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.
Please turn your hymnals to number 122 (Second Tune) and join with the clarinets in “Come, Holy Spirit”.
Number: 122 (Second Tune)
First Line: Come, Holy Spirit, God and Lord
Music: Horatio W. Parker, 1863-1919
Text: Martin Luther, 1483-1546
Tr. Edward Traill Horn III, 1909-
Before leaving New York City in 1893, Parker had completed his oratorio, Hora Novissima, set to the opening words of De contemptu mundi by Bernard of Cluny. It was widely performed in America; and also in England, in 1899 at Chester, and at the Three Choirs Festival at Worcester, the latter an honour never before paid an American composer. European critics called it one of the finest of American compositions. While he is mostly remembered for this single work, he was a prolific and versatile composer in a mostly conservative Germanic tradition, writing two operas, songs, organ and incidental music, and a copious quantity of works for chorus and orchestra. Influences in his compositions include Mendelssohn, Brahms, Wagner, as well as Debussy and Elgar in some works which he composed closer to 1900. During his lifetime he was considered to be the finest composer in the United States, a superior craftsman writing in the most advanced style.
Please turn your hymnals to number 122 (First Tune) and join with the clarinets in, “Come, Holy Spirit”.
Number: 122 (First Tune)
First Line: Come, Holy Spirit, God and Lord
Name: KOMM HEILIGE GEIST, HERRE GOTT.
Meter: L.M.D. With Alleluias.
Tempo: With dignity, in unison
Music: Pre-Reformation Melody, Erfurt Gesangbuch, 1524
Text: Martin Luther, 1483-1546
Tr. Edward Traill Horn III, 1909-
Whew. Again, you would think a relatively simple melody with relatively simple harmonization and rhythm would be easy. But it took me a number of tries to get all 4 parts executed well all eight times for this recording.
Contrary to the Quaker hymn, while it might be a gift, it isn’t easy being “simple”.
Luther, Martin, born at Eisleben, Nov. 10, 1483; entered the University of Erfurt, 1501 (B.A. 1502, M.A.. 1503); became an Augustinian monk, 1505; ordained priest, 1507; appointed Professor at the University of Wittenberg, 1508, and in 1512 D.D.; published his 95 Theses, 1517; and burnt the Papal Bull which had condemned them, 1520; attended the Diet of Worms, 1521; translated the Bible into German, 1521-34; and died at Eisleben, Feb. 18, 1546. The details of his life and of his work as a reformer are accessible to English readers in a great variety of forms. Luther had a huge influence on German hymnody.
Please turn your hymnals to number 121 and join with the clarinets in, “Come, Holy Ghost”.
First Line: Come, Holy Ghost
Meter: 6 6 4, 6 6 6 4.
Tempo: In moderate time
Music: The Hallelujah, 1849
Arr. by John Roberts, 1822-77
Text: Based on Veni, Sancte Spiritus
Tr. Ray Palmer, 1808-87
Veni Sancte Spiritus is one of only four medieval Sequences which were preserved in the Missale Romanum published in 1570 following the Council of Trent (1545–63). Before Trent many feasts had their own sequences. It is still sung today, having survived the liturgical changes following the Second Vatican Council.
Please turn your hymnals to number 120 and join with the clarinets in, “O Holy Spirit Enter In”.
First Line: O Holy Spirit Enter In
Name: WIE SCHöN LEUCHTET.
Tempo: With movement
Music: Phillipp Nicolai, 1556-1608
Adapted and harm. by J. S. Bach, 1685-1750
Text: Michael Schirmer, 1606-73
Tr. Catherine Winkworth
A very short hymn, only 8 lines, I waffled on how to treat it. Should I play it really slowly?
Many times, very quickly? I took a middle route, at 80bpm, and played it 4 times. Repetition is interesting.
“FILITZ, Friedrich. b. Arnstadt, Thuringia, 16 Mar 1804; d. Bonn, 8 Dec 1876. Filitz graduated in philosophy and worked as a music critic and historian in Berlin (1843-47) before moving to Munich where he wrote Über einige Interessen der älteren Kirchenmusik (1853). The hymn tunes associated with Filitz were originally published in two books. Together with Ludwig Erk, he published Vierstimmige Choralsätze der vornehmsten Meister des 16. und 17. Jahrhunderts (Essen, 1845). He also compiled Vierstimmiges Choralbuch zu Kirchen- und Hausgebrauch (Berlin, 1847).”
At age 12, Dykes became assistant organist at St. John’s Church in Hull, where his grandfather was vicar. He studied at Wakefield and St. Catherine’s Hall in Cambridge, where he was a Dikes Scholar, President of the Cambridge University Musical Society, and earned a BA in Classics. In 1848, he became curate at Malton, Yorkshire. For a short time, he was canon of Durham Cathedral, then precentor (1849-1862). In 1862 he became Vicar of St. Oswald’s, Durham (he named a son John St. Oswald Dykes, and one of his tunes St. Oswald).
Dykes published sermons and articles on religion, but is best known for composing over 300 hymn tunes. In his music, as in his ecclesiastical work, he was less dogmatic than many of his contemporaries about the theological controversies of the day—he often fulfilled requests for tunes for non-Anglican hymns. In addition to his gift for writing music, he played the organ, piano, violin, and horn.
As written, this hymn has 4 sharps, which means, when transposed for b flat clarinet, that it ends up with 6 sharps. Ouch. Remembering that “E Sharp” is “F” and “A Sharp” is “B Flat”, taxes my feeble brain, but I tried my best to perform this piece accurately. Other than the mental games required for that, it is not that challenging a hymn, and mercifully short.
“Veni, Creator Spiritus” is a venerable Latin Hymn whose origins date to the first century of the church.
Veni, Creator Spiritus (“Come Creator Spirit”) is a hymn believed to have been written by Rabanus Maurus in the 9th century. When the original Latin text is used, it is normally sung in Gregorian Chant. As an invocation of the Holy Spirit, in the practice of the Roman Catholic Church it is sung during the liturgical celebration of the feast of Pentecost (at both Terce and Vespers). It is also sung at occasions such as the entrance of Cardinals to the Sistine Chapel, when electing a new pope, as well as at the consecration of bishops, the ordination of priests, when celebrating the sacrament of Confirmation, the dedication of churches, the celebration of synods or councils, the coronation of kings, the profession of members of religious institutes and other similar solemn events.
Interestingly, it has been most copiously adapted and used by modern composers by everyone from Mahler to Stockhausen.
A motet for women’s voices to the text was among the last works of Hector Berlioz. Gustav Mahler set the Latin text to music in Part I of his Symphony No. 8 in E-flat major. Maurice Duruflé used the chant tune as the basis for his symphonic organ composition “Prélude, Adagio et Choral varié sur le thème du ‘Veni Creator'” in 1926/1930. Paul Hindemith concludes his Concerto for Organ and Orchestra with a Phantasy on “Veni, Creator Spiritus.” Krzysztof Penderecki wrote a motet for mixed choir, and the text has been set for chorus and orchestra by Cristóbal Halffter. Karlheinz Stockhausen used the text in the second hour of his Klang cycle in a piece for two singing harpists titled Freude (Joy).
For me, some of these early hymns are the hardest, not only because they are difficult to transcribe, but also because the harmonies are more asymetrical and complex than more modern hymns. There is a lot of unusual counting involved.
Please turn your hymnals to number 116 and join with the clarinets in “To The Realms of Glory”.
First Line: To the Realms of Glory
Name: MACH’S MIT MIR, GOTT. (EISENBACH)
Meter: 8 7, 8 7, 8 8.
Music: Johann Hermann Schein
Text: Johan Olaf Wallin, 1779-1839
Tr. Claude William Foss, 1855-1935
It’s kind of odd that this tune, “Mach’s Mir, Gott (nach deiner Güt)”, Schein’s Hymn for the “sick and dying” is used here as a setting for a text that is celebrating Ascension, or the return of Jesus Christ to Heaven after his resurrection.
The tune itself is an odd affair that I struggled to find phrasing for. Maybe it is that disconnect between intention of the tune and the text that I was sensing, before I even looked up its history.
The text does have some nice turns of phrase that will echo through many other hymns, gospel and otherwise. I especially like the first verse.
1. To realms of glory in the skies
I see my Lord returning,
While I, a stranger in the earth,
For heaven am ever yearning.
’Mid toil and sorrow here I roam,
Far from my heavenly Father’s home.
2. Yet visions of the promised land
By faith my soul obtaineth;
There shall I dwell forevermore
Where Christ in glory reigneth;
In mansions of that bright abode,
The city of the living God.
3. In that blest city is no night,
Nor any pain or weeping;
There is my treasure, there my heart,
Safe in the Savior’s keeping;
In Heaven, my risen Lord, with Thee
May all my thought and living be.
4. How blessèd shall those servants be,
O Lord, at Thy returning,
Whose hearts are waiting still for Thee,
Whose lamps are trimmed and burning;
Them wilt Thou take to dwell with Thee
In joy and peace eternally.
Anyway, regarding Ascension itself, there’s some deep and very old tradition related to this holiday, that probably goes back to pre-Christian traditions in celebration of Spring.
The observance of this feast is of great antiquity. Eusebius seems to hint at the celebration of it in the 4th century. At the beginning of the 5th century, St. Augustine says that it is of Apostolic origin, and he speaks of it in a way that shows it was the universal observance of the Church long before his time. Frequent mention of it is made in the writings of St. John Chrysostom, St. Gregory of Nyssa, and in the Constitution of the Apostles. The Pilgrimage of Aetheria speaks of the vigil of this feast and of the feast itself, as they were kept in the church built over the grotto in Bethlehem in which Christ is traditionally regarded as having been born. It may be that prior to the 5th century the fact narrated in the Gospels was commemorated in conjunction with the feast of Easter or Pentecost. Some believe that the much-disputed forty-third decree of the Synod of Elvira (c. 300) condemning the practice of observing a feast on the fortieth day after Easter and neglecting to keep Pentecost on the fiftieth day, implies that the proper usage of the time was to commemorate the Ascension along with Pentecost. Representations of the mystery[clarification needed] are found in diptychs and frescoes dating as early as the 5th century.
Certain customs or rituals were connected with the liturgy of this feast, such as the blessing of beans and grapes after the Commemoration of the Dead in the Canon of the Mass, the blessing of first fruits, afterwards done on Rogation Days, the blessing of a candle, the wearing of mitres by deacon and subdeacon, the extinguishing of the paschal candle, and triumphal processions with torches and banners outside the churches to commemorate the entry of Christ into heaven.
The antiquarian Daniel Rock records the English custom of carrying at the head of the procession the banner bearing the device of the lion and at the foot the banner of the dragon, to symbolize the triumph of Christ in his ascension over the evil one (and can also be interpreted by analogy as the triumph of England over Wales). In some churches the scene of the Ascension was vividly reproduced by elevating the figure of Christ above the altar through an opening in the roof of the church. In others, whilst the figure of Christ was made to ascend, that of the devil was made to descend.
In England it was once common for churches to “beat the bounds” on this day, and some continue the custom (e.g. the church of St Michael at the North Gate in Oxford). Members of the parish walk round the parish boundaries, marking boundary stones (e.g. by writing on them in chalk) and hitting them with sticks. According to some, it was once the young boys of the parish that were hit with sticks instead of the stones. Knowledge of the parish boundaries was once important, since churches had certain duties such as the care of children born out of wedlock in the parish.
Coinciding with the liturgical feast is the annual commemoration by the Christian labour movement (especially syndical, in Belgium) of the encyclicalRerum novarum issued by the Roman Catholic Pope Leo XIII on May 15, 1891.
In Venice the ceremony of the Wedding with the Sea was traditionally celebrated on the Feast of the Ascension, while in Florence the Feast was observed by having a dove slide down a string from the high altar of the cathedral to ignite a large decorative container filled with fireworks in front of the main entrance of the cathedral.
In Portugal on “Wheatstalk Thursday”, small bundles of poppies and wheatstalks are picked in the fields and placed at home until next year, for good fortune.
*Schein, Johann Hermann, son of Hieronymus Schein, pastor at Griinhain, near Annaberg, in Saxony, was born at Grünhain, Jan. 20,1586. He matriculated at the University of Leipzig in 1607, and studied there for four years. Thereafter he acted for some time as a private tutor, including two years with a family at Weissenfels. On May 21, 1615, he was appointed Capellmeister, at the court of Duke Johann Ernst, of Sachse-Weimar; and in 1616 he became cantor of I3t. Thomas’s Church, and music director at Leipzig, in succession to Seth Calvisius (d. Nov. 24, 1615). This post he held till his death, at Leipzig, Nov. 19, 1630.
Schein was one of the most distinguished musicians of his time, both as an original composer, and as a harmoniser of the works of others. As a hymnwriter he was not so prolific, or so noteworthy. Most of his hymns were written on the deaths of his children or friends, e.g. on seven of his children, and on his first wife. They appeared mostly in broadsheet form, and were included, along with his original melodies, in his Cantional oder Gesang-Buch Augspurgischer Confession, Leipzig, 1627; 2nd ed., 1645. [Both in Wernigerode Library.]
Those of Schein’s hymns which have passed into English are:—
i. Machs mit mir, Gott, nach deiner Güt. For the Dying. First published, as a broadsheet, at Leipzig, 1628, as a Trost-Liedlein á 5 (i.e. for 5 voices), &c. [Berlin Library.] The words, the melody, and the five-part setting, are all by Schein. It was written for, and first used at, the funeral, on Dec. 15, 1628, of Margarita, wife of Caspar Werner, a builder and town councillor at Leipzig, and a churchwarden of St. Thomas’s. It is in 6 stanzas of 6 lines; the initial letters of 11. 1, 3, in st. i.-iv., forming the name Margarita; and the W of st. v. 1. 1 standing for Werner. In Schein’s Cantional, 1645, No. 303 (marked as Trost-Liedlein, Joh. Herm. Scheins, á 5), and later hymn-books, as e.g. the Unverfäschter Liedersegen, 1851, No. 830, st. vi. was omitted. It is Schein’s finest production, and one of the best German hymns for the sick and dying. Translated as:—
Deal with me, God, in mercy now. This is a good and full translation by Miss Winkworth, in her Chorale Book for England, 1863, No. 191, set to Schein’s melody of 1628.