A well-lit path to new beginnings: the message of this fleeting Epiphany season. Marching into the Light of God.
Two venerable chorales of Light reinterpreted by 20th century composers for this Transfiguration Sunday:
17th century German hymn "O Jesu Christe, wahres Licht" (O Jesus Christ, True Light) is set in a Neo-Baroque style for manuals by Helmut Walcha. The cantus firmus plays distinctly in the right hand with contemporary flourishes dancing in the left hand throughout. The original text was essentially a prayer for those who are lost—a poem for enlightenment.
The 15th century tune "Deo Gracias" (Thanks to God) is commonly associated with the Transfiguration Sunday text "O Wondrous Type! O Vision Fair!" Also known as the "Agincourt Hymn," the original folk song recounted the English army victory over the French in the 1415 Battle of Agincourt.
Lastly, the idiosyncratic flair of composer Daniel Pinkham's "Festive March" sends you out into the world with a spring in your step.
Selections from the chorale partita "Jesu, meine freude" (Jesus, my joy) by Baroque composer Johann Walther will be heard at next week's 7:00 p.m. Ash Wednesday Zoom service. Please join us as we walk together into this season of Lent.
On this Transfiguration Sunday, the last Sunday of the Epiphany season, compositions from the French masters will be offered. At the Prelude, movement one from Sonata in A Minor, Opus 60, the "Allegro marcato", by Marcel Dupré will be played featuring cellist Heidi Mausbach. Composed in 1964, this excerpt exhibits a fine example of Dupré's chromatic harmonic language and sense of drama. At the Postlude, Litanies by Jehan Alain sends us out into the world and foreshadows the Lenten observance ahead. His performance instruction at the top of the score speaks to us in this time of the liturgical year: When the Christian soul is in distress and cannot find any fresh words to implore God’s mercy, it repeats the same prayer unceasingly with overwhelming faith. The limit of reason is past. It is faith alone which propels its ascent.
The Plymouth Ringers offer "New Life" by Matt Johnson. Joined by cellist Heidi Mausbach, the work was written in honor of the birth of the composer's son.
The Chancel Choir sings Ola Gjeilo's "Prelude", a selection from our upcoming March 16 performance at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center in New York City.
At 6:00 p.m., music of dreams and transformation by Coldplay and David Bowie will be offered. Cantor Blair Carpenter, guitarist Alan Skowron and bassist Peter Strening join us.
On this Transfiguration Sunday morning, we'll hear festive music as we cross from the season of Epiphany into the more introspective time of Lent.
"Fantaisie" by French-Canadian composer Denis Bédard opens the services with a seven minute opus referencing the French organ school of composers such as César Franck and Louis Vierne. A setting of Deo Gracias, the tune to the great Transfiguration hymn "O Wondrous Sight, O Vision Fair", by British-Canadian composer Healey Willan closes the services. The Plymouth Ringers offer the jubilant Festival Celebration by Kevin McChesney at the 11:00 a.m. service.
Also at 11:00 a.m., acclaimed British composer Will Todd's "Lighting the Way" will be sung by the Chancel Choir. Originally composed for a festival at Durham Cathedral, England in 1999, the text, also written by Todd, speaks to the Light of Christ all around us, illuminating the path ahead so that we can bring this Light more directly to others.
At our inaugural Dinner Church service this Sunday at 6:00 p.m., Bobby and Blair will lead us in song as we share the agape meal together. Hope to see you there!
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.