The reading of Psalms 42 and 43 this weekend evoke images of nature and reveals our desire to be led by the Light into eventual joy.
A whimsical setting of the folk hymn "All Things Bright and Beautiful" by Emma Lou Diemer begins morning worship. Those gathered for Summer Choir (it could even be you!) will offer a simple arrangement of Natalie Sleeth's classic anthem "Hymn of Promise". The text encourages us to have hope in God's design in nature and in our own lives. Echoing the text of the closing hymn's refrain ("We shall go out in joy, and be led forth in peace..."), 20th century French composer Jean Langlais' "Chant de Joie" (Song of Joy) closes the service on an exciting and triumphant note.
At 6:00, Bobby and Blair will be joined by the versatile Alan Skowron on guitar.
This Sunday morning we preface the beginning of summer with the fourth movement from Vivaldi's The Four Seasons, "L'estate" (Italian for Summer). This famous set of violin concerti was composed from 1716-17 and published in 1725. The Four Seasons is considered one of the earliest examples of programmatic music: music that follows a literary narrative and embodies the meaning of the prose, often quite literally. In Summer, cuckoo calls, the misery of the overbearing heat, and thunderclaps will represented within the music itself. The three movements are based on a three part sonnet, included below, most likely written by Vivaldi. Violinist Harmony Tucker will lead us into this summertime odyssey of beauty, unrelenting heat, and fierce storms threatening the European harvest.
I. Allegro non molto
Under a hard season, fired up by the sun
Languishes man, languishes the flock and burns the pine
We hear the cuckoo's voice;
then sweet songs of the turtledove and finch are heard.
Soft breezes stir the air, but threatening
the North Wind sweeps them suddenly aside.
The shepherd trembles,
fearing violent storms and his fate.
The fear of lightning and fierce thunder
Robs his tired limbs of rest
As gnats and flies buzz furiously around.
Alas, his fears were justified
The Heavens thunder and roar and with hail
Cut the head off the wheat and damages the grain.
At 6:00 p.m. Bobby will be joined by cantor Blair Carpenter, guitarist Alan Skowron, and bassist Peter Strening for a spirit-led service including arrangements by John Bell and a nod to Pride Month from singer-songwriter Kacey Musgraves.
We come together as one church at the annual 10:00 a.m. outdoor service and picnic this Pentecost Sunday. Come and enjoy a slice of Americana and sing hymns to the Spirit.
Plymouth's 6:00 p.m. Service Music Coordinator Bobby Brannock will lead a band of local talent in bluegrass-inspired offerings by legendary songwriter Willie Nelson and an original composition by our banjo player, Josh Beard. Also joining Bobby will be vocalist Blair Carpenter, well known to Plymouth regulars, and fiddler Hannah Barnes, guitarist Benjamin Werling, and bassist Paul Geoghan-McWilliams.
Hope to see you all there on what will hopefully be a beautiful Colorado morning!
Organ works by 20th century American composers will permeate the morning service this holiday weekend.
"Aria" by Paul Manz begins worship with an instrumental depiction of the classic vocal solo aria. A setting of the hymn "Jesus Calls Us, o'er the Tumult" by William Bolcom contains jazz-inspired harmonies composed in a chorale prelude style reminiscent of the Baroque era. Daniel Pinkham's "Festive March" sends us out into the day. The piece is an excellent example of the composer's quirky and idiosyncratic harmonic and rhythmic sensibilities.
It is also worth noting that Pinkham was organist for 42 years at King's Chapel in Boston, the first Anglican church established in New England in 1686.
A potpourri of sounds this Sunday as our music ensembles take leave for the summer.
Staff singer and soprano Blair Carpenter shares two spirituals, "Deep River" and "Ride On, King Jesus!" arranged by H.T. Burleigh and Hall Johnson, respectively. Both men were contemporaries and instrumental in combining the American spiritual to art music. The Chancel Choir offers Mark Miller's "God Has Work for Us to Do" at the 11:00 a.m. service. The modern and edgy text by Carl Daw speaks to the injustices of our world and calls us all to be the instrument of God to undo them. Mark Miller's setting is reminiscent of musical theater and evokes a hopeful and poignant backdrop to this amazing text. To close the morning services, I offer an exciting setting of our Doxology tune, "Lasst uns erfeuen" by my Cincinnati College-Conservatory former colleague, Brenda Portman. She currently is an organ professor at Xavier University and Resident Organist at Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church, both in Cincinnati, Ohio.
This Sunday's music is inspired by the bucolic setting of Psalm 23. The Fourth Sunday of Easter is sometimes known as "Good Shepherd Sunday" for the traditionally prescribed reading of this famous psalm and its message of assurance and comfort. And it does appear the local weather will cooperate offering us a nice backdrop during the services...
"Pastorale" by British organist and composer Alec Rowley opens the morning services. A pastorale is a traditional music form, usually in a compound triple meter, meant to evoke nature: a pastoral scene. The apt "Toccata for a Joyful Day" by eminent American composer Emma Lou Diemer sends us out on an exciting and jubilant note at the 11:00 a.m. service.
This Sunday is also the last of the season for Plymouth's hand bell choirs. At 9:00 a.m., the Youth Bells will ring a setting of "Here I Am, Lord" by Arnold Sherman during communion and "A Time for Joy" by Cynthia Dobrinski at the postlude. The Plymouth Ringers offer "All Things Bright and Beautiful" by Susan Geschke at the 11:00 a.m. service.
Also at 11:00, the Chancel Choir sings a beautiful setting of Psalm 23 by composer and virtuoso vocalist Bobby McFerrin. The composition is dedicated to the memory of his mother, who also was an accomplished singer. Sara Copper had served as a Metropolitan Opera judge and chaired the vocal department at Fullerton College in California. McFerrin's psalm paraphrase incorporates an abundance of feminine imagery.
At 6:00 p.m., Bobby and Blair are joined by harpist Alaina Bongers and flutist Rebecca Quillen for further explorations of bucolic imagery in Celtic musical offerings and an arrangement of Mack Wilberg's choral setting "My Shepherd Will Supply My Need."
The indigenous history of music in Mexico was significantly impacted by European immigrants and missionaries, Spanish colonists, and the neighboring countries of Central and South America. This week, we will explore these influences through our worship offerings. What will be heard is the merging of local folk stylings melded with the Western European art music aesthetic.
In the morning, services will begin with "Tiento de dos tiples" by Spanish Baroque composer Paul Bruna. Tiento means "touch:" and tiples "a soprano guitar," an instrument with origins in Spanish Renaissance music. Taken together, this organ work denotes a dual melody which was played on the divided keyboard of the 17th century Spanish organ: upper register for the "sopranos" and lower register for the quiet accompaniment. Eduardo Torres' "Final" closes the services with a setting reminiscent of Spanish guitar sounds and techniques though through a 20th-century lens. For the 9:00 a.m. communion time, we will hear "Elevation" by Baroque Italian composer Domenico Zipoli. As a Jesuit missionary, he emigrated to what is now present day Argentina to teach and compose music among the Guarani people.
At 11:00 a.m., the Chancel Choir will present "Journey Home" by composer and Professor of Composition at Concordia University Abbie Betinis. It is a poignant piece recounting the travels and dreams of migrants to a foreign land in the hope for a better life. A pertinent topic in our culture, to say the least.
At this week's 6:00 p.m. Dinner Church, Bobby and Blair are joined by guitarist Alan Skowron for a Spanish-inflected musical presentation.
This Sunday, a Taizé-inspired worship experience will be offered at all three of our services: a cantor-led service at 9:00 a.m. & 6:00 p.m., and the 11:00 a.m. choral service led by the Chancel Choir.
The Taizé Community in France is the center of an ecumenical movement that incorporates prayer, meditative chants, silence and simplicity. Founded in 1940 by Brother Roger, the Taizé style of worship is recognizable to both Protestants and Catholics in its application of scriptural readings, song, and communion. The hauntingly beautiful chants draw the faithful from all over the world inviting all to enter together into the mystery of God's presence.
Each chant will be sung several times in order that our meditation upon the words may become a song of prayer and an invocation to the Spirit. We hope that your hearts and minds will be opened so that you may speak and listen to God.
Let us celebrate the resurrection together this Sunday in prayerful reflection and meditation upon that first Easter so long ago. We ask that you enter the sanctuary in silence so that the services may be a time of meditation and prayer.
The Triduum begins with a two-part service this Maundy Thursday: the commemoration of the Lord's Supper leading into the Office of the Tenebrae (Latin for darkness).
"Le Banquet celéste" (the celestial banquet) is an impressionistic work by Olivier Messiaen based on the words of John 6.56: "He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood dwelleth in me and I in him." Composed in 1928, it was Messiaen's first published piece and was meant to connote the sense of eternity present in the Eucharist, reflecting his devout Catholic faith. "Choral dorien" by Jehan Alain closes the service as a musical meditation: serene, mysterious, and hopeful. The Chancel Choir will offer a setting of "Ubi Caritas" (where charity and love are, God is there), the traditional antiphon for Maundy Thursday used at the washing of the feet rite. A beautiful setting of "O vos omnes" by Spanish Renaissance composer and priest Tomás Luis de Victoria will be sung by the Chamber Choir near service's end. Based on Lamentations 1.12, this text is commonly used for Holy Week rites and specifically as part of the Holy Saturday Tenebrae Responsories.
On Easter Sunday we will be joined by the Plymouth Brass in joyful hymns, Handel's infamous "Hallelujah Chorus" and an exceptional Chancel Choir anthem by Joel Martinson, "Three Days Had Passed." The Chamber Choir will lead us into the Call to Worship with the introit "Whom Do You Seek" by Roy Stewart. The Plymouth Ringers will also be on hand as we celebrate the Resurrection with Easter hymns during communion. The organ works will be decidedly French with the monumental "Chorale No. 3 in A Minor" by César Franck opening the service. It is a fifteen minute work that could be interpreted as two themes, Life and Death, dancing around each in battle with the chorale theme (Life) winning in the end. This was Franck's last organ work, completed in the year of his death in 1890. The service concludes with the majestic and wonderfully dissonant "Acclamations" from Jean Langlais' "Suite Médiévale". It is based on a two-note chant melody with the text, Christus Vincit (Christ Victorious).
At the 6pm service, we'll have a Dixieland Easter!
On this Palm Sunday marking the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem, organ works of solemn procession will be heard. The "Cortege et Litanie" by Marcel Dupre opens the morning services. A cortege is a solemn procession, usually one involving the casket of the deceased. The musical theme depicting this action is followed by the litany motive. Coupled together, this work is often used by organists on Palm Sunday, Robert Hughes' grand Recessional send us out into the world. The Chancel Choir reminds us of the passion narrative commonly associated with Palm Sunday in Handel's "Surely He Hath Borne Our Griefs," a famous chorus from the seminal work Messiah.
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.