Thursday, July 10, 2008

Songs of Praise - Medieval

All summer in worship we're focusing on church music. We're also singing our hearts out. Last Sunday we focused on music composed during the middle ages, especially the poetry and chant that came out of the monasteries and entered popular song. Here is what we sang:

We started the service with a recording of the vocal historians Anonymous 4 singing the music of Hildegarde von Bingen, a saint, mystic, writer, composer and one of the most powerful women in Medieval Europe.

Two great monks dominated our singing: Saint Frances of Assisi (1200) and Bernard de Clairvaux (1100). Saint Bernard (no relation to the dog) wrote epic devotional poems. O Sacred Head Now Wounded consists of the final section on a poem meditating on Christ's body. Jesus Thou Joy of Loving Hearts is excerpted from a 42 stanza poem on Christ's love. Saint Francis wrote his Canticle of the Sun (All Creatures of our God and King) in a fit of inspiration while eating dinner. His Prayer of Saint Frances (Lord Make Us Servants of your Peace - link is a video) is one of the most enduring prayers ever written.

Our hymn of the day was the ancient Irish poem Be Thou My Vision (Gailic: Rob tu mo bhoile, a Comdi cride), set to the equally ancient Irish tune SLOAN.

We rounded out our singing with Come Down, O Love Divine, written by the Italian monk Bianco da Siena and, because it was July 4th, we threw in My Country Tis of Thee.

John of Salsbury Quote:
“See that what you sing with your mouth you believe in your heart, and that what you believe in your heart your obey in our works”

Pastor Fritz Quote:
Our inheritance is that of Christ. Christ is in us and Christ lives through us. What more do we need?

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Songs of Praise - Early Church

All summer in worship we're focusing on church music. We're also singing our hearts out. Last Sunday we focused on music composed during the first centuries of the church, and with Delaney serving as cantor we also tried our hand at singing acappella, much as they did in the first centuries. Here is what we sang:
  • Gloria Patri: We sing it every Sunday, but this week we paid particular attention, noting that it is derived from the first Christian hymn, the angels' song to the shepherds in Luke 2:14. We also sang the first few lines of John Weaver's Gloria in Excelsis, a musical setting of one of the church's oldest liturgies.
  • Father we Praise Thee: A morning hymn by Gregory the Great, Pope around 600 AD, inventor of Gregorian Chant and one of the most influential musicians of the Western church.
  • Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence: An ancient communion liturgy from Jerusalem and the Eastern Orthodox tradition. We usually sing it as an Advent carol.
  • Lord Jesus Think on Me: Another ancient liturgy attributed to Synesius of Cyrene, who was Bishop of Ptolemais around 400 AD.
  • Of the Father's Love Begotten: Written around 400 AD by the prominent Latin poet Aurelius Clemens Prudentius and set to a gorgeous plainsong melody.
Apostle Paul Quote:
“Be filled with the Spirit as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:18-19)

Pastor Fritz Quote:
The angelic song [Glory be to the highest and on earth peace to those whom God favors] holds forth as the only appropriate response to the inbreaking of God into our lives.