Sunday, 16 May 2021

Sunday 16th May 2021 Mattins

 Jubilate Deo in B flat from Morning, Communion and Evening Service in B flat Op.10  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 composers trademark mastery of thematic structures.

Charles Villiers Stanford
C V Stanford from Wikipedia



God Is Gone Up  William Croft

Croft was born at the Manor House, Nether Ettington, Warwickshire. He was educated at the Chapel Royal under the instruction of John Blow, and remained there until 1698. Two years after this departure, he became organist of St. Anne's Church, Soho and he became an organist and 'Gentleman extraordinary' at the Chapel Royal. He shared that post with his friend Jeremiah Clarke.

In 1707, he took over the Master of the Children of the Chapel Royal post, which had been left vacant by the suicide of Jeremiah Clarke. The following year, Croft succeeded Blow (who had lately died) as organist of Westminster Abbey. He composed works for the funeral of Queen Anne (1714) and for the coronation of King George I (1715).

In 1724, Croft published Musica Sacra, a collection of church music, the first such collection to be printed in the form of a score. It contains a Burial Service, which may have been written for Queen Anne or for the Duke of Marlborough. Shortly afterwards his health deteriorated, and he died while visiting Bath aged 48.

One of Croft's most enduring pieces is the hymn tune "St Anne" written to the poem Our God, Our Help in Ages Past by Isaac Watts. Other composers subsequently incorporated the tune in their own works. Handel used it, for instance, in an anthem entitled O Praise the Lord and also Hubert Parry in his 1911 Coronation Te Deum. Bach's Fugue in E-flat major BWV 552 is often called the "St. Anne", due to the similarity (coincidental in this case) of its subject to the hymn melody's first phrase. Croft also wrote various violin sonatas, which are not nearly as often performed as is his religious music, but have been occasionally recorded.

Perhaps Croft's most notable legacy is the suite of Funeral Sentences which have been described as a "glorious work of near genius". First published as part of the Burial Service in Musica Sacra, the date and purpose of their composition is uncertain. The seven Sentences themselves are from the Book of Common Prayer and are verses from various books of the Bible, intended to be said or sung during an Anglican funeral. One of the sentences, Thou knowest, Lord, the secrets of our hearts, was not composed by Croft, but by Henry Purcell, part of his 1695 Music for the Funeral of Queen Mary. Croft wrote:

"...there is one verse composed by my predecessor, the famous Mr Henry Purcell, to which, in justice to his memory, his name is applied. The reason why I did not compose that verse anew (so as to render the whole service entirely of my own composition) is obvious to every Artist; in the rest of that service composed by me, I have endeavoured as near as I could, to imitate that great master and celebrated composer, whose name will for ever stand high in the rank of those who have laboured to improve the English style..."

Croft's Funeral Sentences were sung at George Frederic Handel's funeral in 1759, and have been included in every British state funeral since their publication. They were used at the funerals of Diana, Princess of Wales in 1997, Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother in 2002, Baroness Thatcher in 2013 and Prince Philip in 2021.


The above is taken from Wikipedia.

God is gone up, is an appropriate anthem to sing at Ascensiontide. The choir also performed this anthem on Ascension Day earlier this week. 

God is gone up with a merry noise
and the Lord with the sound of the trumpet.
O sing praises, sing praises unto our God,
O sing praises, sing praises unto our King.
For God is the King of all the earth,
O Sing ye praises with understanding.
Amen.

Sunday, 9 May 2021

Sunday 9th May 2021 Easter 6

 Ave Verum  Text Innocent VI  Music David Terry

Ave Verum Corpus translates as 

Hail, true body born of the Virgin Mary;
truely suffering and sacrificed on the cros for mankind.
You, whose pierced side yielded true blood,
be our food in the trials of death.

These words attributed to Innocent VI have been used by many composers. In St Mary's we have sung versions by Mozart, Elgar, Gounod and Byrd. David Terry is the latest to our repertoire.

David Terry studied Music at Lincoln College, Oxford and organ with the late David Sanger. He is an experienced choral conductor with both professional and amateur groups and has conducted much of the larger choral repertoire with orchestra. He is Director of Music at one of London's top state schools where he leads one of the largest music departments in the capital. In addition, David is very active as a composer and arranger and is published by Novello. Taken from Linkedin.

Sunday, 2 May 2021

Sunday 2nd May 2021 Easter 5

 Instead of an anthem or motet, the choir sang an Easter hymn.

Now the Green Blade Riseth     Noel Novelet    Old French melody    Harmony by Martin Shaw 1875 - 1958    Words J M C Crum 1872 -1958


Though clearly an “Easter hymn”, these are words that may encourage fruitful reflection at other times also, for example at funerals, memorial services, and even as a way of touching on the realities of harvest.

Once described as “the only truly authentic Easter hymn”, Now the green blade rises takes as its starting point words of Jesus recorded in the Gospel of John: “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” (John 12: 23-24).


Etching by Jan Luyken illustrating Mark 4: 2-8 in the Bowyer Bible, Bolton, England (Photo by Harry Kossuth)

For many who live in Western urban settings, the full force of the imagery in this hymn is hard to grasp. Fields of growing crops are often remote from view; and outdoor burials are far less common than indoor cremations. Picturing buried grain or open graves may require imagination. For Jesus, however, arable farming was part and parcel of everyday life – recall, for example, his parable of the sower, Mark 4: 2-8. He understood that there is a both a mystery but also a tangible reality in what can live and grow out of the experience of death. Later in the same chapter in Mark, he observes:

“The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.” (Mark: 4: 26-29)

John Crum encapsulates the implications of these words in his deceptively simple depiction of Jesus (“Love”) in that dark hiatus between Good Friday and Easter morning: “laid in the earth like grain that sleeps unseen” (verse 2). Here, and throughout the hymn, Crum writes of hope (not optimism) present in all our Easter Saturdays of death and despair, ready to push through and grow once more in the shape of God’s love:

When our hearts are wintry, grieving, or in pain,
then your touch can call us back to life again,
fields of our hearts that dead and bare have been (verse 4)

John Macleod Campbell Crum, an Anglican cleric who served as rector of Farnham and Canon of Canterbury Cathedral, wrote these words specifically for the tune Noël Nouvelet, derived from a fifteenth-century French tune. The carol was first published in the Oxford Book of Carols in 1928. 

Taken from methodist.org.uk

Sunday, 25 April 2021

Sunday 24th April 2021 Easter 4

A New Commandment    Peter Nardone


The anthem today is based on  John 13:34-35 A new commandment I give unto you that you love one another as I have loved you.  What makes this anthem particularly lovely is the Latin hymn Ubi caritas which is sung by the men after the ladies have sung through the New Testament words as a wonderful counter-tune below the ladies. 
Ubi caritas est vera, Deus ibi est. Congregavit nos in unum Christi amor. Exsultemus et in ipso jucundemur. Timeamus et amemus Deum vivum. Et ex corde diligamus nos sincero.
Peter Nardone - (Bach Cantatas Website)
[Where charity is true, God is there. The love of Christ has gathered us into one. Let us rejoice and be glad in him. Let us fear and love the living God. And from a sincere heart let us love one another.]

Peter Nardone was born in Scotland in 1965 and studied organ and piano at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. He later studied singing at the Royal Academy of Music, London. In 2012 he was Organist and Director of Music at Worcester Cathedral and artistic director of the Three Choirs Festival.  As a singer, he has sung with the Monteverdi Choir, Tallis Scholars, Kings Consort  and many others.

His compositions are mostly religious.

Sunday, 18 April 2021

Sunday 18th April 2021 Easter 3

 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 composers trademark mastery of thematic structures.



Image result for c v stanford composer
Stanford from Wikipedia


O Lord, Increase Our Faith  H. Loosemore

Henry Loosemore was born in Devon.  He was a chorister and afterwards a lay clerk in one of the Cambridge colleges. At some time he was organist at King's College. In 1660 he became organist at Exeter Cathedral.  He died suddenly in 1670 whilst in Exeter. 

O Lord Increase Our Faith has incorrectly been attributed to Orlando Gibbons in the past, and in Gibbon's version, has the word "our" replaced by "my".  However a manuscript was found of Loosemore's which allowed the correct attribution and also the correction of the text.


Sunday 11th April 2021 Easter 2

 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.


image of a middle aged man in late Victorian clothes, viewed in right semi-profile. He has a prominent Roman nose and large moustache
from Wikipedia

Sunday 4th April 2021 Easter Sunday

 The "Covid Choir" returned for this most important day of the Christian claendar and also to bit a fond farewell to Father Stephen for whom this was his last service before going to his well earned retirement.

Ave Verus Corpus  W A Mozart

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