Tag Archives: Catherine Winkworth

1st Sunday of Advent – 1 Dec 13

Philipp Nicolai

Philipp Nicolai

Opening Voluntary: Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme (BWV 645) – J. S. Bach (1685-1750)

Choral Introit: “Unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul” – H. Alexander Matthews (1879-1973)

Today’s organ voluntary is based on the great German hymn, Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme, which we sing in English translation as our entrance hymn today (“Sleepers wake! A voice astounds us,” # 61, The Hymnal 1982). This classic hymn, sometimes known as “King of Chorales,” was both written and composed by 16th century Lutheran pastor, Philipp Nicolai (1556-1608). The hymn was written during the time of a deadly epidemic that raged in his town of Unna, Westphalia from July of 1597 to January of 1598.  Claiming some 1300 victims in total, the pestilence resulted in as many as 30 burials per day, most of which Nicolai could observe from his home that overlooked the churchyard. In such dark times, it was not surprising that Nicolai’s thoughts turned to death and the contemplation of the “last things.”  Nicolai reported that he was, at this time, most concerned with “the contemplation of the noble, sublime, doctrine of Eternal Life, obtained through the Blood of Christ. This I allowed to dwell in my heart day and night, and searched the Scriptures for what they revealed on this matter.” It is hardly surprising that the full German original is, thus, filled with scriptural illusions (from Isaiah, Ezekiel, The Revelation to John, 1st Corinthians and the Gospel of Matthew). It is most obviously related to the parable of the wise virgins from the Gospel of Matthew as evidenced by Nicolai’s subtitle “Of the Voice at Midnight, and the Wise Virgins who meet their Heavenly Bridegroom.” The text and tune were first published in an appendix to his meditations in the year 1599.  It first appeared in English in the Lyra Davidica of 1708, a hymnal published in London of translations from German and Latin.  It was made popular to English listeners as part of Felix Mendelssohn’s (1809-1847) “St. Paul” oratorio which premiered in English translation in Liverpool in the year 1836.  Although most often sung to the translation by the famous Catherine Winkworth (1827-1878), the editors of The Hymnal 1982, commissioned a new translation by Carl Daw which they felt conveyed more of the vigor of the German original.

Our opening voluntary is the famous “Schübler” chorale version (BWV 645) of Wachet auf, Bach’s own transcription of his setting from his Cantata 140, composed originally for the 27th Sunday after Trinity. The name “Schübler” is that of the engraver and publisher of the 1748 collection of organ transcriptions. Originally for solo voice and orchestral accompaniment, Bach sets the chorale tune in the solo tenor line accompanied by the main orchestral motive in the soprano line and a correlating base in the pedal.  Our entrance hymn, #61,“Sleepers wake! A voice astounds us,” is the chorale harmonization from the same cantata, an isorhythmic ( in even rhythm) form of the original unevenly rhythmic composition (found as #62 in The Hymna 1982) by Nicolai.

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10th Sunday after Pentecost – 28 Jul 13

 

georg-neumark

Georg Neumark

Opening Voluntary: Chorale Prelude on Wer nur den lieben Gott – Anton Wilhelm Leupold (1868-1940)

Both the text and the tune of our final hymn (#635, Hymnal 1982), Wer nur den lieben Gott, were written and composed by the same individual, Georg Neumark (1621-1681). Created during the period in Europe of The Thirty Years War, it comes from a time, not unlike our own, when social and economic upheavals had produced deplorable conditions in many places. Neumark was traveling from Magdeburg to Konigsberg to study at the university there in 1641 when he was attacked and robbed of nearly all his possessions except his prayerbook and a small amount of money sewn into his clothing.  He spent much of the next two years looking unsuccessfully for employment until he found a position as a tutor in Kiel where he was eventually able to save enough money to attend university. He studied in Konigsberg for 5 years before once again losing all that he had in a fire.  It was just after finding work as a tutor in Kiel that he composed this hymn. Neumark later wrote, “This good fortune, which came so suddenly and, as it were, from heaven, so rejoiced my heart that I wrote my hymn, Wer nur den lieben Gott, to the glory of my God on that first day.” He gave this hymn a special subtitle reading, “a hymn of consolation, that God will preserve his own in his own time; after the saying, ‘Cast thy burden upon the Lord and he shall sustain thee.’ Psalm 55:24” In spite of a life filled with many tragedies, Neumark went on to write many more hymns expressing his absolute trust in God.

Wer nur den lieben Gott became especially popular through the Baroque era, and J. S. Bach (1685-1750) included it in no fewer than eight cantatas and also wrote several chorale preludes based on it. Catherine Winkworth (1827-1878) published an initial English translation of the hymn in her Lyra Germanica in 1855.  This first attempt, however, was in a different meter than the original and was, thus, unsingable with Neumark’s melody.  She later radically revised her work in a new translation and published it a second time in The Chorale Book for England (1863) where it was reunited with Neumark’s original tune. This version has had extensive use, especially in American Lutheranism, from the last quarter of the 19th century. The Hymnal 1982 employs, slightly revised, the first and last stanzas of the original, seven-stanza hymn.

The chorale prelude played today as our opening voluntary 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.


9th Sunday after Pentecost – 21 Jul 13

Liebster Jesu

Opening Voluntary: Chorale Prelude on Liebster Jesu, wir sind hier (BWV 731) – J. S. Bach (1685-1750)

Today’s opening voluntary is a chorale prelude on the hymn tune, Liebster Jesu, sung today as our offertory hymn, “Blessed Jesus, at thy word” (#440, Hymnal 1982). The original version of the tune was a composition of Johann Rudolph Ahle (1625-1673) and first appeared in 1664 paired with the text of an advent hymn.  Ahle was born in Mülhausen, Thuringia and studied theology at the University of Erfurt from 1645-1649.  He became the cantor of The Church of St. Andrew in Erfurt in 1646 and was later appointed organist of the Church of St. Blasius in Mülhausen in 1654.  Ahle’s  original tune, a somewhat florid and soloistic work, was later altered to a form more appropriate for congregational singing and was paired with the present text of Tobias Clausnitzer (1619-1684), Liebster Jesu, wir sind hier. It was republished in that revised form in 1687 with Clausnitzer’s previously-published text of 1663.  It entered into English hymnody in the 19th century through the translations of Catherine Winkworth (1827-1878) and was first published in her work, Lyra Germanica of 1861. It was later included in The Chorale Book for England in 1863 along with its associated melody.

Clausnitzer’s German text was originally subtitled “before the sermon” and contains references to and quotes from other portions of the liturgy.  The Sursum Corda is eluded to in the first stanza, “dass die Herzen von der Erden/ Ganz zu dir gezogen werden,” freely translated into English as “that our hearts from the earth are wholly drawn to thee.” This is lost, however, in the poetical translation of Winkworth that we use today.  There is a more direct quote in stanza three, “Light of Light, from God proceeding” from the Nicene Creed.  The text and tune were later parodied by baroque period composer, Benjamin Schmolk (1672-1737), who retained only the first line of Clausnitzer’s hymn, and created the rest of a new text on a baptismal theme.  One stanza of this later work appeared in The Hymnal of 1940, but it was not retained in our present Hymnal 1982.

In the baroque period, composers, particularly in the Germanic Lutheran countries, began to set chorale melodies for the organ.  The original purpose of these “chorale preludes,” as they are known, is not absolutely clear.  Some of them may have been used as introductions to congregational singing, while others were more likely to have been intended to function as free-standing compositions.  Musicologists today describe at least eight different types of treatment of the chorale in these works.  Today’s version of Liebster Jesu by J. S. Bach (1685-1750) is of the “ornamented cantus firmus” type in which the chorale melody (cantus firmus), usually (and in this setting) in the top voice, is presented in a highly ornamented  form supported by a relatively simpler harmonic accompaniment.


1st Sunday in Advent – 2 Dec 12

Philipp_Nicolai

Philipp Nicolai

Opening Voluntary: Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme – J. S. Bach (1685-1750)

 At Communion: Wake, Awake – Albert H.  Beck (1894-1962)

 Closing Voluntary: Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme – A. W. Leupold (1868-1940)

Today’s incidental organ music is all based on the great German hymn, Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme, which we sing in English translation as our entrance hymn today (“Sleepers wake! A voice astounds us,” # 62, The Hymnal 1982). This classic hymn, sometimes known as “King of Chorales,” was both written and composed by 16th century Lutheran pastor, Philipp Nicolai (1556-1608). The hymn was written during the time of a deadly epidemic that raged in his town of Unna, Westphalia from July of 1597 to January of 1598.  Claiming some 1300 victims in total, the pestilence resulted in as many as 30 burials per day, most of which Nicolai could observe from his home that overlooked the churchyard. In such dark times, it was not surprising that Nicolai’s thoughts turned to death and the contemplation of the “last things.”  Nicolai reported that he was, at this time, most concerned with “the contemplation of the noble, sublime, doctrine of Eternal Life, obtained through the Blood of Christ. This I allowed to dwell in my heart day and night, and searched the Scriptures for what they revealed on this matter.” It is hardly surprising that the full German original is, thus, filled with scriptural illusions (from Isaiah, Ezekiel, The Revelation to John, 1st Corinthians and the Gospel of Matthew). It is most obviously related to the parable of the wise virgins from the Gospel of Matthew as evidenced by Nicolai’s subtitle “Of the Voice at Midnight, and the Wise Virgins who meet their Heavenly Bridegroom.” The text and tune were first published in an appendix to his meditations in the year 1599.  It first appeared in English in the Lyra Davidica of 1708, a hymnal published in London of translations from German and Latin.  It was made popular to English listeners as part of Felix Mendelssohn’s (1809-1847) “St. Paul” oratorio which premiered in English translation in Liverpool in the year 1836.  Although most often sung to the translation by the famous Catherine Winkworth (1827-1878), the editors of The Hymnal 1982, commissioned a new translation by Carl Daw that they felt conveyed more of the vigor of the German original.

The Opening Voluntary is the famous “Schübler” chorale version (BWV 645), Bach’s own transcription of his setting from his Cantata 140, composed originally for the 27th Sunday after Trinity. The name “Schübler” is that of the engraver and publisher of the original 1748 collection. The short version at the communion was published in 1945 and is the original work of 20th century Lutheran musician, Albert H. Beck (1894-1962), a professor at Concordia College in River Forest, IL from 1923 until his retirement.  The closing voluntary is by German organist and composer Anton Wilhelm Leupold, organist at St. Peter’s, Berlin for 40 years until his death in 1940.

 


24th Sunday after Pentecost – 11 Nov 12

Jan Bender

Opening Voluntary: Prelude on Gottes Sohn ist kommen – Jan Bender (1909-1994)

At Communion: Prelude on Gottes Sohn ist kommen – Johannes Petzold (1912-1985)

Closing Voluntary: Allegretto – Georg Böhm (1661-1733)

Today’s opening voluntary and voluntary at communion are both based on the Moravian hymn, Gottes Sohn ist kommen, which we sing today as our offertory hymn (#53, Hymnal 1982). Written by Moravian bishop, Johann Roh (1487-1547), it was first published in 1544.  The tune with which the text has been paired since its first publication, however, is at least a century older and is first found in a Czech manuscript from 1410 and was used in Unitas Fratram (Moravian) congregations from their very earliest days.  Both text and tune represent a welcome expansion of Episcopal hymnody to include texts and tunes from non-English musical traditions. Originally a hymn of 9 stanzas, the Hymnal 1982 selects four and uses the translation of English hymnologist and translator, Catherine Winkworth (1827-1878).  The setting for the opening voluntary was composed by Jan Bender (1909-1994) and published in 1980 in a fourth volume of hymn preludes during the time in which he lived in the US.  A native of Holland, Bender moved, after the death of his father, to Lübeck at the age of 13, when he began his organ studies.  He became a student of Hugo Distler (1908-1942) and was later drafted into the German military in World War II. He was made a prisoner of war in 1944 and interred in a prison camp in France before his release home a year later, when he returned to his work in church music.  Bender came to the United States in 1960, working first at Concordia Teacher’s College in Nebraska and later at Wittenberg University in Ohio, where he remained until his retirement in 1975. He returned afterwards to Germany where he lived until his death in 1994.  The short setting of the tune played at the communion is by another German composer, Johannes Petzold (1912-1985).  Petzold was Kantor and organist in Bad Berka, Thuringia and a teacher in the church music school at Eisenach.

The closing voluntary for today was composed by Baroque period German organist, Georg Böhm (1661-1773). Böhm became the organist of the principal church of Lüneburg, the Johanneskirche, in 1698 and held this position until his death. Although evidence is somewhat circumstantial, it is believed that he knew and probably tutored the young Johann Sebastian Bach (1687-1750) from 1700-1702. C.P.E Bach (1714-1788) wrote that his father loved and studied Böhm’s work. The piece at the closing voluntary is of uncertain origin and may have originally been intended as a sacred solo, although no vocal part is now known to exist.


13th Sunday after Pentecost – 26 Aug 12

Catherine Winkworth

Opening Voluntary: Liebster Jesu wir sind hier – J. S. Bach (1685-1750)

At the Communion: Liebster Jesu wir sind hier – Marcel Dupré (1886-1971)

Closing Voluntary: Liebster Jesu wir sind hier – J. G. Walther (1684-1748)

Today’s incidental organ music is entirely based on settings of the much-beloved German hymn, Liebster Jesu wir sind hier, (in English translation: Blessed Jesus, at thy word) which appears for the first time in its original form in an Episcopal Church hymnal in our current version of 1982. We sing this tune today as #440 for our entrance hymn.  Previously, in The Hymnal 1940, a similar hymn using the first line and tune had been included.  This latter hymn was what in modern speech we might term a “knock-off” or more charitably an “imitation,” as it had taken the tune and first line of its famous predecessor and then continued with an entirely different text. The German original was first published anonymously in 1663 but was subsequently known to be the work of Tobias Clausnitzer (1619-1684).  Clausnitzer was a Lutheran pastor and studied at the University of Leipzig.  He was later the chaplain of a Swedish Regiment and on the orders of the Swedish general preached the field sermon to celebrate the Peace of Westphalia which ended the 30 Years War (1618-1648), a war fought largely between Protestants and Catholics in the Holy Roman Empire. The tune for the hymn was composed by Johann Rudolph Ahle (1625-1673). Ahle studied theology and music and was born in Mülhausen, Thuringia where he was later organist, cantor and finally burgomaster.   Ahle wrote over 400 sacred arias from which a number of hymn tunes have been adapted.  The English translation which we sing today is that of Catherine Winkworth (1827-1878), who is probably better-remembered than either Clausnitzer or Ahle in her role as a translator of the German chorale tradition.  Born in London in 1827, she was the fourth daughter of Henry Winkworth, a silk merchant. Although she lived most of her life in Manchester, she spent a year in Dresden where she became interested in German hymnody. In 1854, she published Lyrica Germanica, a collection of her translations of German hymns and this was followed by several other publications on this topic.  Catherine was also a prominent 19th century promoter of women’s rights.  She died suddenly of a heart attack near Geneva in 1878 and is buried in Monnetier in the Upper Savoy.  Catherine is commemorated as a Poet in the Episcopal Church calendar of saints  along with hymn writer John Mason Neale (1818-1866) on  August 7th.


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