Tag Archives: George Calvin Hampton

Sixth Sunday after Pentecost – 29 Jun 13

Frederick William Faber

Frederick William Faber

Opening Voluntary: Intermezzo – Eric H. Thiman (1900-1975)


There’s a wideness in God’s mercy #469 – ST. HELENA

The text for the offertory hymn today, “There’s a wideness in God’s mercy,” is selected and adapted from a 19th century hymn by Frederick William Faber, born 1814 in Calverly in the West Riding of Yorkshire.  He enrolled in Balliol College at Oxford in 1832 where he became acquainted with the Anglo-Catholic preaching of the Oxford Movement that was beginning to develop within the Church of England. Faber himself received Holy Orders in the Church of England in 1839.  In 1843, he became rector at a church in Elton where he introduced catholic practices such as auricular confession and the use of the sanctoral cycle. There was, however, a strong Methodist presence in the parish, and a number of disaffected persons began to pack his church each Sunday in order to ridicule his catholic leanings.  After a prolonged period of struggle, Faber left Elton and entered the Roman Church in 1845. He is remembered particularly in Anglican and Episcopal churches for his hymns, of which several are included in The Hymnal, 1982, perhaps the most famous of which is #558, “Faith of our fathers!”

Today’s offertory hymn, #469, “There’s a wideness in God’s mercy,” contains only six quatrains from a larger work published in Faber’s Oratory Hymns of 1854.  It is believed that this hymn was first used during parish missions conducted in England as well as in Ireland which was still wheeling from the great potato famine in which as many as a million died and a million more emigrated.  In that setting, such strophes as “There is no place where Earth’s sorrows are more felt than up in heaven” take on a particular poignancy. Faber’s text soon became popular in the hymnals of many different denominations, and this hymn was even translated into Swedish.  Hardly any of the borrowers selected the same stanzas for their use, and it was paired with various tunes.  The tune we use today, ST. HELENA, was newly published in The Hymnal, 1982 and was composed by Calvin Hampton in 1978 specifically for this text.  The tune name honors the Sisters of the Order of St. Helena who were resident for a number of years at Hampton’s church in New York.



21st Sunday after Pentecost – 21 Oct 2012

Calvin Hampton

Opening Voluntary: “Interlude” from Sonatina for Worship No. 5. – Robert W. Jones

 At the Communion: Prelude – Earnest H. Smith (1862-?)

 Closing Voluntary: Fantasia aus D – Johann Krieger (1651-1735)

Composer Spotlight – George Calvin Hampton (1938-1984)

This Sunday sees the return of the musical setting of the Nicene Creed (S-105) by contemporary Episcopal composer, Calvin Hampton. Hampton was born 31 December 1938 in the small borough of Kittaning in western Pennsylvania and grew up in Ravenna, Ohio.  A graduate of Oberlin Conservatory and Syracuse University, Hampton was, from 1963 to 1983, organist in New York City at Calvary Episcopal Church, Gramercy Park.  Musically, Hampton was a noted 20th century composer of both church and secular music. In addition to his regular work at Calvary, Hampton instituted a recital series known as “Fridays at Midnight,” which, from 1974 to shortly before his death in 1983, became one of the most popular organ recital series in American history. Hampton died tragically in 1984 at the height of his musical abilities and the early age of only 45 of complications of AIDs.

Although a noted composer of non-church music, Hampton is especially remembered in The Episcopal Church for his compositions and arrangements in The Hymnal 1982, which consist of six hymns as well as three pieces of liturgical music, including our only non-chant version of the contemporary-language creed.  Published originally in 1974, his creed was originally written for organ, four-part choir and congregation.  As The Hymnal 1982 was intended  for congregations, the choral parts were omitted in this publication. Musically, the setting is characterized by the composer’s use of a single melodic theme which he expands and contracts to fit the irregularities of the text. The organ accompaniment (except for the contrasting section of “he suffered death and was buried”) consists of a constantly flowing pattern of parallel sixths in the left hand over a fairly-steady pedal and a right hand that doubles the melody at unison or in parallel thirds.

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