Another gloomy, minor hymn. Just the sort of thing I enjoy.
O DARKEST WOE Words: Verse 1 from the Catholic Würzburg Gesangbuch, 1628; verses 2-4, Johann Rist, Himmlische Lieder (Lüneburg, Germany: 1641) (O Traurigkeit, o Herzeleid). Translated from German to English by Catherine Winkworth, Chorale Book for England, 1863. Rist wrote:
The first verse of this funeral hymn, along with its devotional melody, came accidentally into my hands. As I was greatly pleased with it, I added the other seven as they stand, since I could not be a party to the use of the other verses.
Music: O Traurigkeit, composer unknown (Mainz, Germany: 1628)
O darkest woe! Ye tears, forth flow!
Has earth so sad a wonder?
God the Father’s only Son
Now lies buried yonder.
O sorrow dread!
God’s Son is dead!
But by His expiation
Of our guilt upon the cross
Gained for us salvation.
O sinful man, it was the ban
Of death on thee that brought Him
Down to suffer for thy sins,
And such woe hath wrought Him.
Behold thy Lord, the Lamb of God
Blood sprinkled lies before thee,
Pouring out His life that He
May to life restore thee.
O Ground of faith,
Laid low in death,
Sweet lips, now silent sleeping!
Surely all that live must mourn
Here with bitter weeping.
O blest shall be
Who oft in faith will ponder
Why the glorious Prince of Life
Should be buried yonder.
O Jesus blest, my Help and Rest!
With tears I pray, Lord hear me,
Make me love Thee to the last,
And in death be near me.
However, regarding Mr Dykes, while popular in Victorian times, his tunes fell out of favor in the 20th Century.
Whereas the proliferation of Dykes’s tunes in hymnals published throughout the nineteenth century, together with some surviving correspondence by hymnal compilers and by clergymen, in the UK and overseas (including the US and Nyasaland (now Malawi)), show that his compositions were highly regarded, the end of his century brought a widespread reaction against much of the Victorian aesthetic, and Dykes’s music did not escape a censure which was often vituperative. In particular, his music was condemned for its alleged over-chromaticism (even though some 92% of his hymn tunes are either entirely, or almost entirely diatonic)  and for its imputed sentimentality. (Speaking of Victorian hymn-tunes generally, but evidently with Dykes in his sights  Vaughan Williams wrote of ‘the miasma of the languishing and sentimental hymn tunes which so often disfigure our services’ ) Whereas it is indeed reasonable to characterise his music as often being sentimental, his critics never paused to explain why nineteenth century church services, which were replete with sentimental imagery, prose and choreography, should not be accompanied by music of a like kind. Nor did they explain why sentimentality per se is a bad thing, nor why music invariably improves in inverse proportion to its sentimental content. As one writer put it, in a wider consideration of the subject: “Something is wrong with sentimentality: the only question is, What is it?”  As for Dykes’s harmonies generally (of which the twentieth century writers Erik Routley and Kenneth Long were outspoken in their disparagement), scholars in recent years have questioned the twentieth century orthodoxy which condemned Dykes’s music out of hand, with Professors Arthur Hutchings, Nicholas Temperley and (especially) Jeremy Dibble seeing the importance of Dykes’s pioneering work in moving hymn-tunes from the bland and four-square long metre tunes which had been the staple of Tate and Brady’s New Version of the Psalms.
And regarding the author of this hymn, which is nothing if not sentimental…
This is the first hymn in celebration (if that is the appropriate word) of Good Friday. Supposedly the day Jesus Christ was crucified.
The lyrics are not particularly amazing, but the tune is pretty cool. I always like a minor hymn.
This hymn is a bit challenging for Hymprovisation as it’s kind of hard to exactly tell what the keys should be. It starts in G minor, modulates to G major for a bit, then to (maybe) d major, back to d minor, and finishes in d major. All within the space of 15 measures.
However, you can mostly play in G minor for the whole thing, if you are a bit careful.
Born in London, he was the eldest child in the composer Samuel Wesley‘s second family, which he formed with Sarah Suter having separated from his wife Charlotte. Samuel Sebastian was the grandson of Charles Wesley. His middle name derived from his father’s lifelong admiration for the music of Bach.
Famous in his lifetime as one of his country’s leading organists and choirmasters, he composed almost exclusively for the Church of England, which continues to cherish his memory.
One notable feature of his career is his aversion to equal temperament, an aversion which he kept for decades after this tuning method had been accepted on the Continent and even in most of England. Such distaste did not stop him from substantial use of chromaticism in several of his published compositions.
While at Winchester Cathedral Wesley was largely responsible for the Cathedral’s acquisition in 1854 of the Father Willis organ which had been exhibited at The Great Exhibition, 1851. The success of the Exhibition organ led directly to the award of the contract to Willis for a 100-stop organ for St George’s Hall, Liverpool built in 1855. Wesley was the consultant for this major and important project, but the organ was, arguably, impaired for some years by Wesley’s insistence that it was initially tuned to unequal temperament.
Wesley, with Father Willis, can be credited with the invention of the concave and radiating organ pedalboard, but demurred when Willis proposed that it should be known as the “Wesley-Willis” pedalboard. However, their joint conception has been largely adopted as an international standard for organs throughout the English-speaking world and those exported elsewhere.
Well, this is very definitely an American Lutheran Hymn, as its composer just died in 2007.
Sateren, Leland B. 94, Edina, died Saturday, Nov. 10, 2007. Sateren, a renowned composer and conductor, served as chairman of the Augsburg College Department of Music from 1950 to 1973, and as director of the Augsburg Choir from 1950 until his retirement in 1979. Survived by devoted wife, Pauline; sons, Terry, Mark (Judi), Roald (Shelley); daughter, Kirsten Bergherr (Jon); and grandchildren, Stacy Lindholm (Pete), Anne Sateren Burow (Matt), Ben Bergherr, Sara Bergherr, Erik Sateren, and Anders Sateren. Sateren is also survived by sisters, Margaret Trautwein, Norma (Ray) Anderson, Sylvia (Dean) Elness; and brother, Donald Sateren. The family would like to thank the staff at Redeemer Residence in Minneapolis for their concern and care. Memorial service at 11 am Saturday, Nov. 17 at the Augsburg College Foss Chapel. Visitation will be from 9:30-10:30 am. Memorials preferred to the Leland B. Sateren Choral Scholarship Fund at Augsburg.
The hymn itself appears to be popular in Evangelical Lutheran circles, but not much outside of those, even though it is a pretty neat melody and arrangement.
Please turn to number 79 and join with the Clarinets in “Christ, The Life of All the Living.
First Line: Christ, the Life of all the Living
Name: JESU, MEINES LEBENS LEBEN.
Meter: 8 7, 8 7, 7 7, 7 7.
Tempo: With dignity and movement
Music: Darmstadt Gesangbuch, 1687
Text: Ernst Christoph Homburg, 1605-81
Tr. Catherine Winkworth, 1829-78 a.
For the last few hymns, I’ve only been playing the melody part twice. On one of them I play the first and third verse but skip the second. The on the second I’ve been playing the first verse, improvise the second, then play the third.
For this hymn I tried something new, playing the first and third verse for two parts and then adding a third part where I only improvise the second verse.
It’s a little more work, but it gives me more control over the levels of the solo section as it relates to the harmony parts.
It also makes it a little easier to get in the right frame of mind for improvising.
I also had been using embedded soundcloud links to post the songs. Turns out there’s a limit to how many songs you can have for free on soundcloud. So I went back and replaced the soundcloud embeds with mp3s and the native worpress player.
Homburg, Ernst Christoph, was born in 1605, at Mihla, near Eisenach. He practised at Nauraburg, in Saxony, as Clerk of the Assizes and Counsellor. In 1648 ho was admitted a member of the Fruitbearing Society, and afterwards became a member of the Elbe Swan Order founded by Rist in 1660. He died at Naumburg, Juno 2, 1681. (Koch, iii. 388, 392; Allegemeine Deutsche Biographie, xiii. 43, 44.)
By his contemporaries Homburg was regarded as a poet of the first rank. His earlier poems, 1638-1653, were secular, including many love and drinking songs. Domestic troubles arising from the illnesses of himself and of his wife, and other afflictions, led him to seek the Lord, and the deliverances he experienced from pestilence and from violence led him to place all his confidence on God. The collected edition of his hymns appeared in two parts at Jena and Naumburg, 1659, pt. i. as his Geistlicher Lieder, Erster Theil, with 100 hymns [engraved title, Naumburg, 1658]; and pt. ii. as the Ander Theil with 50 hymns. In the preface he speaks of them as his “Sunday labours,” and says, “I was specially induced and compelled” to their composition” by the anxious and sore domestic afflictions by which God…..has for some time laid me aside.” They are distinguished for simplicity, firm faith, and liveliness, but often lack poetic vigour and are too sombre.
This is regarded as Homburg’s most popular hymn, but it is still pretty somber.
1) Christ, the Life of all the living,
Christ the Death of death, our foe,
Who thyself for us once giving
To the darkest depths of woe,
Partiently didst yield thy breath
But to save my soul from death;
Praise and glory every be,
Blessed Jesus, unto thee.
2) Thou, O Christ, hast taken on thee
Bitter strokes, a cruel rod;
Pain and scorn were heaped upon thee,
O thou sinless Son of God,
Only thus for me to win
Rescue from the bonds of sin;
Praise and glory ever be,
Blessed Jesus, unto thee.
3) Thou didst bear the smiting only
That it might not fall on me;
Stoodest falsely charged and lonely
That I might be safe and free;
Comfortless that I might know
Comfort from boundless woe.
Praise and glory ever be,
Blessed Jesus, unto thee.
4) Then for all that wrought our pardon,
For thy sorrows deep and sore,
For thine anguish in the garden,
I will thank the evermore;
Thank thee with my latest breath
For thy sad and cruel death,
For that last and bitter cry
Praise thee evermore on high. Amen.
While this arrangement was easy to transcribe and record, I had a much harder time finding room for my second verse solo “Hymnprovisation”. There’s a lot of freedom in the simple harmonies of chant. When you start getting more chord changes in there, it becomes more complicated for improvisation.
I always think of improvisation sort of like navigating an obstacle course. With Chant, you basically have a straight track with maybe one obstacle in the middle. With modern arrangements (and jazz), it becomes a steeple chase.
I have come to almost dread these Edmund White arrangements of Medieval chant.
First, they’re a pain to transcribe. There is inevitably some mis-match between the beats in the different parts, which forces me to use my own judgement.
Second, the hymns, as written, have no measures. So, the “meter” such that it exists I can only divine based upon the length of the musical phrases, rather than actual written measures. In this case, it means I have to divy it up several different meters. It starts in 6/8. Moves to 5/8 for a measure. Then goes to 7/8 for a few. Has a measure of 8/8. Then two of 6/8. One measure of 5/8. And it finishes in 7/8. It’s almost as bad as a Rush song.
Anyway, all that counting is tough, especially at the relatively slow pace of a medieval chant. It’s one thing to mis half a beat when you’re cruising along with a ton of little notes, but when your travelling at 72bpm, it just sounds sloppy. It’s kind of a zen mode where you have to count very slowly and carefully.
Anyway, usually what happens is there is usually a short motif which all the parts perform in unison, which sort of provides the framework upon which these pieces hang. In this case, it is two quarter notes at the end of each phrase.
So, they take a lot of work, compared to more modern (Ha!) hymns in the book, and several days to get myself into the proper frame of mind to be able to perform all 4 parts accurately 3 times through.
But, I do really enjoy them, once I get in the mind set.
I did a bit of “Hymnprovisation” on the second time through, and am pretty pleased with how it turned out.
This is the first hymn of the section in celebration of Holy Week, the days between Palm Sunday and Good Friday.
Please turn to number 74 and join with the clarinets in “All Glory, Laud, and Honor”.
First Line: All Glory, Laud, and Honor
Name: ST. THEODULPH (VALET WILL ICH DIR GEBEN).
Meter: 7 6, 7 6. D.
Music: Melchior Teschner, 1585-1635
Text: Theodulph of Orleans, cir 760-821
Tr. John Mason Neale, 1818-66
Theodulf of Orléans (c. 750(/60) – 18 December 821) was a writer, poet and the Bishop of Orléans (c. 798 to 818) during the reign of Charlemagne and Louis the Pious. He was a key member of the Carolingian Renaissance and an important figure during the many reforms of the church under Charlemagne, as well as almost certainly the author of the Libri Carolini, “much the fullest statement of the Western attitude to representational art that has been left to us by the Middle Ages”. He is mainly remembered for this and the survival of the private oratory or chapel made for his villa at Germigny-des-Prés, with a mosaic probably from about 806.
Theodulf brought fresh ideas and an open mind to the period known as the Carolingian Renaissance. He believed in always keeping the door open and never refusing pilgrims, travelers or the poor if they needed a meal or a place to stay for the night. He believed that you had to offer the less fortunate a seat at your dinner table if you one day wished to have a seat at the banquet of God. These ideas were highly influenced by his readings of Augustine. He often referred to himself as the poor traveler or stranger, being born in Spain and of Visigothic descent, and being accepted with open arms by the royal court of Charlemagne.
Though, as usual, he fell afoul of Monarchs, in this case the French variety, was exiled to a monastery at Angers, and died attempting to return to Orleans.
“”Valet will ich dir geben” (“I want to bid you farewell” or I shall say farewell to thee) is a Lutheran hymn, written by Valerius Herberger in 1613 with a melody by Melchior Teschner. A Sterbelied (hymn for the dying), it is part of the current German hymnal.”
By the way, at Hymn 74, this is the last of the three tunes for Palm Sunday, but, more importantly, about the half way point for the hymns specifically dedicated to occasions of the Church Year. Woo!
I guess this is a Spanish Chant which was arranged by Benjamin Carr.
Benjamin Carr (September 12, 1768 – May 24, 1831) was an American composer, singer, teacher, and music publisher.
Born in London, he was the son of Joseph Carr and older brother of Thomas Carr. He was also the nephew of his namesake Benjamin Carr (1731–80), who ran an instrument-making and repair shop in London for over 20 years.
He studied organ with Charles Wesley and composition with Samuel Arnold. In 1793 he traveled to Philadelphia with a stage company, and a year later went with the same company to New York, where he stayed until 1797. Later that year he moved to Philadelphia, where he became a prominent member of the city’s musical life. He was “decidedly the most important and prolific music publisher in America during the 1790s (as well as one of its most distinguished composers), conducting, in addition to his Philadelphia business, a New York branch from 1794 to 1797, when it was acquired by James Hewitt“.
He was well known as a teacher of keyboard and singing, and he served as organist and choirmaster at St Augustine’s Catholic Church (1801–31) and at St Peter’s Episcopal Church (1816–31). In 1820 he was one of the principal founders of the Musical Fund Society of Philadelphia, and he is known as the “Father of Philadelphia Music”.Mrs. French, who had achieved a degree of fame as a singer, was one of his students.
The text is pretty grim, a catalog of Christ’s suffering and ultimate triumph. It is a bit odd, sort of an invocation.
1 Savior, when in dust to Thee
Low we bow the adoring knee;
When, repentant, to the skies
Scarce we lift our weeping eyes;
O, by all Thy pains and woe
Suffered once for man below,
Bending from Thy throne on high,
Hear our penitential cry!
2 By Thy helpless infant years,
By Thy life of want and tears,
By Thy days of deep distress
In the savage wilderness,
By the dread, mysterious hour
Of the insulting tempter’s pow’r,
Turn, O turn, a fav’ring eye;
Hear our penitential cry!
3 By thine hour of dire despair,
By thine agony of prayer,
By the cross, the nail, the thorn,
Piercing spear, and torturing scorn,
By the gloom that veiled the skies
O’er the dreadful sacrifice,
Listen to our humble sigh;
Hear our penitential cry!
4 By Thy deep expiring groan,
By the sad sepulchral stone,
By the vault whose dark abode
Held in vain the rising God,
O, from earth to heav’n restored,
Mighty, re-ascended Lord,
Bending from Thy throne on high,
Hear our penitential cry!
“Adapted and harmonized by J.S. Bach” always makes for a bit of a challenge. I upped the challenge to myself by doing a little “hymprovisation” and variation on the second and third times through.
This hymn is a single verse:
Print thine image pure and holy,
On my heart, O Lord of Grace;
So that nothing high nor lowly,
Thy blest likeness can efface.
Let the clear inscription be:
Jesus, crucified for me,
And the Lord of all creation,
Is my refuge and salvation.
“Print Thine image on my heart” is such an odd turn of phrase and Kingo is such an odd name, I had to look him up.
Thomas Hansen Kingo (15 December 1634 – 14 October 1703 Odense) was a Danish bishop, poet and hymn-writer born at Slangerup, near Copenhagen. His work marked the high point of Danish baroque poetry.
He belonged to a rather poor family partly of Scottish origin and was educated a clergyman. In his youth, Kingo wrote a series of poems picturing humorous scenes in village life and a pastoral love poem, Chrysillis. He studied theology at the University of Copenhagen, graduating in 1654, and for some time acted as private tutor. In 1661 he was appointed vicar to the pastor at Kirke Helsinge, and in 1668 he was ordained a minister at his native town, where his poetic activity began.
At first he essayed patriotic poems, but later devoted himself almost entirely to writing hymns, and in 1674 the first part of his Aandelige Siunge-Koor (“Spiritual Song Choir”) appeared; followed in 1681 by a second part. This work consists of a collection of beautiful hymns several of which are still popular in the Danish Church.
In 1677 Kingo was appointed bishop of Funen. Charged by the government with the compilation of a new hymn-book, he edited (1699) the so-called Kingo’s Psalmebog which contains eighty-five of his own compositions, and which is still used in various parts of Denmark and Norway. Some parts of the Danish rural population were firmly sticking to his hymns during the pietist and rationalist period contributing to their survival.
Though not the first Danish hymn writer Kingo must be considered the first real important one and also among the Danish poets of the 17th Century he is generally a leading figure. His hymns are born by a forceful and often Old Testamental wrath and renunciation of the world switching with Christian mildness and confidence. Both elements are thrown in relief by his private thrift and fighting nature. His worldly poems and patriotic songs are often long-winded and marked by outer effects but in short version he is unequalled, as in his both plain and worthy commemorative poem of the naval hero Niels Juel.