Saturday, October 4, 2014

Music for World Communion / Peace Sunday, October 5, 2014

From: Richard Thomas
Sent: Friday, October 03, 2014 10:12 PM
Subject: Music for World Communion / Peace Sunday, October 5, 2014

The opening hymn is Hymn No. 289, “O God of Every Nation,” text by William W. Reid, Jr. (1958).  The tune is a Welsh folk melody, LLANGLOFFAN.


Before 1958, this tune was usually heard when G. K. Chesterton’s “O God of Earth and Altar” was sung.

G.K. Chesterton, in addition to writing the text of “O God of Earth and Altar” was a journalist and author.  He wrote the “Father Brown” mysteries.  Chesterton was “a man of strong opinions.”  He opposed the Boer War and in 1922 wrote Eugenics and Other Evils.  He had a “deep distrust of concentrated wealth and power of any sort.”

Chesterton’s hymn begins:

            O God of earth and altar, bow down and hear our cry,
            Our earthly rulers falter, our people drift and die;
            The walls of gold entomb us, the swords of scorn divide;

But we are singing an updated text on the same themes by William Watkins Reid, Jr. (b. 12 Nov 1923 in Beechhurst, Queens, NYC). 

Rev. Reid attended Oberlin College and Yale Divinity School.  He was a medic in World War II and was a prisoner of war in Germany at the end of that war.  After the war he was a pastor at a North Dakota Methodist church and then of a Methodist church in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.  He died 27 Mar 2007 in Tunkhannock, PA, and is buried in Wyoming County, Pennsylvania.

       “O God of Every Nation” sung by a Presbyterian congregation with piano accompaniment

Here is the tune done as a Handbell Duet:

       Handbell duet by Larry and Carla of their eight-bell arrangement of the tune LLANGLOFFAN
                (Fascinating, though a bit odd.  I think it must be very difficult to know when to ring your bell and which of your four bells to ring.)

The second hymn is Hymn No. 209, “My Song Forever Shall Record.”

This hymn is a musical expression of a very small part of Psalm 89.  (The very first part, not the part where God says, “I will extend my loyal love to David, and my covenant with him is secure.  I will give him an eternal dynasty.  If his sons reject my law and disobey my regulations, if they break my rules and do not keep my commandments, I will punish their rebellion by beating them with a club, their sin by inflicting them with bruises.  But I will not remove my loyal love from him [David], nor be unfaithful to my promise.” 

I guess God is in the “spare the rod, spoil the child” camp, but it must have been meant metaphorically, as God, being spiritual rather than corporeal, couldn’t actually beat David’s sons with a club.

Our hymnal omits most of the verses of this hymn, including

                Behold God's truth and grace displayed,
                For He has faithful covenant made,
                And He has sworn that David's son
                Shall ever sit upon his throne.

                With fear and reverence at His feet
                God's holy ones in council meet;
                Yea, more than all about His throne
                Must He be feared, and He alone.

The tune is ST. PETERSBURG by Dmitri Stepanovitch Bortniansky (1751-1825), a Ukrainian.  He was born in Glukhov, Ukraine, and was in the Imperial choir school by age 8.  In his 20s, he wrote his first operas while in Italy. He then returned to Russia to become Kapellmeister of the Imperial Court of Czar Paul I in 1779.  He died in St. Petersburg.
Here are some Presbyterians singing the hymn in San Diego:

       “My Song Forever Shall Record.”

Here is the tune played on an unusual instrument, a chime tower in the Grace Anglican Church of Brantford, Canada. 

It looks like a lot of work to play music on a chime tower.

       Tune ST. PETERSBURG played on a chime town by Ryan M. Van Dijk, barefoot

The bells need dampers so they don’t ring forever.

Communion anthem, “In the Bread Broken” by Mary Kay Beall.

                You can hear it sung by professionals here: “In the Bread Broken”  Click the “play” icon.

A thoughtful, profound ballad and statement about the Lord's Supper.

The closing hymn is Hymn No. 439 or Hymn No. 440, “In Christ There Is No East Nor West.”

Note: The bulletin says it is Hymn No. 435, but that is not correct.

This hymn was authored by John Oxenham in 1908 and has been published in 244 hymnals.  “John Oxenham” was just a pseudonym.  The author’s actual name was William Arthur Dunkerley. 

In addition to writing hymn texts, Dunkerley was a novelist, a poet, and a journalist.  He was born in Manchester on 12 Nov 1852 and died 23 Jan 1941.  His book of poems, Bees in Amber, was a bestseller in 1913.
“John Oxenham,” 1920

You can read Bees in Amber here: Bees in Amber by “John Oxen”

When he was writing as a journalist, he used the pseudonym “Julian Ross.”  He died in 1941.

I expect we will be singing it to the tune ST. PETER (by Alexander Robert Reinagle) (Hymn No. 439, ), though that tune is used with “In Christ There Is No East Or West” only slightly more often than MCKEE ( )

       “In Christ There Is No East Or West” to the tune ST. PETER (by Alexander Robert Reinagle)

Although MCKEE is an African American spiritual, it started out as an Irish tune.  It was adapted by the slaves in the United States.

       “In Christ There Is No East Or West” to the tune MCKEE

Instrumental Music

Prelude: “Communion” by Friedrich Schneider
Friedrich Schneider (b. 3 January 1786, Alt-Waltersdorf; d. 23 November 1853, Dessau) was a German composer of the Romantic period.  He was a graduate of the University of Leipzig and became organist of St. Thomas Church in Leipzig.

The first performance of Beethoven's "Piano Concerto No. 5" (the “Emperor” concerto) took place on 28 November 1811 at the Gewandhaus in Leipzig, and Friedrich Schneider, at age 25, was the soloist.  His brothers, Gottlob and Gottlieb, were also organists.  Gottlob Schneider became quite famous. (All three brothers had a first name of Johann.)
Friedrich Schneider, young and old

I couldn’t find “Communion,” but I did find his Oratorio in Three Parts for Soloists, Choir and Orchestra “Das Weltgericht/The Last Judgment.”  I even understood the first six words: “My God! My God! My God!” which seemed a fitting beginning for a work of that name.

       Friedrich Schneider’s Oratorio in Three Parts for Soloists, Choir and Orchestra “Das Weltgericht/The Last Judgment.”

Offertory: “Ave Verum” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

You can hear this piece sung here by the boys’ choir, King’s College.

       King’s College Choir sings “Ave Verum Corpus” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

or you can listen to The Concordia Choir sing it here:

       “Ave Verum Corpus” sung by The Concordia Choir of Moorhead, Minnesota

Here is an “Ave Verum Corpus,” but not by Mozart.  It’s by William Byrd, but it is so beautiful, I couldn’t resist adding it here:

       William Byrd’s “Ave Verum Corpus” sung by the Central Washington University Chamber Choir

Postlude: “Moderato” by Ludwig van Beethoven

I didn’t find this piece, but I found an “Adagio in F Major” that Beethoven composed for a mechanical clock that was for an organ played by cylinders in a clock belonging to Count Joseph Deym-Mueller.

        Beethoven’s “Adagio in F major for Mechanical Organ”

One can, apparently, play almost anything written by Beethoven on the organ.  Here is his famous Symphony No. 5 played on “the largest musical instrument in the Southern Hemisphere.”

       Thomas Heywood plays Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 on the Grand Concert Organ, Melbourne Town Hall, Australia.


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