Saturday, October 25, 2014

Music for Reformation Sunday, October 26, 2014

From: Richard Thomas []
Sent: Saturday, October 25, 2014 1:18 AM
Subject: Music for Reformation Sunday, October 26, 2014


We will be singing the same three hymns we sang for Reformation Sunday in 2012 (October 27, 2012):


The Martin Luther hymn, "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God," 

a hymn attributed to John Calvin, "I Greet Thee, Who My Sure Redeemer Art," (tune: TOULON)
and a Fred Green hymn, “The Church of Christ in Every Age,” sung to the tune WAREHAM.  



Introit: “Be Still and Know”

            (If at first, you don’t succeed, . . .)  This time the plan is to try it a cappella, I think.


The opening hymn is No. 260, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God,” by Martin Luther.  (Martin Luther both composed the music and authored the words of the hymn.)


"A Mighty Fortress is Our God" has been published in 565 English-language hymnals.


It appears in the hymnals of most denominations, including the 1964 hymnal of the Unitarian Universalist Association, Hymns for the Celebration of Life (Hymn No. 16).


The hymn appeared in every English-language hymnals published between 1987 and 1998.


(From: )


The hymn now even appears in Catholic hymnals!  (It's in the second edition of the Catholic Book of Worship of the Canadian Conf. of Catholic Bishops.)


The stanzas relate to Psalm 46, with the third stanza making reference to 1 Peter 5:8.


The time signature appears variously as 2/2, 2/4, and 4/4.


My favorite verse is the second, since it provides the rare opportunity of singing "Sabaoth."


Dost ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth His Name,
From age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.


Sabaoth is the latinization of the Hebrew word tzevaot which means "hosts," as in an army. 


The Hebrew phrase YHWH Elohe Tzevaot can be translated "Yahweh, Lord of Hosts."   See 1 Samuel 17:45. 


Wikipedia says in 1 Samuel, the phrase means "the God of the armies of Israel," but in other verses "sabaoth" may mean "the heavenly hosts," or it may mean "armies of men."


See also Romans 9:29.


A recently published Lutheran Service Book (2006), uses a different translation:


A mighty fortress is our God,
A trusty shield and weapon;


You can see all the words of this alternative translation at:


A similar translation was made by Catherine Winkworth and appeared in 1861 in Lyra Germanica.  See: .


Although the Hedge translation of 1852 is the one most familiar, it was not the first English translation. 


"Our God is a Defense and Tower" by Myles Coverdale appeared in 1539 and J. C. Jacobi's "God is our Refuge in Distress" was published in 1722. 


"A Safe Stronghold Our God Is Still" by Thomas Carlyle, 1831, appears in 44 hymnals.


In the Carlyle version, the words seem almost to follow German syntax, which is awkward; verse 2 is translated:


With force of arms we nothing can,
full soon were we down-ridden;
but for us fights the proper Man
whom God himself hath bidden.
Ask ye who is this same?
Christ Jesus is his name,
the Lord Sabaoth's Son;
he, and no other one,
shall conquer in the battle.


(See all of Thomas Carlyle's translation at: .)


The Carlyle translation appeared in many British and Canadian hymnals, as well as in the Chautauqua Hymnal and Liturgy, in which it is the first hymn. 


Another translation, "A Mighty Stronghold is Our God" was done by Joel Swartz in 1879.


Here is the hymn sung in German by a female soloist, with piano and strings: Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott” sung by a female soloist


(I don't like her voice much, but it is easy to hear the German words clearly, which also appear on the video as she sings.)


Sung by a large choir with full orchestra, including, organ, horns, and timpani (one verse is sung a cappella): “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God,” good quality audio, with some interesting orchestration with organ.


The English translation that appears in most hymnals was done by Frederick Henry Hedge (1805-1890) of Massachusetts and first published in 1852 in Furnesse's Gems of German Verse.  


It then appeared in a hymnal, Hymns for the Church of Christ, in 1853 (edited by Hedge and Frederick Huntington).


Hedge, a transcendentalist, was educated at Harvard and became a Unitarian minister, serving congregations in Maine, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts.  (For more information, see .)

Here is the choir of California Baptist University Choir and Orchestra doing an up tempo version of "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God": Campus Hill Church 


                Very good quality video and audio, although many commenters hated the arrangement (too much show, too little dignity).


A folk version, with guitar, mostly male solo (Chris Rice), with some vocal and instrumental harmony:, Chris Rise on guitar, with lyrics on the video, high quality audio.  (I liked this one because of the clarity; but John hated it.)


You can hear a choral arrangement, with brass quartet, timpani, and organ, by Paul D. Weber:  This is my favorite, though the audio quality of the recording isn’t very good.  “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God,” anthem (SATB), with orchestration, by Paul D. Weber, (includes an interesting treatment of "a little word")


And an arrangement by A. Lovelace for organ at: “Toccata on A Mighty Fortress,” an organ piece by Austin C. Lovelace



The second hymn is “I Greet Thee, Who My Sure Redeemer Art  (Je Te salue, mon certain Rédempteur),” attributed to John Calvin (10 Jul 1509 – 27 May 1564). 


Most hymnologist don’t think the hymn was actually authored by John Calvin, but they also don’t know who the actual author was.  The hymn definitely was used by Calvin’s followers from a very early time.  In any case, the hymn is entirely consistent with something Calvin might have written.

Here is a good, simple performance with harmonies one can easily hear.


    “I Greet Thee, Who My Sure Redeemer Art,”  (tune: TOULON), female and male soloists alternating with choir, with words on screen


The translation is by Mrs. Elizabeth Lee Smith, née Allen, daughter of Dr. William Allen, President of Dartmouth University


In 1843, Miss Allen married Dr. Henry Boynton Smith, who became a professor at Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York.  Elizabeth Lee (Allen) Smith is buried in the Bridge Street Cemetery in Northampton, Massachusetts.  You can see her grave stone here:


The tune, TOULON, was originally used as a psalter melody for Psalm 124.



The closing hymn, No. 421, is a Fred Green hymn, sung to the tune WAREHAM (which is the tune to which the Philip Doddridge hymn "Great God, We Sing That Mighty Hand By Which Supported Still We Stand" is also sung):


   "The Church of Christ in Every Age" as It was sung at the Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church of Worcester, Massachusetts


Here's the tune put they sing a different hymn, “O Wondrous Type and Vision Fair” and sung VERY   VERY    S L  O   W    L     Y


   “O Wondrous Type and Vision Fair” performed by the London Philharmonic Choir and the London National Philharmonic Orchestra


Here it the tune sung at a much better tempo:


   “Jesus, Thou Joy of Loving Hearts,” tune: WAREHAM,


Other hymns sung to the tune are "O Love of God, How Strong and True," "Jesu, Thou Joy of Loving Hearts," "O Wondrous Sight! O Vision Fair," "So Let our Lips and Lives Express, The Holy Gospel We Profess," "Oh, Thou Who Camest from Above," and "Thy Years, O God, Through Ages Last."


It must be a tune to which it is easy to set words.


"The Church of Christ in Every Age" is by Rev. Fred Pratt Green (2 September 1903 - 22 October 2000), a British Methodist minister.

The Reverend Fred Pratt Green (2 September 1903 – 22 October 2000) CBE was a British Methodist minister and hymnwriter. Born in Roby, Lancashire, England, he began his ministry in the Filey circuit. He was ordained as a Methodist minister in 1928 and served circuits in the north and south of England until 1969. During his career as a minister he wrote numerous plays and hymns. It was not until he retired, however, that he began writing prolifically. His hymns reflect his rejection of fundamentalism and show his concern with social issues. They include many that were written to supply obvious liturgical needs of the modern church, speaking to topics or appropriate for events for which there were few traditional hymns available.     


There are fifteen Fred Green hymns in the Presbyterian Hymnal.


Fred Green was born near Liverpool (at Roby) in 1903.  In 1995, he was honored by the Queen for his hymnwriting with the award of the MBE.  He died at Cromwell House on 22 Oct 2000.  (Cromwell House is a Methodist Home for the Aged in Norwich.)

Instrumental Music

Prelude:  “Jesus Christus, Unser Heiland (Jesus Christ, Our Savior)” by J. S. Bach


Bach composed several works with this title. 


Here is BWV 688,


   “Jesus Christus unser Heiland, for two manuals and Pedal,” BWV 688, by J. S. Bach, Daniel Bruun, Copenhagen’s Garrison Church.


You can watch the animated score here:


    “Jesus Christus unser Heiland,” by J. S. Bach, animated score


Here is BWV 665:


   “Jesus Christus unser Heiland,” BWV 665


Here is BWV 689, which doesn’t require any pedals.


   “Fuga super: Jesus Christus unser Heiland,” BWV 689, by J. S. Bach, played by Daniel Bruun, Copenhagen’s Garrison Church.


There is also BWV 666:


   “Jesus Christus unser Heiland, (alio modo)” BWV 666


The Offertory is “Devotion” by Louis Alfred James Léfébure-Wély (13 Nov 1817 – 31 Dec 1869)


Léfébure-Wély was born in Paris and was the son of an organist.  He became the official organist of a fashionable church, Saint-Roch, at age 14 upon the death of his father.  He began attending the Paris Conservatory in 1832, and won first prize for organ in 1835.


Louis Alfred James Léfébure-Wély, 1840


I didn’t find “Devotion” but here is “Elevation on Communion.”


Léfébure-Wély was a composer of the Romantic age, but here is a baroque interpretation.


   “Elevation on Communion,” by Louis Alfred James Léfébure-Wély, played by Patryck Balukiewicz, using synthesized baroque organ pipe sounds by Hauptwork.


Here is another composition of Léfébure-Wély.  It takes three people to play this piece on an organ.  One to play the music and two to pull out and push in the stops, and turn the pages.


This one is fun to watch:


   “Sortie in E-flat major” by Louis Alfred James Léfébure-Wély,  played by Gert van Hoef in the Stephanuskerk, Hasselt, The Netherlands


You can learn more about the organ Gert van Hoef is playing here:  The organ has many little statues of angels sitting atop the woodwork that holds the pipes.  The angels are playing a flute, a horn, a lyre, etc.  See attached.

The postlude is an arrangement of “The Church’s One Foundation” by Lee Rogers.  It is based on the tune AURELIA by Samuel S. Wesley.


I didn’t find the Lee Rogers arrangement, but here is an improvisation on AURELIA by John Hong. (He somehow merges into playing “Pomp & Circumstance” and “The Church’s One Foundation” at the same time):


   Improvisation on AURELIA (Samuel S. Wesley), with “Pomp and Circumstance” (Elgar) by John Hong.


(I’ve written about John Hong before.  He’s a graduate of Julliard.)



No comments:

Post a Comment