Saturday, July 24, 2010

English Anthems: Accessibility to the Parish Choir, Part II

English anthems tend to have texts drawn from Scripture (word-for-word) or from liturgical sources such as the Mass, Evening Prayer, or appointed prayers for these occasions.

As such, if your church follows a liturgical tradition, the English anthem texts will have a ring of familiarity about them. If you read the texts without singing them, the words are often quotes from Scripture or prayers meant for corporate worship.

If you are introducing English anthems to your parish choir, a good place to start is with a familiar text. John Stainer's classic, "God So Loved the World," is practically a direct quote of John 3:16-17. Stainer lived from 1840 to 1901.

You can find a number of arrangements in public domain here.


God so loved the world,
God so loved the world
that He gave His only begotten Son,
that whoso believeth,
believeth in Him
should not parish,
should not parish
but have everlasting life.

For God sent not His Son
into the world to condemn the world,
God sent not His Son
into the world to condemn the world,
but that the world
through Him might be saved.

God so loved the world,
God so loved the world
that He gave His only begotten Son,
that whoso believeth,
believeth in Him
should not parish,
should not parish
but have everlasting life.
everlasting life,
everlasting life.
God so loved the world,
God so loved the world,
God so loved the world.

Friday, July 23, 2010

English Anthems: Accessibility to the Parish Choir, Part I

English anthems are, for the most part, accessible to the listener since they are not particularly fancy with their one note per syllable philosophy.

But what about the parish choir? Here are some anthems that are often used in parishes. The first is "Lord, For Thy Tender Mercy's Sake" believed to be composed by Richard Farrant.

If you are looking to introduce a bit of polyphonic music but don't want to overwhelm your parish choir, consider this piece. It starts out almost choral and hymn like, then breaks into simple polyphony, with two voices taking off at a time.

A video with the musical score is not available at this time, but you can find any number of editions in public domain and available for download here.

Shown in the video below is clip of a quartet from a local parish. I have always served smaller parish choirs, and have successfully done this piece with as few as 6 people. If necessary, a keyboard accompaniment (either organ or piano) may be added. Here in the video, the organ introduces the piece, gives the tone for the quartet, then the quartet sings a capella.

Some arrangements features an "Amen" at the end. The "Amen" may or may not have been part of the original piece. Most likely it was added on later.


Lord, for Thy tender mercy's sake
lay not our sins to our charge,
but for give that is past
and give us grace to amend our sinful lives.
To decline from sin
and incline to virtue
that we may walk in a perfect heart
before Thee now and evermore.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

English Anthems: Samuel Sebastian Wesley

Samuel Sebastian Wesley (1810-1876) was the grandson of Charles Wesley (of the Methodist Movement) and son of composer Samuel Wesley (known for the tune "Aurelia" commonly sung to the text "The Church's One Foundation").

Wesley uses a text straight from Scripture here. You can pick out the verses from 1 Peter 1. He sets apart some of the text with unison and solo sections. He gives one section to alto-tenor-bass in unison, then solo soprano and unison soprano echo each other from both sides of the sanctuary (think traditional Anglican set-up with the choir facing each other in the front).

You might hear elements that are similar to Mendelssohn's "Hear My Prayer." The two were contemporaries of each other, although Mendelssohn was a bit older. After the anthem, there is an example of Wesley's organ compositions.

Blessed be the God and Father
of our Lord Jesus Christ,
Which, according to His abundant mercy,
hath begotten us again
unto a lively hope
by the resurrection
of Jesus Christ
from the dead.

To an inheritance
incorruptible and undefiled
that fadeth not away,
reserved in heaven for you,
who are kept by the power of God
through faith unto salvation,
ready to be revealed
in the last time.

But as He
which hath called
you is holy,
so be ye holy
in all manner of conversation.
Pass the time
of your sojourning here
in fear, in fear.

Love one another
with a pure heart fervently.
See that ye love one another.

Being born again,
not of a corruptible seed,
but of an incorruptible,
by the Word of God.

For all flesh is as grass,
and all the glory of man
as the flower of grass.
The grass withereth
and the flower thereof
falleth away.

But the Word of the Lord
endureth forever.
But the Word of the Lord
endureth forevermore.


Choral Song
by Samuel Sebastian Wesley
Matt Edwards, Organist
1894 Hill Pipe Organ
Thomas Coats Memorial Church
Paisley, Scotland

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

English Anthems: Nunc Dimittis

The Nunc Dimittis, also known as "The Song of Simeon" is used in multiple places in the Lutheran orders. In North America you can find it at the end of the Divine Service, as an option for the canticle in Vespers, and chanted a capella in the Office of Compline (sometimes called, "Prayer at the Close of the Day").

Taken from Luke's account of the Presentation of Our Lord, this is the song sung by Simeon, to whom "it had been revealed ... by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ."

Several composers have set the English translation of this text. Here is one translation and just a few English anthems based on the text.

Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant
depart in peace
according to Thy Word,
for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation
which Thou hast prepared
before the face of all people.
To be a Light to light on the Gentiles
And to be the glory of Thy people Israel.
Glory be to the Father
And to the Son
And to the Holy Ghost,
As it was the beginning,
Is now and ever shall be,
World without end. Amen.


Nunc Dimittis
by John Shephard (1515-1559)


Nunc Dimittis
from The Shorter Service
by Orlando Gibbons (1583-1625)


Nunc Dimittis
from Evening Service in g minor
by Henry Purcell (1659-1695)


Nunc Dimittis
by Thomas Atwood Walmisley (1814-1856)


Nunc Dimittis in D
by George Dyson, (1883-1964)
Dyson draws on chant as well as the English anthem style


Nunc Dimittis
from The Short Service
by Philip Stopford [b. 1977(?)]

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

English Anthems from Spirituals?

As I was researching this series using the highly-regarded sources of YouTube and Wikipedia (if you find it there, it has to be true!), I came across this series from contemporary English composer Michael Tippett (1905-1998).

These are thoroughly English in style and sound, yet the texts and tunes come from the African-American spirituals.

The first is "Steel Away." There is an interesting use of dissidence in the solo voice whenever the text, "the trumpet sounds," appears. Another (below) is "Go Down, Moses."


Steal away, steal away,
Steal away to Jesus.
Steal away, steal away home;
I ain't got long to stay here.

My Lord, He calls me,
He calls me by the thunder.
The trumpet sounds within-a my soul;
I ain't got long to stay here.

Green trees are bending;
Poor sinner souls attending.
The trumpet sounds within-a my soul;
I ain't got long to stay here.


Go down, Moses,
Way down in Egypt land,
Tell, O pharaoh, to let my people go!

When Israel was in Egypt-land,
Let my people go!
Oppressed so hard they could not stand,
Let my people go!

"Thus spake the Lord," bold Moses said,
"Let my people go!
If not, I'll smite your first born dead
Let my people go!"

Monday, July 19, 2010

English Anthems: Mendelssohn?

Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy (1809-1847) may have been born to a Jewish family in Germany, but the English embraced his music and he has provided English-speaking people with a number of anthems.

Here is Mendelssohn's "Hear My Prayer."  This is one anthem, but due to it's length, it is featured in two parts.  Most English anthems are sung a capella by a choir.  Here Mendelssohn adds accompaniment, a solo part and a few chromatic twists found in the latter part of the "Classical Period."

Hear my prayer, O God, incline Thine ear!
Thyself from my petition do not hide.
Take heed to me!
Hear how in prayer I mourn to Thee!
Without Thee all is dark;
I have no guide.
The enemy shouteth;
The godless come fast;
Iniquity, hatred upon me they cast!
The wicked oppress me,
Ah, where shall I fly?
Perplex'd and bewilder'd,
O God, hear my cry!
O God, hear my cry!
The enemy shouteth;
The godless come fast;
Perplex'd and bewilder'd,
O God, hear my cry!
O God, hear my cry!
My heart is sorely pained within my breast,
My soul with deathly terror is oppressed,
Trembling and fearfulness upon me fall
With horror overwhelmed,
Lord, hear me call!
Lord, Hear me call!


O for the wings of a dove;
Far away would I rove!
In the wilderness build me a nest
And remain their forever at rest.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

English Anthems: Taverner, Tallis and Tavener

There is a simple beauty in a classic English anthem.

After the Reformation took root in England, composers went from lavish runs of notes on one syllable to a "one note per syllable" style. Also, the older anthems tended to be in Latin, and the newer anthems were in English.

An example of the earlier music is this "Sanctus" from John Taverner's Missa Gloria Tibi Trinitas (in English, "'Glory to You, O Trinity' Mass"). Taverner was born around 1490 and died around 1545.

This is only Part 1 of the Sanctus, and you will only hear one word: Sanctus. The first syllable lasts for over 30 seconds!


Coming along just a tad later in English history is composer Thomas Tallis (c. 1505 to 1585). Tallis embraced the newer form of "one note per syllable" using English texts and while he also composed in the older tradition, he really made a name for himself with what was then a "new form."


This "new" tradition of one note per syllable continues even in today's English composers. Here is "The Lamb" by contemporary composer John Tavener (born in 1944; note that there is no "r" in his name). Tavener uses modern tonality yet sticks to the English tradition started in the Reformation.


Look for more English anthems, both ancient and modern, each day this week on All for Hymn.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

US Independence Day: The Declaration: Part 10

And for the support of this declaration,
with a firm reliance
on the protection of Divine Providence,
we mutually pledge to each other
our lives,
our fortunes
and our sacred honor.

New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett
William Whipple
Matthew Thornton

John Hancock
Samual Adams
John Adams
Robert Treat Paine
Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins
William Ellery

Roger Sherman
Samuel Huntington
William Williams
Oliver Wolcott

New York:
William Floyd
Philip Livingston
Francis Lewis
Lewis Morris

New Jersey:
Richard Stockton
John Witherspoon
Francis Hopkinson
John Hart
Abraham Clark

Robert Morris
Benjamin Rush
Benjamin Franklin
John Morton
George Clymer
James Smith
George Taylor
James Wilson
George Ross

Caesar Rodney
George Read
Thomas McKean

Samuel Chase
William Paca
Thomas Stone
Charles Carroll of Carrollton

George Wythe
Richard Henry Lee
Thomas Jefferson
Benjamin Harrison
Thomas Nelson, Jr.
Francis Lightfoot Lee
Carter Braxton

North Carolina:
William Hooper
Joseph Hewes
John Penn

South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge
Thomas Heyward, Jr.
Thomas Lynch, Jr.
Arthur Middleton

Button Gwinnett
Lyman Hall
George Walton

Source: The Pennsylvania Packet, July 8, 1776,


The US National Anthem,
sung solo without accompaniment


Jimi Hendrix on electric guitar at Woodstock


Nona Gaye with her father, Marvin Gaye


Fred Waring and his Pennsylvanians
2008 New York Independence Day Fireworks Display

US Independence Day: The Declaration: Part 9

We, therefore,
the representatives of the United States of America,
in General Congress, assembled,
appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world
for the rectitude of our intentions,
do, in the name, and by the authority
of the good people of these colonies,
solemnly publish and declare,
that these united colonies are,
and of right
ought to be free and independent states;
that they are absolved from all allegiance
to the British Crown,
and that all political connection
between them and the state of Great Britain,
is and ought to be totally dissolved;
and that as free and independent states,
they have full power
to levy war,
conclude peace,
contract alliances,
establish commerce,
and to do all other acts and things
which independent states may of right do.

Leonard Bernstein
conducting the New York Philharmonic Orchestra
Royal Albert Hall, London, England, 1976

US Independence Day: The Declaration: Part 8

Nor have we been wanting in attention
to our British brethren.
We have warned them from time to time
of attempts by their legislature
to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us.

We have reminded them of the circumstances
of our emigration and settlement here.
We have appealed
to their native justice and magnanimity,
and we have conjured them
by the ties of our common kindred
to disavow these usurpations,
which, would inevitably interrupt
our connections and correspondence.

They too have been deaf
to the voice of justice and of consanguinity.
We must, therefore,
acquiesce in the necessity,
which denounces our separation,
and hold them,
as we hold the rest of mankind,
enemies in war,
in peace friends.

Ray Charles singing America the Beautiful

US Independence Day: The Declaration: Part 7

He has abdicated government here,
by declaring us out of his protection
and waging war against us.

He has plundered our seas,
ravaged our coasts,
burned our towns,
and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time
transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries
to complete the works
of death, desolation and tyranny,
already begun with circumstances
of cruelty and perfidy
scarcely paralleled
in the most barbarous ages,
and totally unworthy
the head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow citizens
taken captive on the high seas
to bear arms against their country,
to become the executioners
of their friends and brethren,
or to fall themselves by their hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us,
and has endeavored to bring
on the inhabitants of our frontiers,
the merciless Indian savages,
whose known rule of warfare,
is undistinguished destruction
of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these oppressions
we have petitioned for redress
in the most humble terms:
our repeated petitions
have been answered only by repeated injury.
A prince,
whose character is thus marked
by every act which may define a tyrant,
is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Kate Smith introducing God Bless America

US Independence Day: The Declaration: Part 6

He has combined with others to subject us
to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution,
and unacknowledged by our laws;
giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by mock trial,
from punishment for any murders
which they should commit
on the inhabitants of these states:

For cutting off our trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing taxes on us without our consent:

For depriving us in many cases,
of the benefits of trial by jury:

For transporting us beyond seas
to be tried for pretended offenses:

For abolishing the free system of English laws
in a neighboring province,
establishing therein an arbitrary government,
and enlarging its boundaries
so as to render it at once
an example and fit instrument
for introducing the same absolute rule
in these colonies:

For taking away our charters,
abolishing our most valuable laws,
and altering fundamentally the forms of our governments:

For suspending our own legislatures,
and declaring themselves invested with power
to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

John Phillip Sousa, Liberty Bell March

US Independence Day: The Declaration: Part 5

He has endeavored to prevent
the population of these states;
for that purpose obstructing the laws
for naturalization of foreigners;
refusing to pass others
to encourage their migration hither,
and raising the conditions
of new appropriations of lands.

He has obstructed the administration of justice,
by refusing his assent to laws
for establishing judiciary powers.

He has made judges dependent
on his will alone,
for the tenure of their offices,
and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of new offices,
and sent hither swarms of officers
to harass our people,
and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace,
standing armies without the consent of our legislature.

He has affected to render the military
independent of and superior to civil power.

Battle Hymn of the Republic
Performer unknown

US Independence Day: The Declaration: Part 4

He has refused his assent to laws,
the most wholesome and necessary
for the public good.

He has forbidden his governors
to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance,
unless suspended in their operation
till his assent should be obtained;
and when so suspended,
he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address
Recited by Jeff Daniels


He has refused to pass other laws
for the accommodation of large districts of people,
unless those people would relinquish the right
of representation in the legislature,
a right inestimable to them
and formidable to tyrants only.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
"I Have A Dream"
August 28, 1963


He has called together legislative bodies
at places unusual, uncomfortable,
and distant from the depository
of their public records,
for the sole purpose of fatiguing them
into compliance with his measures.

Independence Day
Performed by Martina McBride


He has dissolved representative houses repeatedly,
for opposing with manly firmness
his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time,
after such dissolutions,
to cause others to be elected;
whereby the legislative powers,
incapable of annihilation,
have returned to the people at large
for their exercise;
the state remaining in the meantime
exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without,
and convulsions within.

God Bless the USA
Lee Greenwood

US Independence Day: The Declaration: Part 3

Prudence, indeed, will dictate
that governments long established
should not be changed for light and transient causes;
and accordingly all experience hath shown
that mankind are more disposed to suffer,
while evils are sufferable,
than to right themselves
by abolishing the forms
to which they are accustomed.
But when a long train of abuses and usurpations,
pursuing invariably the same object
evinces a design to reduce them
under absolute despotism,
it is their right,
it is their duty,
to throw off such government,
and to provide new guards
for their future security.

Ronald Reagan
"A Time for Choosing"
October 27, 1964


--Such has been the patient sufferance
of these colonies;
and such is now the necessity
which constrains them to alter
their former systems of government.
The history of the present King of Great Britain
is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations,
all having in direct object
the establishment of an absolute tyranny
over these states.
To prove this,
let facts be submitted to a candid world.

Lift Every Voice and Sing
Performed by Acapella

US Independence Day: The Declaration: Part 2

We hold these truths to be self-evident,
that all men are created equal,
that they are endowed by their Creator
with certain unalienable rights,
that among these are

and the pursuit of happiness.

A montage of US politics in the 1960's


That to secure these rights,
governments are instituted among men,
deriving their just powers
from the consent of the governed.
That whenever any form of government
becomes destructive to these ends,
it is the right of the people
to alter or to abolish it,
and to institute new government,
laying its foundation on such principles
and organizing its powers in such form,
as to them shall seem most likely
to effect their safety and happiness.

My Country Tis of Thee
One-man Harmonica ensemble by Kyong H. Lee

US Independence Day: The Declaration: Part 1

The Unanimous Declaration
of the Thirteen United States of America

When, in the course of human events,
it becomes necessary for one people
to dissolve the political bands
which have connected them with another,
and to assume among the powers of the earth,
the separate and equal station
to which the laws of nature
and of nature's God entitle them,
a decent respect to the opinions of mankind
requires that they should declare the causes
which impel them to the separation.

The National Anthem
of the United States of America
performed by
The Academy Choirs and US Army Herald Trumpet Corps