Tuesday, October 31, 2006

An Anthem for All Saints Day

One of the Anthems that impressed and moved me greatly when I first encountered the choral music of the Anglican Church is "Faire is the Heaven" by William Harris (1883-1973). This work for double chorus takes a 16th century text and sets it within the rich harmonic language of high-Romantic Era choral writing. The text of the Anthem is a portion of An Hymn of Heavenly Beauty, by the Elizabethan poet Edmund Spenser (c.1552-1599). Altogether, it is a glorious depiction of the blessedness of the saints in heaven.

Faire is the heaven
Faire is the heaven where happy soules have place
In full enjoyment of felicitie;
Whence they do still behold the glorious face
Of the Divine, Eternall Majestie;

Yet farre more faire be those bright Cherubins
Which all with golden wings are overdight.
And those eternall burning Seraphins
Which from their faces dart out fiery light;

Yet fairer than they both and much more bright
Be the Angels and Archangels
Which attend on God's owne person without rest or end.
These then in faire each other farre excelling
As to the Highest they approach more neare,
Yet is that Highest farre beyond all telling

Fairer than all the rest which there appeare
Though all their beauties joynd together were;
How then can mortal tongue hope to expresse
The image of such endlesse perfectnesse?

There are many good recordings of this Anthem, but I recommend the recording of the same name by the Cambridge Singers, directed by John Rutter. (Collegium Records, CD107-COL).

Monday, October 23, 2006

The AKJV/BCP Combination

This book is surely one of the most beloved, influential and well-used volumes among Anglicans in America today. It consists of the 1928 American edition of The Book of Common Prayer, bound together in one volume with the Authorized King James Version (1611) of the Bible. This King James Bible is not the same that you will most commonly find being offered by American publishers, however, for it contains the Apocrypha between the Old and New Testaments, just as did the original Bible authorized by James I.

When you hold these combined books in your hand, you have everything you need for reading the daily Anglican Services of Morning and Evening Prayer (unless you plan to sing a hymn, of course, in which case you will need the hymnal). When I first encountered the AKJV/BCP combination as a music graduate student some years ago, I was very excited, and immediately purchased two genuine leather-bound copies, just in case it would go out of print! (On a student income, that was quite an investment!) I am now busy wearing out my second and last copy reading Daily Morning & Evening Prayer at our parish, but I am very glad to see that I don’t have to worry about it going out of print, afterall. Although the original publisher (Preservation Press) is no longer in existence, the AKJV/BCP is now being printed by the Anglican Parishes Association.

There may yet be one thing lacking, however. I sometimes would like to have The Hymnal, 1940 bound in the same volume as well. A number of years ago, one could readily purchase The Book of Common Prayer bound together with The Hymnal, 1940, and I have several older copies of this particular combination in my study. Let the reader now imagine an AKJV/BCP/HYMNAL combination! This would make the combined book around a half-inch thicker, which may be difficult to bind securely, but I have seen larger books: perhaps it could be done.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Of Fish and Men

Across the street from our parish church is this little stream, called Cottage Creek. It is not much more than 1 or 2 feet deep and 10 feet across, but it flows full of cold, clear water from the snow-capped Cascade Mountain peaks about 70 miles due east of Seattle.

Last week, N. sent me an email, letting me know that there are Salmon in Cottage Creek, and informing me about a footpath and bridge where one can see the Salmon. So, I hiked down to the water and was rewarded by the sight of around 20 or so, very red Salmon, thrashing, fighting and swimming. They were either headed very rapidly upstream, or were holding their own against the brisk current.

How did they get all the way from Puget Sound to Woodinville, covering many difficult miles of waterway? I guess they got here by swishing their powerful tails about a gazillion times. (Can you tell that I am not very well acquainted with fish?)

Anyway, it occurred to me that the Salmon were a little like people caught up in rush hour traffic: jostling, fighting, striving, rushing headlong…upstream.

There is a major difference, however, between Salmon and People.

Salmon are very competitive and headstrong, because that is the way God made them, and they give glory to God just by being good Salmon. Men & Women on the other hand, created in the very Image of God, are capable of tempering their competitiveness and headstrong urges with a dose of kindness, mercy and graciousness.

May we use these gifts a little more! Posted by Picasa

Monday, October 02, 2006

Kindness begets kindness

Two lovely bouquets of Stargazer Lilies were given for Sunday's Service by J--- in honor of her son's birthday. She also did a superb job of preparing the altar for the Service, AND she brought a chocolate cake for a little party at Coffee Hour!

Anyway, the flowers were still opening by Evensong this evening (Monday), and the photograph shows that they were still in good shape. The flowers not only looked good, but the Church was also filled with a heady scent - Lilies performing their best to the glory of God!

It would be wrong to let flowers like this go to waste. So, I have made it a part of my routine to rearrange them in vases after Evensong on Monday, and prepare to take them to somebody who I think might enjoy and get some good out of them. Question: does that make me a florist, or a parish priest? Perhaps a little of both. Posted by Picasa
10. 6. 10. 6

No, it is not a list of the Global Coordinates for the location of the Lost Ark of the Covenant…nor is it a code to unlock secret information in the prayer book…nor is it the phone number that Archbishop Morse dials when he needs a Seminarian to work in the Office…

10 6. 10 6 is the Metrical Structure of a hymn that I use at Evensong frequently and which our Girl Choir sings very well: "O brightness of the immortal Father's face, most heavenly blessed..." The numbers represent the number of syllables in the hymn (i.e., 10 syllables: O-bright-ness-of-theimm-or-tal-Fa-ther's-face, followed by 6 syllables: Most-ho-ly-heav'n-ly blest...followed by another set of 10 + 6 syllables).

A set of numbers such as this appear at the top of every hymn, except for times when initials are supplied for the nick-name of the poetic meter, such as "C.M." for Common Meter or "L.M." for Long Meter, etc... The metrical structure of a hymn text is used to determine how it will be sung or played in performance. It may also be used to match the text with an alternate tune. For an example of how it might shape the performance, I try to interpret each section of 10+6 as one Musical Phrase, to be sung in one breath, if possible. (Although, since I haven't been running as regularly as I would like in the past few weeks, that goal was reduced to having a Musical Phrase only in the loosest possible sense!)

This hymn as it appears in our Hymnal, 1940 is a translation/paraphrase by Edward Eddis (1864) of the 3rd century Greek hymn, "Phos hilaron". The “Phos hilaron” has been a popular hymn in Anglican circles at least since the mid 19th century. There are a number of Anglican translations and paraphrases of it, both for use as hymns and for Choral Anthems. Another version (by Robert Bridges) occurs at number 176 in our hymnal, “O gladsome light, O grace of God the Father’s face…” There is another famous example by John Keble, “Hail, gladdening light”, which is used in a number of Anthems.

For those of us who live in the now-deepening darkness of the Pacific North West Winter, the “Phos hilaron” is especially appropriate to sing: Christ is the Light of the world!

There are two tunes available for Eddis’ hymn, 173 St. Nicholas and 768 Evening Hymn, both of which are designed to work with the rather loping 10 6. 10 6 metrical structure. The latter, by Gerald Near, is found in the Supplemental Tunes at the back and is currently my favorite. If you are interested in learning more about the internal workings of the hymn, watch out for my upcoming article in the Nov-Dec issue of The Mandate (prayer book society journal) entitled: "The Hymnal, 1940: Anatomy of a Hymn".
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Girl's Choir Begins a New Church Year

On Sunday, October 8th, our Girls began their 06-07 Church Year with a sung Service and Anthem at 10:00.

Holy Communion Service in D Major, by Leo Sowerby
Gloria in excelsis, by T. Tertius Noble
For the Anthem: a canon learned at Choir Camp

They will continue singing only one Sunday each month, because they need to attend Church School on the other Sundays.

Have a great Season, Girls!