This Sunday morning we worship in the style of our 6:00 p.m. service! Spiritual songs of joy and praise reveling in the images of God will be experienced at the 11:00 hour.
Kacey Musgraves' "Rainbow" was released in 2018 and soon became an anthem for all who have struggled. Especially embraced by the LGBTQ community, it has now resurged as a balm in this pandemic era, recently performed by Kacey on the Global Citizen "One World:Together at Home" benefit concert. The chorus offers these words of comfort and optimism: "Hold tight to your umbrella, well darlin’ I’m just trying to tell ya, that there’s always been a rainbow hanging over your head.”
"No Longer" is a hymn text about unity written by a fave here at Plymouth, Carolyn Winfrey Gillette. Paired with the traditional Yigdal melody "Leoni," this musical offering will receive a jazz-inflected reinterpretation.
"Yahweh" is a song by the Irish rock band U2 appearing on their 2004 album "How to Dismantle an Atom Bomb." Described as a "closing prayer" to the record, the song took on a new life in the recording process when lead singer Bono spontaneously sang the lyrics and melodies in one take. He further noted, "I had this idea that no one can own Jerusalem, but everybody wants to put flags on it. The title's an ancient name that's not meant to be spoken. I got around it by singing. I hope I don't offend anyone."
Guitarist Alan Skowron and bassist Peter Strening join Blair and I for this "6 at 11" worship experience. We hope you may be present with us as well. Selah.
Wordless expressions of a blessed Christian community through ordered sound: music. An invocation. A hosannah. A hymn of praise.
"Nun bitten wir den Heiligen Geist" (We Now Implore the Holy Ghost) was composed by Martin Luther in 1524 and based on a well-known medieval leise (a 13th century vernacular church song). Numerous settings of this tune were composed in the centuries to follow including this week's ornamented chorale prelude by Dietrich Buxtehude (1637-1707). An expressive invitation to the Holy Spirit as we enter worship.
Robert Borger plays Franz Liszt's heroic "Hosannah" (1862) scored for trombone and organ. Based on the chorale melody "Heilig ist Gott der Vater" (Holy is God the Father), the work is an instrumental setting of "Alleluja" from Liszt's large scale choral work "Cantico del sol Francesco d'Assisi." An acclamation of joy and triumph.
The hymn of praise "Lobe den Herren, den mächtigen König der Ehren" (Praise to the Lord, the Almighty) is a shared treasure across denominational lines the world over. Paul Manz's celebrated setting from 1975 perfectly encapsulates the fervent spirit of this venerable text: Bold. Rousing. Enlivening.
Sounds of spring. Words of comfort from the Good Shepherd through the ages. Two chorale preludes and a bit of Vivaldi.
The Irish tune Saint Columba is often associated with the hymn text "The King of Love My Shepherd Is," a lovely paraphrase of Psalm 23 by Henry Baker (1868.) The tune receives a florid interpretation by British composer Robin Milford during the prelude. Interestingly, this setting was also adapted for an orchestral version in an episode of the original Star Trek series. The postlude is an energetic and joyous Toccata on the Easter hymn "Come, Ye Faithful, Raise the Strain" (tune: Gaudeamus Pariter) from James Biery's collection Three for Easter.
The musical offering is movement one from the "Spring" portion of Antonio Vivaldi's infamous concerto Four Seasons. Violinist Harmony Tucker joins us for this well-known excerpt here in the heart of springtime.
The Road to Emmaus. A pilgrim's tale. Where Christ is made known in the breaking of the bread.
Two Easter season chorale settings will frame this Sunday morning's worship time. "Vruechten" was originally a 17th century Dutch folk tune and a love song. It soon after became an Easter carol with the text "This Joyful Eastertide" becoming most associated with the tune. James Biery's contemporary setting evokes the Baroque era with an ornamented melody overlayed a florid accompaniment. The tune "Victory" was composed by Palestrina in 1591, commonly known as "The Battle Is O'er; the Strife Is Done." Alfred Fedak offers an improvisatory and exhilarating setting of this classic Easter hymn.
For the musical offering, Charles Callahan's jazz-inflected rendition of the famous communion song "Let Us Break Bread Together" will be presented.
On this Second Sunday of Easter, we reflect upon our role as stewards of this island home called Earth. So let us have an environmental sabbath day with music celebrating nature, the Resurrection, and new life.
The familiar tune of the ecological hymn "All Things Bright and Beautiful" receives a whimsical and playful treatment by esteemed composer Emma Lou Diemer. An excerpt from her Folk Hymn Sketches for Organ, this brief character piece begins with a chirpy registration (perhaps alluding to morning bird chatter?), transitions to sonorous timbres in the verses ("The purple-headed mountain..."), and back to the cheerful refrain.
Soprano Blair Carpenter will present a solo interpretation of the choral anthem "Trust the Seeds" by Elizabeth Alexander. On this Sunday in Eastertide, we often will hear the story of doubting Thomas: the disciple in need of proof of Jesus' resurrection as faith alone would not do. Alexander's text speaks to the virtue of faith in botanical terms, encapsulated in the poem's final phrase: "There is joy in planting if you trust the seeds."
We sang the Paschal hymn "Now the Green Blade Rises" during last Sunday's Easter service. This Sunday morning, an instrumental reprise is offered during the postlude in Mark Sedio's toccata on the hymn tune Noël Nouvelet. This French carol was likely written in the late 15th century with the medieval folk quality readily apparent. It was originally paired with a Christmas text, translated as "New Noel, Noel let us sing here." The well-known Easter text was written by English priest John Crum in which he compares Christ to grain sprouting miraculously from the dark earth.
Expressions of the Triduum from the German Baroque era and ethereal sonorities from 20th century French composers greet us this Maundy Thursday. The impressionistic work "Le Banquet Céleste" (The Heavenly Feast) by Olivier Messiaen begins the service as a musical paraphrase of the eucharistic text John 6.56: "Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them." Cellist Heidi Mausbach joins us for the restless and surreal second movement of Sonata in A Minor for cello and organ by Marcel Dupré. With soprano Blair Carpenter, the sublime "Pie Jesu" from Maurice Duruflé's Requiemwill be offered. Additional works by J.S. Bach, Ronald Perera, Jean Langlais, and Jehan Alain bring this holy night to a tranquil and reflective space of repose.
On Good Friday, a meditation though music, prayer, scripture, and poetry will be offered at noon. Rev. Jane Anne Ferguson will weave in stories of this holy day with musical expressions from the organ contributing their own tales. Repertoire spanning the centuries including J.S. Bach, Johannes Brahms, Helmut Walcha, and Ludwig Lenel provide you with an inviting template to contemplate the life and death of Christ. In closing, a setting by Jeanne Demessieux on the Good Friday text "In Manus Tuas" (Into your hands, O Father, I commend my spirit) concludes this prayerful time.
The Plymouth Brass returns this Easter Sunday to lead our hymn singing and share joyful works of the Paschal season by G.F. Handel and Johann Crüger. The ecstatic joy of Jean Langlais' "Acclamations" from Suite Médiévale closes the Easter celebration in triumph: Christus vincit.
Jesus' entrance into Jerusalem: a symbolic gesture alluding to regal overtures but, riding on a donkey, as one coming in peace. A "king" of peace.
We will hear the trumpet sound in "Voluntary I" by Michel Rondeau and "Trumpet Tune in F Major" by David Johnson. Trumpeter Josh Margheim joins us in the tried and true collaboration between organ and brass. A setting of the 17th century hymn "Lord Jesus, Thou Art Going Forth" by Camil Van Hulse will conclude the service. Beginning in a flowing succession of minor sixth figures, the hymn tune soars over this cascade culminating in sustained dramatic harmonies foreshadowing the events in the week to come.
A botanical theme of growth. Of life emerging out of seeming death. Coaxed into being by the Spirit.
"Lied to the Flowers" is a poetic song of color and variations for the organ by the aptly named Flor Peeters. It is movement four from his Lied Symphony for organ, a programmatic ode to nature also celebrating the ocean, desert, mountains, and sun. The essence of flowers is suggested with Peeters' specific colored registration and evolving variations on the chant-like flower motif. The Spirit is called to dwell within us in J.S. Bach's glorious setting of "Komm, Gott Schöpfer, heiliger Geist" (Come, God Creator, Holy Ghost.) It is a chorale partita in two parts: the first section presents the cantus firmus in the soprano followed by a repetition in the pedal overlayed with a flowing manual ritornello symbolizing the rushing wind of the Spirit.
This week's musical offering will be the well-known "Meditation" from Thais played by violinist Amy Welsh. Consider it a brief moment of reflection, calm, and inner silence as we virtually worship together this Sunday.
Two selections from Johannes Brahms' Eleven Chorale Preludes will be heard in this Sunday's 11 a.m. streaming service. Composed in 1896, a year before his death, the chorale preludes contain a Baroque sensibility but through the lense of the 19th century. Herzlich tut mich erfreuen ("My Faithful Heart Rejoices") is based on a 16th century hymn encouraging one to act from the heart in service to God. Mein Jesu, der du mich zum Lustspiel ewiglich ("My Jesu, Thou who me to delight forever") is setting of a now extinct German hymn extolling the virtue of serving the Light.
Soprano Blair Carpenter and I will offer our arrangement of the choral anthem "The Lord Is My Light and My Salvation" by Rosephanye Powell. Based on Psalm 27, the text relates the wisdom of trusting in God who can even make the blind see.
Agape love, rebirth, and the transformative work of the Holy Spirit: three concepts intertwined beautifully in this Sunday's reading of John 3.1-17.
The ancient Latin text "Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est" (Where charity and love are, there God is) refers to agape love and is traditionally associated with the Washing of Feet rite on Maundy Thursday in Catholic and some Protestant traditions. Contemporary settings of this text include works by Maurice Duruflé, Paul Halley, David Conte, and this Sunday morning's offering by Norweigan composer Ola Gjeilo. The anthem is also another selection from the March 16 Ola Gjeilo concert the Chancel Choir will participate in at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center in New York City. The Gregorian chant melody associated with the text, composed between the 4th and 10th centuries, serves as the pedal cantus firmus in Jeanne Demessieux's beatific setting of the tune during the Prelude.
A Hymn to the Spirit, "Come Down, O Love Divine," commonly associated with the tune Down Ampney, is given a subtle tango inflection by contemporary composer Mark Sedio for the 9:00 a.m. communion time.
To close the morning services, Camil Van Hulse provides an arrangement of the 17th century Lutheran hymn "Upon the Cross Extended" relating the life-giving power of Jesus' ministry summarized in these words from verse 7: "Your cross I place before me; Its saving pow'r restore me."
At the 6:00 p.m. service, cantor Blair Carpenter and ukulelist Stuart Yoshida lead you in songs of the spirit, love, and the wilderness as we continue the Lenten journey.
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.