Thursday, 19 July 2018

15th July 2018 Trinity 7

"Benedictus in C"  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!"

Sir Charles Villiers Stanford (1852-1924) thought to be one of our great British composers was actually Irish, born in Dublin, although educated at The University of Cambridge and then studied music in Leipzig and Berlin.

Whilst an undergraduate, he was appointed organist of Trinity College, Cambridge and was one of the founding professors of the Royal College of Music, where he taught composition for the rest of his life.  He was also Professor of Music at Cambridge.  His pupils included Gustav Holst and Ralph Vaughan Williams whose fame went on to surpass his own.

He is best remembered for his sacred choral compositions for church performance in the Anglican tradition. Along with Hubert Parry and Alexander Mackenzie, he was thought responsible for the renaissance of music in the British Isles.

Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring   J S Bach

This is the common title of the 10th and last movement of the cantata “Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben” (BVW 147) composed in 1716 and 1723.  It is commonly played at weddings and Christian festive seasons of Easter and Christmas.  Much of the music of this cantata comes from Bach’s Weimar period (the 1716 parts) finished in 1723 in Leipzig.

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 – 1750) was a German composer and musician of the Baroque period. He was a highly respected organist in his lifetime, although not recognised as a composer of magnitude (possibly one of the greatest) until a revival of his works in the first half of the 19th century. He showed considerable skill in counterpoint and harmony. He was able to adapt rhythm, form and texture from abroad. He was a prolific composer of church music due to the demand for huge numbers of cantatas over the Christian year.  It is thought her wrote over 300 with only around 200 surviving. He also wrote many other works sacred and secular.  It is now agreed that his music has technical command, intellectual depth and artistic beauty.

8th July 2018 Trinity 6

“Panis Angelicus”  César Franck

“Panis Angelicus” (Bread of Heaven) is the penultimate strophe (stanza) of the hymn “Sacrum solemnis” written by St Thomas Aquinas for the feast of Corpus Christi.

This particular stanza has often been set to music separately from the rest of the hymn.  In 1872 César Franck set the stanza for Tenor voice, harp, cello and organ and incorporated it into his “Messe à trios voix” Op 12.  Today’s version was arranged by Henry Geehl.

César Franck (1822 – 1890) was born in Liège (now Belgium but in 1822 part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands).  He was a composer, pianist, organist and music teacher working in Paris during his adult life.

He gave his first concert in Liège in 1834 and studied privately in Paris from 1835.  He returned briefly to Belgium but after a disastrous reception to “Ruth”, an early oratorio, he went back to Paris.  He married and started his career as teacher and organist.  He gained a reputation for improvisation.

In 1850 he became organist at Sainte-Clotilde where he remained for the rest of his life. He became a professor at the Paris Conservatoire in 1872 and at the same time, he took French nationality, a prerequisite for his professorship. Once at the conservatoire, Franck wrote many pieces that have entered the classical repertoire.

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

1st July 2018 Sea Sunday Trinity 5

We welcomed our newest Junior Chorister, Tilly, into the choir today.  As is the St Mary's tradition, a small group of the choir sang  "Lead me Lord" by Samuel Sebastian Wesley. For more information, see 9.7.17.

The choir anthem was Never Weather Beaten Sail  by Charles Wood, see 2.7.17.

Sunday, 24 June 2018

24th June 2018 Birth of St John the Baptist

How Beautiful Upon The Mountain    from  Awake, awake, put on thy strength, O Zion. 
John Stainer

See 10.12.17

Friday, 22 June 2018

Thursday, 14 June 2018

10th June 2018 Trinity 2

Lord For Thy Tender Mercy's Sake  Music could be by either Farrant or John Hilton.  Arrangement by Anthony Green. Words from J Bull, Christian Prayers and Holy Meditation (1568)

Henry Bull died in 1577.  He was an eminent theological writer.  In 1553 when Mary I came to the throne, he with the help of a conspirator snatched a censer from the hand of an officiating priest and was expelled from Magdalen. He was quiet during the rest of her reign, but came back to prominence on the ascension of Elizabeth I. He was also the editor of Christian Praiers and Holy Meditacions which appeared first by 1570, from which the text of our anthem today was taken.

Thursday, 31 May 2018

27th May 2018 Trinity Sunday

God So Loved The World    Stainer

The words are taken from the Gospel reading for today.

See 25th June 2017

Monday, 7 May 2018

6th May 2018 Easter 6

Ave Verum Corpus WA Mozart

See 23.7.2017

29th April 2018 Easter 5

Walking in a garden   Traditional Irish Melody arranged by Arthur Hutchings (1906-1989) 
Poem Hilary Greenwood (1929-2003)

Arthur James Bramwell Hutchings was an English Musicologist and after WW2 Professor of Music at The University of Durham. He was also a composer and many of his tunes are included in The New English Hymnal, serving many years as a director of the English Hymnal Company.

Hilary Peter Frank Greenwood was an Anglican theologian.  He wrote "Walking in a garden" for his nephews and set it originally to "Puff the Magic Dragon". As well as the Hutchings arrangement it is also set to "Au Clair de la  Lune". It includes the three gardens, Eden, Gethsemane and the Easter garden of Resurrection.

Monday, 23 April 2018

22nd April 2018 Easter 4 Good Shepherd Sunday

Turn Thy Face From My Sins   Thomas Attwood (1765-1838)

The text is from Psalm 51, vv. 9-11

See 29.10.17

15th April 2018 Easter 3

O For A Closer Walk With God     Stanford

See 15.10.17

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

1st April 2018 Easter Day

Just as I am  John H Maunder

The words were written in 1835 by Charlotte Elliott. The story of its conception is described by John Brownlie in his book The Hymns and Hymn Writers of the Church Hymnary: 
The night before the bazaar she was kept wakeful by distressing thoughts of her apparent uselessness; and these thoughts passed by a transition easy to imagine into a spiritual conflict, till she questioned the reality of her whole spiritual life, and wondered whether it were anything better after all than an illusion of the emotions, an illusion ready to be sorrowfully dispelled. The next day, the busy day of the bazaar, she lay upon her sofa in that most pleasant boudoir set apart for her in Westfield Lodge, ever a dear resort to her friends." The troubles of the night came back upon her with such force that she felt they must be met and conquered in the grace of God. She gathered up in her soul the great certainties, not of her emotions, but of her salvation: her Lord, His power, His promise. And taking pen and paper from the table she deliberately set down in writing, for her own comfort, "the formulae of her faith." Hers was a heart which always tended to express its depths in verse. So in verse she restated to herself the Gospel of pardon, peace, and heaven. "Probably without difficulty or long pause" she wrote the hymn, getting comfort by thus definitely "recollecting" the eternity of the Rock beneath her feet. There, then, always, not only for some past moment, but " even now " she was accepted in the Beloved "Just as I am".

John H Maunder wrote a beautiful setting included in "Olivet to Calvary".  For more information see 14.4.17.

This Joyful Eastertide  Melody from "David's Psalmen" Amsterdam 1685, Harmony Charles Wood (1866 -1926) , Words G R Woodward (1848 - 1934)

This is an Easter carol first published in 1894 in "Carols for Easter and Ascensiontide".  George Radcliffe Woodward was an Anglican priest who wrote many religious verses often set to music by his friend Charles Wood. He was born in Birkenhead and graduated in 1872 from Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge. Two years later he was ordained by the Bishop of London. In 1924 he received an Honorary Lambeth Doctorate in Music.

Charles Wood see 2.7.17.

Two of our junior choristers, James and Maggie received their dark blue ribbons during today's service.

Friday, 30 March 2018

30th March 2018 Good Friday

The Cross of Christ

Our Good Friday service followed the form of The Cross Of Christ from the Royal School of Church Music.

The choir sang 3 motets:

"Is it nothing to you"  Ouseley (1825 - 1889)

Sir Frederick Arthur Gore Ouseley was born in London and showed a prodigious faculty for music, composing his first opera at the age of eight! In 1844 he inherited the baronetcy and also went to Christ Church, gaining his BA in 1846 and his MA in 1849.  He was ordained the same year as gaining his MA and served as curate in St Paul's Church, Knightsbridge.  He was throughout his life conflicted by his aristocratic heritage and his performance of Anglican music, considered to be below someone of his standing. In 1850 he took the degree of Mus. B at the University of Oxford, 4 years later the degree of Mus.D.  In 1855 he was Heather Professor of Music at Oxford until 1889.  In 1856 he founded and endowed with his own money, St Michael's College, a model choir school in the Anglican tradition.  He was also its first Warden. His works are little known today, but his most notable student was Sir John Stainer.
Frederick Ouseley.jpg
Picture from Wikipaedia
2 Kings 24:13  Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow, which is done unto me, wherewith the LORD hath afflicted me in the day of his fierce anger.

"O Lord who dares to smite thee. "  J S Bach

Taken from his St Matthew's Passion
See  also 13.5.17.

"O Saviour of the world"  Sir John Goss (1800 - 1880)

Sir John Goss was a boy chorister in The Chapel Royal and later a pupil of Sir Thomas Attwood, organist at St Paul's cathedral.  He spend a short time in the chorus of an opera company before being organist at a number of churches, finally at St Paul's where he worked hard to improve the musical standards. His works are mostly vocal, both sacred and secular.  From 1827 until 1874, he was a professor at The Royal Academy of Music teaching harmony.  He taught Arthur Sullivan and John Stainer who succeeded him as organist at St Paul's.

upright=Goss circa 1835
Sir John Goss
Picture from Wikipedia
See also 18.3.18.

29th March 2018 Maundy Thursday

Ave Verum Corpus     Edward Elgar

See 22.10.17

Sunday, 25 March 2018

25th March 2018 Palm Sunday

God So Loved The World   John Stainer

See 25.6.17

James, one of our junior choristers sang his solo 2 verses of "All things bright and beautiful" as part of his choral training.

24th March 2018

Olivet to Calvary  John H Maunder (1858-1920)

A Sacred Cantata

Recalling some of the incidents in the last days of Saviour's life on earth.

The choir performed this cantata along with a few choir guests.

The soloists were:
Sarah Amos - Soprano
Hilary Platts - Tenor
Peter Webster - Baritone

with our Musical Director Joanna Chivers at the piano.

See 14th April 2017 >>
Programme notes >>

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Sunday 18th March 2018 passion Sunday

Jubilate Deo in B flat  Charles Villiers Stanford 

Taken from the Novello Copy:
Sir Charles Villiers Stanford has a perverse relationship with posterity.  Remembered today largely for his choral miniatures, this restless symphonist was the unwilling Janus of British music. A significant presence on the European scene in his own lifetime, he was an outspoken critic of Wagner, Strauss and modernism in general. Nevertheless, as a formalist with flair and skill, his influence catalysed much of the great English Music of the 20th century.  As fellow composer George Dyson said: "In a certain sense the very rebellion he fought was the most obvious fruit of his methods". The Jubilate in B flat displays the composer's trademark of thematic structures.
Also see 21.5.2017.

O Saviour of the World   Arthur Somervell (1863-1937)

Sir Arthur Somervell was born in the Lake district, son of Robert Miller Somervell, the founder of K Shoes. He studied composition under Sir Charles Villiers Stanford at King's College Cambridge. For 2 years he studied music at the High School for Music in Berlin, and following that from 1885-1887 at the Royal School of Music in London under Parry. In 1894 he became a Professor at The Royal School of Music, in 1901, he was appointed Inspector of Music at the Board of Education and Scottish Education Department and in 1902 received the Doctor of Music degree from the University of Cambridge. He achieved success during his lifetime for his choral works, but is now mostly remembered for his song cycles. He had a conservative style showing influences from Mendelssohn and Brahms.  He was also very active in music education. He was knighted in 1929.
Somervell, Arthur (1863-1937)
Sir Arthur Sumervill
Picture from Hyperion.

"O Saviour of the World" is a suitable anthem for Lent, Holy Week or Communion, The words are from the Anglican Order for the Visitation of the Sick.

Monday, 12 March 2018

11th March 2018 Mothering Sunday

What Wondrous Love Is This   Geoffrey Weaver

Geoff Weaver was born in 1943.  He read Music at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge gaining an honours degree. He founded the Bath Youth Choir and directed the Bach Cantata Choir. After teaching in the UK, worked in Hong Kong for 8 years with the Church Mission Society. He was Director of Music for 4 years in Bradford Cathedral and 8 years on the training staff at CMS Training College at Selly Oak. He was also Director of Studies/Outreach for the Royal School of Church Music for 8 years.

Image result for geoff weaver music
Picture from St Michael's Chamber Choir
"What Wondrous Love is This" is an American Folk Hymn arranged by Geoff Weaver.  It starts as a simple melody sung for us today by the Junior Choir, and goes into 3 part harmony for the middle stanza, finishing with unison Alto, Tenor, Bass and  Soprano descant, building to a joyous crescendo.

Sunday, 4 March 2018

Monday, 12 February 2018

11th February 2018 Quinquagesima

taken from Wikipedia

Ave Verum  Charles Gounod (1818-1893)

Gounod was born in Paris,  his father an artist and his mother a pianist and also his first piano teacher.  He showed an early aptitude for music.  He studied at the Paris Conservatoire and won the Prix de Rome in 1839 for his Cantata Fernand.  He contemplated taking holy orders but went back to composition before taking his vows.  In 1854 he competed a Messe Solennelle also know as St Cecilia Mass.

The sister of Felix Mendelssohn, Fanny, introduced Gounod to the works of JS Bach, in particcular he admired The Well-Tempered Clavier  and it inspired him to write a melody to the Prelude in C major, later adding the words "Ave Maria" and it became a success. in 1859 he wrote Faust for which he is best remembered.

Between 1870 and 1874, Gounod lived in London, becoming conductor the Royal Choral Society. Much of his music at this time was choral.

As he grew older his music became more sacred. He was made a Grand Officer of the Légion d'honneur in 1888 and died of a stroke in 1893.

Thursday, 8 February 2018

4th February 2018 Candlemass

When to the Temple Mary Went       Johannes Eccard (1553-1611)

Johannes Eccard was a German composer born in Mühlhausen in what is now Thuringia , Germany.  At the age of 18 he went to Munich as a pupil of Orlando Lasso and it is thought he travelled with Lasso to Paris. In 1574 he was back in Mühlhausen and stayed there for 4 years.  With Joachim a Burck he edited a collection of sacred songs, Crepundia sacra Helmboldi (1577). In 1583 he was appointed assisstant conductor and in 1599 conductor at Konigsberg. In 1608 he was called to Berlin as principal conductor, a post he only held or 3 years due to his death.

Eccard's works are mostly choral compositions for 4 to 9 voices, sacred chorales and cantatas. He is much admired by musicians for the polyphonic structure of his work.

Eccard from Wikipedia

Sunday, 28 January 2018

28th January 2018 Epiphany 4

The Lamb      Music John Tavener (1944 - 2013), Words William Blake (1757-1827)

John Tavener from Wikipedia
Tavener was born in Wembley, London.  He was a music scholar at Highgate School, where a fellow scholar was John Rutter. The school choir was often used by the BBC when they needed a boys' choir. He began to compose whilst at school and was also a pianist good enough to perform with the National Youth Orchestra. In 1961 he was organist and choirmaster at St John's Presbyterian church, Kensington, a post he held for 13 years. He went to the Royal Academy of Music in 1962 where he decided to concentrate on composition and gave up the piano.

He came to prominence with his Cantata "The Whale" in 1968. In 1971 he began teaching at Trinity College of Music in London. In 1977 he converted to Russian Orthodox Church.  Orthodox liturgy became a major influence on his composition.  

"The Lamb" written in 1982 for his nephew's third birthday has become a choral classic.  It was composed in a single afternoon for unaccompanied SATB choir, using William Blake's poem.

He was knighted in 2000 for his services to music. John Rutter describes Tavener as having the "very rare gift" of being able to "bring an audience to a deep silence."

William Blake was largely unrecognised during his life, he is now considered to be one of the seminal figures of poetry and art in the Romantic age. He was born in Soho and although his family were English Dissenters, he was baptised.  The Bible  was a profound influence on his work. In 1772 Blake was apprenticed to James Basire, an engraver, for 7 years. At the end of his term aged 21, he became a profession engraver.  He had been taught an outmoded style and it is thought that this tuition held him back from greatness during his lifetime. 

In 1779, Blake began as a student at the Royal Academy where he was somewhat rebellious against Joshua Reynolds.

In 1800, Blake moved to Felpham, illustrating poetry by William Hayley.  He was unhappy in his work and returned to London after 3 years.
William Blake
Blake was often considered "mad" by his contemporaries for his idiosyncratic views.  The singularity of his work makes him difficult to classify. 

"The Lamb" is from a collection of poems "Songs of Innocence".   It was always intended to be sung, but Blake's melody is lost. It was set to music by Vaughn Williams in his song cycle "Ten Blake Songs"  and later by Sir John Tavener.