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Music Notes from Denise, May 26, 2024

This Sunday we will celebrate Trinity Sunday when we honor our unique relationship with God in three persons, blessed trinity, words taken from our next hymn. It offers us the opportunity to relate to God in multi-layered ways so that each of us can search for a broader experience with the Divine.


Our Processional hymn will be our traditional Trinitarian hymn: Holy, Holy, Holy! In 325 AD, Church leaders convened in the town of Nicaea in Bithynia to formulate a consensus of belief and practice amongst Christians. What resulted was the Nicene Creed, a document passed on through the ages as one of the pillars of church doctrine. The primary function of this creed was to establish a firm belief in the Trinity, countering the heresy of Arius, who believed that Jesus was not fully divine. It was this creed that inspired Reginald Heber to write this great hymn of praise to the Triune God, with the intent that the hymn be sung before or after the creed was recited in a service, and on Trinity Sunday – eight weeks after Easter. The tune, composed by John B. Dykes for Heber’s text, is also titled Nicaea in recognition of Heber’s text. The words evoke a sense of awe at the majesty of God, and call on all of creation – humans, saints and angels, and all living things – to praise the Godhead three-in-one. (


Our Sequence hymn is another Trinitarian hymn, Thou, whose almighty word, written by John Marriott around 1813. Marriott was a curate of St. Lawrence and other parishes in Exeter, England. His hymns were never published in his lifetime. Felice de Giardini wrote the tune, Italian Hymn, named for his homeland, in our hymnal it’s titled Moscow (where he died in 1796). Giardini was a prominent musician touring Europe in the 18th century. (


St. Martin’s Choir will sing their final Offertory anthem before a well-deserved summer break: This is My Song (A Song of Peace). The beautiful lyrics written by Lloyd Stone and Georgia Harkness are set to Jean Sibelius’s tune Finlandia in a stirring new 2024 arrangement by Lloyd Larson. It serves as both a prayer for world peace and an offering of thanksgiving for our own country. This is my song, O God of all the nations, a song of peace for lands afar and mine. This is my home, the country where my heart is; here are my hopes, my dreams, my holy shrine; but other hearts in other lands are beating with hopes and dreams as true and high as mine. (2024 Lorenz Publishing Company)


Our Communion hymn was written by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette in 2015 for Trinity Sunday, We join in proclaiming. It describes the proclamation of our faith in God our Creator, Christ Jesus our Savior, and the Holy Spirit who empowers us. It is sung to the lovely English tune The Ash Grove.


In honor of Memorial Day, our final hymn will be Almighty Father, strong to save, which is an adaptation of the Navy Hymn. William Whiting wrote this hymn in 1860 in England where it became a favorite of seafaring people, both civilian and military. In America, its affiliation as the “Navy Hymn” is prompted in part by the practice dating from 1879 of concluding the Sunday services at the Naval Academy at Annapolis with the first stanza of this hymn. The first three stanzas of this hymn appeal to the Trinity with Scripture passages where each Person controlled the sea, while the final stanza summarizes the hymn and promises continued praise “from land and sea.” Many additional stanzas have been written over the century and a half since Whiting's text first appeared. Those most frequently found in hymnals are substitutionary second (land) and third (air) stanzas intended to make what is customarily thought of as the "Navy Hymn", and what was originally a hymn for travel mercies on the ocean-going, applicable to travelers by land and air as well; these stanzas were written by Robert Nelson Spencer, and first published in 1937. The tune Melita was composed by John B. Dykes especially for this text in 1861 and is named after the island where Paul was shipwrecked as described in Acts 28 (modern translations use Malta). It’s a fitting name for a hymn about safety on the seas. (

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