Our second communion hymn, Abide with me, fast falls the eventide, was written by The Rev. Henry Francis Lyte (1793-1847), a Scottish Anglican priest. The tune most often pared with this hymn is Eventide by William Henry Monk (1823-1889). Monk was an English church musician and organist who was well known in his day as the choirmaster of King’s College in London. The combination of a beautiful prayer set to beautiful music has made Abide with me a favorite of Christians everywhere and even bridges religious divisions. Mahatma Gandhi is said to have declared this to be his favorite hymn, it is played at sporting events, and one legend says it was the last song played by the band aboard the ill-fated Titanic. On this last Sunday before Palm Sunday, this hymn speaks not of darkness outdoors, but of the evening of life and our nearness to Christ’s Passion. One account tells a story of Lyte writing this hymn text on his own deathbed.
Sunday’s Offertory Anthem will be To mock your reign, O dearest Lord with lyrics by Methodist minister F. Pratt Green (1903-2000) and music by Thomas Tallis (1505-1585). Tallis was one of the few composers who avoided hostilities between Protestants and Catholics during the English Reformation. Composing in Latin for Catholics and English for Anglicans, Tallis treaded the margin of life and death during a time of upheaval in English religious life. The tune of Sunday’s anthem is one of his most popular pieces and was perhaps most famously used in Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Fantasy On a Theme of Thomas Tallis. The haunting Tudor era melody fits the text perfectly. If you would like to read it ahead of time, the text may be found at number 170 in The Hymnal 1982.
This Wednesday features the last of our Lenten Music at Noon concerts this season. You are invited to hear Brian Brown, principal violist of the Pensacola and Niceville Symphony Orchestras and Director of Music Ministry at St. Paul Catholic Church in Pensacola, FL. Brian and I have worked together regularly for nine years, and we plan to present a program that features the many interesting facets of the viola and covers diverse styles of music.