Tag Archives: Dutch

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.

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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.


5th Sunday in Lent – 25 March 2012

Opening Voluntary: Kyrie Dominicale 4. Toni – Samuel Scheidt (1587-1624)

At the Communion: “Da Jesus an den Kreuze stund” – Samuel Scheidt (1587-1624)

Closing Voluntary: Selections from “Mein junges Leben hat ein End” – Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck (1562-1621)

Our last stop on our Lenten early organ music tour takes us this week to the protestant northern Netherlands and to north Germany with the works of two musicians: Dutch organist and composer, Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck (1562-1621) and his student, German organist and composer, Samuel Scheidt (1587-1624).  During the difficult early Reformation period, the Netherlands and Germany took different solutions to the use of organ music in the church.  Under the influence of Calvinism, organ music was banned from use during the church service in the Netherlands, but was permitted before and after the service as well as at at other times in musical recitals.  This stands in stark contrast to England which, under similar Calvinist attitudes, ultimately destroyed all of her organs and the situation in Germany where organ music continued uninterrupted as a vital part of liturgical practice.  Although a noted organist and composer in his own right, Sweelinck was perhaps even more profoundly influential as a teacher, particularly of north German students, counting Scheidt, Scheidemann, Seifert and Schildt among his distinguished pupils. Such was his influence in Germany that he was known there as the “maker of organists.” Owing to the peculiarities of practice in the protestant Netherlands, Sweelinck was employed not by the church but by the city magistrates of Amsterdam. This secular employment was perhaps one of the reasons that Sweelinck composed significant amounts of both sacred and secular organ music. It is from his secular compositions for organ that we hear two sections of his “Mein junges Leben hat ein End” (My young life is ending) as our closing voluntary.

My young life is ending, as are also my joy and suffering;

Let my poor soul leave my body quickly.

My life can no longer stand

It is weak and must pass away

and along with it all my suffering. 

The situation was, however, quite different in Lutheran north Germany, where music and the organ continued to be a vital part of liturgical practice.  In this region, one finds a more seamless evolution from music based on Latin chants, such as our Opening-Voluntary Kyrie, to gradually larger numbers of pieces based on vernacular chorale (hymn) tunes, such as the selection at the communion based on the Lutheran chorale, Da Jesus an dem Kreuze stund.

When on the cross the Savior hung.

And that sore load that on Him weighed

With bitter pangs his nature wrung,

Seven words amid his pain He said;

Oh let them well to heart be laid!  – Johann Böschenstein (1472-1540) translation by Catherine Winkworth (1827-1878)

Suggestions for Musical Listening

As you listen today to the selections at the Opening and Closing voluntaries and the music At the Communion, make a mental note of how similar, in many ways, the sounds of these pieces composed for very different purposes, are.  The Kyrie by Scheidt clearly draws inspiration from chant music, but in its imitative form is clearly of a similar style as the early chorale-based piece At the Communion.  Perhaps even more surprising is how “churchy” the secular piece by Sweelinck sounds to our ears.  Just how much “distance” there should exist between music for secular and sacred purposes remains an unanswered, but still oft-debated, question for us today.


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