Sunday's introit comes directly from the Gospel reading, but it also is inspired by a piece of music by Thomas Tallis (c. 1505-1585), If Ye Love Me. When arranging this piece, I took thematic motives from Tallis' anthem and reconstructed them into something quite modern. Exercises like this are fun for the composer, but they also can be interesting for the listener - especially if you are familiar with the original. Taking the notes and rhythms written in the 16th century and reorganizing them is a kind of musical repurposing, and it is intended to help listeners think of Sunday's Gospel message in new and meaningful ways.
The choir anthem will be The Rain Will Seek the Rivers, by Robert J. Powell (b. 1932). I have often been asked if he is a relative of mine, but he is not (as far as I am aware). Powell is one of the most influential composers in The Episcopal Church of his generation and has perhaps become best known for his setting of the Gloria (S-280) that is sung at nearly every Episcopal church I've attended. He is a prolific composer of other music, however, and I hope you will enjoy his anthem this week. The text, by Beverly Easterling (b. 1949), is printed below along with a biography of Robert Powell from St. James Music Press.
"The rain will seek the rivers,
And rivers run to seas,
While human hearts will wander
Unfulfilled and restlessly.
The anxious heart must listen,
for the quiet voice
That whispers, answers, offers,
Calls forth the unforced choice.
To grasp the easy burden,
God's grace our soul's delight.
Oh, run to claim the promise
Of everlasting life."
"Robert J. Powell was born in Benoit, Mississippi. Since 1958 he has published over 300 compositions for organ, choir, handbells and instrumental ensembles with leading American and English church music publishers. Robert Powell grew up in sacred music, beginning his training in the 5th grade and starting to compose in 7th grade. By age 18, he was providing piano and organ music for worship services, something he continued through his years in college and as a chaplain's assistant in the U.S. Army. Mr. Powell holds a Bachelor of Music in Organ and Composition from Louisiana State University (1954) and a Master of Sacred Music from Union Theological Seminary in New York (1958), where he studied under Alec Wyton. He was Assistant Organist at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York from 1958 to 1960, Organist/Choir director at St. Paul's in Meridian, MS from 1960 - 1965, and Director of Music at St. Paul's School in Concord, N.H. from 1965-1968. He held the position of Organist and Choir Director at Christ Church in Greenville, SC from 1968 to 2003."
Also this Sunday, our Handbell Choir will offer their final piece this season, How Can I Keep From Singing?, in a new arrangement by Sondra K. Tucker (b. 1957). Listen for the melody to appear in both the high and low bells. I wish to express my thanks to our ringers for their work and dedication to this special ensemble. It seems we have quite a few bells ringing around the cathedral these days. This Sunday, add your voice to our celebration, and let's give Dean Gibson a fantastic send-off as she embarks upon her sabbatical next week!