Sunday, 24 December 2017

23rd December 2017 Village Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols

Notes taken directly from the service sheet.

The Lord at first did Adam make.  David Willcocks (1919-2015)

Joseph and the Angel.  Richard Terry (1865-1938)
Now chiefly known for the 19th Century revival of Tudor church music, Terry also wrote many carols - words and music - as well as being the first Master of Music of Westminster Cathedral and a well-regarded organist an choir trainer.

Our Blessed Lady's Lullaby.  Christopher Chivers (1967-)
A former Precentor of Westminster Abbey, now principal of Westcott House, Cambridge, Chris Chivers wrote this setting of a 16th Century text for the choir of Magdalen College, Oxford.

It came upon the midnight clear.  Willis (1819-1900)/Rose (1934-)
The tune by Richard Storrs Wills is the one most Americans associate with this carol.  Barry Rose, formerly Master of Music at St Paul's and ST Alban's cathedrals, has made a charming arrangement to enhance the simple melody.

Welcome Yule! C Hubert H Parry (1848-1918)
A lively, enjoyable setting of a 15th Century text by the composer of "Blest Pair of Sirens" and "Jerusalem".

Ding dong! merrily on high.  Malcolm Williamson (1931-2003)
A light-hearted  reworking of the traditional carol.

Sunday, 17 December 2017

17th December 2017 Advent 3

"This is the record of John" Orlando Gibbons (1583-1625)

This is typical anthem of its time.  It is based on text from the Gospel of John (1:19 -23) and refers to John the Baptist.  It is divided into 3 sections each starting with solo countertenor followed by SATB chorus echoing the words of the soloist. Although usually performed on organ or viol, today Joanna Chivers (our Director of Music) played an electric piano on "harpsichord" mode which added an "early music" feel to the piece.

The anthem was written at the request of William Laud, president of St John's College, Oxford.

Gibbons sang in he choir of Kings College Cambridge between 1598 and 1598, where his eldest brother was master of the choristers. He gained his Bachelor of Music in 1606. King James 1 appointed him a Gentleman of the Chapel Royal, and he was organist there from around 1615 until his death, being senior organist from 1623. He was also a keyboard player in the privy chamber of Prince Charles (later Charles 1) and organist at Westminster Abbey. He died suddenly at the age of 41.

He wrote a large number of pieces for keyboard, madrigals and many verse anthems of which "This is the record of John" is one.

Orlando  Gibbons [Wikimedia commons]

Monday, 11 December 2017

10th December 2017 Advent 2

How Beautiful Upon the Mountains   from "Awake, awake; put on thy strength, O Zion"
John Stainer 1840-1901 Words Isaiah 52 v. 7

Stainer was born in Southwark, London, the son of a cabinet maker. He was a chorister at  St Paul's Cathedral at the age of 10 and at 16, appointed organist at St Michael's College, Tenbury.  In 1960, he became organist at Magdalen College, Oxford. He was allowed to study for a degree so long as it did not interfere with his duties and in 1864 gained his BA, and 2 years later his MA.  He was eventually an examiner for Oxford music degrees.

In 1872 he was appointed organist at St Paul's cathedral, in 1877 an honorary fellow of the Royal Academy of Music, and an examiner for the Doctor of Music degrees for Cambridge and London Universities.  He received his knighthood from Queen Victoria in 1888.

John Stainer (Wikimedia Commons)

Sunday, 3 December 2017

3rd December 2017 Advent I

The Angel Gabriel from heaven came. Sabine Baring-Gould  Basque traditional arr. Edgar Pettman.

This is a Basque Christmas folk carol based on the annunciation of the Virgin Mary by Archangel Gabriel.  It was collected by Charles Bordes (1863 -1909) a french music teacher and composer and paraphrased into English by Sabine Baring-Gould (1834-1924) an Anglican priest and collector of folk songs. It is commonly sung to an arrangement by Edgar Pettman (1866-1943) English organist, choral conductor and music editor.

Friday, 1 December 2017

Sunday 26th November 2017 Christ the King

O thou the central orb.  Charles Wood Words by H R Bramley

Charles Wood (1866 - 1926) was the third son of Charles Wood Sn, born in Vicar's Hill in the Cathedral precincts of Armagh.  He was a treble chorister at St Patrick's Cathedral (Church of Ireland). His early musical education was at the cathedral and he studied organ under Robert Turle and Dr Thomas Marks.  He  became one of 50 inaugural students at the newly formed Royal School of Music and studied under Stanford and Parry. After 4 years he continued his studies at Selwyn College, Cambridge. In 1889 he was given a teaching post at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, first as organ scholar and in 1894 became a fellow. Stanford died in 1924 and Wood succeeded him as Professor of Music at the University of Cambridge.
He is chiefly known for his Anglican Church Music, writing settings for the Magnificat and Nunc Dimitis and  numerous service settings, all of which are still regularly sung by church and cathedral choirs.

H R Bramley (1833 - 1926) was a priest and Oxford academic at the height of the Oxford movement. He was later  Canon Precentor of Lincoln. He was considered to be a High Church Conservative.  His text of "O thou the central orb" is considered to be comparable with the great metaphysical poets such as John Donne. The "Central orb" is thought to be Jesus, as the orb is a sign of kingship.

Sunday 19th November 2017

God be in my head.  John Rutter

God be in my head is one of the earliest English prayers found in the Sarum Primer of 1514. It is a prayer for God's guidance. John Rutter has written a beautiful setting to these profound yet simple words.

For more on John Rutter, see 1st October 2017.