This Sunday, our music comes from a variety of fascinating sources. Our choir anthem during the offertory is actually out of The Hymnal 1982. The Stars declare his glory by Richard Proulx (1937-2010). The text may be found at number 431 in your hymnal. I would recommend looking over the text, a beautiful paraphrase of Psalm 19 by The Rt. Rev. Timothy Dudley-Smith (b. 1926). The composer, Richard Proulx, was a very influential composer and editor of church music for The Episcopal Church, among other denominations. Many Sundays of the year, we sing his setting of the Sanctus (S-125). The melody of this hymn-anthem is of a unique and modern character that well reflects the style of hymn composition prevalent in the mid and late 20th century.
Also of note is this Sunday’s processional hymn which may be new to some of you. The text, O love, how deep, how broad, how high, is drawn from a 15th century Latin hymn. The tune, Deus tuorum militum, is found in the Grenoble Antiphoner published in France in 1753. Quite unique for its time, the tune, according to the Psalter Hymnal Handbook, represents a departure from Gregorian chant style tunes in Catholic churches of the 18th century. The melody is of a cheerful, uplifting, and very “singable” nature. The text outlines the very story of Christ on earth in gorgeous terms.
Finally, the organ postlude will be the first part of the Toccata in E Major by J. S. Bach (1685-1750). Chosen partially for its brevity (so we can have our organ demonstration), this work shows us Bach’s radiant and vivacious side. The piece has many moving layers of music all within an overarching, dense harmonic progression. Listen for the exciting pedal solo in the beginning. This piece was written during the youthful period of Bach’s life. Thus, we hear a youthful optimism that is so common to his music of that time. Later in life, as many of us, Bach became more focused and complex. I hope you enjoy this example of the young Bach who aimed to dazzle and delight! In the future, I hope to play the other three segments of this work for you.
Christopher W. Powell
Organist and Choir Master