Tag Archives: Louis Bourgeois

Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost – 15 Sep 13

Lorenzo Perosi

Lorenzo Perosi

Opening Voluntary: Chorale Prelude on Herr Gott, dic loben alle wir (OLD HUNDREDTH) – Johann Pachelbel (1653-1706

Motet at the Gospel: Laudate Dominum – Lorenzo Perosi (1872-1956)

Today’s opening voluntary is based on the tune of our final hymn (#377 “All people that on earth do dwell ”), OLD HUNDREDTH. Although one of the most famous traditional hymn tunes, the author, often given as Louis Bourgeois (1510-1560), is actually unknown.  The tune first appears in Théodore Beza’s Pseumes octante trois de David, published in Geneva in 1551. In that hymnal, it was paired with a metrical version of psalm 134, but it was later, in English psalters, combined with Psalm 100 which gave it its hymn tune name. It is difficult now, given the extreme familiarity of the tune, to understand aesthetically how it came to be so popular for English, Scottish and later American churchgoers, but this tune somehow combined qualities that embedded it deeply in the hearts of our ancestors in the faith.  The popularity of the tune saw it translated also into the German chorale tradition in the form of an entirely different hymn, Herr Gott, dic loben alle wir  (Lord God, we all praise you), which by the content of the first line might seem similar to the English text but is, in actuality, a hymn of praise for the holy angels that has often been used for the feast of Michaelmas.  The version at the opening voluntary today is the composition of south German Baroque organ master, Johann Pachelbel (1653-1706). Compositionally, it is a work in three voices.  In the upper voices, the opening phrase of the tune is taken as a fugal subject, beginning in the lower of the two lines.  It is followed by the same subject taken at a superior interval of a fifth and continues alternating themes in an ornamental fashion on the further subjects of the tune.  The plain cantus firmus (or melody) in ½ tempo is assigned to the pedal base line.

Following the reading of today’s Gospel lesson, the Schola Cantorum choir sings Lorenzo Perosi’s (1872-1956) motet, Laudate Dominum omnes gentes. An accompanied work in two equal voices, this work presents the Latin text of Psalm 117 with a concluding Gloria Patri.  As a Latin psalm, it derives from the Vulgate tradition of using as a base text the Septuagint (Greek) translation of the Old Testament and thus differs somewhat from our prayerbook and biblical psalters which are translations of the Hebrew originals. Perosi was an Italian composer of sacred music and personal friend of Cardinal Guiseppe Sarto who secured his appointment as director of the Sistine Choir.  Five years later, Sarto was elected Pope Pius X and continued his patronage of Perosi. Shortly after his coronation, Pius X published a Motu Proprio Tra le sollecitudini of which Perosi was a co-writer. This 1903 document directed the immediate re-instatement of Gregorian chant in Roman Catholic churches worldwide.  Although his actual directorship was interrupted at times for health reasons, Perosi continued his position as Perpetual Director of the Sistine choir until his death, over 50 years later.


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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