Monday, 30 October 2017

29th October 2017 Last after Trinity Reformation Sunday

The anthem was "Turn thy face from my sins" by Thomas Attwood (1765 - 1838)  based on Psalm 51 vv 9-11.

Attwood was born in London, the son of a musician in the royal band. He became a chorister in the Chapel Royal by the age of nine.  He was sent abroad to study at the expense of the Prince of Wales (later George IV) who was impressed by his skill at the harpsichord.  He was a favourite pupil of Mozart. He returned to London in 1787.

In 1796 he was made organist of St Paul's and the same year composer of the Chapel Royal.  For George IV's coronation he wrote the anthem "I was glad".

Much of his work is forgotten, only a few anthems regularly performed including "Turn thy face from my sins".

As this was Reformation Sunday, the choir also sang Psalm 46 to a chant written by Martin Luther and "Ein feste Burg" based on psalm 46, melody also by Martin Luther (1483-1546). Luther was a German professor of theology, composer, priest and monk and was a leading light in the Reformation.

Martin Luther by Cranach-restoration
Martin Luther by Lucas Cranach the Elder [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Saturday, 28 October 2017

28th October 2017

Requiem Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924)

Taken from the service sheet.

Gabriel Fauré, born in 1845, was appointed titular organist a La Madeleine, Paris, in 1896 and director of the Paris Conservatoire in 1905.

Fauré started to think about the composition of a requiem in 1885 after the death of his father.  Unlike Berlioz and Verdi he removed the Dies Irae sequence, which he considered over theatrical.  Hence the Offertorium comes up much sooner than is usual in a requiem mass setting.  He permits himself only a brief reference to the “day of wrath” in the Libera me baritone solo.

Gabriel Faure
Gabriel Fauré by John Singer Sargent [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons"

Fauré’s Requiem happily lends itself to a liturgical performance by amateur choirs, being particularly popular with English choirs, with the organ taking the place of the orchestra. This seems to have been recognised early on its life, coinciding as it did with liturgical experimentation in the Church of England in the late 19th and early 20th centuries – experiments now adopted and sanctioned for universal use with the introduction in 1980 of the Alternative Service Book and more recently the Common Worship services. These owe their formation to the proposed 1928 Prayer Book and the English Missal (1933) and their structure, including additions to the Book of Common Prayer, fit best with Fauré’s arrangement of sections. The 1928 Prayer Book and English Missal largely formalised a variety of liturgical practices which had been used in sung Communion services previously.  

The service is an act of worship, to include remembrance of the departed, and may sound something like a similar service in an English church at about the time of Faurés death in November 1924, when sections of his requiem were sung at his funeral at La Madeleine.

22nd October 2017 Trinity 19

"Ave Verum Corpus" Edward Elgar.

Ave verum corpus  is traditionally a communion hymn written by Pope Innocent VI, set to music by many composers over the years.

Edward Elgar (1857-1937) was born in a village close to Worcester.  His father had a music shop in Worcester and tuned pianos. Elgar was mostly self taught.  His influence grew in the 1880's and 1890's  despite his being a Roman Catholic in a largely Anglican community. In 1889 he married one of his pupils, Caroline Alice Roberts, against opposition from her family. She played a major part in his career development.

Elgar is one of the great English composers, who has left a legacy of great orchestral and choral works.

15th October 2017

"Benedictus in C" and "O For A Closer Walk with God" both by C V Stanford.

The Benedictus was composed in 1909 as part of Stanford's Morning and Evening Service together with the Office of Holy Communion Op 115.  Stanford was given the choice to hear one of his services sung at Matins at York Minster in 1923 when he was a guest of the organist, Edward Bairstow. "He chose the one in C", Bairstow recalled, "for he said he had never heard it!"

For more information see 21st May 2017.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

8th October 2017 Trinity 17

Fairest Lord Jesus  German 17th Century, translated by Lilian Sinclair Stevenson (1870-1960)
Silesian folk song (1842) arranged by Martin How.

The music is a folk song from Silesia, a culturally rich area of Europe from the 1st century, now forming part of modern day Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic.  The words are a 17th century German hymn adapted by British organist, composer and choir master Martin How.

Some think this was originally The Crusader's Hymn, sung by German crusaders as they made their way to the Holy Land.

Franz Liszt used the tune in his oratorio The Legend of St Elizabeth as a crusader's march and so the tune became known as St Elizabeth.

Martin How (1931- ) was born in Liverpool, moving to Brighton and then Glasgow just before the start of WWII.  He spent most of his childhood in Glasgow. He was awarded an organ scholarship at Clare College, Cambridge, reading Music and Theology.

He spent most of his career with the Royal School of Church Music, principally as a choir trainer, motivating and training young singers. He initiated and developed the RSCM Chorister Training Scheme used in various forms around the world.

He was appointed MBE for Services to Church Music in the 1993 New Year Honours List .

1st October 2017 Harvest Thanksgiving

Look At The World   Words and Music by John Rutter.
This was written in celebration of the 70th anniversary of the Council for the Protection of Rural England.

John Rutter was born in London in 1945 and had his first musical training at Highgate School as a chorister. He studied music at Clare College, Cambridge where he wrote his first published music and had his first recording whilst still an undergraduate.

John Rutter
John Rutter [Wikimedia Commons]

His compositions cover a wide variety of musical genres but he is well know by all choirs who must have some Rutter in their repertoire. He formed the Cambridge Singers and spends his time composing and conducting.

He was awarded a CBE for services to music in the 2007 Queen's New Year Honours List.

30th September 2017

St Mary's choir was asked to sing again at the sung communion service held in Chichester Cathedral for the Prayer Book Society.

The communion service was the Darke setting in F Major.
This setting was dedicated to the Rev. John H Ellison M.V.O. Rector of St Michael's, Cornhill, E.C.

Harold Edwin Darke (1888-1976) was born in Highbury, London.  His first post as organist was at Emmanuel Church, West Hampstead from 1906 - 1911.  He became organist at St Michael's, Cornhill in 1916 and stayed there until 1966, leaving for a short time to deputise for Boris Ord as Director of Music at King's College, Cambridge during the second World War.  Darke started lunchtime concerts at St Michel's in 1916 and these are the thought to be the longest running lunchtime organ concert series in the world.

He is best known for his setting of Christina Rossetti's poem "In the bleak midwinter".  His othr music still performed are his Communion Services in E minor, F major and A minor, and his Magnificat and Nunc Dimitis in F major.