although it is undoubted that Couperin must have composed and improvised many pieces for the organ in his role as the organist of Saint Gervais and the Chapelle Royale, it is a tragic loss that only one collection of his organ music survives today, the “Pièces d’ Orgue Consistantes en Deux Masses,” which first appeared in print in 1689-90, when Couperin was only about 21 years old. Although he was of a very young age, the work was approved by one of his also-famous teachers, Michel Richard Delalande who wrote that the music was “very beautiful and worthy of being given to the public.” Of the two masses in this volume, it is the Mass for the Parishes that is most frequently performed.  Following the traditional practice of the times, this was an alternatim mass based on the Gregorian chant themes from the Missa Cunctipotens.  The Mass for the Convents which we hear tonight, while equally beautiful, is based, not on Gregorian melodies, but on themes of Couperin’s own creation and represents a somewhat more daring departure from traditional practice, although it still preserves the alternatim style of alternating couplets intended to be interspersed with the sung chants of the Mass.  It is possible that Couperin chose to write his Mass for the Convents based upon no definite chant because French monastic communities of the time maintained their own non-standard body of chant music, making it difficult to compose a chant-based setting that would have more than the most extremely local use.  

 


5th Sunday after Pentecost – 1 Jul 12

Opening Voluntary: Verset and Prelude on HYMN TO JOY – Gerhard Krapf (1924-2008)

 At the Communion: Larghetto – Johann W. Franck (1641-1688)

 Closing Voluntary: Hymn and Variation on MATERNA – S. A. Ward (1848-1903) / T. Tertius Noble (1867-1953)

The Opening Voluntary,  a Verset and a Prelude on the hymntune, HYMN TO JOY, is the composition of Gerhard W. Krapf (1924-2008).  Krapf was born in the German town of Meissenheim, and after serving in the German army in World War II, he studied music in Karlsruhe.  He came later to the United States, and in 1951, he became the student of Paul Piskf (1893-1990) at the Universtity of Redlands in California. Paul Pisk was himself a student of the famous Arnold Schönberg (1874-1951).  Krapf was allowed to settle in the United States in 1953 and taught subsequently at several  educational institutions in this country including at the University of Iowa from 1961 to 1977.  He subsequently moved to the University of Alberta in Edmonton in Canada where he remained until his retirement.  He died in Edmonton, Alberta in 2008 at the age of 83.  The hymntune, HYMN TO JOY, is the melody for our entrance hymn today, #376 in The Hymnal, 1982, set to the popular text of Henry J. Van Dyke (1852-1933) of “Joyful, joyful, we adore thee.”  This familiar tune was composed by Ludwig Van Beethoven (1770-1827) and appears as the concluding chorus in his famous Ninth Symphony as the tune for a portion of the German Poem  “An die Freude” by the Friedrich Schiller (1759-1805).

The music, At the Communion, is a short piece by German, Baroque composer, Johann Wolfgang Franck (1641-ca 1710). The composition was probably originally a vocal solo (now lost) with a figured bass accompaniment. It was edited for organ by David Johnson (1922-1987), the former organist of Trinity Cathedral Phoenix and professor of music at ASU.

The Closing Voluntary presents the hymntune MATERNA, composed by S. A. Ward (1848-1903),  and is known most popularly as the tune for the national song “O Beautiful for Spacious Skies.” The short alternative harmonization is by  the well-known Episcopal organist and composer,  T. Tertius Noble (1867-1953). It is offered here in honor of the observance of Independence Day this week.  This day is an official observance of the Episcopal Church,  and the collect for which is found on page 242 of The Book of Common Prayer (1979).


Whitsunday, The Feast of Pentecost – 27 May 12

Opening Voluntary:  Prelude on Komm, heiliger Geist, Herre Gott – Dietrich Buxtehude (1637/9 – 1707)

At the Communion: Prelude on Komm, Gott Schöpfer, heiliger Geist – Johann Pachelbel (1653-1706)

Closing Voluntary: Prelude on Komm, Gott Schöpfer, heiliger Geist – J. S. Bach (1685-1750)

The Opening Voluntary  for today is based on the German Chorale Tune, Komm, heiliger Geist, Herre Gott.  Both the tune for this chorale as well as the text for the first Stanza are by unknown persons.  This hymn, known in English translation as “Come Holy Ghost, God and Lord,” first appeared in 1524 in the Erfurt Gesangbuch, one of the first hymnals of the German reformation and which consisted, in major part, of hymns previously printed as “single sheet” publications known usually in English as “broadsheets.”  The first verse of the chorale is a versification of the antiphon Veni Sancte Spiritus, whilst the 2d and 3d are compositions of Martin Luther. Of the 26 hymn texts in the publication, 18 were the creation of Martin Luther, either in whole or in part.  This particular chorale was a popular subject for arrangement by German composers.  Today’s version is chorale prelude in which the melody appears in the highest/treble line in an ornamented form, accompanied by lower imitative voices in manuals and pedals.  It is typical of many other compositions of this type by German composer Dietrich Buxtehude (1637/9 – 1707).   In translation, the first stanza of the hymn reads:

Come, Holy Ghost, God and Lord, with all your graces now outpoured on each believer’s mind and heart; Your fervent love to them impart. Lord, by the brightness of your light, in holy faith your Church unite; from every land and every tongue, this to your praise, O Lord, our God, be sung: Alleluia! Alleluia!

The pieces At the Communion and The Closing Voluntary are both based on another German chorale, Komm, Gott Schöpfer, heliger Geist, sung today as our Offertory Hymn (#501, The Hymnal 1982). Both the tune and the text of this metrical version derive from the 9th Century Latin plainsong hymn, Veni Creator Spiritus, found in The Hymnal, 1982 as #504, attributed to the 9th century Benedictine monk and later Archbishop of Mainz, Rabanus Maurus (c. 780-856).  In the Latin rite, this hymn has traditionally been appointed for the offices of Terce and Vespers on the feast of Pentecost.  In the post-reformation Anglican liturgy, it appears in the Ordering of Priests and the Consecration of Bishops in the Prayerbook of 1662.  Luther’s metrical version, which we sing today, dates again to 1524 and also was first published in the Erfurt Gesangbuch.  The organ  settings performed today were written as chorale preludes by Johann Pachelbel  (1653-1706) and Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750).  Although based on the very same hymn, they are vastly different treatments of this chorale melody.  The version by Pachelbel sets a mood of quite contemplation, whilst the version by Bach is one of jubilant celebration.


Easter 7 – 20 May 2012

Opening Voluntary: Prelude on HYFRYDOL – George A. Lynn (1915-1989)

At the Communion: Adagio – Heinrich Schütz (1585-1672)

Closing Voluntary: “Fugue in D Major á 3” – Georg Friedrich Händel (1685-1759)

The Opening Voluntary is a brief prelude on the popular hymn tune HYFRYDOL sung today as our Offertory hymn to the text “Alleluia! Sing to Jesus.” (The Hymnal 1982, #460) This Welsh hymn tune was composed by Rowland Huw Prichard in 1844 before he was 20 years of age and was included in his book Cyfaill y Cantorion (The Singer’s Friend).  This was a handbook to the Lutheran Hymnal and was a publication intended for the use of children.  It appears in The Hymnal 1982 with the text of “Alleluia! Sing to Jesus” as well as the tune to accompany “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling” (The Hymnal 1982, #657). One of a number of Welsh hymns in use today (we sing another Welsh hymn today as our entrance Hymn as the tune LLANFAIR (#214, “Hail the day that sees him rise,”), it ranks as one of the most popular hymn tunes in The Episcopal Church in current use. The setting at the Opening Voluntary is from a collection of pieces by George A. Lynn (1915-1989), To God on High, and is a quiet and reflective meditation on this usually-celebratory tune.  G. A. Lynn taught at Westminster Choir College as well as the University of Colorado in Boulder. He was also the organist of several church in Denver and Colorado Springs.

The piece At the Communion is a short composition by the famous German, early- Baroque composer, Heinrich Schütz (1585-1672).  This piece is a transcription of a work originally composed for secular use but follows a common practice of organ transcription of the day in which secular keyboard pieces were often employed in the services of the church for incidental music.

The Closing Voluntary, the “Fugue in D Major á 3,” comes from a set of six pieces published as a collection attributed to the famous German-English Composer, Georg Friedrich Händel and usually known as his “Six Little Fugues.”  As to whether these fugues actually were the genuine works of Händel himself or another composer working in a similar style remains a musicological question to this day. All six of these works are fugal and typically English in style, and all are in 3 voices or “á 3.” The particular piece played at our closing voluntary today in D major (one of two works in this key from this collection) is somewhat unusual for fugal composition in that is is in a triple meter, meaning that there are three beats to a measure, a convention that we typically associate with dance music such as waltzes.  It also incorporates a musical device of the day known as the “hemiola” in which two measures in triple meter are converted to three measures of duple (2 beat) meter.  This will occur twice in this work, most notably in the final cadence. These works were first published in London in the year 1776.


Palm Sunday ~ Sunday of the Passion – 1 April 02

At Communion: Herzlich tut mich verlangen – Dietrich Buxtehude (1637-1707)

Hymn Prelude: Herzlich tut much verlangen – Johann Gottfried Walther (1684-1748)

By long custom, the organ plays a decreasing role in the successive pre-Easter liturgies of Holy Week until the Solemn Liturgy of Good Friday when the organ falls silent before the mystery of the Crucifixion. After this, it will not be heard again until the announcement of the Resurrection in the celebration of the Solemn Mass at the Great Vigil of Easter.   Although today’s liturgy begins in a celebratory manner with the processional re-enactment of the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem acclaimed by the masses as the Davidic Messiah, the mood of elation quickly sours,  as the story falls precipitously into the recitation of the Markan passion narrative.  In keeping with the increasing solemnity of today’s observance, the incidental organ music today is limited to just two settings of the classic passion hymn, “O Sacred Head” (#168, The Hymnal 1982) traditionally sung to the tune, Herzlich tut mich verlangen, by Hans Leo Hassler (1564-1612).  The text of the hymn we sing today derives originally from a stanza of a long passion poem in Latin that begins with the words “Salve caput crucentatum,” While traditionally attributed to Bernard of Clairvaux, (1091-1153), more recent scholarship has  identified it as work of mediaeval poet, Arnulf of Louvain (d. 1250) a Cistercian and Abbot of Villers in Brabant.

Salve, caput cruentatum,
Totum spinis coronatum,
Conquassatum, vulneratum,
Arundine sic verberatum 
Facie sputis illita.

Hail, head covered in blood,
all crowned with thorns,
battered, wounded,
beaten in this way with a reed,
with your face smeared with spit.

                  –Arnulf of Louvain, Abbott of Villers, d. 1250

This poem was later re-worked into a German hymn by Paul Gerhardt (1608-1676) as O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden.  This well-known hymn has been re-translated many times into English since the 18th century.  The version in use in The Hymnal 1982 is a composite of a translation by Robert Seymour Bridges (1844-1930) for stanzas 1-3 and 5 and James Waddell Alexander (1804-1859) for stanza 4.

O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden
Voll Schmerz und voller Hohn,
O Haupt, zum Spott gebunden
Mit einer Dornenkron;
O Haupt, sonst schön gezieret
Mit höchster Ehr’ und Zier,
Jetzt aber höchst schimpfieret:
Gegrüßet sei’st du mir!
 
O sacred head, sore wounded,
defiled and put to scorn; 
O kingly head, surrounded
with mocking crown of thorn;
what sorrow mars thy grandeur?
Can death thy bloom deflower?
O countenance whose splendor
the hosts of heaven adore!

                    – Paul Gerhardt, (tr. Robert Seymour Bridges)

The setting heard at the communion was composed by North German organist, Dietrich Buxtehude (c. 1637-1707).  As is characteristic of many of his chorale preludes, the melody, or cantus firmus, appears in the highest voice in a highly ornamented form.  It is accompanied in the manual and pedal in three further parts in a counterpoint and musical imitation.  The second version heard today is a more straightforward composition by Johann Gottfried Walther (1684-1748) in which the melody is accompanied by slow descending triplet (three-note) figures that form, somewhat counterintuitively, a plaintive, limpingly dance-like and ironic background to the chorale melody. This version will be used to introduce the congregational singing of today’s final hymn. Our liturgy today closes with a period of silent contemplation instead of the usual voluntary.


Historic Organs – The Cliquot Organ of the Church of St. Gervais, Paris

Although the beauty of François Couperin‘s compositions comes through, even when played on an organ like the St. Mary’s Whalley which is distinctly different from the French Classical Organ, there is a definite excitement and thrill to hear the original.  This brief You-tube video, while a little difficult to watch due to the videography, allows a brief listen to the restored Cliquot organ of the Church of St. Gervais in Paris where François Couperin served as organist and where he was actively playing when he wrote the Masses for the Parishes and the convents.  The segment present in the video gives a flavor of the powerful reeds of the organ in a piece played on a registration known as the “Grand Jeu” a chorus of principal and reed stops without the use of high-pitched mixtures.

For “real” organ aficionados, the current disposition of the St. Gervais Organ is as follows:

Grand Orgue

  • Montre 16″
  • Bourdon 16′
  • Montre 8′
  • Bourdon 8′
  • Prestant 4′
  • Flute 4′
  • Grosse Tierce 3 1/5′
  • Nasard 2 2/3′
  • Doublette 2′
  • Tierce 1 3/5′
  • Fourniture III
  • Cymbale III
  • Cornet V
  • Trompete 8′
  • Voix humaine 8′
  • Clairon 4′

 Positif

  • Bourdon 8′
  • Prestant 4′
  • Flute 4′
  • Nasard 2 2/3′
  • Doublette 2′
  • Tierce 1 3/5′
  • Larigot 1 1/3′
  • Cymbale III
  • Cromorne 8′

 Recit

  • Cornet V

Echo

  • Bourdon 8′
  • Flute 4′
  • Cymbale III
  • Cornet V

Pédale

  • Flute 8′
  • Flute 4′
  • Trompette 8′

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