Sunday, 27 January 2019

Sunday 27th January 2019 Epiphany 4

Teach Me O Lord  Thomas Attwood (1765-1838)

Thomas Attwood was an English composer and organist.  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". See 30th October 2017.

Today we sang "Teach Me O Lord " which is Psalm 119 v33.

Thomas Atwood from Wikipedia

Monday, 21 January 2019

Sunday 20th January 2019 Epiphany 3

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 . "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.

Charles Villiers Stanford
C V Stanford from Wikipedia

O Holy Spirit, Lord of Grace.  Christopher Tye (1505-?1572)  Charles Coffin (1676-1749) Translated by John Chandler  Edited by Gerald H Knight

This is an anthem using music from Christopher Tye's "The Actes of the Apostles".

Christopher Tye was a Renaissance English composer and organist.  It is thought he was born in Cambridgeshire and became master of the choir at Ely Cathedral.  He was Edward VI's music teacher and his choral music is held in high esteem, along with many chamber works.  The only work published in his lifetime was his "The Actes of the Apostles" and it is surmised that much of his work has not survived through the centuries.

Charles Coffin wrote many hymns which have been translated into English. He was Rector of the University of Paris.  His many poems and hymns were published in his life time.

From Wikipedia

John Chandler was born near Godalming in 1806.  He is one of the first and most successful of modern translators o Latin hymns. From his many translations, some 30-40 are still in common usage, eg On Jordan's Banks The Baptist's Cry.  He died in 1876. A full list of his translations can be found at 

Monday, 14 January 2019

Sunday 13th January 2019 2nd Sunday in Epiphany

Ave Verum Corpus W A Mozart (K618)

Ave Verum Corpus (Hail, true body) is a setting of the Latin Hymn, in D major.  It was written for Anton Stoll, a friend and church musician of St Stephen, Baden.

It was composed in 1791 whilst visiting his wife Constanze who was pregnant with their 6th child and staying at the spa Baden bei Wien.  It was composed for the feast of Corpus Christi.  Mozart's manuscript has only "Sotto voce" marked at the beginning with no other markings.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 - 1791)

Mozart was a child prodigy competent on keyboard and violin.  He began composing at the age of five. He performed around Europe for royalty.  At the age of 17 he was engaged as a musician at the Salzburg court but was restless and travelled looking for a better position.  Whilst visiting Vienna he was dismissed from his position in Salzburg.  He remained in Vienna, where he gained fame but no financial security.

He composed more than 600 works, many acknowledged as the finest in symphonies, concertante, operatic, chamber and choral music.  He remains one of the best loved classical composers, whose work influenced many composers.  Joseph Haydn said of Mozart "Posterity will not see such a talent again in 100 years."

W A Mozart from Wikipedia

Sunday, 13 January 2019

Sunday 6th January 2019 Epiphany

It Came Upon The Midnight Clear   Richard Stores-Willis  Arr. Barry Rose   Edmund H Sears

Edmund Sears (1810 - 1876) was a pastor of the Unitarian Church in Wayland, Massachusetts.  He wrote the poem in 1849, published in The Christian Register on 29th December 1849.

Edmund Sear from Wikipedia
The poem is usually sung to Arthur Sullivan's "Noel", adapted from an English melody in 1874, but the choir sang the American tune "Carol" written by Richard Stores-Willis (1819-1900) written in 1850.

Richard Stores-Willis
Barry Rose (Born 1934) was late to music, giving up a career in insurance to study organ at The Royal Academy of Music in London. Still studying he was the first appointed organist and choirmaster of Guildford Cathedral when it opening in 1961. He then moved to St Paul's Cathedral.

Monday, 7 January 2019

23rd December 2018 Village Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols

Benedicamus Domino        Peter Warlock (1894-1930)    Sloane MS 2593 15th Century

This is used in the Latin Catholic mass at the end of services which do not use the Gloria (Lent and Advent, Septuagesima and Passiontide. It translates as Let us Bless the Lord. It was apparently unknown in Rome before 1000AD, and may be Gallician in origin.

Peter Warlock is a pseudonym for Philip Arnold Heseltine. The name Warlock is used in all of his published works and also reflects his interest in the occult. He is best known for his song writing and other vocal music.  He was also a music critic.

Whilst at Eton he met Delius and began a long friendship.  Failing at academe, he started work as a music journalist and was very interested in folk song and Elizabethan music. His first serious compositions are from around 1915 and after a stay in Ireland studying Celtic culture and language he returned to England in 1918 and began serious composition. His major work was done in the 1920s developing his own style. He is thought to have killed himself by coal gas poisoning in 1930 due to depression fearing a loss of creative inspiration.

Peter Warlock from Wikipedia

No Small Wonder   Paul Edwards (1955-)   Paul Wigmore

Paul Christison Edwards is an English composer of Anglican music.  He was educated at St Paul's Choir School and Bedford Modern School. He spent 4 1/2 years as a chorister at St Paul's and also spent a similar time as a lay clerk in Peterborough Cathedral. He has made numerous recordings of organ music on historic organs of Bedford.  His carol No Small Wonder was written in 1983.  He has written many choral work and organ music.

Paul Wigmore (1925 - 2014) started his career as a copywriter of 40 years standing before branching into hymn lyrics after being waylaid by his choir master. He wrote for school and church choirs but also church congregations.

Paul Wigmore
Paul Wigmore from his website.

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.

In Dulci Jubilo   German 15th Century Arranged by Robert Pearsall (1795-1856) for 8 soloists and chorus with today's version arranged for four voices by W J Westbrook.

Translated means In Sweet Rejoicing and is thought to have been written by the German mystic Heinrich Seuse in 1328. Folklore says that Seuse heard angels singing In Dulci Jubilo and joined them in dancing in worship.

Robert Pearsall is best known for his arrangement of In Dulci Jubilo.  He was born in Bristol into a Quaker family. He was an amateur composer with most of his works published after his death although many still remain in manuscript.

Taken from our music:
The original melody employed, as a Cantus firmus, in the following compositon, is to be found in an old German book published in the year 1570, - which from its title and contents appears to have contained the ritual of the Protestant Congregations of Zweibrueken and Neuburg. Even there it is called "A very ancient song (uraltes Lied) for Christmas eve;" so there can be no doubt that it is one of those old Roman Catholic melodies that Luther, on account of their beauty, retained in the Protestant Service. It was formerly sung in the processions that took place on Christmas-eve, and is so still in those remote parts of Germany where people yet retain old customs. The words are rather remarkable, being written half in Latin and half in the upper German dialect.  I have translated them to fit the music, and endeavoured to preserve, as much as I could, the simplicity of the original. Of the melody there can be but one opinion; namely that which in spite of religious animosity, secured it the approbation of the Protestant reformers, and that of the German people during many centuries. The music in the following passages was written for the Choral Society at Carlaruhe, and was performed there in the Autumn of 1834. The original melody is distinguished by being expressed in notes of rather a larger character then those for which I am personally answerable.  
Willsbridge, Gloucestershire, 31st January 1837. R.L.P.

Robert Pearsall from Wikipedia

Torches  John Joubert (1927- ) From the Galacician

John Joubert is a British composer of South African descent. He was born in Cape Town and educated at Diocesan College, Rondesbosch, founded by the Anglican Church. He started as a painter, but by 15 years of age had moved to music although not as a performer.  In 1950 he was appointed Lecturer in Music at the University of Hull the same year as graduating from Durham with a Bachelor of Music. Torches was written in 1951 for his wife's pupils and was published 10 years later in Carols for Choirs Vol 1. He moved to Moseley in Birmingham to take up a senior lectureship in 1962, retiring in 1986.

John Joubert from Wikipedia

Lully, Lulla, Thou Little Tiny Child  Kenneth Leigton (1929-1988)

Also known as The Coventry Carol, this is possibly the earliest English carol, written for the Pageant of the Shearmen and Tailors of Coventry.  There are references to it from 1392 and a text of 1534. It is the lament of the mothers of the Holy Innocents, the children killed on the orders of King Herod.

Kenneth Leighton was born in Wakefield, Yorkshire. His parents recognised his musical talents and enrolled him in the choir school at Wakefield Cathedral. He was a pianist of precocious talent. He gained a place at Queen Elizabeth Grammar School in 1940 and whilst there gained his LRAM in piano performance. He studied Classics at Oxford after gaining a state scholarship. He simultaneously studied for a degree in Music. Gerald Finzi became an early supporter and friend and introduced him to  Vaughan Willimas.  His setting of The Coventry Carol remains one of his popular pieces.
Kenneth Leighton from Wikipedia

The Echo Carol   Alfred Whitehead (1887-1974)

Alfred Whitehead was born in Peterborough and received his earliest musical education at the cathedral in Peterborough.  He studied organ at the Royal School of Music in London. In 1912 he emigrated to Canada and became the first person to obtain the Fellowship of the Royal Canadian College of Organists.  The Echo Carol is based on a traditional French carol. Alfred whitehead is considered in Canada to be their Rutter.