Bass clarinet is in the shop for some work, so for a week, or so, it’s going to be Saxophone Hymns! Some arranging and recording challenges, as they are louder and don’t quite have the same range as clarinets, but it will be a good chance to practice more Sax.
Dorset has its own ‘Shrubsolian composer’ – what the pop music world would call a ‘one-hit wonder’. His name is William Knapp, and his ‘one tune’ is arguably even more memorable than ‘Miles Lane’: it has to this day the reputation of being one of the easiest and most comfortable tunes for a congregation to sing. A remarkable feature of the tune is that, except in one place, it proceeds ‘by step’ (that is, one note up or down), and it is this that makes it so singable. The eminent theologian Dr James Moffatt described it as ‘one of the best congregational tunes ever written’. Knapp called it ‘Wareham’ after the town where he was born. Thanks to him, the town’s name has been perpetuated in hymn-books all over the world for nearly three hundred years.
Please turn your hymnals to number 126 and join with the clarinets in, “Come, O Come, Thou Quickening Spirit”.
First Line: Come, O Come, Thou Quickening Spirit
Name: KOMM, O KOMM, DU GEIST DES LEBENS.
Meter: 8 7, 8 7, 7 7.
Tempo: With movement
Music: Meiningen Gesangbuch, 1693
Text: Heinrich Held, cir. 1659
Tr. Edward Traill Horn III, 1909-
It appears that this book was harmonized by J. S. Bach’s son, Johann.
KOMM, O KOMM, DU GEIST DES LEBENS
Harmonizer: Johann Christoph Bach; Composer: G. Joseph Breslau
Johann Bach was known as “The London Bach” or “John Bach”!
Johann Christian Bach was born to Johann Sebastian and Anna Magdalena Bach in Leipzig, Germany. His distinguished father was already 50 at the time of his birth, which would perhaps contribute to the sharp differences between his music and that of his father. Even so, his father first instructed him in music and that instruction continued until his death in 1750. After his father’s death, he worked (and lived) with his second-oldest half brother Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, who was twenty-one years his senior and considered at the time to be the most musically gifted of Bach’s sons.
He enjoyed a promising career, first as a composer then as a performer playing alongside Carl Friedrich Abel, the notable player of the viola da gamba. He composed cantatas, chamber music, keyboard and orchestral works, operas and symphonies.
Bach lived in Italy for many years starting in 1756, studying with Padre Martini in Bologna. He became organist at the Milan cathedral in 1760. During his time in Italy, he converted from Lutheranism to Catholicism and devoted much time to the composition of church music, including two Masses, a Requiem and a Te Deum. His first major work was a Mass, which received an excellent performance and acclaim in 1757. In 1762, Bach travelled to London to première three operas at the King’s Theatre, including Orione on 19 February 1763. That established his reputation in England, and he became music master to Queen Charlotte. He met soprano Cecilia Grassi in 1766 and married her shortly thereafter. She was his junior by eleven years. They had no children.
By the late 1770s, his music was no longer popular and his fortunes declined. His steward had embezzled almost all his wealth and Bach died in considerable debt in London on New Year’s Day, 1782. Queen Charlotte covered the expenses of the estate and provided a life pension for Bach’s widow. He was buried in the graveyard of St. Pancras Old Church, London.
Regarding the text, the author was “Silesian” which is an often disputed area on the borders of Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia.
Held, Heinrich, was son of Valentin Held of Guhrau, Silesia. He studied at the Universities of Königsberg (c. 1637-40), Frankfurt a. Oder (1643), and Leyden. He was also in residence at Rostock in 1647. He became a licentiate of law, and settled as a lawyer in his native place, where he died about 1659, or at least before Michaelmas, 1661 (Koch, iii. 55-56; Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie., xi. 680; Bode, p. 87, &c).
One of the best Silesian hymnwriters, he was taught in the school of affliction, having many trials to suffer in those times of war. His only extant poetical work is his Deutscher Gedichte Vortrab, Frankfurt a. Oder, 1643. Only one hymn from that volume came into German use. Much more important are his other hymns, which are known to us through Crüger’s Praxis, and other hymnbooks of the period. Mützell, 1858, includes Nos. 254-272 under his name.
Please turn your hymnals to number 125 and join with the clarinets in “Love of the Father”.
First Line: Love of the Father
Name: SONG 22.
Meter: 10 10, 10 10.
Tempo: With movement
Music: Orlando Gibbons, 1583-1625
Text: Latin Hymn, XII cent.
Paraphrase, Robert Bridges, 1844-1930
From The Yattendon Hymnal, edited by Robert Bridges
Apparently, Orlando Gibbons was a well enough known composer of his time that his reputation lingered even up until relatively modern times, when he was championed by pianist and performer Glenn Gould.
Gibbons was born in 1583 (most likely in December) and baptised on Christmas Day at Oxford, where his father William Gibbons was working as a wait. Between 1596 and 1598 he sang in the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge, where his brother Edward Gibbons (1568–1650), eldest of the four sons of William Gibbons, was master of the choristers. The second brother Ellis Gibbons (1573–1603) was also a promising composer, but died young. Orlando entered the university as a sizar in 1598 and achieved the degree of Bachelor of Music in 1606. That same year he married Elizabeth Patten, daughter of a Yeoman of the Vestry, and they went on to have seven children (Gibbons himself was the seventh of 10 children).
King James I appointed him a Gentleman of the Chapel Royal, where he served as an organist from at least 1615 until his death. In 1623 he became senior organist at the Chapel Royal, with Thomas Tomkins as junior organist. He also held positions as keyboard player in the privy chamber of the court of Prince Charles (later King Charles I), and organist at Westminster Abbey. He died at age 41 in Canterbury of apoplexy, and was buried in Canterbury Cathedral. His death was a shock to his peers and brought about a post-mortem, though the cause of death aroused less comment than the haste of his burial and his body not being returned to London. His wife, Elizabeth, died a little over a year later, in her mid-30s, leaving Orlando’s eldest brother, Edward, to care for the orphaned children. Of these children only the eldest son, Christopher Gibbons, was to become a musician.
In the 20th century, the Canadian pianist Glenn Gould championed Gibbons’s music, and named him as his favourite composer. Gould wrote of Gibbons’s hymns and anthems: “ever since my teen-age years this music … has moved me more deeply than any other sound experience I can think of.” In one interview, Gould compared Gibbons to Beethoven and Webern:
“…despite the requisite quota of scales and shakes in such half-hearted virtuoso vehicles as the Salisbury Galliard, one is never quite able to counter the impression of music of supreme beauty that lacks its ideal means of reproduction. Like Beethoven in his last quartets, or Webern at almost any time, Gibbons is an artist of such intractable commitment that, in the keyboard field, at least, his works work better in one’s memory, or on paper, than they ever can through the intercession of a sounding-board.”
I’m not a huge fan of Dykes’ tunes, but MELITA is pretty good, at least in a triumphant, Anglican, kind of way.
The setting here is by John B. Dykes (PHH 147), originally composed as a setting for William Whiting’s “Eternal Father, Strong to Save.” Published in Hymns Ancient and Modern (1861) with that text, MELITA is often referred to as the “navy hymn.” The tune is named after the island of Malta where Paul was shipwrecked.
A fine tune, MELITA is marked by good use of melodic sequences and a harmony that features several dominant sevenths (both are Dykes’s trademarks). Sing in harmony; because the lines flow into each other in almost breathless fashion, use a stately tempo.
Some more details regarding Bacchus Dykes from wikipedia:
Dykes’s defeat [He was of the “Anglo-Catholic-Ritualist” persuasion and at the time Protestantism and “Anti-Papism” was on the rise in the UK. ed.] was followed by a gradual deterioration in his physical and mental health, necessitating absence (which was to prove permanent) from St. Oswald’s from March 1875. Rest and the bracing Swiss air proving unavailing, Dykes eventually went to recover on the south coast of England where, on 22 January 1876, he died aged 52. However, Fowler’s assertion  that he died at St. Leonard’s on Sea is false: he died in the asylum at Ticehurst, some 18 miles distant. More significantly, his assertion that Dykes’s ill-health was a consequence of overwork, exacerbated by his clash with Bishop Baring, has recently been questioned; one scholar suggests that the medical evidence points to his having succumbed to tertiary syphilis, and speculates that Dykes may have contracted the disease during his undergraduate years. He is buried in the ‘overflow’ churchyard of St. Oswald’s, a piece of land for whose acquisition and consecration he had been responsible a few years earlier. Touchingly, he shares a grave with his youngest daughter, Mabel, who died, aged 10, of scarlet fever in 1870. Dykes’s grave is now the only marked grave in what, in recent years, has been transformed into a children’s playground.
Roulette of the Cradle by Ingrid Laubrock Anti-House.
This is the sort of music that your more hide bound “Jazz” traditionalists tend to hate. That is, while sections do occasionally “swing”, large swaths are more influenced by some of the more expressionistic aspects of 20th Century Classical music. Skittering polyrhythms, tone clusters, etc. Personally, I enjoy that the instrumentalists and composer cast a wider net than simply Ragtime, Blues, and “Jazz” for their inspiration. Also, great song titles.
A set of 16 composed and improvised duos between Kris Davis and a variety of collaborators: Don Byron, Tim Berne, Marcus Gilmore, Billy Drummond, Angelica Sanchez, Craig Taborn, Julian Lage, and Bill Frisell. All the pieces have their own charm, but I am especially fond of the piano duos with Craig Taborn.
Frankly, this is one of those hymns where none of the individual parts seem to make melodic sense until they are heard as a whole. Everyone is jumping all over the place and the phrasing just seems odd. However, when you hear it all together it is kind of cool. At least, for a hymn.
The son of a musician in the royal band, Attwood was born in London, probably in Pimlico. At the age of nine he became a chorister in the Chapel Royal, where he received training in music from James Nares and Edmund Ayrton. In 1783 he was sent to study abroad at the expense of the Prince of Wales (afterwards George IV), who had been favourably impressed by his skill at the harpsichord. After two years in Naples, Attwood proceeded to Vienna, where he became a favourite pupil of Mozart. On his return to London in 1787 he held for a short time an appointment as one of the chamber musicians to the Prince of Wales.
In 1796 he was chosen as the organist of St Paul’s Cathedral, and in the same year he was made composer of the Chapel Royal. His court connection was further confirmed by his appointment as musical instructor to the Duchess of York, and afterwards to the Princess of Wales. For the coronation of George IV. he composed the anthemI was Glad. The king, who had neglected him for some years on account of his connection with the Princess of Wales, now restored him to favour, and in 1821 appointed him organist to his private chapel at Brighton. 
Attwood’s funeral took place at St Paul’s Cathedral on 31 March 1838. He is buried in the Cathedral, in the crypt, under the organ.
Anyone who has studied English poetry will recognize the name “John Dryden”
Dryden, John. The name of this great English poet has recently assumed a new importance to the students of hymns, from a claim made on his behalf in regard to a considerable body of translations from the Latin published after his death (1701), in a Primer of 1706. The discussion of this point will preclude us from giving more than an outline of his life.
i. Biography.—John Dryden was the son of Erasmus, the third son of Sir Erasmus Dryden, and was born at Aid winkle, All Saints, Northants, Aug. 9, 1631. He was educated under Dr. Busby at Westminster, and entered Trip. College, Cambridge, in 1650. He took his B.A. in 1654, and resided nearly 7 years, though without a fellowship. He was of Puritan blood on both his father’s and mother’s side, and his training found expression in his first great poem, Heroic Stanzas on the death of Oliver Cromwell, 1658. In 1660, however, he turned, like the bulk of England, Royalist, and in his Astraea Redux, and in A Panegyric on the Coronation (1661), celebrated the Restoration. In 1663 he married Lady Elizabeth Howard. The marriage was apparently not a happy one; and there seems to be plain proof of Dryden’s unfaithfulness. In 1670 he was made Poet Laureate and Historiographer Royal, and he retained these posts until the accession of William (1688). He had joined the Roman Church in 1685, and remained steadfast to it at the fall of James II. This change is of special significance, as will appear below, in regard to his translations from the Latin. It greatly straitened his means, and compelled him to great literary exertion in his closing years. He died May 18, 1701, and was buried in Westminster Abbey.
Stubborn Persistent Illusions by Do Make Say Think.
Do Make Say Think is kind of like Godspeed You Black Emperor’s slightly less gloomy younger sister. Cheery, almost, and I bet she has more friends.
Another Contellation Records release, courtesy of my wife, the wonderful Michele K-Tel, (which is kind of weird, considering, until recently, she was giving me a hard time about having too much Constellation vinyl.)
Please turn your hymnals to number 123 and join with the clarinets in, “Come Down, O Love Divine”.
First Line: Come Down, O Love Divine
Name: DOWN AMPNEY.
Meter: 6 6, 11. D.
Tempo: Moderately slow; may be sung in unison
Music: R. Vaughn Williams, 1872-1958
Text: Bianco da Siena, 1434
Tr. Richard Frederick Littledale, 1833-90
Not the first R. Vaughn Williams hymn, but a nice one. I will note, the tune seems to be named after the town he was born in.
Ralph Vaughan Williams; OM 12 October 1872 – 26 August 1958) was an English composer of symphonies, chamber music, opera, choral music, and film scores. He was also a collector of English folk music and song: this activity both influenced his editorial approach to the English Hymnal, beginning in 1904, in which he included many folk song arrangements set as hymn tunes, and also influenced several of his own original compositions.
Ralph Vaughan Williams was born on 12 October 1872 in Down Ampney, Gloucestershire, where his father, the Reverend Arthur Vaughan Williams (the surname Vaughan Williams is an unhyphenated double-barrelled name of Welsh origin), was vicar. Following his father’s death in 1875 he was taken by his mother, Margaret Susan née Wedgwood (1843–1937), the great-granddaughter of the potter Josiah Wedgwood, to live with her family at Leith Hill Place, a Wedgwood family home in the Surrey Hills. He was also related to the Darwins, Charles Darwin being a great-uncle. Though born into the privileged intellectual upper middle class, Vaughan Williams never took it for granted and worked all his life for the democratic and egalitarian ideals in which he believed.
Despite his substantial involvement in church music, and the religious subject-matter of many of his works, he was described by his second wife as “an atheist … [who] later drifted into a cheerful agnosticism.” It is noteworthy that in his opera The Pilgrim’s Progress he changed the name of the hero from John Bunyan’s Christian to Pilgrim. He also set Bunyan’s hymn Who would true valour see to music using the traditional Sussex melody “Monk’s Gate”. For many church-goers, his most familiar composition may be the hymn tune Sine nomine written for the hymn “For All the Saints” by William Walsham How. The tune he composed for the mediaeval hymn “Come Down, O Love Divine” (Discendi, Amor santo by Bianco of Siena, ca.1434) is entitled “Down Ampney” in honour of his birthplace.
’58 Sessions by Miles Davis, Julian “Cannonball” Adderley, Paul Chambers, Jimmy Cobb, John Coltrane, Bill Evans.
From this remove, it’s hard to hear that this record was somewhat radical at the time of its recording. It seems to represent a bridge between the Bebop, that the young Davis came up in, and the “Modal Jazz” he would soon become famous for popularizing on “Kind of Blue”. Adderley is especially great on this, and Coltrane is solidifying the sounds he would become known for.