blog.sinden.org

Ordinary Time 2017

10 October 2014
Barrell, Bernard - "Truly the Lord is in this place" from Two Short Anthems

This story begins with a service of Choral Evensong. The occasion was the Annual Conference of the Association of Anglican Musicians (AAM) this past summer in Washington, D. C.

I was very pleased to serve as the organist for this particular service -- and I say very pleased, because my current work does not allow me to tend to my organ playing as much as I used to. As an Assistant Organist (which I served as in an Episcopal congregation from 2002-2004, a Lutheran congregation from 2004-2006, and an Episcopal cathedral from 2006-2010) one's domain is almost exclusively the organ, with a major emphasis on accompanying. I honed these skills as best I could, but it wasn't until my work at Christ Church Cathedral, Indianapolis, that I really come to understand the finer points of choral accompanying on the organ.

But I digress. Suffice it to say that I relish these opportunities to accompany, in any setting, because they are a kind of homecoming. More than that, they allow me the rare opportunity take a back seat and observe the work of other (usually far superior) conductors, with different music.

“Truly the Lord is in this place. This is no other than the house of God. This is the gate of heaven.”

The Introit for the AAM Evensong was "Truly the Lord is in this place" by English composer Bernard Barrell (1919-2005).

Barrell is not a major composer. His name appears in the Grove Dictionary of Music but only in the entry for his wife. The entry for English composer Joyce Howard Barrell says: "In 1945 she married the composer Bernard Barrell and in 1946 they settled in Suffolk."

I had prepared the accompaniment for this Introit, but there wasn't much to it. Some four-note cluster chords in the Lydian mode (F-G-A-B), and a few other places where the organ seemed to very closely follow the voices. Easy peasy. There were other things -- a busy evening service, the psalm, the anthem, and a Howells premiere -- to occupy my time. On to the next thing.

As the service drew closer I reminded myself that I would need to not short-change this piece, it being the easiest. I checked my notes, my registrations. I also paid special attention to the rhythm of the choral parts (all quarter notes, like the organ part) since the choir would be in the liturgical west end of the church for this, while the organ would dutifully remain in the east end. There would be no sightlines. I would have to keep it together with the choir without seeing the conductor. No problem, I thought.

And so, the pre-service rehearsal arrived, the first time I had heard the choir.

We began the piece, and then something remarkable happened. This simple, short little anthem, that I hadn't really expected much of, expanded into something so rich and beautiful that I didn't think it possible.

You see, I had neglected to play through the choral parts. But even if I had, I'm not sure that I would have been fully aware of the rich harmonic alchemy that Barrell had designed in combination with the organ. It really is quite something; it is the very definition of "more than the some of its parts".

And this is exactly the kind of setting that you need for the words from Genesis 28:17.

Truly the Lord is in this place. This is no other than the house of God. This is the gate of heaven.

These are beautiful words. We heard them this summer in the lectionary readings on July 20 (Proper 11A, track 1).

Jacob left Beer-sheba and went toward Haran. He came to a certain place and stayed there for the night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place. And he dreamed that there was a ladder set up on the earth, the top of it reaching to heaven; and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. And the LORD stood beside him and said, "I am the LORD, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring; and your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and all the families of the earth shall be blessed in you and in your offspring. Know that I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you." Then Jacob woke from his sleep and said, "Surely the LORD is in this place-- and I did not know it!" And he was afraid, and said, "How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven."

So Jacob rose early in the morning, and he took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up for a pillar and poured oil on the top of it. He called that place Bethel.

In context, the words become even richer. The imagery is of dreams, promise, covenant, numerous descendants, promised land, etc.

When we sing this in our churches, we evoke these things. Our dreams, God's promises, our communion with the saints, and more.

Our worship is all of these things. Like this music by Barrell, it should be more than the sum of it's parts.

We only need to listen fully and be amazed.

Labels: , , , , ,

 
 
Comments:

Post a Comment

The page you're reading is part of Sinden.org

©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