blog.sinden.org

Epiphany 2018

20 + C + M + B + 18
01 January 2018
Tolkien, J.R.R. - "Noel"

“Noel” by J.R.R. Tolkien

Grim was the world and grey last night:
The moon and stars were fled,
The hall was dark without song or light,
The fires were fallen dead.
The wind in the trees was like to the sea,
And over the mountains’ teeth
It whistled bitter-cold and free,
As a sword leapt from its sheath.

The lord of snows upreared his head;
His mantle long and pale
Upon the bitter blast was spread
And hung o’er hill and dale.
The world was blind, the boughs were bent,
All ways and paths were wild:
Then the veil of cloud apart was rent,
And here was born a Child.

The ancient dome of heaven sheer
Was pricked with distant light;
A star came shining white and clear
Alone above the night.
In the dale of dark in that hour of birth
One voice on a sudden sang:
Then all the bells in Heaven and Earth
Together at midnight rang.

Mary sang in this world below:
They heard her song arise
O’er mist and over mountain snow
To the walls of Paradise,
And the tongue of many bells was stirred
in Heaven’s towers to ring
When the voice of mortal maid was heard,
That was mother of Heaven’s King.

Glad is the world and fair this night
With stars about its head,
And the hall is filled with laughter and light,
And fires are burning red.
The bells of Paradise now ring
With bells of Christendom,
And Gloria, Gloria we will sing
That God on earth is come.

Labels: , ,

 
24 December 2017
Lessons and Carols from King's in 1918

Sinden.org has published its annual preview of the music list for the 2017 Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from King's College, Cambridge.

You may interested to view a spreadsheet of carols sung at this service from 1997 to the present, as well as some information about services prior to 1991. That can be accessed at Sinden.org/carols

This year on this website, for the days leading up to the service, we have offered a Kalendar of Carols: a more in-depth look at each piece of music to be sung this year.


Every year I'm again amazed by this service. It is a phenomenal liturgy. But don't take my word for it. Just ask the millions around the world who tune into it live.

As we approach the centenary of the service, it seems only natural to look back to its origins once again.

The first service Lessons and Carols service is always referenced in the write up in the service booklet, but I have to say that until this year I had never actually seen the order.

But all of a sudden, here it is! Order of Service for 1918.

If you are an aficionado of this liturgy, there is much to explore here.

As I've already mentioned, the opening hymn is preceded by the Invitatory Carol in this liturgy. Also, the lessons are quite different from what we know now. The inclusion of the Magnificat at the end is fascinating.

But there's another element that's almost easy to overlook: the short "benedictions" that follow each carol. After Milner-White's famous bidding prayer (how awesome it is to see this first printing of it!) comes a hymn, after which follows an additional benediction before the First Lesson. Devotees will recognize many of these phrases from the single blessing used in the service now.

This service, from the outset, seems to be have been conceived as a gift and a blessing. The words and the music bless us (again, how sacramental this sounds!). It is a Benediction, not exactly of the Blessed Sacrament, but of the Word Made Flesh.

Viewed this way, Lessons and Carols is not a concert stuffed between some liturgical bookends; it is a deeply liturgical offering of words and music undergirded by a theology of blessing and grace.

This service is meant to do more than outline or celebrate a theological concept: it is meant to draw us near the Incarnational reality of Jesus so that we may find him a blessing.

In that spirit, I wish you a very blessed Christmas, and I reproduce here the short benedictions that follow each carol in the service in 1918.

  1. With perpetual benediction may the Father Everlasting bless us.
  2. God, the Son of God, vouchsafe to bless and aid us.
  3. May the grace of the Holy Ghost enlighten us heart and body.
  4. The Almighty Lord bless us with his grace.
  5. Christ give us the joys of everlasting life.
  6. By the words of God's Gospel be our sins blotted out.
  7. May the fountain of the Gospel fill us with the doctrine of Heaven.
  8. The Creator of all things give us His blessing now and for evermore.
  9. Unto the fellowship of the citizens above may the King of Angels bring us all.

Amen.

Labels: , ,

 
23 December 2017
2017 Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols: the second organ voluntary

Sinden.org published its traditional preview of the music list for the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from King's College, Cambridge late last month.

For the days leading up to the service, we have been offering a Kalendar of Carols: a more in-depth look at each piece of music to be sung.

The order of the service concludes with today's entry, following discussions of


As the second organ voluntary thunders out (Prelude and Fugue in B Major, Op. 7, No. 1), let's quietly discuss a few things.

First, the wrong number is listed for this voluntary in this year's service leaflet, which is an unfortunate error.

The booklet has undergone a redesign which I generally find unobjectionable. I am puzzled, however, to the lack of first names of the composers. This seems an odd choice and is a change from previous years' booklets.

Aside from this, the design this year is marred by justification and capitalization inconsistencies. It is a poor partner to a liturgy and music which have undoubtedly been prepared with great care and attention.

But I don't want to dwell too much on that. I want to turn our attention to the director of music.

Stephen Cleobury directed his first Lessons and Carols service in 1982, and by my reckoning that makes this year his 35th.

It is an impressive tenure by length alone. And then consider his influence on this famous service. The institution of the "commissioned carol" has surely breathed new life into what could have become much more of a museum piece.

Consider also the way that the service captures our attention in the modern era. There are webcasts to listen to (thank goodness, because otherwise, how would American church musicians listen this year?), and the commissioned carol has lately been released for download shortly after the service ends. If you're a fan of Carols from Kings (the separate, pre-recorded service for television) you can even pay to download that too.

The service has no shortage of fanatics, and I pray that it continues its storied tradition for many years to come.

But given that next year is the 100th year of the service, and that Cleobury is surely nearing retirement, we at Sinden.org predict that we are listening to his penultimate service this year and that 2018 will be his last.

Labels: , , ,

 
22 December 2017
2017 Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols: the first organ voluntary

Sinden.org published its traditional preview of the music list for the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from King's College, Cambridge late last month.

For the days leading up to the service, we have been offering a Kalendar of Carols: a more in-depth look at each piece of music to be sung.

So far, we've covered the opening hymn, Bidding Prayer, In the bleak mid-winter – Harold Darke, Adam's Fall – Richard Elfyn Jones, Love came down at Christmas – arr. Stephen Cleobury, How shall I fitly meet thee – Bach, I saw three ships – arr. Ledger, Illuminare Jerusalem – Judith Weir, and the hymn "O little town of Bethlehem", A spotless rose – Herbert Howells, The Lamb – John Tavener, The Angel Gabriel – Pettman, The Linden Tree Carol – arr. Cleobury, this year's commissioned carol by Huw Watkins, Away in a manger – Willcocks. Can I not sing but hoy – Francis Jackson, the hymn "God rest ye merry, gentlemen", We three kings – arr. Neary, The Magi's Dream – Whitbourn, the hymn "O come, all ye faithful", and the hymn "Hark! the herald angels sing".


The first organ voluntary is always "In dulci jubilo," BWV 729 by J. S. Bach.

There's not much more to say about that. It would be hard to imagine the service concluding any other way.

This is not to say that there couldn't have been some variability with this over the last 100 years, but this would require a close examination of all the services. At least from 1982, this voluntary has been a fixed element.

Note what has happened in this service toward the end. Since the Ninth Lesson all the elements have been "ordinary" and unchanging. The lesson, the two hymns, the collect and blessing, and now the first voluntary.

This is a clear signal, year after year that the service is ended. It is at the second organ voluntary that the organists again have some input into the music. And we address that tomorrow.

Labels: , , ,

 
21 December 2017
2017 Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols: Hymn: "Hark! the herald angels sing"

Sinden.org published its traditional preview of the music list for the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from King's College, Cambridge late last month.

For the days leading up to the service, we have been offering a Kalendar of Carols: a more in-depth look at each piece of music to be sung.

So far, we've covered the opening hymn, Bidding Prayer, In the bleak mid-winter – Harold Darke, Adam's Fall – Richard Elfyn Jones, Love came down at Christmas – arr. Stephen Cleobury, How shall I fitly meet thee – Bach, I saw three ships – arr. Ledger, Illuminare Jerusalem – Judith Weir, and the hymn "O little town of Bethlehem", A spotless rose – Herbert Howells, The Lamb – John Tavener, The Angel Gabriel – Pettman, The Linden Tree Carol – arr. Cleobury, this year's commissioned carol by Huw Watkins, Away in a manger – Willcocks. Can I not sing but hoy – Francis Jackson, the hymn "God rest ye merry, gentlemen", We three kings – arr. Neary, The Magi's Dream – Whitbourn, and Hymn: "O come, all ye faithful".


After "O come, all ye faithful", we get a final collect and blessing.

Then, we have what is perhaps the very oldest musical tradition in this service, going all the way back to 1918: the singing of "Hark! the herald angels sing".

In the first year of this service at King's, the service opened not with a hymn, but with an Invitatory Carol (Up! Good Christian folk and listen). The familiar processional hymn "Once in royal David's city" then followed.

A brief tangent to say how fascinating it is to actually see the 1918 service. From what was written about it, I had always assumed that a different processional hymn was sung, but this is not the case.

But even with this slight alteration, one can argue that the service did not technically open with "Once in royal David's city.

And, as I wrote yesterday, "O come all ye faithful" did not follow the Ninth Lesson in the first year of the service (it followed the Sixth).

So then, the very oldest completely unchanged part of this liturgy is the final hymn, "Hark! the herald angels sing".

The arrangement of the third and final stanza is by the director of music.

Labels: , ,

 
20 December 2017
2017 Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols: Hymn: "O come, all ye faithful"

Sinden.org published its traditional preview of the music list for the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from King's College, Cambridge late last month.

For the days leading up to the service, we have been offering a Kalendar of Carols: a more in-depth look at each piece of music to be sung.

So far, we've covered the opening hymn, Bidding Prayer, In the bleak mid-winter – Harold Darke, Adam's Fall – Richard Elfyn Jones, Love came down at Christmas – arr. Stephen Cleobury, How shall I fitly meet thee – Bach, I saw three ships – arr. Ledger, Illuminare Jerusalem – Judith Weir, and the hymn "O little town of Bethlehem", A spotless rose – Herbert Howells, The Lamb – John Tavener, The Angel Gabriel – Pettman, The Linden Tree Carol – arr. Cleobury, this year's commissioned carol by Huw Watkins, Away in a manger – Willcocks. Can I not sing but hoy – Francis Jackson, the hymn "God rest ye merry, gentlemen", We three kings – arr. Neary, and The Magi's Dream – Whitbourn.


We have reached that tipping point in the service when we know everything that follows.

The Ninth and final Lesson is read, introduced, as always, with that most wonderful of the pithy lesson summaries: "Saint John unfolds the great mystery of the Incarnation."

When I was growing up in a Presbyterian Church that was duly Angliphiliac at Christmas, the long-tenured pastor intoned these words with great solemnity. They lodged in my mind. It wouldn't quite be Christmas without them.

And whatever does "unfold" mean? It doesn't mean "explain", because who could ever truly explain a mystery? But it does lay it out in all it's fullness.

Interestingly, we had that word "unfolds" quite a bit earlier in the service in Howells's "A spotless rose", sung after the Fourth Lesson. But, as usual, I digress.

After all this unfolding, our best response is to worship. And the hymn "O come, all ye faithful" is perfectly suited to this task. "O come let us adore him" indeed.

There's a nice symmetry to hearing this carol service "wrap up" with this hymn at the end. So many services of Holy Communion begin with this same hymn.

Starting at least as far back as the 1930s, this hymn has been traditional in this slot after the Ninth Lesson. In the first service at King's in 1918 the hymn was "The First Nowell", but there's something not quite right about that. It doesn't carry the same weight that the Ninth Lesson does. (Although it should be noted that the Ninth Lesson that year was Galatians 4:4-7 – can you imagine not ending with John? Some liturgical changes are for the better!).

The hymn is sung this year in the well-known arrangement by David Willcocks. (Tuba solo on stanza 3 with descant, stanza 4 in unison with alternate harmonization).

Labels: , ,

 
19 December 2017
2017 Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols: The Magi's Dream – Whitbourn

Sinden.org published its traditional preview of the music list for the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from King's College, Cambridge late last month..

For the days leading up to the service, we have been offering a Kalendar of Carols: a more in-depth look at each piece of music to be sung.

So far, we've covered the opening hymn, Bidding Prayer, In the bleak mid-winter – Harold Darke, Adam's Fall – Richard Elfyn Jones, Love came down at Christmas – arr. Stephen Cleobury, How shall I fitly meet thee – Bach, I saw three ships – arr. Ledger, Illuminare Jerusalem – Judith Weir, and the hymn "O little town of Bethlehem", A spotless rose – Herbert Howells, The Lamb – John Tavener, The Angel Gabriel – Pettman, The Linden Tree Carol – arr. Cleobury, this year's commissioned carol by Huw Watkins, Away in a manger – Willcocks. Can I not sing but hoy – Francis Jackson, the hymn "God rest ye merry, gentlemen", and We three kings – arr. Neary.


Having heard the obligatory "three king's" tune immediately prior to this carol in the service, we can venture a bit farther afield, musically speaking.

With the rest of the service prescribed (Ninth Lesson, "O come", Collect, Blessing, "Hark", In dulci jubilo) this carol really has the last word in many ways. And what a raucous last word it has! (Listen to the whole carol.)

James Whitbourn was last heard in 2004, but with a rather tame, acapella arrangement of a Praetorius tune with English words.

Labels: , , ,

 
18 December 2017
2017 Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols: We three kings – arr. Neary

Sinden.org published its traditional preview of the music list for the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from King's College, Cambridge late last month..

For the days leading up to the service, we have been offer a Kalendar of Carols: a more in-depth look at each piece of music to be sung.

So far, we've covered the opening hymn, Bidding Prayer, In the bleak mid-winter – Harold Darke, Adam's Fall – Richard Elfyn Jones, Love came down at Christmas – arr. Stephen Cleobury, How shall I fitly meet thee – Bach, I saw three ships – arr. Ledger, Illuminare Jerusalem – Judith Weir, and the hymn "O little town of Bethlehem", A spotless rose – Herbert Howells, The Lamb – John Tavener, The Angel Gabriel – Pettman, The Linden Tree Carol – arr. Cleobury, this year's commissioned carol by Huw Watkins, Away in a manger – Willcocks. Can I not sing but hoy – Francis Jackson, and the hymn "God rest ye merry, gentlemen".


Martin Neary's arrangement of "We three kings" has not been performed at this service before, though it has been sung twice on "Carols from King's" broadcasts (note that this is a separate, pre-recorded service).

Rather than yammer on about this carol, and why I like it (particularly the soprano bit during the "Myrrh" solo) I'll just let you view the score. Thanks to Tim at Encore Publications for sharing this with me.

Here's the nicest version I can find on YouTube, much nicer than what I linked to in the preview.

Labels: , , , ,

 
17 December 2017
2017 Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols: Hymn: "God rest ye merry, gentlemen"

Sinden.org published its traditional preview of the music list for the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from King's College, Cambridge late last month..

For the days leading up to the service, we have been offer a Kalendar of Carols: a more in-depth look at each piece of music to be sung.

So far, we've covered the opening hymn, Bidding Prayer, In the bleak mid-winter – Harold Darke, Adam's Fall – Richard Elfyn Jones, Love came down at Christmas – arr. Stephen Cleobury, How shall I fitly meet thee – Bach, I saw three ships – arr. Ledger, Illuminare Jerusalem – Judith Weir, and the hymn "O little town of Bethlehem", A spotless rose – Herbert Howells, The Lamb – John Tavener, The Angel Gabriel – Pettman, The Linden Tree Carol – arr. Cleobury, this year's commissioned carol by Huw Watkins, and Can I not sing but hoy – Francis Jackson.


"God rest ye merry, Gentlemen" is already a fantastic carol (hymn?). And in David Willcocks's fabulous arrangement, it's even better.

I find it a bit curious that the word "ye" appears in the title of this carol (and it's written this way on in the note on page 48 of this year's service booklet), but at least as far back as 1998 it has always been sung "you", as in "God rest you merry, gentlemen".

The short intro of the first phrase played on what sounds like the Choir Tromba is a hallmark of the singing of this carol at King's (listen here). At least, it's usually introduced that way. It has also been harmonized recently (listen here). It has also been introduced just on 8s and 4s (listen here).

But this quick intro is a reminder of how little we need to give for congregations to join in the singing of a familiar carol like this.

Then after that, the second stanza sung by the choir is a splendid thing. Likewise the fourth stanza. Certainly, the full congregation could sing the whole thing all the way through. But it gives the hymn (carol?) a nice texture, lets the words speak more intimately, and lets the Willcocks harmonies have center stage. Also, thinking about the perspective of the congregant, there's something so magnificently visceral about joining in the refrain after a stanza in harmony like that. It also sounds rather satisfying on the radio, which is a real consideration here.

The three-part descant is marvelous. And such restraint for it not to continue into the refrain. It's as we had after the a capella stanzas of the hymn, a visceral re-joining. It is surely a contender for best Willcocks descant.

Oh, by the way, it's sung a lot at this service.

Labels: , , ,

 
16 December 2017
Star Wars: The Last Jedi - liturgical timing of

Still not quite sure what is going on with the liturgical timing of Star Wars films these days, but we are here to document it anyway.
Film and yearUS Release DateO Antiphon
Episode VII (2015)18 DecemberO Adonai
Episode VIII (2017)15 Decembertwo days prior to O Sapientia (Dec. 17)

Labels: , , ,

 

©MMXVII Sinden.org: a site for fun and prophet

Organ and church music, esoteric liturgics, and a site that changes color with the liturgical year.

Archetypes

Looking for Carol Spreadsheets?

Hungry? Try the Liturgical Guide to Altoids Consumption

Thirsty? Try the Tibia Liquida

The Eric Harding Thiman Fan Page: The greatest composer you've never even heard of.

Infrequently Asked Questions

picture of a chicken

Questions? Problems? email the sexton.

Archon

The author of this website is an organist whom the New York Times calls “repeatedly, insisting that he pay for his subscription”. He likes to read parking meters, music, Indianapolis Monthly, and weather forecasts in Celsius, particularly whilst wearing cassock and surplice. He serves lasagna, overhand, as an example to many, and on ecclesiastical juries. He takes photos, lots of dinner mints, and a little bit of time to get to know.

about

contact

Archbishops

Anglicans Online
Alex Ross: The Rest is Noise
Book of Common Prayer
Brain Pickings
The Daily Office
The Lectionary Page
Sed Angli
Ship of Fools
The Sub-Dean's Stall
Vested Interest - Trinity Church in the City of Boston

Archenemies

Andrew Kotylo - Concert Organist
Aphaeresis
Anne Timberlake
Bonnie Whiting, percussion
conjectural navel gazing: jesus in lint form
Friday Night Organ Pump
Halbert Gober Organs, Inc.
in time of daffodils
Joby Bell, organist
Musical Perceptions
Musings of a Synesthete
My Life as Style, Condition, Commodity.
Nathan Medley, Countertenor
Notes on Music & Liturgy
The Parker Quartet
Roof Crashers & Hem Grabbers
Steven Rickards
That Which We Have Heard & Known
This Side of Lost
Wayward Sisters
Zachary Wadsworth | composer

Archenemies Aviary

@DanAhlgren
@dcrean
@ericthebell
@jwombat
@larrydeveney
@nmedley
@samanthaklein
@sopranist
@voxinferior

Arches

Advent (Medfield MA)
All Saints, Ashmont (Boston MA)
All Saints (Indianapolis IN)
Atonement (Bronx NY)
Broadway UMC (Indianapolis IN)
Cathedral of All Saints (Albany NY)
Christ Church (Bronxville NY)
Christ Church (Madison IN)
Christ Church (New Haven CT)
Christ Church Cathedral (Indianapolis IN)
Christ's Church (Rye NY)
Church of St. Stephen (Hamden CT)
Congregational (Belmont CA)
Coventry Cathedral (UK)
First UMC (Lancaster SC)
Gloria Dei ELCA (Iowa City IA)
Immanuel Lutheran (St Paul MN)
Immanuel Lutheran (Webster NY)
John Knox PCUSA (Houston TX)
St Andrew (Marblehead MA)
St Andrew's, Oregon Hill (Richmond VA)
St Bartholomew the Great, (London, England)
St James's (Lake Delaware NY)
St James's (Richmond VA)
St James Cathedral (Chicago IL)
St Mary's Cathedral (Memphis TN)
St Matthew and St Timothy (NYC)
St Paul's (Cleveland Heights OH)
St Paul's (Indianapolis IN)
St Paul's Cathedral (Buffalo NY)
St Paul's, K Street (Washington DC)
St Peter's (Lakewood OH)
St Peter's ELCA (NYC)
St Stephen's (Richmond VA
St Thomas (New Haven CT)
St Thomas ELCA (Bloomington IN)
Second PCUSA (Indianapolis IN)
Towson Presbyterian Church (MD)
Tremont Temple Baptist (Boston MA)
Trinity (Indianapolis IN)
Trinity on the Green (New Haven CT)

Auraling

BBC Radio 3 Choral Evensong
New College (Oxford, England)
St John's College (Cambridge, England)
St Thomas (New York NY)

Argyle

Like the site? Buy the shirt.

Areyou . . .

selling diphthongs?
Yes, but they're not the kind you buy on Wheel of Fortune.

the owner of a bower at Bucklesfordberry?
Full daintily it is dight.

interested in touch lamps?
And fountain pens.

Archives
this site used to be better:

March 2004
April 2004
May 2004
June 2004
July 2004
August 2004
September 2004
October 2004
November 2004
December 2004
January 2005
February 2005
March 2005
April 2005
May 2005
June 2005
July 2005
August 2005
September 2005
October 2005
November 2005
December 2005
January 2006
February 2006
March 2006
April 2006
May 2006
June 2006
July 2006
August 2006
September 2006
October 2006
November 2006
December 2006
January 2007
February 2007
March 2007
April 2007
May 2007
June 2007
July 2007
August 2007
September 2007
October 2007
November 2007
December 2007
January 2008
February 2008
March 2008
April 2008
May 2008
June 2008
July 2008
August 2008
September 2008
October 2008
November 2008
December 2008
January 2009
February 2009
March 2009
April 2009
May 2009
June 2009
July 2009
August 2009
September 2009
October 2009
November 2009
December 2009
January 2010
March 2010
April 2010
May 2010
June 2010
July 2010
August 2010
September 2010
October 2010
November 2010
December 2010
January 2011
February 2011
March 2011
April 2011
May 2011
June 2011
July 2011
August 2011
September 2011
October 2011
November 2011
December 2011
January 2012
February 2012
April 2012
May 2012
June 2012
July 2012
August 2012
September 2012
October 2012
December 2012
January 2013
March 2013
April 2013
May 2013
June 2013
July 2013
August 2013
September 2013
October 2013
November 2013
December 2013
January 2014
February 2014
March 2014
April 2014
May 2014
June 2014
August 2014
September 2014
October 2014
November 2014
December 2014
January 2015
February 2015
April 2015
May 2015
June 2015
July 2015
August 2015
September 2015
October 2015
November 2015
December 2015
January 2016
February 2016
March 2016
April 2016
June 2016
July 2016
August 2016
September 2016
October 2016
November 2016
December 2016
January 2017
February 2017
March 2017
April 2017
May 2017
June 2017
July 2017
August 2017
September 2017
October 2017
November 2017
December 2017
January 2018