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Music Notes from Denise, December 16, 2023


Carol 1 Adam lay yBounden is an early English song that dates to the 15 century, circa 1400. The poem is based on the Genesis story of Adam, Eve, the Garden of Eden, the “forbidden fruit” and the “fall”. However, the poet took an optimistic view, and the eating of the forbidden apple ended well, thanks to Mary and her son Jesus. (thehypertexts.com; 2011 by Alfred Music Publishing Co., Inc.)

 

Carol 2 The Father’s Love is a wonderful combination of the 5 century poem Corde natus exparentis, translated to Of the sung to the 12 century tune Divinum Mysterium; and the 15 century German carol Es ist ein Ros entsprungen or Lo, how a Rose e’er blooming. Of the Father is a beloved Christmas hymn that poignantly expresses the eternality of the Son of God and his divinity and coequality with God and the Spirit. Lo, how a Rose is a musician’s carol that promotes theology as harmony.  The mystical rose quotes Isaiah 11:1 And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots. (etymologyofhymns.blogspot.com, umcdiscipleship.org, 2010 St. James Music Press)

 

Carol 3 O come, O come, Emmanuel  text comes from the “Great ‘O’ Antiphons” Advent liturgy that dates back to the 8 century. The tune is a 15 century chant, Veni Emmanuel. We sing this hymn to acknowledge Christ as the fulfillment of Old Testament prophesies, an already-but not yet-Kingdom of God. Christ’s first coming gives us a reason to rejoice, yet we know that all is not well with the world. Along with rejoicing, we ask Christ to come again to perfectly fulfill the promise that all darkness will be turned to light. (Hymnary.org; 2010 St. James Music Press)

 

Carol 4 The Huron Carolis Canada’s oldest Christmas carol, written around 1642 by Jean de Brebeuf, a Jesuit missionary at Sainte-Marie among the Huron people in Canada. The tune that the hand bells will play is from a traditional French folk song, Une Jeune Pucelle. This arrangement uses techniques that mimic drum beats and the ringers will play both hand bells and hand chimes. (2018 Morning Star Music Publishers)

 

Carol 6 Noel, Noel: The word “Noel” has historically been sung in the halls and churches throughout the world for centuries. Noel is French for Christmas carol. Vijay Singh’s setting is march-like with excited rejoicing. Singh (b. 1966) is Professor of Music at Central Washington University. (2022 BLP Choral Music)

 

Carol 7 I will hold Him: Beginning with the story of the angel Gabriel coming to Galilee to bring Mary the news that she will bear God’s son, the verses thereafter take the form of a conversation between Gabriel (tenors and basses) and Mary (sopranos and altos). The turning point comes at verse 5 when Mary repeats the words which the angel has just spoken but in the first person, indicating her willingness to accept God’s calling. For the final section, Mary, now represented by a solo soprano, communes directly with God through prayer. Joanna Forbes L’Estrange (b. 1971) is an Anglo-Irish soprano, composer and choral director. She is also a passionate advocate for gender equality and has become the go-to composer for songs about women. She took her inspiration for this piece from an evocative painting by her friend the Reverend Ally Barrett depicting the annunciation, of which Barrett explained, ‘Mary is able to be overwhelmed but not obliterated by the Holy Spirit because the same God who calls her is also holding her and giving her strength; likewise, she can hold Jesus because she herself is held.’ The piece ends with a beautiful colla voce section singing “And I will hold Him, Just as Thou holdest me.” (2022 The Royal School of Church Music)

 

Carol 8 Canticle of the Turning was written by Rory Cooney (b. 1952) and is based on the Magnificat. The melody is a traditional Irish tune Star of County Down. On the Daily Theology podcast, Katherine A. Greiner says, “When I pray with (this song) I imagine Mary being so filled with relief, excitement, nervousness, gratitude, joy, and hope that her prayer overflows into a spontaneous, raucous song. She starts clapping her hands and tapping her feet. Suddenly she grabs the shocked Elizabeth by the hands and together the two pregnant women playfully twirl around the kitchen singing and laughing in celebratory anticipation! Our God is good! Our God is present! This beautiful, broken world that is so corrupt, so unjust, so hurtful, and so dark is going to change! God has not abandoned us! In fact, God’s grace fills us! And our salvation is at hand!” (dailytheology.org/2014/07/17; 2015 Augsburg Fortress)

 

Final hymn: People, look East was written by Eleanor Farjeon (1881-1965) in 1957 after the success of her popular hymn text Morning has broken. She was widely celebrated for her children’s books but the editors of The Oxford Book of Carols asked her to provide a text for this delightful French tune Besancon Carol. “The result was this charming carol, which matches the energy of the text perfectly with the energy of the tune; notice especially how the third phrase of each stanza discloses a task or challenge inherent in the metaphor of that stanza.” (John L. Hooker; Wonder, Love, and Praise hymnal supplement 1997 Church Publishing Inc.)

 

I wish to thank all of our musicians that shared their talents this Sunday! Becky Brewer is always willing to play any rhythm instrument or bell that is needed without hesitation. Joy Floyd returns with her beautiful oboe to play on everything I ask and to share with us the lovely Saint-Saens oboe sonata. I want to specially thank all of our St. Martin’s Choir and hand bell ringers. I hope you each know how grateful I am for your constant commitment to sharing your talents and your time with St. Martin’s. I thank the children in Chapel Choir for being brave and willing to play instruments, ring bells, and sing in front of everyone to enhance our worship. And finally, I want to thank Chris Marsh for his dedication to playing percussion, to pre-setting everything from equipment to pianos to bell tables, and to keep our sound system working at its highest level! As Carolyn Winfrey Gillette writes: “all the music sung and played here is a gift, O God, from you. For as long as we have prayed here we’ve been blessed by music too. By your Spirit each musician finds new depths of faith to share. Music is a gift you’ve given and becomes our thankful prayer.”

 

St. Martin’s Choir: Kelly Barkey, Chelsea Brewer, Ginger Cornelius, Larry Cornelius, Mary Drastal, Doug Edmonson, Ann Harbert, Ray Harbert, John Lange, Chris Marsh, Scott Pattengill, Barbara Shearer, Beckie Strobel, Candy Tierney

 

St. Martin’s Hand Bell Choir: Kelly Barkey, Becky Brewer, Chelsea Brewer, Ginger Cornelius, Larry Cornelius, Mary Drastal, Ann Harbert, Ray Harbert, Chris Marsh, Candy Tierney

 

* These works used with permission from St. James Music Press License #11394

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