Music Notes (Oct 12)
The Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost
October 12, 2014
Music at Eucharist: The Offertory anthem is an anonymous sixteenth-century setting of the fourth letter of Paul’s letter to the Philippians which serves as today’s New Testament lesson. Charming in its simplicity, the work is a typical example of English post-Reformation composition in which clarity of text was of chief importance.
Edward Elgar (1857-1934), a cradle Roman Catholic, wrote three settings of St. Thomas Aquinas’s famous Eucharistic hymn, O salutaris hostia. In a land saturated by liturgical music for the Anglican Church, Elgar was keen on composing works that reflected Catholic theology. This setting, dating from 1880, would have been used for the service of Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.
Music at Evensong: This service features two works composed by Edward Cuthbert Bairstow (1874-1946): Andante serioso, ma con moto from his Sonata for Organ and the anthem, Save us, O Lord. Bairstow served for 33 years as Organist and Master of the Choristers at York Minster in the north of England. His Sonata for Organ in E-flat Major (1937) is the largest of his works for the instrument.
The first movement, which serves as the prelude, evokes the sort of “pre-Evensong” atmosphere of hushed anticipation that one expects to find in the great English Cathedrals. Though it begins and ends quietly, the piece does have a tumultuous aural climax at its core that utilizes one of the most English of organ stops, the Tuba.
Composed in 1902, Save us, O Lord demonstrates Bairstow’s ability to write brilliantly for choir and organ together in his lush harmonic idiom. Not unlike the organ prelude, Bairstow here follows a general soft-loud-soft format. The middle of these sections is an energetic choral fugue set quite appropriately to the text, “that awake we may watch with Christ.”
Also: Music List archive