Living in community with Christ as our Light and the Sure Foundation—a Christian community. Two hymn settings by Helmut Walcha and Paul Manz speak to these ideals based on tunes by Johann Heerman and Henry Purcell.
The joy of this community can always be expressed in music. This Sunday morning, that music is Dvorak's "Allegro risoluto" from the Sonatina, Op. 100 played by violinist Harmony Tucker.
At the 6:00 p.m. service, cantor Lucas Jackson, guitarist Bill DeMarco, and I present a (mostly) Celtic offering as the evening draws nearer.
We can experience transcendence through music—a brush with another spiritual realm. One person may feel exhilaration at a high decibel heavy metal show while another is uplifted by the sweet melancholy of a band like The Cure. The ancient melodies of Gregorian Chant can bring the faithful to tears while the roar of a pipe organ leading a congregation in a majestic Germanic hymn could be heard as glorious. The styles and modes of transmission can be so varied and seemingly contradictory in intent. But they are unified by our individual spirits looking upward. Engaged. Stirred.
Songs of Unity this Sunday, then.
Come and find your quiet center with two songs of peace this Sunday morning.
First, the sublime "Chant de paix" by Jean Langlais invites calm and prayer as we prepare for worship together. And the Summer Choir returns with a musical offering of "Prayer for Peace" by David Cherwien. Please feel free to join us in singing this simple and accessible piece! Rehearsal is at 9:15 a.m.
The unofficial "Toccata Month" reaches its exciting conclusion in an early toccata in F major by Baroque composer Dietrich Buxtehude. A stirring call to action and movement as we head out into the world at service's end.a
At the 6:00 p.m. service, cantor Blair Carpenter, ukulelist Stuart Yoshida, and I offer songs of peace and gratitude as evening falls.
A fanfare on the Handel-composed hymn tune "Gopsal" begins morning worship by British composer David Willcocks. Well-known for his soaring Christmas descants on carols such as "O Come, All Ye Faithful" and "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" (heard annually at Plymouth!), his brief and punchy call to worship exudes a savvy contemporary air.
July has been a month of toccatas at the postlude and so why stop now! Toccata comes from the Italian term 'toccare' meaning "to touch." It usually infers a virtuosic work meant to be flashy and technical. The "Toccata giocosa" ('giocosa' meaning playful) by William Mathias is a whimsical and creative take on the traditional toccata form. This sectional work brings the listener on an adventurous journey of harmony, rhythm, and timbre.
At the Prelude, a setting of the Genevan Psalter tune "Old Hundredth" by Baroque composer Georg Friedrich Kauffmann—joyfully enter the temple. At the Anthem, a setting of "For the Beauty of the Earth" by John Rutter sung by the Chancel Choir—marveling at God's creation. At the Postlude, "Toccata in 7" by John Rutter—walking purposefully into the world wearing our faith on our sleeve.
At 6:00 p.m., Celtic chants based on ancient Psalm texts—come seek the face of God.
Songs of early America, new beginnings, and faith. Wayfaring strangers we may be—but never alone.
From "Five Dances for Organ" by Calvin Hampton, "Those Americans" possibly expresses the hustle and bustle of the stereotypical American citizen through a flurry of repetitive minimalist figures in this brief charming work. During communion, the classic spiritual "Let Us Break Bread" is re-imagined in a jazz idiom by Charles Callahan. A triumphant and exciting toccata setting of the folk tune "How Firm a Foundation" by Craig Phillips closes the services (just in time for burritos!).
The Chancel Choir will present their first anthem in person since March 2020! The Shaker tune "Simple Gifts" is interwoven with the hoary "Pachelbel's Canon" in a joyful setting by Donald Moore. Lift every voice and sing!
It was common practice in the Baroque era that organists could improvise a clearly defined polyphonic imitative composition — a fugue— on a given or chosen theme. The base motive is introduced with additional voices methodically entering the texture one at a time based on the initial fugue subject or as supporting musical material. The end result can be quite intricate as shown in the virtuosic fugue works of J.S. Bach, the pinnacle of this compositional technique.
For this Sunday morning (the last pre-recorded service we hopefully will ever need to do!), we explore the little cousin of the fugue, the fughetta. Although less ambitious in form and scope, the imitative characteristics of the fugue remain intact but in a concentrated work. A generation before Bach, Johann Pachelbel produced a number of fughettas of which we'll hear the Fugue in C Major—a spirited delightful piece that showcases his keen understanding of counterpoint. A contemporary setting by Richard Proulx on the hymn tune "Engelberg" (commonly associated with the text "When in Our Music God Is Glorified") closes morning worship with a Neo-Baroque spirit.
The works of Henry Thacker ("Harry") Burleigh were known for integrating art music with traditional African-American spirituals. Soprano Blair Carpenter offers one such work in "'Tis Me, O Lord" during the Musical Offering. Burleigh was instrumental in introducing black music to the classical world and of note to composer Antonín Dvořák, who incorporated those sounds into his own music.
At 6:00 p.m., songs of praise and thanksgiving with cantor Blair Carpenter and ukulelist Stuart Yoshida.
Hear my silent prayer
Heed my quiet call
When the dark and blue surround you
Step into my sigh
Look inside the light
You will know that I have found you
from "Dreamcatcher" by Secret Garden
A dreamcatcher is a Native American talisman believed to offer protection to the home it resides in. We all seek protection from the universe, the divine, as we travel the roads of our lives. This Sunday, songs of faith and praise to accompany the journey.
The musical term cantabile means to perform in a flowing style in the manner of singing. César Franck premiered his "Trois pièces," which included "Cantabile," in 1878. This prayerful expressive work has been in the standard organ repertoire ever since. The solo reed stop evokes a soprano voice singing an aria supported by a sensuous and highly chromatic flute accompaniment.
Secret Garden is a group led by Irish violinist and vocalist Fionnuala Sherry and Norwegian composer and pianist Rolf Løvland. After winning the 1995 Eurovision Song Contest, they have gone on to sell over three million albums consisting primarily of instrumental compositions. Their work "Dreamcatcher" (from the 1999 album "Dawn of a New Century") begins and ends with a brief lyric expressing the mystery of solace in the universe. The music that follows is of a beautiful melancholic nature that surges with hope and beauty. Violinist Abigail Morgan joins us.
A hymn of praise closes the morning service with a setting of "Praise to the Lord, the Almighty" by Baroque composer Johann Gottfried Walther. The well-known tune sounds gloriously from the pedal reeds as the manuals echo themes from the cantus firmus. Walther was also a respected organist and music theorist and held the distinction of being a contemporary and cousin to the most famed of all Baroque composers— Johann Sebastian Bach.
The 6:00 p.m. "eclectic" service certainly lives up to this description with music offered from the Celtic, jazz, early American, and gospel traditions. Violinist Harmony Tucker joins Blair and I for this diverse worship service on the eve of summer.
The Parable of the Mustard Seed opens us to the mystery of the Kingdom of God—seemingly miraculous growth from an unlikely source with Joy and Peace aplenty.
Rhonda Larson composed a lovely solo flute work entitled "Be Still My Soul" in 2003 which incorporates the famous Jean Sibelius theme and hymn tune "Finlandia." This Sunday, we hear Plymouth member Aaron McGrew's adaptation of the piece for flute choir. By recording the solo with selective elements of the auxiliary accompaniment part, Aaron creates a layered tapestry of evocative timbres including effects such as singing into the flute.
From the organ we hear two selections from the Emma Lou Diemer catalogue.
First, her whimsical arrangement of the nature hymn "All Things Bright and Beautiful," a delightful and fanciful ode to God's creation. Lastly, her "Toccata for a Joyful Day," a piece that is faithful to its title.
At the 6:00 p.m. outdoor service, we will learn to trust the seeds and cherish the holy ground we stand on—this soil of God. Bassist Peter Strening joins Blair and I for this early evening worship service out on the green.
It has been nearly two years since we convened
For worship at Rolland Moore Park, so pristine
Celtic folk tunes
'Murican ones too
Give thanks for the fellowship out on the green!
See you Sunday at 10 a.m.!
Each week, Director of Music Mark Heiskanen writes a Music Minute previewing the upcoming Sunday's musical offerings and occasionally opines on other music-related topics.
We are blessed by an engaging music program at Plymouth!
Mark Heiskanen has been Plymouth's Director of Music since September 2017. Originally from Northeast Ohio, Mark has experience and great interest in a diverse range of musical styles including jazz, rock, musical theatre, and gospel. He is thrilled to serve a congregation and staff that values diversity and inclusion in all facets of life.