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


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.

2d Sunday in Advent – 9 Dec 12


Opening Voluntary: Prelude on Freu dich sehr – Alfred Fedak (1953-)

At Communion: Bereden väg för Herran – G. Winston Cassler (1906-1990)

Closing Voluntary: Freu dich sehr – Johann Pachelbel (1653-1706)

The opening and closing voluntaries today are based on the tune of our offertory hymn, “Comfort, comfort ye my people” (#67, The Hymnal 1982). The text was written by Johannes Olearius (1611-1684) and is a meditation on Isaiah 40:1-8.  Olearius was a German Protestant theologian and hymn writer. He began his university studies in theology at Wittenberg University in 1629 and became part of the theology faculty in 1638. Olearius wrote a commentary on the entire bible and was the editor of the Geistliche Singe-Kunst (Leipzig, 1671) one of the largest and most important German hymn books of the 17th century. Comprised of over a thousand hymns, more than three hundred were Olearius’ own works. The tune with which the hymn is paired, known as PSALM 42 or Freu dich sehr, was likely composed by Louis Bourgeois (1510-1560) and first appeared in the Calvinist hymnal, Pseaumes Octantetrois de David first published in Geneva in 1551. In German Lutheran tradition, the melody came to be associated with the text “Freu dich sehr, O meine Seele,” and is, thus, often known by that name. The settings played for the Opening Voluntary are selections from a Partita (a collection of variations on a tune) by American composer and organist, Alfred Victor Fedak (b. 1953). Fedak is a graduate of Hope College and holds a master’s degree in organ performance from Montclair State University in New Jersey.  He is presently the organist at Westminster Presbyterian Church, Capitol Hill, in Albany, NY.  The concluding voluntary on the same tune is a setting by south German, Baroque organist and composer, Johann Pachelbel (1653-1706).

 The short composition at the communion is based on our final hymn for today, “Prepare the way, O Zion” (#65, The Hymnal 1982).  One of the great Advent hymns of the Church of Sweden, this hymn has been in continuous use for more than 200 years in that country. Written by Frans Mikael Franzén (1772-1847), it was first published in a trial collection of hymns in 1812 before its inclusion in the Church of Sweden’s Den Svenska Psalmboken of 1819. Like “Comfort, comfort ye my people,” the hymn is based on the biblical text of Isaiah 40 as well as Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem in Matthew 21. The hymn came to the United States in the Lutheran Service Book and Hymnal of 1958 and made its first appearance in The Episcopal Church in The Hymnal 1982. The tune, Beredem väg för Herran, is by an unknown composer and first appeared in print in the 1697 version of Den Svenska Psalmboken.  The setting at the communion was composed by American organist G. Winston Cassler (1906-1990).  Cassler studied at Oberlin College and was a pupil in England of Sir Ernest Bullock. Cassler was professor of music at St. Olaf’s College in Northfield, Minnesota until his retirement.

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