As we celebrate the Second Sunday after Pentecost this week, our music will center around the Gospel reading, the story of Jesus healing the centurion’s slave. This story contains the famous words, “I am not worthy to have you come under my roof,” and presents some challenges when pairing with music. Thankfully, a relatively new anthem by Philip Godfrey (b. 1964), My spirit longs for thee, fits this reading quite well. The lyrics are printed below. Godfrey is a composer living in England who has written primarily vocal music and possesses a style that is quite appealing to musicians and listeners alike. We hope to program more of his music in the future.
“My spirit longs for thee within my troubled breast,
Though I unworthy be of so divine a guest.
Of so divine a guest unworthy though I be,
Yet has my heart no rest unless it come from thee.
Unless it come from thee, in vain I look around;
In all that I can see no rest is to be found.
No rest is to be found but in thy blessed love:
O let my wish be crowned, and send it from above.”
- John Byrom (1692-1763)
Also on Sunday, a trio of singers from the choir will offer a Communion anthem by Christopher Tye (1505-1572), O Come, Ye Servants of the Lord. Set in a beautiful Renaissance style, this anthem bids both princes and people to praise and adore God – a fitting sentiment for Communion. Christopher Tye was quite famous in England as Ely Cathedral’s master of choristers, Edward VI’s music teacher, a composer, and an organist. At some point, Tye stopped composing and became a clergyman. One of his more interesting accomplishments is his setting of the entire Acts of the Apostles in four part harmony! While not as highly regarded as some other similar English composers, such as Tallis, Tye certainly earned his rightful place as one of the most important composers of Renaissance church music in his country.
Finally, the organ postlude is Festal Toccata by Arthur Baynon (1889-1954), an English composer and organist about whom quite little seems to be known. This particular piece is a great example of what a good composer can do in a straightforward way and a familiar form. The original review, found in the July 1919 issue of The American Organist magazine, puts it in the following way. “It is not always necessary to write all the notes possible for two hands and two feet to play in order to obtain effects of bigness or solidity, and Mr. Baynon has shown himself cognizant of that.” I hope this festive piece sends you on your way with joy this Sunday as it also celebrates the choir’s accomplishments this season. We are proud of them and grateful for their service. As we enter the summer, be sure to keep abreast of all the great music still happening at the Cathedral by checking the email blasts and reading The Messenger.See you in church!