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Grace Podcast

Grace Podcast

By Miles Smith
Selections from the rites and music of Grace Episcopal Church in Cismont, Virginia. Visit our website at (photo by Harlow Chandler).
Easter Day
Music Notes from Organist Michael Latsko: Our long-time trumpeter Ryan Calonder joins me in a number of festal selections for trumpet and organ this Easter morn. Ryan was born to a military family that moved around until settling in Virginia in the early 2000’s. Ryan graduated from UVA in 2011 with a BA in Music and currently plays with Cville-based funk rock band Disco Risque. Jeremiah Clark (1674-1707),the first organist of the then newly-rebuilt St Paul's Cathedral, wrote “The Prince of Denmark’s March” around 1700. The work was called “Trumpet Voluntary” (even though originally written for harpsichord) incorrectly attributed to Henry Purcell until the mid-20th century. It’s a march in rondo form (the main theme returns throughout) and is a favorite for weddings and other festive occasions. The hymn arrangement "Variations on ‘Alleluia! The Strife Is O'er’" (the hymn tune name is “Victory”, #208 in The Hymnal 1982) is my own creation, incorporating fragments composed by American composers Wilbur Held, Charles Callahan, Janet Linker, Gerre Hancock, and Englishman Geoffrey Shaw. Henry Purcell (1659-1695) worked in Westminster (at the Abbey and the Chapel Royal) for three different Kings over twenty-five years and is most remembered for his more than 100 songs; a tragic opera; and The Fairy Queen, his incidental music to Shakespeare's “A Midsummer Night's Dream.” The first Purcell work is ”Voluntary for Double Trumpets” (here played by one trumpet with the organ playing the second trumpet part) which tosses musical phrases back and forth between organ and trumpet before a grand finish for both instruments. Like the Clarke work, Purcell’s “Trumpet Tune” was originally written for keyboard but is so well suited for organ and trumpet. A short, joyous almost dance-like work, it’s cheerfulness makes it perfect for Easter. A sequence (Latin: sequentia) is a chant or hymn sung or recited during the liturgical celebration of the Eucharist before the proclamation of the Gospel. The bulletin text is usually sung to Veni Sancte Spiritus (Hymnal #226) for Pentecost. The text also fits the tune Puer nobis used for the Easter hymn “That Easter day with joy was bright” (Hymnal #193), and I will improvise on that tune today. Michel Richard Delalande (1657–1726) was a French Baroque composer and organist in the service of King Louis XIV. Delalande composed 70 “grands motets,” compositions for solo voice, chorus and instruments. Collections of his ballet and opera-ballet music was published as suites or symphonies. We play “Musique Royale,” an arrangement from the First “Suite of Symphonies For the Dinner of the King.” A slow, stately introduction evokes the rising sun, followed by a joyous dance which pits trumpet and organ in a fiery display of pyrotechnics. The closing hymn is “The day of resurrection” (Hymnal #210), text by John of Damascus (8th century). The 19th century scholar John Mason Neale freely set this first “ode of the Golden Canon” which was usually sung in Greek churches at midnight on Easter morn just as the congregation, upon a signal, lit their candles suddenly filling the gloom with light. The tune is German, dating to either 1784 or 1833 depending on which source you believe. The postlude, “Festive Trumpet Tune,” is by American composer David German (b. 1954) and was written for the composer’s wedding. Not much is known about German, other than he served for a time as organist of the Calvary Church in Charlotte, NC. It is there that he may have found inspiration for this work since the Calvary organ has several very large and powerful trumpet stops. As with other trumpet tunes, this work is a dialogue between a solo trumpet stop and the organo pleno (full principal chorus) with a contrasting middle section for the organ. Officiant and Homilist: The Rev. G. Miles Smith
April 4, 2021
The Great Vigil of Easter
Music Notes from Organist Michael Latsko: Keith Perry sings “The Exsultet” which is traditionally sung on the Eve of Easter Day at the Great Vigil of Easter when the Paschal Candle is first lit for the season of Easter, symbolizing the Light of God in the darkness and the Resurrection of Christ in the midst of death. The Great Vigil and this ancient song were first introduced to Episcopalians in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer. The postlude is two verses from the familiar Easter hymn “Jesus Christ is risen today,” #207 in The Hymnal 1982. The introduction is based on what I heard, played by organist Gerre Hancock, on Easter Sunday mornings at St. Thomas Church, Fifth Avenue during the three years I lived in NYC. The final verse features an accompaniment and descant “reconstituted” from a recording of a St. Thomas Easter service from 1984. The text and tune first appeared in “Lyra Davidica, or a Collection of Divine Songs and Hymns ...set to easy and pleasant tunes” published by John Walsh in London, 1708. The fourth stanza, a doxology, was added by Chas. Wesley in 1862. The anonymous composer of the melody said its purpose was to provide “a little freer air than the gravement movement of [other] tunes.” Soloist: Keith Perry Officiant and Homilist: The Rev. G. Miles Smith Liturgical excerpts: The Book of Common Prayer 1979
April 3, 2021
Holy Saturday
Officiant and Homilist: The Rev. G. Miles Smith Liturgical excerpts: The Book of Common Prayer 1979
April 3, 2021
Good Friday
Music Notes from Organist Michael Latsko: The prelude is Bach’s Prelude in e minor, BWV 555, one of the so-called Eight Little Preludes and Fugues which I’ve played before and about which I’ve said “they are charming works and appropriate for many liturgical uses and moods, happy and sad.” This particular work is dark, brooding and evocative of dark storm clouds, perfect as an introduction to Good Friday’s liturgy. The music following the homily is also Bach. His chorale prelude “Alle Menschen müßen sterben,” BWV 643 is one of the most perfect examples of Bach's Orgelbüchlein style. The text literally translates “all men must die,” but I prefer the rather Victorian elaboration “Hark, a voice sayeth, all men are mortal”. I found this compelling commentary on the work: “A mood of ecstasy permeates this chorale prelude, a funeral hymn reflecting the theme of heavenly joy. The simple melody sings in quarter notes above an accompanying motif of three semiquavers (16th notes) followed by two quavers (eighth notes) that echoes between the two inner parts and the pedal. [Bach scholar and organist Dr. Albert] Schweitzer (1905) describes its use by Bach as a motif of ‘beatific peace,’ commenting that ‘the melody of the hymn that speaks of the inevitability of death is thus enveloped in a motif that is lit up by the coming glory.’ Despite the harmonious thirds and sixths in the inner parts, the second semiquaver of the motif produces a momentary dissonance that is instantly resolved, again contributing to the mood of joy tinged by sadness. As [Bach biographer Philipp] Spitta (1899) comments, ‘What tender melancholy lurks in [this] chorale...what an indescribable expressiveness, for instance, arises in the last bar from the false relation between c♯ and c', and the almost imperceptible ornamentation of the melody!’" All this to say, it’s beautiful Bach in both its simplicity and its complexity and supremely ideal, I think, as Good Friday music. The postlude is a setting of the hymn "O Traurigkeit, o Herzeleid" (Oh darkest woe, oh heart's pain) (#173 in The Hymnal 1982), written by Johann Rist (1607-1667) especially for Good Friday. The hymn has been described as a “miserable song to be sung at the grave about the mournful burial of our Savior Jesus Christ.” American composer Wilbur Held’s setting (you can read more about him in the notes for Maundy Thursday) is melancholy, dense and death-filled, a fitting book end for the Good Friday liturgy as the world waits in joyful hope for the coming resurrection. Officiant and Homilist: The Rev. G. Miles Smith Liturgical excerpts: The Book of Common Prayer 1979 The Reading from the Gospel of John 18:1 – 19:42 is from the Contemporary English Version
April 2, 2021
Maundy Thursday
Music Notes from Organist Michael Latsko: The prelude is by English composer and organist George Oldroyd (1886-1951) who spent 36 years as organist of St Michael's Church, Croydon in south London. His “Le Prie-Dieu: A Meditation” from 1949 incorporates part of the tune of the Passion Chorale “O sacred head sore wounded” (#168 in the hymnal), the final piece I played on Palm/Passion Sunday. I think it’s fitting, therefore, to begin this service with that same music. A prie-dieu is a kneeling bench designed for use by a person at prayer and fitted with a raised shelf on which the prayer’s elbows or a book can be placed. Oldroyd prints words in the music where the phrase of the Passion Chorale is heard: “Have mercy upon me O Lord” appears over the right hand counter-melody with these words (from a verse of the Passion Chorale not contained in The Hymnal 1982) aligned with the melody: “I pray thee, Jesus, own me, Me, Shepherd good, for thine.” Interesting, the Passion Chorale tune was originally a German love song from the 17th century. Bach loved it so much he used it five times in the St. Matthew Passion, twice in the Christmas Oratorio, in five cantatas, and in an organ chorale prelude. The music following the homily is an improvisation on “Pange lingua gloriosi” (Sing, my tongue, the glorious battle) (#166 in The Hymnal 1982) the tune from the Sarum liturgy, that is the Latin-based liturgical form used in most of the English Church prior to the introduction of the first Book of Common Prayer in 1549. The text is by Venantius Honorius Fortunatus and dates to 546. John Mason Neale’s translation first appeared in 1851. In the Roman church, this plainsong is traditionally sung on Maundy Thursday during the procession from the church to the place where the Blessed Sacrament is kept until Good Friday. The last two stanzas (called, separately, “Tantum ergo”) are sung at Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. The hymn expresses the Roman Catholic doctrine that the bread and wine are changed into the body and blood of Christ during the celebration of the Eucharist. The postlude is based on the hymn "Go to dark Gethsemane" (#166 in The Hymnal 1982), not one that we usually sing but one that I find very poignant. The text dates from the 1820’s and the tune, Petra, was composed by Richard Redhead (1820-1901), first appearing in 1853. After playing the hymn and modulating into another key, I play the setting by American composer Wilbur Held (1914-2015). Born in Des Plaines, Illinois, Held studied piano as a youngster and became serious about the organ in high school, going on to attend the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago where he studied organ and began to develop his compositional voice. A conscientious objector, Held spent the final years of World War II cooking food without vitamins for a path-breaking project on nutrition now known as the Minnesota Semi-Starvation Experiment. In 1946 Held was named professor of organ at the Ohio State University for 30 years. After years of summer study in liturgy and hymnology at NYC’s Union Theological Seminary, Held was able to expand the church music program at OSU, but, sadly, both programs were phased out after he retired. One commentator noted that Held “turns even garden-variety hymn tunes into great musical settings.” I couldn’t agree more and enjoy playing his settings (you’ll hear another one on Good Friday). Listen how Held’s music recreates what must have been the drama of the Last Supper, praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, and, ultimately, Jesus’ arrest. Officiant and Homilist: The Rev. G. Miles Smith Liturgical excerpts: The Book of Common Prayer 1979
April 1, 2021
The Passion of Christ, in Plainsong
The story of Jesus’ suffering, as told by the Gospel of John, has long been read in Good Friday services. It has also been sung in plainsong, adding great solemnity to this most sacred text. One of the great ironies of the pandemic is that it has led us to a podcast technology and practice that now gives us the opportunity to perform and share this music in the parish for the first time. In this asynchronous, socially distanced recording of the Passion, the traditional plainsong setting is enhanced with choruses interpolated by Tomás Luis de Victoria (ca. 1548-1611), Spain’s preeminent Renaissance composer.  None of the English editions we have found are completely faithful to Victoria’s music (originally set in Latin) due largely to accommodations for the English translations.  So, using manuscript sources from the Choral Public Domain Library (, this is a new edition, leaving Victoria’s musical footprint intact, though some internal rhythm changes have been necessary in order to make the text fit and it is one step lower than the original. If you wish to try to follow along using your Bible then see John 18:1--19:42. The English translation is conservatively true to the original Greek though, out of respect for our Jewish friends, some clarification is needed concerning one expression.  The Greek words “hoi Ioudaioi,” used to describe Jesus’ antagonists, have been commonly interpreted to mean “the Jews,” and have been understood by some to be a slur upon the Jewish people as a whole.  However “hoi Ioudaioi” can also mean simply “the Judeans,” or even “the Jewish leaders.”  And Jesus and his followers were Jews.  In this context, as laid out in the Passion narrative, the antagonists were particular Jewish individuals, especially leaders, and not the Jewish people as a whole. Antagonism toward the gospel of Christ is more fundamentally a human problem, as is reflected in the traditional prayers of Good Friday. Vocalists: Jesus: Harry Gamble Pilate: Miles Smith Peter: Mary Leslie Tise Maid/Gatekeeper: Anne Stanford Slave: Kathie Woods Guard: Barclay Rives Chorus of Chief Priests, Judeans, Soldiers, Guards and Slaves: Keith Perry Narrator: Keith Perry Recorded and edited by Keith Perry
March 31, 2021
The Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday
Music Notes from Organist Michael Latsko: The prelude is a setting of the familiar Palm Sunday hymn “All glory, laud and honor” by Janet Linker (b. 1938) from her Suite for Holy Week published in 1989. I played her music during Advent. The work is fugal in style in that it begins canonically with each entering voice imitating the other although not based on the strict rules of fugue, or counterpoint. The melody is heard thundering in the bass as the volume and intensity increases, as must have the real processional of palms, until the final statement of the “All glory, laud and honor” played with the hands and the right foot while the left foot holds a low C. An improvised fanfare on the Great division trumpet ushers in the hymn “Ride on, ride on in Majesty” which is played on the full Swell and Choir divisions coupled together. The tune "Winchester New," originally a German tune dating from 1690, is also used with the Advent text “On Jordan's bank the Baptist's cry" (#76 in the hymnal). The second verse features an exceptional free harmonization and descant by Englishman Alan Gray (1855-1935); some of the very best descants were written by Gray, and this one is played on full organ. Following the homily I play “Andantino” by German Romantic composer Gustav Merkel (1827-1885), an organist and composer who worked in Dresden and whose music I played on Laetare Sunday. This brief work was not composed for a liturgical setting, but I thought the plaintive melody and overall feeling created by the music was the perfect transition from the joy and energy that begins the Palm Sunday liturgy to the tragic realization and change in mood upon the realization that Christ’s crucifixion is at hand. The postlude comprises two settings of the chorale “Herzlich tut mich verlangen,” or “Passion Chorale” which is #168 in the hymnal. The first is by German composer Johann Gottfried Walther (1684-1748), whose music I have played before. It is a somewhat straightforward setting of the tune for manuals (hands) only and features beautiful dissonances (notes played together that don’t form harmony but create a somewhat ear-jarring sound). The second setting is by Walther’s contemporary and cousin, Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750). Bach’s harmonization is filled with dissonance and yet the tune is quite apparent. Bach magically extends phrases, as at the very end, with jarring chords that perfect depict, musically, the passion and crucifixion of Jesus - or so I think. See if you agree. Officiant and Homilist: The Rev. G. Miles Smith Liturgical excerpts: The Book of Common Prayer 1979
March 28, 2021
Fifth Sunday in Lent
Music Notes from Organist Michael Latsko: All of today’s music is by Johann Sebastian Bach whose 336th birthday is today. He was born in Eisenach, Germany in 1685 and died in Leipzig in July 1750. Mozart called the pipe organ “the king of instruments.” Bach is the acknowledged prince of players and, perhaps, emperor of composers for the instrument. The prelude from one of Bach’s four orchestral suites; he called them Ouvertures -- a term used in Baroque Germany for a suite of dance-pieces in French Baroque style preceded by ‘ouverture’ in the French style). Bach composed these works, not as a set, between 1723-1744 during his time in Leipzig. The third suite, BWV 1068, is the best known, largely due to the fame of its second movement, the so-called “Air for the G string.” The third suite consists of five movements each named for a French dance. Of course, an “air” is not a French dance; the term is English for “aria” or any lyrical work, as this is. In this suite, as he does in the slow movements of his Brandenburg Concerti, Bach omits wind instruments and timpani, allowing the strings to be featured by themselves. The title of the movement, “Air for the G string” comes from 19th century German violinist August Wilhelm who transcribed the work for violin and piano such that the entire first violin part can be played on the G string alone. The transcription I play is actually in the key of F, but don’t tell anyone. The Kyrie is by William Byrd (1543-1623) from “Mass for Three Voices”; Keith Perry sings all three parts. Following the homily, I play a movement of a concerto by Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741) which was transcribed by Bach. During his years at Weimar (1708-1717), Bach made a number of keyboard arrangements of concertos and instrumental movements by other composers. His arrangements of concertos by Vivaldi, six of them for harpsichord and three for organ, remind us of the strong influence Vivaldi exercised over Bach's instrumental compositions. Bach's Concerto in A minor, BWV 593, is an arrangement of a concerto in the same key for two violins, strings and continuo, RV 522, by Vivaldi, the eighth of the set published in 1711 as Opus 3. In the usual three-movement form, it has a slow movement in d minor which Bach transcribed for two manuals only without pedals. This setting allows for a gorgeous duet between the organ’s Swell division (within the case on the right side as you face the altar,) Gedackt, one of the most common types of organ flue pipe, the name of which comes from the Middle High German word ‘gedact,’ meaning "capped" or "covered," and the Choir division (within the opposite side) Spire Flute, an open flute stop the pipes of which conical and sound breathy or slightly reedy. The postlude is one of Bach’s most familiar organ works (Toccata and Fugue in D minor) and speaks for itself. Happy Birthday Bach! Audio editing: Keith Perry Officiant and Homilist: The Rev. G. Miles Smith Liturgical excerpts: The Book of Common Prayer 1979
March 21, 2021
Fourth Sunday in Lent (Laetare Sunday)
Music Notes from Organist Michael Latsko: Today is Laetare, the fourth Sunday in Lent, traditionally a day of celebration within the austere penitential season. “Laetare” is from the first few words of the traditional Latin Introit at Mass, "Laetare Jerusalem" — "Rejoice, O Jerusalem." For six or seven centuries, Lent began on the Sunday following Quinquagesima (50 days, using inclusive counting, backwards from Easter) and thus was only 36 “fasting days” long. To make up the 40 days' fast, four days preceding the first Sunday were added (backing up to Ash Wednesday). Strictly speaking, the Thursday before Laetare Sunday is the middle day of Lent and was observed as such in the past. However, to encourage the faithful through the season of penance, special signs of joy were permitted. These signs (like those of Gaudete Sunday in Advent) include the use of flowers on the altar, the playing of the organ at Mass and Vespers, and rose-colored vestments instead of purple. This contrast between Laetare and the other Lenten Sundays is “emblematical of the joys of this life, restrained rejoicing mingled with a certain amount of sadness” (Catholic Encyclopedia). Today’s prelude is “Invocation” by American composer Henry Kihlken (1939-2017) whose music I played last June. A graduate of Oberlin Conservatory, Kihlken served numerous churches in Connecticut and Ohio. “Invocation,” referring to a prayer or petition for help or support, develops an initial melody through harmonies that become more complex as the work progresses. The pedal enters towards the end, lending more gravitas and depth and helping to close the work with both hands playing in the bass clef. The Kyrie, sung by Keith Perry, is from “Mass for Three Voices” by William Byrd (1543-1623). Following the homily, the choir sings “God so loved the world” by English composer and organist John Stainer (1840-1901) . Stainer eventually became organist of St. Paul’s Cathedral, London before poor eyesight and deteriorating health forced him to return to Oxford as Professor of Music. He died unexpectedly while on holiday in Italy in 1901. The work comes from Stainer’s oratorio The Crucifixion: A Meditation on the Sacred Passion of the Holy Redeemer composed in 1887. Stainer intended for the work to be within the performance capabilities of most parish church choirs; it includes five hymns for congregational participation. The text is by W. J. Sparrow Simpson, a librettist who had penned Stainer's earlier cantata “Mary Magdalene.” Even though Stainer allegedly considered his work "rubbish," The Crucifixion remains popular today, particularly this chorus which sets perhaps the most-often quoted biblical text in dramatic fashion typical of the Victorian era. The postlude is by German organist and composer Gustav Merkel (1827-1885) who began his career as a teacher before winning a composition contest in 1858 his organ sonata for four hands (op. 30, no.1 in D minor). From then, he worked as an organist in Dresden and taught organ at Dresden Conservatory . Keeping with the Laetare theme of joy in the midst of sadness, this work (unnamed number “1”) from Merkel’s “Zehn Praeludien fur die Orgel,” (10 Preludes) op. 156 (1884) has the tempo marking “Andante” -- a moderately slowing “walking” pace -- and is in the key of F major, major keys being decidedly happier in mood than minor keys. In 1876, Austrian pianist, composer and educator Ernst Pauer posited that musical keys convey particular affects or emotions. He said that F major is “at once full of peace and joy, but also expresses effectively a light, passing regret—a mournful, but not a deeply sorrowful feeling,” a sentiment perfectly describing the mood of Laetare Sunday. The Adult Choir, with solo and audio editing by Keith Perry Officiant and Homilist: The Rev. G. Miles Smith
March 14, 2021
Third Sunday in Lent
Music Notes from Organist Michael Latsko: We’re deep into Lent so today’s music is perhaps the starkest of the season. The prelude is “Monastic Meditation by A Trappistine Nun” from Six Soft Pieces by Six American Composers published in January 1962. Trappists, officially known as the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance, are a Catholic religious order of cloistered monastics that branched off from the Cistercians, follow the Rule of St. Benedict, and have communities of monks and nuns known as Trappists and Trappistines, respectively. The name comes from La Trappe Abbey, the monastery where the movement and religious order originated in 1664 before formally becoming a separate religious order in 1892. The piece is very austere, barren, and chromatic, building from a single line akin to monastic plainsong. It is unclear who the real composer is, but all that matters to me is that it is an ideal meditation for Lent. The Kyrie is by William Byrd from “Mass for Three Voices”; Keith Perry sings all three parts. The music after the homily is “Ballade” attributed toRichard Coeur de Lion (Richard the Lion Heart), nickname of the French-speaking Richard I of England (1157-1199). Though most likely apocryphal, this musical tale is worth retelling: Shortly before Christmas 1192 Richard was captured near Vienna by Leopold V, Duke of Austria, who accused Richard of arranging the murder of Leopold’s. Richard also had personally insulted Leopold by throwing down his standard from the walls of the city of Acre in Israel (“Akko” in Hebrew, “Akka” in Arabic) during the 3rd Crusade. Richard was imprisoned at Dürnstein Castle (in present-day Austria); his location was kept secret. Blondel, a minstrel, searched Europe for Richard in vain. Returning home through Austria, Blondel learned of a closely guarded prisoner nearby whose identity was kept secret. Suspecting it could be Richard, Blondel spotted a tiny barred window high up on the castle wall, likely a cell. Under the window, he sang the first couplet of a troubadour's song which he had composed; a voice responded with the second couplet. He’d found the king! Afterwards, Richard was handed over to Henry VI, Holy Roman Emperor, and while languishing in captivity, Richard allegedly wrote this ballad to Marie of France, Countess of Champagne.. The work consists of a short melody without harmony. British-born American concert organist and recording artist E. Power Biggs (1906 – 1977) published the work and added two variants, including a concluding trio: one part for each hand to play and one part for the feet. The postlude is from Das Orgelbüchlein (Little Organ Book) of J. S. Bach (1685-1750), a set of 46 chorale preludes (BWV 599−644) mostly written when Bach was organist to the Duke of Weimar from 1708 - 1717. Each setting takes an existing Lutheran chorale, adds a motivic accompaniment, and freely explores form. Bach intended 164 settings so that each part of the church year was represented but he didn’t quite make that lofty goal. Nevertheless, the LOB does span the calendar. I play BWV 642, based on the chorale “Wer nur den lieben Gott läßt walten” (“If thou but trust in God to guide thee,” # 635 in H1982). You will need a discerning ear to pick out the tune as the two inner voices dominate. This motif, two short beats followed by a long beat, is often used by Bach to signify heavenly joy. The pedal’s walking bass also partly incorporates the joy motif in its responses to the inner voices. Bach scholar and physician Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965) said the accompaniment symbolized "the joyful feeling of confidence in God's goodness," hopefulness at the core of Lent. Officiant and Homilist: The Rev. G. Miles Smith Liturgical excerpts: The Book of Common Prayer 1979
March 7, 2021
Second Sunday in Lent
Music Notes from Organist Michael Latsko:  The prelude is “Introspection” by American organist and composer Richard Purvis (1913-1994) who spent most of his career (1947-1971) as organist-choirmaster at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. Much of his music is tuneful, sometimes whimsical, and often incorporates elements of jazz and nightclub harmonies. “Introspection” is more on the serious side, perfectly appropriate as we begin the season of Lent. The main theme is repeated four times, almost note for note, with a music bridge between the second and third repetitions. The last iteration is altered slightly at the conclusion of the work, but still maintains a gentle, calming effect. With each repetition, one can imagine going inward, deeper each time, plumbing the depths, if you will. Indeed, Purvis has provided a musical script, if you will, for true personal introspection.] Keith Perry sings the Kyrie from Mass for Three Voices by William Byrd (c. 1540–1623). Byrd’s only mass settings, for 3, 4, and 5 voices, were written between 1592 - 1599 and are the first compositions of the Ordinary of the Mass in England since the time of John Taverner (1490-1545) -- almost 100 years before. Considering his position within the Queen’s Chapel Royal, Byrd’s decision to compose a Catholic Mass is extraordinary. In fact, Byrd’s masses were conceived for a secret meeting of faithful Catholics and were originally designed for one-to-a-part singing due to the limited number of musicians available at the meetings. Following the homily, I play a meditation (3 verse settings) on the hymn “Lord, who throughout these forty days,” (#142 H1982). The text is by Claudia Frances Hernaman (1838-1898) who wrote it in 1873; she composed more than 150 hymns, a great proportion of which are for children. The melody (St. Flavian) is from John Day’s Psalter (1552) as adapted and harmonized by Richard Redhead (1820-1901). Redhead was a chorister at Magdalen College, Oxford who, at age 19, became organist at Margaret Chapel (later All Saints Church), London where he stayed for 25 years. Redhead and the church's rector, Frederick Oakeley, were strongly committed to the Oxford Movement, which favored the introduction of Roman elements into Anglican worship. The first two settings are by T. Tertius Noble (1867-1953), an English-born organist and composer. He was organist/choirmaster at a number of churches including Ely Cathedral and [old] York Minster in England and then, after 1913, in New York at St Thomas Episcopal Church (Fifth Avenue). At St Thomas, Noble established a choral tradition Anglican cathedral lines, oversaw the installation of a new organ, and founded the Saint Thomas Choir School for boys in 1919. Noble stayed in this position for 35 years. You may know him for his tune “Ora labora” (for the hymn “Come, labor on” #541 H1982). The third setting is by Texas-born Gerre E. Hancock (1934-2012) who came to St. Thomas in 1971, 23 years after Noble, and stayed for 33 years, 2 years less than Noble. For three decades, “Uncle Gerre” (as he was lovingly called) continued Noble’s work to build the choral tradition at St. Thomas to what some, including me, would say was the pinnacle. Hancock’s setting comes from his collection Organ Improvisations for Lent and Easter Hymns. The postlude is Bach’s Prelude in a minor, BWV 559, another one of the so-called eight “little” preludes and fugues, BWV 553–560, a collection of works for keyboard and pedal attributed to Bach (for further information, see last week’s music notes). The “eight little” are charming works and appropriate for many liturgical uses and moods, happy and sad. This work is very different from last week’s and is, perhaps, more Bachian with its showy scales, virtuosic pedal work. Officiant and Homilist: The Rev. G. Miles Smith
February 28, 2021
First Sunday in Lent
Music Notes from Organist Michael Latsko: The prelude and meditation following the homily are meditations on the Lenten hymn “Forty Days and Forty Nights” (#150 in Hymnal 1982). For more information about this melody and text, you can read the music notes for the Ash Wednesday service. The prelude is by Alec Wyton (1921-2007) an English-born organist, composer and teacher who was organist and choirmaster at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine in NYC for over 20 years. He was a coordinator of the Standing Commission on Church Music that produced The Hymnal 1982. Four of his original hymns are in H1982 as well others for which Wyton provided harmonizations. Wyton composed more than 100 works and earned national recognition in the field of sacred music. He incorporated a variety of musical traditions into the music of the church, provided a performing platform for emerging artists as well as collaborated with such performers as Eubie Blake, Duke Ellington, Leopold Stokowski, and the cast of “Hair.” His setting of Heilein/Aus Der Tiefe Rufe Ich” resembles a dirge, with plodding pedal notes of a dark and brooding arrangement of the tune. The music following the homily is mostly by Kentucky-born composer and organist Michael Joseph (b. 1941). Other than having studied at both the New England Conservatory Music and and Julliard, not much else is publicly available about Joseph. A flowing accompaniment in the left hand provides a gentle contrast for the melody played using the 2⅔ mutation stop. A second verse using the Swell strings and oboe gives way to a chromatic pedal line before a final iteration of the tune which is a free harmonization by my dear friend, now based in Florida, Charles Thatcher who served as organist of my home parish, St. Andrew’s Catholic Church in Roanoke, Virginia. A chromatically ascending coda by Joseph concludes the work. The postlude is Bach’s prelude in g minor, BWV 558, one of the so-called eight “little” preludes and fugues, BWV 553–560, a collection of works for keyboard and pedal attributed to Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750). Scholars have suggested these works were composed by one of Bach's pupils, possibly by Johann Ludwig Krebs (1713-1780) or others. I love musical controversy! For example, consider these scholarly conclusions: "It can be presumed today that Johann Sebastian Bach did not compose the ‘eight.’ Unfortunately, it has not yet been possible to identify the composer." (Library of Congress) and "Bach’s Eight Short Preludes and Fugues...have also been attributed to both Tobias and Ludwig [Krebs]; on stylistic grounds neither seems likely." (Grove/Oxford Music Online). Who really knows? And who cares? The “eight little” are charming works and appropriate for many liturgical uses and moods, happy and sad. The g minor prelude that I play has gentle flowing quarter notes that give way to faster eighth notes, but the overall effect is one of calm and introspection, perfect for the first Sunday in Lent. Officiant and Homilist: The Rev. G. Miles Smith Liturgical excerpts are from The Book of Common Prayer 1979
February 21, 2021
Ash Wednesday
Music Notes from Organist Michael Latsko: The choir anthem is by Richard Farrant (1525-1580), an English composer and musical dramatist who, among other interesting facts, established the original Blackfriars Theatre, home to the outstanding children's companies of the Elizabethan era. The origin of “Lord for thy tender mercy’s sake” is somewhat uncertain. Although commonly ascribed to Farrant, the anthem has also been attributed to Thomas Tallis and John Hilton. There is no debate that the text is taken from Christian Prayers and Holy Meditations (1566) by Henry Bull. The prayer and choral setting enable a humble sense of repentance and calm, confident trust in grace. The full text is: Lord, for thy tender mercy's sake, lay not our sins to our charge, but forgive that is past, and give us grace to amend our sinful lives. To decline from sin and incline to virtue, that we may walk in a perfect heart before thee, now and evermore. Amen. During Spiritual Communion, I play a brief meditation incorporating the familiar Lenten hymn “Forty Days and Forty Nights” (#150 in Hymnal 1982). The text is by George Hunt Smyttan and was first published in Penny Post (1856); the stanzas have been “considerably altered” since then. The present version of the text has been in an Episcopal hymnal since 1874. The tune, called “Aus der Tiefe,” or “Heinlein” first appeared in a German song book in 1676. “Aus der Tiefe” is the German translation of “De profundis,” the opening of Psalm 130: “Out of the deep I call to you.” “Heinlein” was the supposed last name of the tune’s composer, although later scholars have debunked the theory that Mr. Heinlein ever existed. Nevertheless, there are probably only a handful of hymns, this one among them, that are instantly recognizable as associated with a particular liturgical season. The haunting, chromatic melody is played first on the organ’s oboe stop then on what’s called a “mutation,” a combination of harmonically-related stops that creates an eerie sound. You should expect to hear similar music for the next forty days (and nights). Officiant and Homilist: The Rev. G. Miles Smith Liturgical excerpts are from The Book of Common Prayer 1979
February 17, 2021
Last Sunday after the Epiphany
Liturgically, this is Transfiguration Sunday as well as the feast of St. Valentine, widely recognized as a day for romance and love, and today’s musical theme. The prelude is by 20th century American composer Gordon Young (1919–1998). I played one of his original compositions last August; today I play his hymn setting of “O Perfect Love,” which has an interesting story. This beautiful hymn for Holy Matrimony was written for the wedding of sister of English poet Dorothy Gurney (1858-1932) in 1883, intended to be sung to the sister’s favorite tune which was a funeral hymn. Subsequently it was set as an anthem by Joseph Barnby (1838-1896) for the marriage of the Duke of Fife with the Princess Louise of Wales in 1889. Gurney took about 15 minutes to write it: “[W]riting [this text in such a short time] was no effort whatever after the initial idea had come to me of the two-fold aspect of perfect union, love and life, and I have always felt that God helped me to write it.” Barnby was an incredibly active British musician who, among other things, wrote 246 hymn tunes and edited four hymnals. This week’s mid-service meditation, sung by Keith Perry, is a melody (hymn tune St. Mary Magdalene, #350 in H1982) by Gerre Hancock (1934-2012), longtime organist at St. Thomas Fifth Avenue in NYC. The arrangement is by Paul Bouman (1918-2019), a Lutheran Church musician, teacher, and mentor who composed over 100 choral and organ works. The text (“O God of love, to you we bow, and pray for these before you now”) is by William Vaughan Jenkins (1868-1920), written for his own wedding in 1900. Interestingly, the editors of H1982 did not include the hymn “O perfect love” (it was in Hymnal 1940 at #214) which was widely criticized as gushing with Victorian sentimentality. With the resulting paucity of wedding hymns for H1982, Hancock provided this suitable replacement. I like both tunes and especially these settings. The postlude is my arrangement of the Welsh hymn Hyfrydol (meaning “joyful”), specifically the text “Love divine all loves excelling” (# 657 in Hymnal 1982) written by Charles Wesley (1707-1788). My arrangement is a patchwork collection of various other settings as described below. I include a setting for all four verses of Wesley’s poem (almost all hymnals, including H1982, omit the original second stanza; its text is also set out below). The first verse (“Love divine, all loves excelling,”) is the harmonization from H1982. The second verse is a free harmonization by Richard Unfried (b. ca. 1949) who was the first official organist (for 21 years) of what eventually became Robert Schuller’s Crystal Cathedral. The full text is “Breathe, O breathe thy loving Spirit into ev’ry troubled breast./Let us all in thee inherit, Let us find that second rest./Take away our power of sinning, Alpha and Omega be;/End of faith as its beginning, Set out hearts at liberty.” A fanfare by my Florida-based friend Charles Thatcher follows to introduce verse three (“Come, Almighty, to deliver, let us all thy life receive”), a free harmonization by Gerre Hancock. A key change follows for the final verse (“Finish then thy new creation; pure and spotless let us be”), a flashy setting by Diane Bish (b. 1941). The final words of the verse (among my favorites in all of hymnody) speak to the notion of transfiguration: “changed from glory into glory, till in heaven we take our place, till we cast our crowns before thee, lost in wonder, love, and praise!” Bish adds a resounding “Amen!” Soloist: Keith Perry Officiant and Homilist: The Rev. G. Miles Smith Liturgical excerpts are from The Book of Common Prayer 1979
February 14, 2021
Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany
Music Notes from Organist Michael Latsko: In addition to music originally composed to be played on the organ, composers and musicians have arranged works originally written for other instruments or groups of instruments for performance on the organ; these types of works are called “transcriptions.” This week I present three transcriptions. The prelude this week is again by German Romantic composer Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy (1809-47). The Concerto for Violin in E minor, Op. 64, is Mendelssohn’s last large orchestral work. It holds an important place in the violin repertoire and is one of the most popular and most frequently performed violin concertos. The work was written for a violinist-friend of the composer, Ferdinand David, whom Mendelssohn had appointed his concertmaster when he became conductor of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra in 1835. This transcription is from the second movement, the beautiful and sensuous first theme. The Principal 8’ stop on the Great division (middle keyboard) plays the solo violin part against a shimmering string accompaniment. The mid-service meditation this week is again by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s (1756-1791), his Adagio in C major (K. 356) composed for the glass harmonica in 1791. Along with another composition, the pieces are considered the most interesting written for the instrument and were obviously written for a glass harmonica equipped with a keyboard mechanism. The original "glass harmonica" (also "glass armonica", "glassharmonica"; harmonica de verre, harmonica de Franklin, armonica de verre, or just harmonica in French; Glasharmonika in German; harmonica in Dutch) refers today to any instrument played by rubbing glass or crystal goblets or bowls. Benjamin Franklin invented the mechanical version of the instrument in 1761, he called it the armonica, based on the Italian word armonia, which means "harmony." The piece exhibits characteristic Mozartean charm. The postlude is an arrangement of music by German composer Johannes Brahms (1833-1897), specifically from the section marked “Allegro non troppo, ma con brio” of the 4th movement of the Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Op. 68. Brahms declared that the symphony, from sketches to finishing touches, took 21 years, from 1855 to 1876, to complete. The theme I will play is a grand melody in a major key. The main subject has been described as “Beethoven-like” which, allegedly, was an assertion which irritated Brahms who nevertheless acknowledged "any a** can see that." Whether or not you agree, I think it’s a beautiful theme and sounds perfectly appropriate on the pipe organ. See what you think! Officiant and Homilist: The Rev. G. Miles Smith Liturgical excerpts are from The Book of Common Prayer 1979
February 7, 2021
Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany
Music Notes from Organist Michael Latsko: January 25 was the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul with which I always associate German Romantic composer Jakob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy who lived only briefly from 1809-47. Mendelssohn composed the oratorio St. Paul (1836) in both German and English. Romanticists exalted feeling and the imagination above rigid forms and traditions of the earlier Classical era. Consequently, St. Paul has been described as “full of drama, action, intrigue, murderous plots and miracles [told] through some of the most beautiful and dramatic choral music ever written.” Alternatively, St. Paul “has been criticized as expressing no religious emotion except in terms of respectable complacency.” St. Paulwas neither as popular, nor performed as often, as Mendelssohn’s Elijah, first performed in 1846. Mendelssohn’s most notable contributions to the organ repertoire are 6 organ sonatas (opus 65), originally commissioned by English publishers Coventry and Hollier as a "set of voluntaries" and published in 1845. In 1986 a trove of Mendelssohn's lost organ works was discovered in Krakow, Poland and edited by former UVA professor Wm. A. Little (1929-2019) in the Complete Organ Works. Little also wrote a companion volume, Mendelssohn and the Organ in 2010. These works, thought destroyed, were housed in the Berlin Staatsbibliothek from the mid-19th century until the end of WWII. Referred to as “The Berlin-Krakow Manuscripts” [BKM], they include 4 unknown works, 6 fragments of previously published compositions, and 18 unpublished (and often remarkably different) versions of the Opus 65 sonatas. I play from a set of the BKM inscribed to me by its editor who was my landlord when I was in law school and remained a friend of both mine and Keith Perry’s until his death in 2019. The prelude, included in the BKM, is a variant of what would ultimately become the finale to Sonata VI. The slow, soft character of the work has a devotional feel making it unusual as a finale, usually grandiose and virtuosic. Some commentators have noted the theme is similar to the concluding measures of the Fugue of the 2nd movement, arguing that Mendelssohn followed the spirit of traditional sonata form even though deviating from the letter, the difference being “the hallmark of classical development and congruity.” I think it’s a gorgeous “song without words,” perfectly rendered on our magnificent organ. Wednesday was Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s (1756-1791) 265th birthday, so the post-homily meditation honors him. Much is known about Mozart so I’ll only note that he famously characterized the pipe organ as “the king of instruments” yet composed scant music for it. Mozart's skill as an improviser at the organ was renowned, but 18th century Austria was not a hotbed for organ music. Thus, Mozart wrote very little music specifically for pipe organ, instead writing works to be played on a mechanical organ inside a large clock! I play a work generically designated for the “klavier” (German for piano). Mozart did not name it; the edition I play titles it “Capriccio” (others calls it “Allegretto”). Mozart’s works are cataloged with “K” numbers; the Capriccio is K. 72a dating from around 1770. It’s characteristically Mozartian -- joyful, playful, and cerebral. The postlude is one of the most interesting compositions in the BKM collection. Undated and marked “allegro moderato maestoso,” Mendelssohn had clear feelings about the work, ultimately drawing a single large X across the entire page. Consequently, the work was uncatalogued and unknown until its discovery in 1986, for which we are fortunate. I interpret the piece as a festive march, perfect as today’s postlude and a bookend honoring Mendelssohn’s musical genius. Officiant and Homilist: The Rev. G. Miles Smith
January 31, 2021
Third Sunday after the Epiphany
Music Notes from Director of Music and Organist, Michael Latsko: Musical selections this week are hymn-based. The prelude is based on “Jesus calls u o’er the tumult.” The text (at #549 & 550 in Hymnal 1982) was written by Irish poet (Ms.) Cecil Frances Alexander (1818-1895) in 1852 specifically for St. Andrew’s Day (November 30). H1982 editors chose not to include the more familiar tune “Galilee” which I play (#566, 2d tune, in The Hymnal (1940)). The tune was published in 1887/8 by Englishman Wm. H. Jude (1851-1922), described as a “keen writer of high-Victorian hymns.” The gospel reading for St. Andrew’s Day is about Jesus' calling of Simon Peter and Andrew, but I chose this hymn because its rollicking melody reminds me of the bounding main. The mid-service meditation incorporates “They cast their nets in Galilee,” (#661 in H1982), unusual both for its irregular tune (measures of unequal length) and graphic text inspired by Mark’s gospel reading. Mississippi planter and poet Wm. Alex. Percy (1885-1942) penned the text in a 1924 volume of poems. Percy’s autobiography, Lanterns on the Levee: Recollections of a Planter's Son (1941), was a bestseller and remains a seminal book on the American South. The tune (“Georgetown”) was specifically written for H1940 by Welsh-born American church musician David McK. Williams (1887-1978). Williams began his career as a teenager in Denver, CO. He moved to NYC in 1908, then to Paris in 1911 to study with some of the best-known French organists. After serving in WWI, he returned to NYC eventually becoming organist/choirmaster of St. Bartholomew's Church until he retired in 1947. There are four other of his tunes included in H1982: #s 312, 316, 514 & 614. Monday was the Feast of Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968), so the gospel hymn “We’re marching to Zion” (found as #12 in Lift Every Voice and Sing: An African American Hymnal) is the postlude. The text is by Englishman Isaac Watts (1674-1748), called "the greatest name among hymn-writers" for publishing more than 800 hymns. The music is by Philadelphia-born Robert S. Lowry (1826-1889) whose interest in music began at an early age. When asked "[d]o you write the words to fit the music, or [vice versa]?" Lowry replied, "I have no method. Sometimes the music comes and the words follow, fitted insensibly to the melody. [W]hen anything good strikes me…no matter where I am…I jot it down…[T]here is music running through [my brain] all the time. I do not pick out my music on the keys of an instrument. The tunes [are]…completed on paper [first]. Frequently the words of the hymn and the music [are] written at the same time." About Lowry, the Biography of Gospel Song and Hymn Writerssaid, “Dead, yet he lives and his sermons in gospel song are still heard…. Dr. Lowry… is highly worthy of a place among the world's greatest gospel song and hymn writers.” If you don’t know this hymn, you should learn it. The refrain is “We’re marching to Zion, beautiful, beautiful Zion. We’re marching upward to Zion, the beautiful city of God.” Officiant and Homilist: The Rev. G. Miles Smith Liturgical excerpts are from The Book of Common Prayer 1979
January 24, 2021
Second Sunday after the Epiphany
Music Notes from Director of Music and Organist, Michael Latsko: For the prelude, I reprise “Chant de Paix” (Song of Peace) by French organist Jean Langlais (1907-1991). I played this piece last summer, saying at the time “[the piece] has a musical calmness to serve as an antidote to our current times.” The same holds true today.  Composed on a commission in 1942-43 during World War 2, the song was dedicated to “a peaceful soul, so uncomplaining, so calm in the face of life.” Shimmering strings in the Swell division accompany a melody played with the feet. Choir member Keith Perry sings the poignant “Priez de paix” (Pray for Peace) by French composer Francis Poulenc (1899-1963). The poem by Charles d’Orléans (1394-1465) was printed in Le Figaro in September 1938 when Europe was facing yet another war. The tune came immediately to Poulenc: "I have tried in this mélodie to give an impression of fervor and above all, of humility, which for me is the finest quality of prayer." Young Poulenc fought in WWI, and Charles, Duke of Orléans, at the age of 19, fought in the battle of Agincourt. D’Orléans was taken prisoner, but King Henry V considered Charles too valuable to  ransom. Some 18 years after the King's death in 1440, Charles was freed. During captivity, Charles wrote most of his vast poem, including the verse we’ll here in which the poet asks the Virgin Mary for peace (the full text is found in the email with the podcast link). The stately introduction sets the pulse which continues throughout the song (and seems much slower than the metronome marking). A commentator noted “Composer and poet make time stand still in every way.” This “Prayer” is a new work for me, and I really haven’t experienced anything like it. See what you think. The postlude, usually loud and raucous, melds this week’s themes of peace and gentleness with patriotism, appropriate for our current time. “I vow to thee my country” was written by diplomat Cecil Spring Rice (1859-1918) in 1908 or 1912 as "Urbs Dei" ("The City of God") or "The Two Fatherlands". The poem describes a Christian’s dual loyalties to earthly homeland and the heavenly kingdom. The poem circulated privately for a few years until it was set to music by English composer Gustav Holst (1874-1934) to a tune he adapted from the theme for “Jupiter” in his orchestral suite “The Planets.” The work was performed as a unison song with orchestra in the early 1920s; in 1926, Holst harmonized the tune to make it usable as a hymn, included in the hymnal Songs of Praise with the hymn tune name "Thaxted" (the name of the village where Holst lived for many years).  The full text is set out below. The arrangement I will play is by my good friend Charles Thatcher, long-time church musician now based in Winter Park, FL. Pay particular attention to the final lines of the second verse (the reason I chose this piece for today) which are based on Proverbs 3:17, "Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace." (the full text is found in the email with the podcast link). Soloist: Keith Perry Officiant and Homilist: The Rev. G. Miles Smith Liturgical excerpts are from The Book of Common Prayer 1979
January 17, 2021
First Sunday after the Epiphany
Music Notes from Director of Music and Organist, Michael Latsko: The prelude is by English composer John Ireland (1879-1962). Alongside his setting of the hymn "My Song Is Love Unknown" (# 458 in Hymnal 1982), it is probably his best-known work. Ireland arranged it for various other forces over nearly 30 years. The original version for solo piano was composed for Christmas 1913 while Ireland was the organist at St Luke's Church, Chelsea; it was published in 1915 as The Holy Boy – A Carol, the third item in Ireland’s four “Preludes for Piano.” Ireland arranged the work for various other instruments/forces for over 30 years. Allegedly it was inspired by a chorister at St Luke’s who became one of the composer's protégés. A poem by Brussels-born British poet Harold Munro (1879-1932) called “Children of Love” may have provided the title. Musically, it features a fairly simple melody; but as with many of Ireland's works, the harmonic structure becomes more complex as the work unfolds. Keith Perry sings a solo version of English composer John Rutter’s (born 1945) arrangement of the traditional French carol “Il est n é, le Divin Enfant” (He is born, the divine Christ child). The melody appeared for the first time in 1862 in a collection of carols entitled Airs des Noëls lorrains published by the organist of the Cathedral of Saint-Dié-des-Vosges in northeast France. The carol’s text was published around 1875-6 in a collection of ancient carols and describes the birth of Jesus and the wait of 4,000 years preceding the event, as foretold by the prophets. Keith sings in the original French; you will notice Rutter’s charming portrayal of shepherd’s pipes and, towards the end, the drone of the bagpipes referred to in the carol. The postlude, based on the same French carol, features fancy footwork for the pedals. American Composer Richard Hudson (born 1924) taught at Oberlin College before moving to UCLA where he spent the remainder of this career. The work opens with a statement of the theme for pedals alone, then the hands join canonically (in imitation) while the pedal sits on low C (called a “pedal point”). After reaching a coda, the fancy pedal work returns in various harmonic keys and reaching over the entire range of the pedal board (just over two octaves). The fancy pedal work once again concludes with a pedal point as canonic work for hands returns and builds to a rousing climax. The performer definitely needs good cardio fitness as well as muscle dexterity to pull this fun and joyful interpretation of a beloved seasonal carol. Soloist: Keith Perry Officiant and Homilist: The Rev. G. Miles Smith Liturgical excerpts are from The Book of Common Prayer 1979
January 10, 2021
Second Sunday after Christmas
Music Notes from Director of Music and Organist, Michael Latsko: The prelude is a fanciful setting of a German Epiphany chorale “Wie schoen leuchtet der Morgenstern” (“How bright appears the Morning Star, #497 in The Hymnal 1982) by German composer Max Drischner whose music I have featured throughout Advent and Christmas. The melody is obvious despite how Drischner moves it from left hand to right hand amidst the distraction of endlessly running sixteenth (and occasional thirty-second!) notes. The original tune is attributed to Philipp Nicolai (1556-1608), German Lutheran poet, composer and pastor; he also wrote a famous Advent chorale “Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme (Sleepers awake, #61 in The Hymnal 1982). The solo sung by Keith Perry incorporates the same tune (# 497 in The Hymnal 1982), played, in this rendition, by the organ while the soloist spins the tale of the Magi in an Eastern-inspired melody. “The Three Kings,” by German composer Peter Cornelius (1824-1874), was originally written for voice and piano. It was made popular by English organist Ivor Atkins’s arrangement for solo voice and choir included in the first volume of Carols for Choirs (the “green book”) compiled by David Willcocks and Reginald Jacques. Cornelius lived in Weimar and Vienna, composed operas, knew Richard Wagner, and gave advice about orchestration to Franz Liszt. His uncle was a famous painter through him he also met, among others, Felix Mendelssohn and the Brothers Grimm. The postlude is a hymn setting for the five verses of “We Three Kings of Orient Are” (# 128 in The Hymnal 1982), words and music by Pennsylvania-born John Henry Hopkins, Jr. (1820-1891). While Hopkins wrote other carols, hymns and songs, it is this Christmastime favorite, composed in 1857, that will forever afford him a place in music history, while at the same time brand him a one-hit composer. I never was a particular fan of this carol since most often I heard it played liked a dirge. One Sunday when I was living in New York, I attended an Epiphany service at St. Thomas Church, Fifth Avenue, where Gerre Hancock presided over the music program. His rendition was anything but a dirge, and it quite literally brought the house down with its exuberance and energy. When I asked Gerre about his version, he whimsically remarked: “It was a caravan, and the kings were riding camels, through a hot desert, not riding in an air-conditioned posh limousine. It can’t have been terribly comfortable and most certainly was bouncy – have you ever ridden a camel?” His impressions forever transformed this carol for me. Listen for the “star of wonder…with beauty bright,” the biting sound of “myrrh’s bitter perfume…sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying” (verse 4) before a blaze of glorious “Alleluia’s” in the final verse. Soloist: Keith Perry Officiant and Homilist: The Rev. G. Miles Smith Liturgical excerpts are from The Book of Common Prayer 1979
January 3, 2021
A Christmas Choral Anthem: “A Child My Choice”
The choir sings “A Child My Choice,” with music by Richard Wayne Dirksen (1921-2003) who had a long association with Washington National Cathedral as assistant (1942-1964) then organist and choirmaster (1977 to 1988); he also served as precentor from 1968.  Dirksen wrote nearly 300 works for choir, instruments and theater including hymns that we have sung. His setting of 16th century poet, priest and martyr Robert Southwell’s (c. 1561-1595) beautiful reflection on what it means to worship Christ is sublime. You can read more about Southwell here. The full text is set out below: Let folly praise that fancy loves,  I praise and love that Child Whose heart no thought, whose tongue no word,  whose hand no deed defiled. I praise him most, I love him best,  all praise and love is His; While him I love, in Him I live,  and cannot live amiss. Love's sweetest mark, laud's highest theme,  man's most desired light, To love him, life, to leave him, death,  to live in him, delight. He mine by gift, I his by debt,  thus to each other due. First friend He was, best friend He is,  all time will try him true. Though young, yet wise; though small, yet strong,  though man, yet God he is; As wise he knows, as strong he can,  as God he loves to bliss. His knowledge rules, His strength defends,  His love doth cherish all. His birth our joy, His life our light,  His death our end of thrall. Alas! He weeps, He sighs, He pants,  yet do His angels sing; Out of His tears, His sighs and throbs,  doth bud a joyful spring. Almighty Babe, whose tender arms  can force all foes to fly; Correct my faults, protect my life,  direct me when I die. Merry Christmas from the choir!
December 25, 2020
Fourth Sunday of Advent
Music Notes from Director of Music and Organist, Michael Latsko: The PRELUDE is two short works based on the same German chorale: “Es ist ein Ros entsprungen” (Lo, how a Rose e’er blooming, # 81 in Hymnal 1982). The first work is from “Partita on Two Christmas Carols” by German composer Max Drischner (1891-1971), a student of the famed harpsichord virtuoso Wanda Landowska (1879-1959) and a correspondent with Dr. Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965). Drischner is relatively unknown in America, but he composed prolifically, usually basing his always-joyful sounding music on “old chorales.” A partita is an instrumental piece or suite composed of a series of variations; these variations feature lots of running notes, but Drischner always keeps the melody obvious. Twentieth-century English composer Eric Thiman (1900-1975, pronounced 'tea-man') is not as straightforward in his “Christmas Meditation on a Theme by Praetorius.” He hides the same melody within a rich, lush tapestry of decidedly 20th century harmonies. Thiman was largely self-taught as an organist and composer, and he composed a lot of music (about 1,300 compositions) for church choirs, both Anglican and so-called “non-conformist churches” (those other than the Church of England). He also wrote educational music for piano and other instruments. The choir sings “This is the Record of John,” a verse anthem by Orlando Gibbons (1583-1625) with text from the Gospel of John 1: 19-23. Although perfectly in sync with the gospel for the third Sunday of Advent, we needed a little extra time to prepare it for you so offer it today (we sang it last year in the Parish Hall with the piano accompanying, so it will sound a bit different this year). In a verse anthem, the music alternates between sections (the “verse”) for a solo voice (in this case our star tenor Keith Perry) and the full choir. Gibbons was a musical genius and this anthem is one of the most remarkable in the Tudor repertoire. The word painting (wherein the music reflects the literal meaning of a song's lyrics, such as in “make straight the way of the Lord”) is extraordinary. One commentator noted: “The music—originally set with an accompaniment provided by viols—seems brilliantly matched to the words: the question ‘Who art thou?’; the long notes at ‘and said plainly’; the florid reply ‘I am not the Christ’; the rising figure at the question ‘Art thou Elias?’. There are three sections for the soloist; each is answered in turn by the choir ending with the step-wise phrase sung immediately by all: ‘Make straight the way of the Lord’” (notes by William McVicker © 1997). American organist, composer, and improvisateur Gerre Hancock (1934-2012) composed the two free harmonizations that make up the POSTLUDE. You will recognize the tune (although not the harmonies, hence the term “free harmonization”) as one of the most popular for Advent: Veni Emmanuel, or “O come, o come Emmanuel” the Latin text of which is taken from the ‘O Antiphons’ (so-called because each one begins with an ‘O’), traditionally used during the last seven days of Advent during the Roman Catholic Vespers service. The haunting melody has its roots as far back as 15th Century France. The actual composer of the music for one of the world’s most Advent songs is enigmatically anonymous. It was, however, the combination of the tune with John Mason Neale’s translation of the Latin text that began its life as a perennial favorite of the season. Hancock’s settings add to the mystique of the tune. The Adult Choir, with solo and audio editing by Keith Perry Officiant and Homilist: The Rev. G. Miles Smith Liturgical excerpts are from The Book of Common Prayer 1979
December 20, 2020
Third Sunday of Advent
Music Notes from Music Director and Organist, Michael Latsko: The prelude is a set of variations by contemporary American composer Janet Linker (b. 1938) based on the Welsh tune “Aberystwyth,” so named after the town in which it is composed by Joseph Parry (1841-1903). The tune is used for the Advent hymn "Watchman tell us of the Night" (# 640 in Hymnal 1982; also found at # 349 as “Holy Spirit, Lord of Love,” and # 669 “Jesus, Lover of my soul”). The Advent text, by Englishman John Bowring (1792-1872), speaks to the scriptural exhortation to stay awake for “the Son of God is come.” The hymn after the homily is number 76 "On Jordan's bank the Baptist's cry," an apt hymn for this week’s scripture readings. The tune "Winchester New," originally a German tune dating from 1690, is also used on Palm Sunday with the text “Ride on, ride on in Majesty.” You can sing all the verses if you’d like, and in parts, except for the last verse which features an exceptional free harmonization and descant by Englishman Alan Gray (1855-1935); some of the very best descants were written by Gray. The postlude is by German composer Johann Gottfried Walther (1684-1748), contemporary and cousin to Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750), whose music I have played before. This piece sets the German Advent chorale “Wachet auf,” or “Sleeper’s awake” as a chorale fantasy. Interestingly (perhaps perversely so), the chorale was written by Lutheran priest and poet Philip Nicolai (1556-1608) during an epidemic which raged from July 1597 – January 1598 in the northwestern German region called Westphalia (and in which 1300 of Nicolai’s parishioners perished). The tune is most famous from the final chorus of Bach’s Cantata 140 (written for the 27th Sunday after Trinity, 1731) and from a chorale prelude for organ, one of the so-called Schubler chorales, in particular BWV 645. Officiant and Homilist: The Rev. G. Miles Smith Liturgical excerpts are from The Book of Common Prayer 1979
December 13, 2020
Second Sunday of Advent
Officiant and Homilist: The Rev. Carol C. Sims Music Director and Organist: Michael Latsko Reader: Cathy Bodkin The liturgy is from The Book of Common Prayer 1979
December 6, 2020
First Sunday of Advent
Officiant and Homilist: The Rev. G. Miles Smith Music Director and Organist: Michael Latsko Reader: Harry Gamble The liturgy is from The Book of Common Prayer 1979
November 29, 2020
Christ the King Sunday
Officiant and Homilist: The Rev. G. Miles Smith Music Director and Organist: Michael Latsko Reader: Jeb Baker The liturgy is from The Book of Common Prayer 1979
November 22, 2020
Twenty-fourth Sunday after Pentecost
Music Notes from Music Director and Organist, Michael Latsko:  All my hope on God is founded, all my trust he shall renew; he, my guide through changing order, only good and only true: God unknown, he alone calls my heart to be his own. The text above is from hymn 665 in The Hymnal 1982, one of my favorites (admittedly I have many, defeating the very purpose of the word ‘favorite’ which connotes one that is preferred above all others). The original words “Meine Hoffnung stehet feste” were written by Joachim Neander (1650-1680); the English translation and additional verses were added by Robert Seymore Bridges (1844-1930). The unique music (tune and harmony) is by eminent British composer Herbert Howells (1892-1983) who claimed to have received the text in the morning mail during breakfast in 1930; it had been sent by his friend T. P. Fielden, director of music at Charterhouse School. Howells said a tune immediately suggested itself, and he composed it “on the spot while…chewing bacon and sausage.” In 1930 Howells titled it “A Hymn Tune for Charterhouse.” Fielden, one of the editors of The Clarendon Hymn Book, included the hymn in the 1936 version, but Howells had renamed the tune “Michael.” Howells’s life was marked by tragedy. At the age of 23 he was diagnosed with Graves' disease and given six months to live. Since doctors believed that it was worth taking a chance on a previously untested treatment, he became the first person in the country to receive radium treatment. Twenty years later, in 1935, his nine-year-old son Michael died suddenly, and grief kept Howells from composing. Howells’s daughter Ursula suggested that her father compose “music for Michael” to ease the pain. Her suggestion was the turning-point in Howells’s creative life. Until then he had written mainly instrumental chamber music in the shadow of Ralph Vaughan Williams, but from the late-1930’s on he composed an extraordinary succession of choral works, all related to Michael: Requiem (1936), Hymnus Paradisi (1951), the anthem “A Sequence for St Michael” (1961), the motet “Take Him, Earth, for Cherishing” (1963), and two hymn tunes, “Michael” among them. Some commentators have remarked that “Michael” has a claim to be the greatest hymn tune of the 20th century. I have thought of Herbert Howells and of his son Michael, how the young father first encountered shock and disbelief, then grief and anguish, but then turned to his craft in search of solace, comfort, relief, and meaning and then, ultimately, hope -- giving us some of the most glorious choral music ever written along the way. We may also hope that the final coda of 2020 will resound with a “finis miraculi” (miraculous ending).  Day by day our mighty giver grants to us his gifts of love; in his will our souls find pleasure, leading to our home above: love shall stand at his hand, joy shall wait for his command. You may listen at the link below for a rousing “fanfare” setting of the hymn “All my hope on God is founded” with brass and descant arranged by the composer. Officiant and Homilist: The Rev. G. Miles Smith The liturgy is from The Book of Common Prayer 1979.
November 15, 2020
Twenty-third Sunday after Pentecost / Post-Election Day
This is a recording of an outdoor service of Morning Prayer at Grace Church. The liturgy is from The Book of Common Prayer 1979. Officiant and Homilist: The Rev. G. Miles Smith Organist: Lenora Conway
November 8, 2020
All Saints' Day
Music Director and Organist: Michael Latsko: Officiant and Homilist: The Rev. G. Miles Smith The liturgical excerpts are from the 1979 Book of Common Prayer.
November 1, 2020
Twenty-first Sunday after Pentecost
Homilist: The Rev. G. Miles Smith
October 25, 2020
Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost
Music Notes from Music Director and Organist, Michael Latsko: Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) was married twice and fathered 20 children, thirteen of them by his second wife Anna Magdalena (only 10 of his children survived to maturity). Anna Magdalena was very much musically inclined and was employed as a singer at the time of their marriage. In Bach's own words, she could sing "decent soprano". Bach was a busy as a father and as a composer: there are about 1,130 published Bach works, filling over 100 volumes (those over 1,080 have been discovered within the past twenty or so years). Despite Bach’s prolific output, during his lifetime he was better known as an organist than a composer; few of his works were published during his lifetime. Bach’s reputation received a boost in 1829 when German composer Felix Mendelssohn reintroduced the world to Bach's "Passion According to St. Matthew." In the 18th century, copying music was a very important part of any musician’s life. Bach gave Anna Magdalena two notebooks with works copied in Bach’s hand and others in the Bach family; the second one (from 1725) is commonly referred to as the “Anna Magdalena Notebook (AMN).” This second notebook was more richly decorated and better bound than the first one. Its fine binding work and gilt edging strongly suggest it was a gift to celebrate a very special occasion: possibly, either Anna’s birthday or their wedding anniversary. The notebooks served as both a family journal and a medium of instruction. It contained selections and entries by various family members over a vast period of time. The entries in the notebook are rich in diversity, featuring chorales, arias, solo harpsichords – offering a rare glimpse into the musical legacy of the illustrious Bach family and composers they admired. The prelude is a collection of three minuets from the AMN: the first in G major and catalogued as BWV Anh. 114 (usually attributed to German composer and organist Christian Petzold (1677-1733)), the second minuet in g minor, BWV Anh. 115 (also attributed to Petzold), and the third minuet in G major, BWV Anh. 116. Whether from Bach’s hand or not, these pieces are delightful and joyful both to hear and to play. Another practice prevalent in the 18th century was transcribing works to be performed on instruments other than those for which they were originally composer. During his years at Weimar (1708-1717), Bach made a number of keyboard arrangements of concertos and instrumental movements by other composers (Vivaldi notable among them). The postlude (BWV 595) is a transcription of the first movement of a lost concerto in C Major by Prince Johann Ernst III (1664-1707) of Saxe-Weimar). The work demonstrates evidence of the Prince's ability as a composer in a style heavily influenced by Italian fashions. The rollicking work is only one movement, without tempo indication, but also indicated as Allegro; it exists in a variant for harpsichord, BWV 984 (first movement). Officiant and Homilist: The Rev. G. Miles Smith The liturgical excerpts are from the 1979 Book of Common Prayer.
October 18, 2020
Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Music Notes from Music Director and Organist, Michael Latsko: French composer Charles Gounod (1818-1893) wrote twelve operas and a large amount of church music, many songs, and popular short pieces including his “Ave Maria” (an elaboration Bach’s Prelude No. 1 from Well-Tempered Clavier) and “Funeral March of a Marionette,” best known as the theme music for the television program Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Fellow Frenchman Claude Debussy wrote that Gounod represented the essential French sensibility of his time. You’ll hear evidence of that sensibility in today’s prelude “Marche Religioso,” a lush work in ABA form. The majestic initial theme turns and twists on itself before giving way to the silken middle section played on the organ’s string stops. The initial theme returns and the work can either end grandly or in a subdued, prayerful way – which way I choose will depend on how I feel when I play it! Baroque Italian composer Domenico Zipoli lived only briefly (1688-1726), dying of an unknown infectious disease in Córdoba (modern day Argentina). Despite prominence in his native Italy – he held the prestigious post of organist at the Church of the Gesù (the mother church for the Society of Jesus) in Rome – he died in obscurity and his burial place has never been found. In 1716, he published his best-known work, a collection of keyboard pieces titled Sonate d'intavolatura per organo e cimbalo (A Collection of Sonatas for Harpsichord and Organ). For the postlude, I’ll play the “Canzona in C” from this collection. Zipoli’s music couldn’t be more different that Gounod’s – filled with counterpoint, imitation, and free-fantasy-esque runs and cadences. No lush strings or romantic sentiment here, just plain old Baroque delight and fun! Officiant and Homilist: The Rev. G. Miles Smith The liturgical excerpts are from the 1979 Book of Common Prayer.
October 11, 2020
Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost
This is a recording of an outdoor service of Morning Prayer at Grace Church. The liturgy is from The Book of Common Prayer 1979. Officiant and Homilist: The Rev. G. Miles Smith Reader: Cathy Bodkin Organist: Michael Latsko
October 4, 2020
Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost
This is a recording of an outdoor service of Morning Prayer at Grace Church. The liturgy is from The Book of Common Prayer 1979. Officiant and Homilist: The Rev. G. Miles Smith Reader: Mark Zanin Organist: Michael Latsko
September 27, 2020
Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost
This is a recording of an outdoor service of Morning Prayer at Grace Church. The liturgy is from The Book of Common Prayer 1979. Officiant and Homilist: The Rev. G. Miles Smith Organist: Michael Latsko Reader: Bill Anda Soloist: Keith Perry
September 20, 2020
Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Music Notes from Music Director and Organist, Michael Latsko: To close out August, we will hear works by two composers from Italy’s baroque period (early 17th through mid-18th century). The development of the pipe organ in Italy did not follow the same trajectory as in North Germany, France, or even Spain for that matter, and certainly not how pipe organ developed in the United States. Organs in Italy were more like those in pre-19th century England: small-ish organs intended more for chamber music than contrapuntal fantasias and grand organ symphonies. The Italian organ had one manual (keyboard) and usually only an octave of pedal keys; the pedal division had no pipes of its own (except an occasional 16-foot contrabasso) but was permanently “coupled” to the manual to derive its sound. These days, as in grand English cathedrals, the biggest churches and cathedrals in Italy have vast instruments, most built in the 20th century. However, most Italian organ music was written for those smaller instruments. In fact, transcriptions of orchestral works make up much of the music by Italian composers played on the organ  today; such is the case with this week’s music. The prelude is by noted Italian composer Arcangelo Correlli (1653-1713), a violinist who was key in the development of the sonata and concerto grosso. Born a full generation before Bach or Handel, Corelli studied in Bologna, a distinguished musical center, then established himself in Rome in the 1670s. Overall, Corelli composed 48 trio sonatas, 12 violin and continuo sonatas, and 12 concerti grossi (truly gems of baroque chamber music). You can read more about Corelli here. Taken from an unnamed “String Sonata,” the prelude showcases the Swell division Viol da Gamba 8’ (a Renaissance string instrument similar to a cello but having six strings instead of four, and tuned more like a lute or guitar), the Great division  Rohr Flute 8’ (a cylindrical pipe fitted with a movable cap that acts like a stopper with a small tube or “chimney” inserted into the cap that helps to emphasize the fifth sounding harmonic), and the gorgeous, full-throated Choir division Harmonic Flute 4’ (played an octave lower). All of these sounds would have been familiar to Corelli. The postlude is by lesser-known Francesco Onofrio Manfredini (1684-1762), organist, violinist, and composer born in the Tuscan town of Pistoia. A contemporary of Johann Sebastian Bach and Antonio Vivaldi, Manfredini allegedly composed oratorios, but only his secular works remain in the repertoire. Much of his music is presumed to have been destroyed after his death as only 43 published works and a handful of manuscripts are known. The finale from his Concerto for Two Trumpets makes festive organ music even though our Opus 77 organ has only one trumpet! You can hear a complete performance of Manfredini’s concerto here (the movement I play starts at 3:40) and read more about him here. Officiant and Homilist: The Rev. G. Miles Smith The liturgical excerpts are from the 1979 Book of Common Prayer.
August 30, 2020
Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost
Music Notes from Music Director and Organist, Michael Latsko: Today’s music features the beautiful chorale (hymn) “Liebster Jesu, wir sind hier” (# 440 in The Hymnal 1982 with the text “Blessed Jesus, at thy word”). Both pieces are brief yet beautiful. The prelude is by the 20thcentury French composer and organist Marcel Dupre (1886-1971), a remarkable personality about whom you can read more here, and taken from Seventy-Nine Chorales, Op. 28. Written in the summer of 1930 while Dupre was enjoying the beach in Biarritz, the pieces were composed for organ students to use as a stepping-stone to the chorale preludes of J.S. Bach and were based on the same melodies of “old chorales used by Bach.” The melody is played on a grouping of stops that produces what is called a “cornet” (pronounced “kor-nay”), a combination of flutes 8', 4' and 2' with the mutations 2-2/3' and 1-3/5'. The resulting nasal sound prominently highlights the hymn tune, and the flowing accompaniment is played on 8’ and 4’ flutes. As a note, stops that are indicated by numbers that include fractions are called mutations (2-2/3', also called tierce or twelfth, and 1-3/5', also called seventeenth) which add harmonics other than octaves or double octaves. When combined with an 8’ stop, the 2-2/3’ mutation plays the pitch depressed plus the note one octave and a fifth higher (twelve notes above pitch), and the 1-3/5’ mutation plays two octaves and a third higher (or seventeen notes above pitch). The postlude is a brief and rollicking setting of the same tune by Johann Gottfried Walther (1684-1748), a German music theorist, organist, and composer of the Baroque era. Not only was his life almost exactly contemporaneous to that of Johann Sebastian Bach, he was the famous composer's cousin. He is credited with being the first musical lexicographer (dictionary compiler). Not only was Walther’s the first dictionary of musical terms written in the German language, it was the first to contain both terms and biographical information about composers and performers up to the early 18th century. You can read more about Walther here. This piece exudes joy and delight, so I play it on bright flute stops with the zimblestern twinkling in the background. Officiant and Homilist: The Rev. G. Miles Smith The liturgical excerpts are from the 1979 Book of Common Prayer.
August 23, 2020
Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost
Music Notes from Music Director and Organist, Michael Latsko: Today’s music is by another prolific 20th century American composer Gordon Young (1919–1998) who was born in McPherson, KS and educated at Southwestern College and the Curtis Institute. After serving churches in Philadelphia and Kansas (where he also worked as a radio organist and newspaper critic), Young became the music director (for fifteen years) at First Presbyterian Church in Detroit, where he was a visible and important presence in the American church music scene. He also taught organ on the faculty of Wayne State University. Young published voluminously, and his organ and choral works are in the catalogs of most major American publishers. Among his best known works for organ is today’s prelude, “Prelude in Classic Style” (from Nine Pieces for Organ, 1966), which has entered the worldwide standard organ repertoire (you can see for yourself by Googling the title and seeing how many videos turn up in the search). When I first heard this work, I couldn’t stop smiling, and it still makes me smile every time I hear or play it. It’s jaunty, bouncy, and frolicking, making best use of the organ’s various flute stops as it moves from major key to minor key and back again. Towards the end, I add more stops for a much richer (and slightly louder) conclusion. The postlude is Young’s “Trumpet Voluntary” (from Fourteen Pieces for Organ, 1969) which is constructed like a classic English Trumpet Tune that features a tune played on the solo trumpet followed by the same tune repeated on full organ. Like the prelude, it is jaunty, bouncy, catchy and fun and, like so much of Gordon Young's music, it is one you are sure you have heard before even if you haven't! Officiant and Homilist: The Rev. Tige Newell The liturgical excerpts are from the 1979 Book of Common Prayer.
August 16, 2020
Tenth Sunday after Pentecost
Music Notes from Music Director and Organist, Michael Latsko: The prelude for this week is by American composer Paul Manz (1919-2009) whose organ arrangements and hymn improvisations are favorites among choir directors, organists and churchgoers. A Fulbright grant enabled him to study with legendary organists Flor Peeters in Belgium and Helmut Walcha in Germany. He served for many years as “Cantor” at Mount Olive Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, and as a professor and chair of Division of Fine Arts at Concordia College. He was in great demand for his hymn festivals which were legendary (I attended one in Staunton many years ago). His motet, "E'en So, Lord Jesus, Quickly Come" is regarded as a classic and has been frequently recorded. You can hear it here. Manz wrote a beautiful chorale prelude (an organ piece based on a chorale, or hymn tune) on “Seelenbrautigam, Jesu, Gotteslamm!” (roughly translated “Soul's bridegroom, Jesus, God's Lamb”) composed by German musician and choirmaster Adam Drese (c 1620-1701) in 1665. You can see the music for this tune (called “Rochelle” at no. 425 in The Hymnal 1940). Alas, this beautiful tune was not included in The Hymnal 1980. I find the text just as beautiful as the tune so include two verses of it here: Jesus, still lead on till our rest be won/And, although the way be cheerless, we will follow, calm and fearless;/guide us by Your hand to our Fatherland. Jesus, still lead on till our rest be won;/Heav'nly Leader, still direct us, still support, console, protect us,/ till we safely stand in our Fatherland. The postlude is also by an American composer, David German, about whom not much is known other than he was born in 1954 and served at some point as organist of the Calvary Church in Charlotte, NC and other churches in North Carolina. His time at Calvary may have given him the inspiration for his “Festive Trumpet Tune” since the Calvary organ has several very large and powerful trumpet stops (you can see some phenomenal photos here). This work follows the “usual” format of a trumpet tune: a dialogue between a solo trumpet stop and the organo pleno (full principal chorus) with a contrasting middle section. Officiant and Homilist: The Rev. Carol Carruthers Sims The liturgical excerpts are from the 1979 Book of Common Prayer.
August 9, 2020
Ninth Sunday after Pentecost
Music Notes from Music Director and Organist, Michael Latsko: The music for this week continues the French theme from last week. For me, the prelude, “In Green Pastures,” is appropriate for the dog days of summer. It’s slow moving, pastoral, almost a blend of a shepherd’s song, a lullaby and a barcarolle (from barca 'boat') which is a traditional folk song sung by Venetian gondoliers. The 6/8 time signature has a marked lilting rhythm depicting the movement of a boat on the waves, but there is also the sound of shepherds’ horns, mixing to create a musical “surf and turf.” One of the most famous and recognizable barcarolles is from the opera The Tales of Hoffman by Jacques Offenbach, an orchestral version of which you can hear here. The composer is Louis James Alfred Lefébure-Wely who succeeded his father as organist at the Paris church of St. Roch, later becoming organist at La Madeleine and, in 1865, at Saint-Sulpice (all important Parisian churches). He was among the most distinguished organists of his time, associated with the famous organ-builder Aristide Cavaillé-Coll, inaugurating many of his new instruments. One of Wely’s most raucous organ pieces, the Sortie in E-flat, can be heard here. The postlude is by Jean-Joseph Mouret (1682-1738) who composed mainly for the stage. Even though most of his works are no longer performed, Mouret's name survives today thanks to the popularity of the Fanfare-Rondeau from his first Suite de symphonies, which was the theme of the PBS Masterpiece Theater series and is a popular musical choice at many weddings. I think you’ll immediately recognize the work which features the Great division trumpet stop for the solo accompanied by the full Swell division which is also used for the contrasting sections. You can read more about Mouret’s sad and tragic life here. Officiant and Homilist: Fr. Miles Smith The liturgical excerpts are from the 1979 Book of Common Prayer.
August 2, 2020
Eighth Sunday after Pentecost
Music Notes from Music Director and Organist, Michael Latsko: This week’s music is inspired by “La fête nationale” (or Bastille Day) which celebrates the storming of the Bastille—a military fortress and prison—on July 14, 1789, in a violent uprising that helped usher in the French Revolution. French composer and harpsichordist Jean-Francois Dandrieu (1681 - 1738) was born into a musical family and became organist at the Church of St Merry in Paris beginning in 1705. In 1721, he was also appointed an organist of the chapelle royale (chapel royal). He composed for instrumental ensembles and harpsichord, and, like many French composers of his era, a volume of delightful organ noëls. You can read more about Dandrieu here. The prelude is a jaunty gavotte, or dance that takes its name from a folk dance of the Gavot, the people living in the region of Dauphiné in southeast France, where the dance is said to have originated. The piece is in rondo form which means the initial theme repeats in toto several times, interrupted by sections featuring fancy finger figuration played on the organ’s flute stops. For additional fun, I add the zimbelstern (twinkling bells) at the end. The postlude, from Dandrieu’s Organ Suite in D Major, is “Duo cors de chasse,” which means it is written for “horns of the chase,” or “hunting horns” (I use the organ’s trumpet and oboe stops coupled together and enhanced by several harmonic mutations). A duo features just two voices, although at times it may sound like more (especially at the end when I add a low pedal note using the Trombone stop). The piece is brief, rollicking and sounds like the left hand is chasing after the right hand. I first heard this piece on a recording made by organist E. Power Biggs at the famous Emperor’s organ in the Cathedral of Toledo, Spain (why Biggs chose to play a French piece on a Spanish organ remains a mystery). This organ (you can see a photo here) is the oldest of about a dozen pipe organs (!) in the Cathedral and was built between 1543-1549. Vive la France! Officiant and Homilist: Fr. Miles Smith The liturgical excerpts are from the 1979 Book of Common Prayer.
July 26, 2020
Seventh Sunday after Pentecost
Music Notes from Music Director and Organist, Michael Latsko: The prelude and postlude for today are by English composer Henry Purcell (1659-1695), most remembered for his more than 100 songs, a tragic opera (Dido and Aeneas) and his own incidental music to a version of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dreamcalled The Fairy Queen. He was organist of Westminster Abbey where he composed much of his sacred music; in 1682 he was simultaneously appointed organist of the Chapel Royal. He died at the height of his career (aged 35-36) of unknown causes. Like many composers of his day, he wrote many keyboard works including “trumpet tunes” or “voluntaries.” We’ll hear two such trumpet tunes today. The prelude is an organ arrangement of Purcell’s Trumpet Tune in C from A Choice Collection of Lessons, subtitled “The Cebell” (or Cibell). A cebell is a gavotte-like musical piece in duple meter and named after the chorus praising the goddess Cybele in an opera by Jean Baptiste Lully. The piece allows me to showcase both of the manual reeds: the stately and regal Trumpet in the Great division (left case) and the somewhat shyer and darker oboe in the Swell division (right case), both accompanied by the flutes of the Choir division. The postlude is Purcell’s rather well-known Trumpet Tune (originally published as “Trumpet Tune and Air”) which features the Great trumpet accompanied by full Swell organ and the addition of the Pedal Trombone at the end. Officiant and Homilist: Fr. Miles Smith The liturgical excerpts are from the 1979 Book of Common Prayer.
July 19, 2020
Sixth Sunday after Pentecost
Music Notes from Music Director and Organist, Michael Latsko: The prelude is a collection of pieces that I like that are related only by their key signature: F Major (one flat). A voluntary by German composer Carl Geissler (1802-1869) sounds a bit like Mozart. An interlude by Englishman Jeremiah Clark (1674-1707), perhaps best known for his trumpet voluntaries, is sprightly and bubbly. Finally, a voluntary for “diapasons” (a particular organ tone) by Englishman John Stanley (1713-1786), also noted for his trumpet tunes, provides an elegant and beautiful bookend to this trio of pieces. The postlude is by English composer William Boyce (1711-1779) known for his symphonies and stage music and as an organist and music editor. He became composer to the Chapel Royal in 1736, and many of his anthems and church services were written for use there and at other London churches where he was organist. In 1755 Boyce became Master of the King’s Band of Music; it was during this time, in 1760, that he composed his Eight Symphonies, orchestral pieces selected from his odes, operas and other works. The postlude is an organ arrangement of the finale from Boyce’s Fourth Symphony in F, subtitled “Gavotte,” a French dance in common time popular in the 18th century. It is also in rondo form which means the main theme returns throughout, interrupted by contrasting sections. All of the music for this day is jovial, tuneful, and zippy – just what one needs during the dog days of summer! Officiant and Homilist: Fr. Miles Smith The liturgical excerpts are from the 1979 Book of Common Prayer.
July 12, 2020
Fifth Sunday after Pentecost (Independence Day Weekend)
Music Notes from Music Director and Organist, Michael Latsko: It’s my birthday so I’m going to play two of my favorite things, both composed by G. F. Handel (1685-1759). Although born in Germany, Handel was based in London permanently from about 1712 and became a naturalized British citizen in 1727. Therefore, his chosen Anglicized form of name was indisputably “George Frederick Handel,” as it appears in documents and publications authorized by the composer and on the monument he paid for in Westminster Abbey. Among other things, Handel was one of the first composers to have a biography written of him (1760), to have centennial celebrations of his birth (1784-1786), and to have a complete edition of his music published (40 vol., 1787-1797). Beethoven is said to have cherished his set. Although today, as in the 19th century, Handel is best known for only a few works, such as Water Musicand Messiah, his oeuvre is vast and includes 42 operas, 25 oratorios, more than 120 cantatas, trios and duets, numerous arias, chamber music, a large number of ecumenical pieces, odes and serenades, 18 concerti grossi and 12 organ concertos. The prelude is perhaps the first piece of “real organ music” that I learned once I mastered the basic organ technique of coordinating the opposite movement of hands and feet. It is an arrangement (called “Arioso”) of a melody attributed to G. F. Handel’s. An arrangement of the same tune set to the text “Dank sei dir, Herr" (Thanks be to thee) is believed to have been compiled by composer Siegfried Ochs (1858-1929) although many publications simply acknowledge Handel as the composer (much to the dismay of hardcore Handel scholars). Nevertheless, the beautiful main melody appears twice, played on the lushest stops of the organ, with a bridge played on clear, bright flute stops. I heard the postlude, “The March from the Overture to The Occasional Oratorio,” at the wedding of The Prince of Wales to The Lady Diana Spencer in 1981 and immediately fell in love with it, although not with its long and complicated name. Handel composed The Occasional Oratorio (HWV 62), based on a libretto itself written after the poetry of John Milton and Edmund Spenser, was written in the midst of the Jacobite rising of 1745–1746. Unique among Handel's works, it is labelled "oratorio" but does not tell a story or contain elements of a drama but was intended as a defiant and patriotic rallying piece. The work premiered on 14 February 1746 at Covent Garden. The festive four-section overture, with trumpets and drums, is sometimes performed outside the context of the entire piece. The “March,” one of the four sections, is full of regal pomp and circumstance mixed with just a dash of Handelian sparkle and wit. Officiant and Homilist: Fr. Miles Smith The liturgical excerpts are from the 1979 Book of Common Prayer.
July 5, 2020
Fourth Sunday after Pentecost
Music Notes from Music Director and Organist, Michael Latsko: Having dusted off “Chant de Paix” of blind French organist and composer Jean Langlais (1907-1991) for last week’s podcast, I was reminded how much I liked another of his works. In the triple role of performer, composer and successor to famed organists/composers Cesar Franck and Charles Tournemire at Ste-Clotilde, Paris, Langlais was the inheritor of a grand tradition. His works written to honor other composers (e.g., “hommages” to Bach and French Baroque composer Jean-Philippe Rameau) place him in an even greater lineage. Written in 1951, “Hommage à Frescobaldi,” a suite of 8 movements, honors seventeenth-century Italian keyboard virtuoso and composer Girolamo Frescobaldi(1583-1643). Frescobaldi was an acknowledged ‘giant among organists’ who inspired not only his own countrymen but also helped to shape the keyboard style of Buxtehude and Bach. I will play the first movement, "Prelude au Kyrie," which begins with a slowly-ascending melodic figure against suspended chords played on the Swell Strings. When the opening material returns, halfway through, I add the Choir division’s full-throated Spire Flute to join the strings to accompany the four-foot Pedal Octave as it plays the chant theme from the Kyrie of the Mass "Cunctipotens genitor Deus” (All-powerful Father, God). (The connection to Frescobaldi is most overt in the final movement, "Epilogue" which is an energetic pedal solo, the theme of which quotes Frescobaldi's canzona from the “Messa della Madonna,” from the Fiori Musicali (1635). I don’t play this particular movement, but it is a great piece and lots of fun to watch: (listen to how many musical voices are going at once, being played by two feet only!)). The postlude by Louis Couperin is the “Chaconne in g minor”. The Couperin family was a musical dynasty of composers and performers who were the most prolific family in French musical history, active during the Baroque era (17th—18th centuries). Louis Couperin (1626–1661) and his nephew, François Couperin (1668-1733), known as “le Grand,” or “the Great” to distinguish him from other family member, are the best known members of the family. Louis worked as organist of the Church of St. Gervais in Paris and as musician at the court. He quickly became one of the most prominent Parisian musicians, establishing himself as a harpsichordist, organist, and violist, but his career was cut short by his early death at thirty-five. The postlude was originally written to be played on the clavecin, or harpsichord, not the organ. Nevertheless, Joseph Bonnet arranged the work for organ in the French-Classic style. A “chaconne” (similar to a “passacaglia”) was a form used by composers in the Baroque period and later and features a continuous variation, usually in triple meter; it is generally characterized by a short, repeating bass line or harmonic progression. Officiant and Homilist: Fr. Miles Smith
June 28, 2020
Third Sunday after Pentecost
Music Notes from Music Director and Organist, Michael Latsko: Friday, June 19 is known as Juneteenth, the oldest known African-American celebration. On June 19, 1865, slaves in Galveston, Texas, received word of their emancipation two months after the Civil War had ended, and two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation had gone into effect on January 1, 1863. Today, forty-seven of the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia have recognized Juneteenth as either a state or ceremonial holiday, a day of observance. The prelude, while not traditionally associated with Juneteenth, has a musical calmness to serve as an antidote to our current times. The Chant de Paix (Song of Peace) is the third of Neuf Pièces (Nine Pieces), composed in 1942-43 as the opus 40 by French organist and composer Jean Langlais (1907-1991). Blind from the age of three, Langlais composed these pieces on a commission during World War 2. He dedicated the piece to the daughter of a friend whom he described as “a peaceful soul, so uncomplaining, so calm in the face of life.” Shimmering strings in the Swell division accompany a gorgeous melody played with the feet using the Choir division 4-foot Harmonic Flute, arguably one of the most beautiful stops on the organ. Listen for a delightful (yet faint) surprise at the end! The postlude is “Lift every voice and sing,” often referred to as the Black national anthem (number 599 in Hymnal 1982). The song was originally written as a poem by James Weldon Johnson (1871–1938) in 1900 and set to music by his brother J. Rosamond Johnson (1873–1954) in 1905. I will only play only one full verse; the complete text is powerful: I. Lift ev’ry voice and sing, / ‘Til earth and heaven ring, Ring with the harmonies of Liberty; / Let our rejoicing rise High as the list’ning skies, / Let it resound loud as the rolling sea. Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us, Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us; Facing the rising sun / Of our new day begun, Let us march on ’til victory is won. II. Stony the road we trod, / Bitter the chastening rod, Felt in the days when hope unborn had died; / Yet with a steady beat, Have not our weary feet / Come to the place for which our fathers sighed? We have come over a way that with tears has been watered, We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered, Out from the gloomy past, / ‘Til now we stand at last Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast. III. God of our weary years, / God of our silent tears, Thou who has brought us thus far on the way; / Thou who has by Thy might Led us into the light, / Keep us forever in the path, we pray. Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee, Lest, our hearts drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee; Shadowed beneath Thy hand, / May we forever stand, True to our God, / True to our native land. Officiant and Homilist: Fr. Miles Smith The liturgical excerpts are from the 1979 Book of Common Prayer.
June 21, 2020
Second Sunday after Pentecost
Music Notes from Music Director and Organist, Michael Latsko: According to, June is among the top 5 most popular months for weddings. We haven’t had many weddings at Grace Church for quite some time because the building was closed for most of 2019, and so far in 2020 we haven’t been in our beloved building since March. So, in honor of a recent wedding (and, selfishly, to make sure yours truly doesn’t get rusty), this week I feature music popular at weddings. The prelude is “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” which is the most common English title of a piece of music derived from a chorale setting of the cantata “Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben” ("Heart and Mouth and Deed and Life"), composed by Johann Sebastian Bach in 1723 and catalogued as the 147thwork in the catalog of Bach’s works (referred to commonly as the “BWV” number). The tune is lovely as is the flowing accompaniment. How this work became associated with weddings is unknown to me, although based on how popular the musical selections played at the 1981 wedding of the Prince of Wales to Lady Diana Spencer became, it’s likely it was featured at a “royal wedding” and entered the nuptial vernacular. The Postlude is also by a German composer who is single-handedly responsible for reviving the music of Bach. By the 1840’s Bach and his music were largely forgotten except to historians. Felix Mendelssohn rediscovered and arranged for a performance of Bach's “St Matthew Passion” following which Bach’s extraordinary body of work has been omnipresent ever since. Often used as a wedding recessional, the “Wedding March” from Mendelssohn’s Incidental Music to A Midsummer Night’s Dream, op. 61 was first played at a wedding in 1847, but it was Victoria, the Princess Royal and Queen Victoria’s daughter, who made it popular during a wedding ceremony by having it accompany her own wedding in 1858. It was Prussian monarch Friedrich Wilhelm IV who commissioned Mendelssohn to compose incidental music for many pieces that were based upon Greek mythology and tragedy in order to revive the genre of literature and performance. Among his commissions was Mendelssohn’s 1843 composition of a setting for William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream (twelve musical selections and a finale). Of course, the plot of Shakespeare's play focuses on a pagan god and goddess and is filled with fairies, magic, and fantasy. Due to the piece's pagan inspirations, some church leaders and musicians — particularly in Roman Catholic churches — have found the piece to be inappropriate for a Christian religious ceremony. Nevertheless, it’s a delightfully energetic and festive work. Enjoy! Officiant and Homilist: Fr. Miles Smith The liturgical excerpts are from the 1979 Book of Common Prayer.
June 14, 2020
Trinity Sunday
Music Notes from Music Director and Organist, Michael Latsko: The prelude is based on the hymn "Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty!" (no. 362 in Hymnal 1982) the text of which was written by Anglican bishop Reginald Heber (1783–1826). It is usually sung to the tune "Nicaea," so named after the Council of Nicaea (A.D. 325) at which church leaders began to formulate the doctrine of the Trinity. The tune was composed by Englishman John B. Dykes (1823-1876), a church musician also ordained to the clergy who authored over 300 hymn tunes. Dykes wrote the tune specifically as a setting for Reginald's text and ever since their first publication together in Hymns Ancient and Modern (1861), the text and tune have been virtually inseparable. This particular setting is by American composer David S. Harris about whom my research has turned up nothing other than he composed “Ten Hymn Preludes in Trio Style” in 1974 based on hymns found in the Latter Day Saints Hymnal. A “trio,” simply stated, has three separate parts, each played on a separate keyboard (2 for the hands, one for the feet). You will never hear more than 3 notes sounding at one time: the hymn melody played on the oboe and the pedal with a flute at 16’ pitch (both located in the organ case on the right side). The third part, for the left hand, features the Great 8’ flute (in the organ case on the left side). The postlude is the Finale from a three-movement work based on the hymn “Holy God, we praise thy name” which is sung to the tune “Grosser Gott” (no. 366 in Hymnal 1982). The text is a paraphrase of the traditional “Te Deum laudamus” attributed to Ro­man Ca­tho­lic priest, hymn­ol­o­gist and com­pil­er Ignaz Franz (1719-1790).  His works in­clude the Katholisches Ge­sang­buch(Catholic Songbook) from around 1744 where this text and tune were published together. The Finale is fugal, or canonic, in nature and was composed by American composer Henry Kihlken (1939-2017), a graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. Kihlken served numerous churches in Connecticut and Ohio who served a twenty-year tenure as organist of St. John Lutheran Church in Port Clinton, Ohio. I played this hymn numerous times during my high school and college years while serving in Roman Catholic parishes. It was always sung so robustly and boldly by usually reticent RC congregations that I dubbed it “the Roman Catholic national anthem.” Officiant and Homilist: Fr. Miles Smith The liturgical excerpts are from the 1979 Book of Common Prayer. The Renewal of Baptismal Vows begins on page 303.
June 7, 2020
Day of Pentecost
Music Notes from Music Director and Organist, Michael Latsko: The prelude is an improvisatory (i.e., made up) meditation on the plainchant for Pentecost: “Veni Creator Spiritus,” or “Come, Holy Ghost, Creator, come” (No. 504 in Hymnal 1982). Listen for an imitation of the "mighty rushing wind" before and during the first intonation of the chant. Then you’ll hear a harmonization from the Sarum rite (the liturgical form used in most of the English Church prior to the introduction of the first Book of Common Prayer in 1549) followed by the chant with a descant (played on the Choir organ’s 4-foot Harmonic Flute) written by Geoffrey Shaw. To usher in the Holy Spirit boldly, the work concludes with a powerful declaration from British-American organist John Cook’s own improvisation on Veni Creator which he published in 1956. The postlude is by German musician Friedrich Wilhelm Zachau (1663-1712) who composed numerous keyboard and choral works, including two dozen cantatas. He is best remembered, however, as George Frederick Handel’s first music teacher. The music is a setting of a Lutheran hymn for Pentecost, “Komm, Heiliger Geist, Herre Gott" ("Come, Holy Ghost, God and Lord") usually set to a text written by Martin Luther based on "Veni Sancte Spiritus” (Come Holy Spirit) first published in 1524. Like the Veni Creator Spiritus, there are dozens of settings of this chorale. The first three notes of the hymn form a motive repeated throughout in eighth notes. The final word of the text, “Hallelujah,” is accentuated by the zimblestern, a set of rotating bells high on the wall in the left organ chamber. Officiant and Homilist: Fr. Miles Smith The liturgical excerpts are from the 1979 Book of Common Prayer.
May 31, 2020
Seventh Sunday of Easter (Ascension Sunday)
Music Notes from Music Director and Organist, Michael Latsko: “The prelude is an abridged version of a work by American organist and composer McNeil Robinson (1943-2015) whom I was privileged to meet and hear while living in NYC. He had a distinguished career, serving as church musician at some of the most prominent and publicly visibly religious institutions in NYC including St. Mary the Virgin, Park Avenue Christian Church, and Park Avenue Synagogue where he served five decades having been appointed at the recommendation of Leonard Bernstein. He served on the faculty of the Manhattan School of Music and the Mannes College of Music. His beautifully meditative “Chorale Prelude on Llanfair” was composed in 1995; it is based on the tune used for the hymn “Hail the day that sees him rise” (number 214 in Hymnal 1982), originally written as “Hymn for Ascension Day” by Charles Wesley from Hymns and Sacred Poems, 1739. The tune, claimed to have been written by several different composers, is Welsh and was written between 1817-1837. If you would like to listen to the composer play the entire version himself then you can listen here: A video recording of the entire version by another organist: The postlude is a festive toccata by Swiss composer Rudolf Moser (1892-1960), someone Grace parishioners are not likely to know. Moser studied with the great German composer of the late-Romantic period Max Reger who wrote some of the most difficult music ever composed for the organ. Moser’s style was much more economical that Reger’s but he mimicked Reger in merging late romantic and baroque music. The tune for this brief virtuosic work featuring full organ appears twice in Hymnal 1982, at numbers 400 (“All creatures of our God and King”) and 618 (“Ye watchers and ye holy ones”) and comes from a Roman Catholic book of church “songs” first published in Cologne, Germany in 1623.” Officiant and Homilist: Fr. Miles Smith The liturgical excerpts are from the 1979 Book of Common Prayer.
May 24, 2020
Memorial Day Program
Officiant and Speaker: Jeb Baker. And featuring soloist Keith Perry singing “Eternal Father, strong to save” (The Navy Hymn). Eternal Father, strong to save, whose arm hath bound the restless wave, who bidd’st the mighty ocean deep its own appointed limits keep: O hear us when we cry to thee for those in peril on the sea. O Christ, whose voice the waters heard and hushed their raging at thy word, who walkedst on the foaming deep, and calm amid its rage didst sleep: O hear us when we cry to thee for those in peril on the sea. Most Holy Spirit, who didst brood upon the chaos dark and rude, and bid its angry tumult cease, and give, for wild confusion, peace; O hear us when we cry to thee for those in peril on the sea. O Trinity of love and power, thy children shield in danger’s hour; from rock and tempest, fire and foe, protect them wheresoe’er they go; thus evermore shall rise to thee glad hymns of praise from land and sea. William Whiting (1825-1878) The liturgical excerpt is from the 1979 Book of Common Prayer.
May 24, 2020
Sixth Sunday of Easter
The opening music is an arrangement of the hymn “I Come with Joy” originally written by Brian Wrenn and composed and performed by Stephen Petrunak. I come with joy to meet my Lord, forgiven, loved, and free, in awe and wonder to recall his life laid down for me. I come with Christians far and near to find, as all are fed, the new community of love in Christ’s communion bread. As Christ breaks bread and bids us share, each proud division ends. That love that made us makes us one, and strangers now are friends. And thus with joy we meet our Lord. His presence, always near, is in such friendship better known: we see, and praise him here. Together met, together bound, we’ll go our different ways, and as his people in the world, we’ll live and speak his praise. The closing music is an organ performance of “People of God”, also known as “Earth and All Stars”, written by Patricia Clark and performed by Nicholas White of the St. Paul’s School, Concord, New Hampshire. People of God, gather together, come, let us sing on this glorious day. Shouting abroad praise to the Maker, come and with body and soul let us pray. Come, let us join in the heavenly dance, praising in joyous celebration. Hearing God’s word, heeding the message, come and rejoice as we answer the call. With one accord, made in God’s image, come in community, welcoming all. Bearing your gifts, enter God’s presence; come, let us share in the heavenly feast. Mending all rifts, healing divisions, come and from sorrows and hurts be released. Women and men, harmony blending, come, swell the chorus in loving accord. Raising again thanks never ending, come to the God who is Wisdom and Word. Officiant and Homilist: Fr. Miles Smith The liturgical excerpts are from the 1979 Book of Common Prayer.
May 17, 2020
Fifth Sunday of Easter
The opening music is the 7th century hymn “Christ is made the sure foundation” translated by John Mason Neale in the 19th century and performed by the Southwestern Seminary Oratorio Chorus and Festival Brass. Christ is made the sure foundation, Christ the head and cornerstone, chosen of the Lord, and precious, binding all the Church in one; holy Zion’s help for ever, and her confidence alone. All that dedicated city, dearly loved of God on high, in exultant jubilation pours perpetual melody; God the One in Three adoring in glad hymns eternally. To this temple, where we call thee, come, O Lord of Hosts, today; with thy wonted loving-kindness hear thy servants as they pray, and thy fullest benediction shed within its walls alway. Here vouchsafe to all thy servants what they ask of thee to gain; what they gain from thee, for ever with the blesséd to retain, and hereafter in thy glory evermore with thee to reign. Praise and honor to the Father, Praise and honor to the Son, Praise and honor to the Spirit, Ever Three and ever One, One in might, and One in glory, While unending ages run. The closing music is a toccata on “Christ the Lord is Risen Today” played by Diane Bish at the Methuen Memorial Music Hall in Methuen, Massachusetts. Officiant and Homilist: Fr. Miles Smith The liturgical excerpts are from the 1979 Book of Common Prayer.
May 10, 2020
Fourth Sunday of Easter
The opening music is an arrangement by Virgil Thomson of the Isaac Watts’ hymn “My Shepherd Will Supply My Need” performed by the Bowdoin College Chamber Choir in Brunswick Maine. “My Shepherd will supply my need, Jehovah is his Name; in pastures fresh he makes me feed beside the living stream. He brings my wandering spirit back when I forsake his ways, and leads me, for his mercy’s sake, in paths of truth and grace. When I walk through the shades of death, thy presence is my stay; one word of thy supporting breath drives all my fears away. Thy hand, in sight of all my foes, doth still my table spread; my cup with blessings overflows, thy oil anoints my head. The sure provisions of my God attend me all my days; oh, may thy house be mine abode and all my work be praise. There would I find a settled rest, while others go and come; no more a stranger or a guest, but like a child at home.” The link to online worship opportunities within the Diocese of Virginia is: The closing music is performed by the Ars Nova Vocal Group. It is “The King of Love My Shepherd Is” written by Henry Williams Baker—another beautiful piece of music based on Psalm 23. “The King of love my shepherd is, whose goodness faileth never; I nothing lack if I am his, and he is mine for ever. Where streams of living water flow, my ransomed soul he leadeth, and where the verdant pastures grow, with food celestial feedeth. Perverse and foolish oft I strayed, but yet in love he sought me, and on his shoulder gently laid, and home, rejoicing, brought me. In death’s dark vale I fear no ill with thee, dear Lord, beside me; thy rod and staff my comfort still, thy cross before to guide me. Thou spread’st a table in my sight; thy unction grace bestoweth; and oh, what transport of delight from thy pure chalice floweth! And so through all the length of days thy goodness faileth never: Good Shepherd, may I sing thy praise within thy house for ever.” Officiant and Homilist: Fr. Miles Smith The liturgical excerpts are from the 1979 Book of Common Prayer.
May 3, 2020
Third Sunday of Easter
Featuring Fr. Miles Smith "Welcome happy morning!" played by Nicholas Haigh, the Associate Organist at St. Thomas Church, Fifth Avenue, and recommended by our Organist, Michael Latsko. The "spiritual communion" prayer is attributed St. Alphonsus de Liguori (1696-1787). Liturgical excerpts are from the 1979 Book of Common Prayer. 
April 26, 2020
Second Sunday of Easter
Featuring Fr. Miles Smith.  The liturgical excerpts are from the 1979 Book of Common Prayer. 
April 19, 2020
Easter Day 2020
Featuring Michael Latsko playing an opening hymn “Jesus Christ is risen today”, an Easter hymn first written in Latin in the 14th century and a closing Easter Carol “This joyful Easteride” (Dutch arrangement by Charles Wood). And also featuring Renee Poulan-Wagner singing an Air for Soprano, #38, from Handel’s “Messiah”: “How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things.” (Romans 10:15) Officiant and Homilist: Fr. Miles Smith Reader and Additional Singer: Harry Gamble The liturgical excerpts are from the 1979 Book of Common Prayer.
April 12, 2020
The Great Vigil of Easter Eve 2020
Featuring Keith Perry singing “The Exsultet” which is traditionally sung on the Eve of Easter Day at the Great Vigil of Easter when the Paschal Candle is first lit for the season of Easter, symbolizing the Light of God in the darkness and the Resurrection of Christ in the midst of death. The Great Vigil and this ancient song were first introduced to Episcopalians in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer. The version that Keith is singing is a variation on the one below: “Rejoice now, heavenly hosts and choirs of angels, and let your trumpets shout Salvation for the victory of our mighty King. Rejoice and sing now, all the round earth, bright with a glorious splendor, for darkness has been vanquished by our eternal King. Rejoice and be glad now, Mother Church, and let your holy courts, in radiant light, resound with the praises of your people. All you who stand near this marvelous and holy flame, pray with me to God the Almighty for the grace to sing the worthy praise of this great light; through Jesus Christ his Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. The Lord be with you. And also with you. Let us give thanks to the Lord our God. It is right to give him thanks and praise. It is truly right and good, always and everywhere, with our whole heart and mind and voice, to praise you, the invisible, almighty, and eternal God, and your only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ our Lord; for he is the true Paschal Lamb, who at the feast of the Passover paid for us the debt of Adam's sin, and by his blood delivered your faithful people. This is the night, when you brought our fathers, the children of Israel, out of bondage in Egypt, and led them through the Red Sea on dry land. This is the night, when all who believe in Christ are delivered from the gloom of sin, and are restored to grace and holiness of life. This is the night, when Christ broke the bonds of death and hell, and rose victorious from the grave. How wonderful and beyond our knowing, O God, is your mercy and loving-kindness to us, that to redeem a slave, you gave a Son. How holy is this night, when wickedness is put to flight, and sin is washed away. It restores innocence to the fallen, and joy to those who mourn. It casts out pride and hatred, and brings peace and concord. How blessed is this night, when earth and heaven are joined and man is reconciled to God. Holy Father, accept our evening sacrifice, the offering of this candle in your honor. May it shine continually to drive away all darkness. May Christ, the Morning Star who knows no setting, find it ever burning--he who gives his light to all creation, and who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.” And also featuring Michael Latsko playing "Sortie on ‘Alleluia! The Strife Is O'er’"--a creation of his own based on the hymn, incorporating fragments composed by Wilbur Held, Charles Callahan, Janet Linker, Gerre Hancock, and Geoffrey Shaw. Officiant and Homilist: Fr. Miles Smith Additional singers: Harry Gamble and Renee Poulan-Wagner The liturgical excerpts are from the 1979 Book of Common Prayer.
April 11, 2020
Holy Saturday 2020
Officiant and Homilist: Fr. Miles Smith The liturgical excerpts are from the 1979 Book of Common Prayer.
April 11, 2020
Good Friday 2020
Featuring Keith Perry singing “The Crucifixion”--one of a cycle of ten songs from The Hermit Songs composed by Samuel Barber and first performed by Leontyne Price, soprano, with the composer at the piano, at the Library of Congress, Washington D.C., on October 30, 1953.  They are settings of anonymous Irish texts of the eighth to thirteenth centuries written by monks and scholars, often on the margins of manuscripts they were copying or illuminating--perhaps not always meant to be seen by their Father Superiors.  They are small poems, thoughts or observations, some very short, and speak in straightforward, droll and often surprisingly modern terms of the simple life these men led, close to nature, to animals and to God. “At the cry of the first bird They began to crucify Thee, O Swan! Never shall lament cease because of that. It was like the parting of day from night. Ah, sore was the suffering borne By the body of Mary’s son, But sorer still to Him was the grief Which for His sake Came upon His Mother.” And also featuring Michael Latsko playing “Prelude and Fugue” by German composer and organist Johann Christian Heinrich Rinck who lived 1700-1846. Reader: Harry Gamble. Officiant and Homilist: Fr. Miles Smith The liturgical excerpts are from the 1979 Book of Common Prayer.
April 10, 2020
Maundy Thursday 2020
Featuring Michael Latsko playing a Bach chorale prelude (Alle menschen mussen sterben, BWV 643) taken from Bach's Orgelbuchlein, a collection of 46 chorale preludes, most of which were written 1708-1717 while Bach was organist to the Duke of Weimar. The translation is "Hark! a voice saith, all men are mortal." Also with Keith Perry singing "Ubi caritas" (Where charity is)--a hymn of the Western Church often sung on Maundy Thursday. The melody is Gregorian chant composed sometime between the fourth and tenth centuries while the text may have been written earlier. The text says that God is present wherever charity – care for others – and love is expressed. It resonates with both Jesus’ Great Commandment (Luke 10:27) and his New Commandment (John 13:34). Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est. Congregavit nos in unum Christi amor. Exsultemus, et in ipso jucundemur. Timeamus, et amemus Deum vivum. Et ex corde diligamus nos sincero. Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est. Simul ergo cum in unum congregamur: Ne nos mente dividamur, caveamus. Cessent iurgia maligna, cessent lites. Et in medio nostri sit Christus Deus. Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est. Simul quoque cum beatis videamus, Glorianter vultum tuum, Christe Deus: Gaudium quod est immensum, atque probum, Saecula per infinita saeculorum. Amen. Where charity and love are, there God is. The love of Christ has gathered us into one. Let us exult, and in Him be joyful. Let us fear and let us love the living God. And from a sincere heart let us love each other. Where charity and love are, there God is. Therefore, whensoever we are gathered as one: Lest we in mind be divided, let us beware. Let cease malicious quarrels, let strife give way. And in the midst of us be Christ our God. Where charity and love are, there God is. Together also with the blessed may we see, Gloriously, Thy countenance, O Christ our God: A joy which is immense, and also approved: Through infinite ages of ages. Amen. Reader: Harry Gamble. Officiant and Homilist: Fr. Miles Smith The liturgical excerpts are from the 1979 Book of Common Prayer. 
April 9, 2020
Palm-Passion Sunday 2020
Featuring Michael Latsko, organist Reader: Harry Gamble. Officiant and Homilist: Fr. Miles Smith The liturgical excerpts are from the 1979 Book of Common Prayer.
April 4, 2020
March 29, 2020
The is the Sunday Audio for the 5th Sunday of Lent. 
March 28, 2020
March 22, 2020
This is the first Sunday Audio from Grace Episcopal Church for the 4th Sunday of Lent. 
March 28, 2020