Hermann Schroeder (1904-1984) was a German composer, organist, conductor, and professor who spent the majority of his professional life in the Rheinland. As a Catholic church musician, he had a distinguished tenure as organist at Trier Cathedral, the oldest church in Germany with roots tracing back to the 3rd century. Schroeder's primary contribution in his sacred music output was to reintroduce medieval musical concepts to counter the prevailing Romantic influence of the day. This included the use of Gregorian chant, modal scales, the fauxbourdon (melody displayed in the tenor voice) combined with quartal/quintal harmonies and the occasional quasi-atonal approach characteristic of contemporary Paul Hindemith.
Two choral preludes on German hymn tunes will be offered this Sunday morning. "Nun bitten wir den Heiligen Geist" (We Now Implore the Holy Ghost) opens the services with an invocation to the Spirit. The Baroque technique of placing the cantus firmus in the pedal with counterpoint figurations in the manuals is employed, albeit with quartal, quintal, and contemporary harmonies, which one would not expect to find in traditional 17th or 18th century music. "Schönster Herr Jesu" (Most beautiful Lord Jesus) also sets the melody in the pedal but the manuals play sustained suspension-filled passages reminiscent of the 19th century. The hymn tune is originally of Silesian origin but was paired with the German text (commonly known as "Fairest Lord Jesus") in 1842. The opening movement of Schroeder's Six Preludes and Intermezzi, Opus 9, "Praeludium," closes the services with a majestic soundscape reminiscent of medieval organum with modern tonalities weaved in throughout.
At 11:00 a.m., the Chancel Choir offers Will Todd's "Lighting the Way," an anthem indicated as "A Song for Pilgrims" by the composer, who also wrote the text. He speaks to God being the Light of our own lives and how we then share that light with others, lighting their way.
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.