“O Thou the Central Orb” words by H.R. Bramley. music by Charles Wood
For our 2018 tutorial series we’re concentrating on the organ as a means of choral accompaniment. Accompanying a choir requires that the instrument supports boldly in a limited number of places, but recedes at many other times to allow the vocal parts to come through. It is also heard in solo role joining choral sections together or providing an introduction that sets the tone for what is to follow.
In this series church choral music was chosen to illustrate the accompaniment of various parts of the liturgy and to highlight some well-known anthems. Many of the pieces will be within the range of typical church choirs. Listening to these performances you can hear how well just four professional singers — Emily Armour, Elspeth Marrow, Joseph Thompson and Jack Lawrence-Jones — bring these pieces alive.
Golden Sheaves by Sir Arthur Sullivan played by Jonathan Kingston
Sullivan is the musician part of the Gilbert and Sullivan duo who formed a partnership that can be compared to Tim Rice and Lloyd Webber of their era. Gilbert’s lyrics were made to shine when combined with Sullivan’s music and their collaboration resulted in great operatic pieces such as “The Pirates of Penzance” and “The Mikado”.
Sullivan wrote his first composition at the age of eight but really began to flourish under the training of the Reverend Thomas Helmore, master of the choristers at Chapel Royal. Helmore encouraged the young Sullivan’s composing talent and arranged for one of his pieces, “O Israel”, to be published in 1855, Sullivan’s first published work. To add to his early accolades in 1856, the Royal Academy of Music awarded the first Mendelssohn Scholarship to the then 14-year-old Sullivan, allowing him to study first at the Academy and then in Germany, at the Leipzig Conservatoire.
Let us with a gladsome mind played by Jonathan Kingston
The Hymn of the Month this time is “Let us with a gladsome mind” which is a text written in 1623 by John Milton (1608-1674), the famous poet and author of Paradise Lost. This is set to the hymn tune Monkland, by John Antes (1740-1811), a Moravian minister and composer. Monkland’s melodic contour is a great match for the hymn text.
O Thou Who At Thy Eucharist Didst Pray
Played by Jonathan Kingston In this “Hymn of the Month” we present you with the hymn song “ 0 Thou who at Thy Eucharist didst pray ” by William Harry Turton (1856 -1938). This is accompanied by the hymn tune “Song 1” from the outstanding English composer and organist Orlando Gibbons (1583-1625).
Orlando Gibbons was a great English composer, organist, and virginalist of the late Tudor period. He was born in Oxford and came from a musical family. His father and brothers all being accomplished musicians in their own field. In his teens he sang in the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge. King James I later appointed Orlando a Gentleman of the Chapel Royal and he served as an organist there from 1615 until his death. In 1623 he became senior organist at the Chapel Royal. He also held the position of organist at Westminster Abbey.
Hail the day which sees him rise
Played by Jonathan Kingston. This month we present the hymn “Hail the Day That Sees Him Rise”, by the great hymn writer Charles Wesley (1707 – 1788). This hymn is usually sung to the Welsh tune LLANFAIR, attributed to Robert Williams (1782 – 1821), even though some historians have certain doubts about his authorship. This hymn was written for Ascension Day, but it is also suitable for any service with a theme of Christ’s royalty or sovereignty.
Jesus Christ is risen today
Played by Jonathan Kingston
For this month’s hymn we have appropriately selected the Christian Easter hymn, “Jesus Christ is Risen Today”. The author is unknown but early manuscripts suggest that the hymn was written in Germany in the 14th century. The hymn is most frequently set to the hymn tune “Easter Hymn” which was composed in the Lyra Davidica in early 18th century by William Henry Monk.
Although little is known about the origin of “Jesus Christ is risen today” it brings together the two great themes of Holy Week and Easter, the Cross and the Resurrection and celebrates the message of Holy Week and Easter – Christ crucified and risen.
Salomé’s 'Grand Choeur' in G major
Played by Jonathon Kingston. The hymn tune of the month this time is “Passion Chorale” which was originally composed by Hans Leo Hassler (1564-1612). The most common text associated to this hymn tune is “O Sacred Head, Now Wounded” which is a Christian Passion hymn based on a Latin text written during the Middle Ages. Paul Gerhardt (1607-1676) originally wrote a German version “O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden” that was then subsequently translated many different times to English. Many other composers have since written organ music based on this tune.
Hans Leo Hassler, born in Nuremburg, was a German composer and organist of the late Renaissance and early Baroque eras. He came from a family of famous musicians, receiving his early education from his father, with his elder brother Jakob Hassler also being an accomplished composer. Hans later studied in Venice with Andrea Gabrieli where he learned the polychoral style which he brought back to Germany. Hassler served as organist and composer in Augsburg, then director of town music and organist in the Nuremberg, and finally as court musician in Dresden.
Tell Out My Soul
Played by Jonathon Kingston. This month’s hymn, “Tell Out, My Soul”, is a Christian hymn paraphrasing the Magnificat written by Timothy Dudley-Smith (1926 – ) in 1962. In the early days this hymn was paired to a tune by Michael Baughen but it was later paired and greatly enhanced by the sweeping music of Walter Greatorex’s (1877 – 1949) grand tune, Woodlands. The tune’s title refers to one of the schoolhouses at Gresham’s School, Norfolk, where Greatorex was director of music. Timothy Dudley-Smith is an English hymn writer and now retired bishop of the Church of England. Born in Manchester, United Kingdom, he was educated at Tonbridge School and Pembroke College, Cambridge before he studied theology at Ridley Hall. Dudley-Smith is a prolific writer of texts for hymns and a member and honorary vice-president of the Hymn Society of Great Britain and Ireland. In 2003, he was appointed an OBE “for services to hymnody”
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen played on an Envoy 35F
Organist Jonathan Kingston plays our final tune in this year’s series and is befittingly the old English traditional Christmas carol “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen”. The composer is unknown but there are records of it being sung within the Christian Church since the 15th century. The hymn was first put into print in 1760 but made available to a wider audience when William B. Sandy included a version of it in his publication Christmas Carols Ancient and Modern (1833). It has since been added to various hymnals and carol books.