Organ Voluntary: Chorale Prelude on Cælestis Urbs Jerusalem – Flor Peeters (1913-1986)
Cælestis urbs Jerusalem,
Beata pacis visio,
Quæ celsa de viventibus
Saxis ad astra toleris,
Sponsæque ritu cingeris
Mille angelorum milibus
Thou heavenly, new Jerusalem,
Vision of peace in prophet’s dream!
With living stones built up on high,
And rising to yon starry sky;
In bridal pomp thy form is crowned,
Yea, with thousand, thousand angels round!
Urbs beata Jerusalem
dicta pacis visio
Quæ construir in cælis
vivis ex lapidibus
Et angelis coronata
ut sponsata comite.
Blessed city of Jerusalem,
called “vision of peace,”
Built in heaven
out of living stone
And crowned by the angels
like a bride for her consort.
Today’s organ voluntary is a chorale prelude based on the melody of the Gregorian hymn, “Cælestis Urbs Jerusalem.” The original text is anonymous and may date from as early as the 6th century of the Christian era. Originally, the text (see above) was “Urbs beata Jerusalem,” but was altered under Pope Urban VIII (1568-1644) by a group of correctors. In its original form (see above), it was later translated and adapted by hymn writer and Anglican priest, John Mason Neale (1818-1866) and appears in The Hymnal 1982 as #519, “Blessed city, heavenly Salem.” The composer of the voluntary was Flor Peeters (1913-1986), a renowned Belgian composer and teacher of organ music.
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.