Season after Pentecost, 2023
The wonderful American organist and noted improviser Gerre Hancock also composed choral music.
The anthem "Judge eternal, throned in splendor" is, perhaps, his best-known choral work.
I love the music of this anthem. It's glorious and grand. It's insistent and assertive. Yet at its core is a lovely lyricism - a real melodic masterstroke. (For evidence of this, look no further than this melody's use as a hymn tune SANDRIA)
But in all of this music, I cannot help but hear the elegant beauty Hancock – and other Americans of his generation, including Aaron Copland – learned at the feet of French pedagogue Nadia Boulanger in Paris.
And so it is the "French" sound of this anthem that I hear after the events of Friday in Paris.
These words, and many others, ring out with greater poignancy in the aftermath of events such as these. The author is Henry Scott Holland.
Judge eternal, throned in splendor, Lord of lords and King of kings, with thy living fire of judgment purge this land of bitter things; solace all its wide dominion with the healing of thy wings. Still the weary folk are pining for the hour that brings release, and the city's crowded clangor cries aloud for sin to cease; and the homesteads and the woodlands plead in silence for their peace. Crown, O God, thine own endeavor; cleave our darkness with thy sword; feed all those who do not know thee with the richness of thy word; cleanse the body of this nation through the glory of the Lord.
These words will be sung to the "French" music of Hancock at the parish where I serve on Sunday morning.
These words also appear in the Hymnal 1982 at Hymn 596.
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