The musical selections this Sunday are inspired by the suggested character of a "Good Samaritan": humbleness, a devotion to the Light, perhaps one embodying "eroica," a heroic nature.
We begin the morning with a character piece from A Quaker Reader (1977), "Bewitching attire of the most charming simplicity...", by esteemed American composer Ned Rorem. The title is a quote from an essay describing the humble and endearing attributes of 18th century Quakers in Nantucket, Massachusetts. The Summer Choir returns with a joyful offering in "We Are Singing, for the Lord Is Our Light," a liberal interpretation by Hal Hopson of the South African Freedom Song "Siyahamba." And finally, a "Festival Voluntary" by 20th century Belgian organist and composer Flor Peeters lends a regal British style close to the service.
At 6:00 p.m. I will be joined by Blair and violinist Hannah Walters as we present offerings from contemporary American composers. The preservice meditation time will be accompanied by the tranquil organ excerpt from A Quaker Reader to help you center for worship. During communion we offer my jazzy arrangement of "In Christ There Is No East or West" for piano, voice, and violin (based on an organ setting by James Biery). To close, myself and Hannah play "Etude in A MInor" by Michael Nyman. This work famously appeared in the soundtrack to the 1993 film The Piano, and in other contexts as well. It is a work that I believe viscerally embodies the affect of "eroica."
The prescribed reading for this Sunday, Psalm 66, asks us to "make a joyful noise to God" and "sing the glory of his name." The annual Hymn Sing this Sunday morning should suffice then! With hymnody and the scripture in mind, chorale preludes based on one very famous tune will be the course.
The 1680 German hymn "Lobe den Herren, den mächtigen König der Ehren," often translated as "Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, King of Creation," is a staple of Christian congregational singing and found in hymnals throughout the world, including The New Century Hymnal (hymn 22 "Sing Praise to God, Who Has Shaped"). Written by German Reformed Church teacher and theologian,Joachim Neander, the tune was likely based on a folk tune, first appearing in print fifteen years earlier. Numerous settings of "Lobe Den Herren" have been written over the centuries by namely Lutheran organ composers such as J.S. Bach, Johann Walther, and Hugo Distler. This Sunday morning, we'll hear 20th century settings by German Neo-Baroque composer Helmut Walcha and Paul Manz, the Cantor Emeritus of Mount Olive Lutheran Church in Minneapolis.
At the outdoor 6:00 p.m. Dinner Church service, we'll sing songs interspersed with Jane Anne's creative retelling of the joyful Psalm 66. Bobby and Blair will lead the way and be joined by bassist Peter Strening and Michael Hamilton on percussion.
This Sunday morning we delve into the repertoire of prolific German composer Felix Mendelssohn. An organist, pianist, conductor and composer of symphonies, concertos, chamber music and keyboard and vocal works, Mendelssohn was also instrumental in reviving interest in the music of J.S. Bach, considered out of fashion in the early 19th century.
For the Prelude and Postlude, we will hear excerpts from Mendelssohn's Concerto in E Minor, Opus 64. It is his last large scale orchestral work completed in six years in 1845, two years before his death. The work is considered a standard in violin repertoire and is performed often. Violinist Katrina Nelson and pianist Judy Leatherman will present the concerto excerpts. During the Offertory, Mendelssohn's Adagio from Organ Sonata No. 1 in F Minor will be offered. His Six Organ Sonatas were also published in 1845 and form a significant contribution to the organ repertoire to this day.
At 6:00 p.m., cellist Daniel Delaney joins Bobby and Blair for an eclectic range of musical landscapes including Baroque, Celtic, gospel, and blues.
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.
Czech composer Antonín Dvořák (1841-1904) will be the focus of the instrumental music this Sunday morning. His compositional style has been described as "the fullest recreation of a national idiom with that of the symphonic tradition, absorbing folk influences and finding effective ways of using them." The first two movements from Dvořák's Violin Sonatina, Opus 100 will be offered by violinist Harmony Tucker. The work was primarily composed in New York City in 1893, the last chamber work composed during his trip abroad. The Sonatina was catered to the ears of youth. He wrote, "It is intended for youths (dedicated to my two children), but even grown-ups, adults, should be able to converse with it..." Movement one, Allegro risoluto, exhibits a clear classical form with additional inspiration derived from Indian music and African-American spirituals, a characteristic of his chamber works. The second movement, Larghetto, was composed quickly from notes written on his shirt sleeve while in Minneapolis. This slow movement hearkens back to a longing for Dvořák's homeland. The composer was also an organist and did write a few works for the instrument. The Fughetta in D Major will conclude our morning services.
At 11:00, the Chancel Choir will offer an excerpt from Handel's timeless oratorio Messiah in But Thanks Be to God.
At 6:00, Bobby and cantor Blair Carpenter, bassist Peter Strening, flutist Doti Strening, and guitarist Alan Skowron will lead you in song and worship.
The imaginative and often quirky organ works of Daniel Pinkham will be represented this Sunday morning. He studied composition with such notables as Arthur Honegger, Samuel Barber and Nadia Boulanger. From the late 1950's until his death in 2006, Pinkham taught at the New England Conservatory of Music and was organist for King's Chapel in Boston His music tends to be formal in design but with a distinct harmonic language that can be dissonant yet remain tethered to tonality. A partIta on the hymn tune SLANE opens the services. SLANE was originally an old Irish folk tune and was set to the text "Be Thou My Vision" in 1927, as found in our hymnals. The Partita on SLANE is a set of six short variations on the tune with the melody displaced in the texture and also used as the basis for a gigue and aria. The work is from Pinkham's collection Music for a Quiet Sunday, commissioned in 1998 and debuted by concert organist James David Christie on the modest Stoneham organ. The final piece of the collection, Festive March, modeled after a French sortie, will close our services. At 11:00 a.m. the Chancel Choir offers Mark Hayes' In the Morning, Joy, an anthem expressing the hope and optimism of a new day.
At the 6:00 p.m. service, Bobby will be joined by cantor Blair Carpenter, bassist Peter Strening, and resident ukulele guru Stuart Yoshida to lead you in worship and song.
Organ works by 20th century French composer Jean Langlais will be presented this Sunday autumn morning. Blind from the age of two, Langlais still managed to acquire great acclaim as an organ and choral composer, improviser, and concert artist. He was appointed to the Basilica of Sainte-Clotilde, Paris in 1945, a post he kept for over forty years whose predecessors included César Franck and Charles Tournemire. In the same year, his collection of Nine Pieces was published, including several miniatures, "songs," depicting specific affects such as sorrow and quiet joy. This Sunday, we will hear the plaintive and otherworldly Song of Peace and the mystical yet triumphant Song of Joy. For the 9:00 a.m. communion time, a selection from Langlais' 24 Pieces (1934-36), Prélude modal. The music of Jean Langlais is characterized by his love of Gregorian Chant and complex striking harmonies with shifting modalities, as will be heard in the previous selection. The Chancel Choir will offer another "song" as well, A Song of Community by John Ferguson. Conducted by Amy Welsh, the work is a five-verse hymn anthem (tune of Wareham), accompanied by organ and The Plymouth Ringers, which will culminate with the choir and you, the congregation, singing the final verse together. Additionally, the Youth Bells will offer Arnold Sherman's Jubilee! led by Director Kathee Houser.
At 6:00 p.m., Bobby is joined by the now familiar talents of Blair Carpenter (cantor), Alan Skowron (guitar), and Peter Strening (bass) for another excursion into this early evening alternative worship experience.
On this World Communion Sunday, we will hear and sing hymns, songs, anthems, and music of the Bread and Cup from all across the earth, from places like Scotland, Jamaica, Germany, and our own North America.
J.S. Bach composed the chorale prelude "Schmücke dich, o meine Seele" (Adorn yourself, O dear soul) in the last ten years of his life in Leipzig. Based on the 1649 melody by prolific Lutheran hymn writer Johann Cruger, this eucharistic hymn setting employs just four voices: a pedal line, a ritornello in the middle voices, and the soprano melody played on a light reed stop, "adorned" in a French ornamentation style. Peace and serenity exudes throughout this ode to the sacrament of communion. "Panis Angelicus" (Bread of Angels) is the penultimate portion of the 13th century hymn "Sacris Solemnis," authored by Thomas Aquinas for the Feast of Corpus Christi. Many musical settings have been composed on this text, most famously by César Franck in 1872. Soprano Blair Carpenter will offer this setting during the 9:00 a.m. service communion. During the 11:00 a.m. communion, the Chancel Choir will sing the last movement of Bob Chilcott's "A Little Jazz Mass" set to the ancient eucharistic text, "Agnus Dei (Latin for Lamb of God). Fanfare" by 19th century Belgian-French composer Jacques-Nicolas Lemmens will close the morning services on a joyful note.
Bobby Brannock and cantor Laura Nelson will offer meditative music for our first Sunday of the month contemplative service tradition at 6:00 p.m.
As we welcome new members into Plymouth this Sunday, a potpourri of musical offerings to exemplify the diversity of the congregation seems apropos for morning worship.
From the Baroque era, "Chaconne in E Minor" by German composer Dietrich Buxtehude begins the services. The chaconne was originally a late-16th century dance song from Spanish culture (chacona). It evolved into a triple meter instrumental form consisting of variations over a repetitive chord structure and sometimes ground bass, as will be heard in Buxtehude's work. The Plymouth Ringers return this program year with an arrangement of "All Things Bright and Beautiful" by Susan Geschke at both morning services. John Rutter's setting of the 1558 Sarum Primer prayer "God Be In My Head" will be offered by the Chancel Choir at the later service. To conclude, we'll hear Rutter's "Toccata in Seven," so named for the asymmetrical 7/4 time signature present throughout the piece.
Guitarist Alan Skowron and cantor Blair Carpenter return this week and join Bobby and bassist Peter Strening for a jazz- inflected service at 6:00 p.m.
To reflect Rev. Jake's foray into the concept of personal salvation this week, a notion not unfamiliar to those of us with an evangelical upbringing, the following musical offerings this Sunday morning. Soliloquy by David Conte is a beautifully introspective work beginning with a distinctive solo flute voice, growing to a chorus of contemporary harmonies, and returns to the singular flute melody. Two selections from William Bolcom's brilliant Gospel Preludes will also be heard: Jesus Calls Us; O'er the Tumult during the early service communion and Blessed Assurance to send us out into the world. In addition to these staples of the evangelical songbook, the spiritual This Little Light of Mine, arranged by Mark Hayes, will be sung by the Chancel Choir.
At 6:00 p.m., cantor Blair Carpenter, guitarist Alan Skowron, and bassist Peter Strening will join Bobby in letting go the 'shackles of the world' for an hour of inspired and devotional music and congregational song
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.