Easter 2024

08 February 2016
Barrell, Bernard (1919–2005) - "The grace of God has dawned" from Two Short Anthems

I am rather fond of the Two Short Anthems, Op. 103 by English composer Bernard Barrell, and I've written about "Truly the Lord is in this place" previously. After this past Sunday, I felt drawn to complete the set and address the other anthem in the set: "The grace of God has dawned".

The words come Titus 2:11.

“The grace of God has dawned upon the world with healing for all mankind”

This wording is from the New English Bible. The New Revised Standard Version translates it somewhat differently, using ”appeared” instead of “dawned” ”salvation” in place of “healing”. But I think Barrell's selection of translation is fortuitous for the Epiphany season. Let me explain.

We read this passage from Titus on Christmas (propers for Christmas Day I). The Propers for Christmas III include the famous prologue hymn from the Gospel of John which is glowing with light imagery:

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it… The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.”

This light shines throughout the Epiphany season. It is a star that leads the Magi to Jesus (Epiphany, Jan. 6).

Two apostolic feasts in the season have their own kind of light. It is a proverbial lightbulb that goes of for Peter ("You are the Christ") (Jan. 18). It is a blinding light that throws Paul to the ground at his conversion (Jan. 25).

In his song, Simeon proclaims Jesus to be "a light to lighten the gentiles" (Presentation, Feb. 2).

And then we come to the Gospel reading for the last Sunday of the season. So if you really haven't seen the light yet, the editors of the Revised Common Lectionary have you covered.

In Luke's Gospel the very next thing that happens after Jesus' appearance changes, and his clothes become dazzling white, and Moses and Elijah join the party, and Peter wants to build tents for everybody, and there's a voice from heaven, and all the witnesses are under a gag order is that Jesus is asked for an exorcism and healing.

On the next day, when they had come down from the mountain, a great crowd met him. Just then a man from the crowd shouted, "Teacher, I beg you to look at my son; he is my only child. Suddenly a spirit seizes him, and all at once he shrieks. It convulses him until he foams at the mouth; it mauls him and will scarcely leave him. I begged your disciples to cast it out, but they could not." Jesus answered, "You faithless and perverse generation, how much longer must I be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here." While he was coming, the demon dashed him to the ground in convulsions. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, healed the boy, and gave him back to his father. And all were astounded at the greatness of God.

So in the Christmas-Epiphany season, we travel from light to light and then finally (only in Year C) we get this story in close proximity to the Transfigured Jesus, "the light that shines in the darkness".

Which brings us back to Titus's words and this setting by Barrell.

It's the kind of thing that would fit really well on Christmas Day, but even if there is a choir then it's hard to get away from singing carols. And maybe it would fit well in the Christmas season, but the choir is probably down a rehearsal then, and it's still hard to get away form carols. So I think this anthem can easily find a home in Epiphanytide, and especially on the last Sunday where we see a dawning in the Transfiguration and healing in the story that follows after.

There's resonance here with the Transfiguration being a foreshadowing of the resurrection. The “healing” is ultimately “salvation”. The exorcism of the little demon may even preview the trampling down of death.

This short anthem begins with a single line in the organ which is echoed by the sopranos. As the sopranos sing this phrase ("The grace...") the organ achieves some measure of independence, setting the stage for the entrance of the lower parts.

All gather into one to proclaim the first phrase of text (“The grace of God has dawned upon the world”) then everyone finds a cadence together.

It's in his organ accompaniment that Barrell really excels. There is something about the way in which the accompaniment supports and augments the voices which leads to an incredibly compelling texture with really not all that much going on (the primary motion in this anthem is quarter notes).

After a cadence, a short a capella section with the remaining text. And then, back to the original texture repeating the first words, but with new different music.

It's hard to describe. It's somewhat modern, but it really works, I think.

It's not terribly difficult (it is short after all), and it's not your typical church music. This really would be within the grasp of almost any choir.


Labels: , , , , , , , ,


Post a Comment

The page you're reading is part of

©MMXVII a site for fun and prophet

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


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.


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 mixes salads, drinks, and metaphors. He takes photos, lots of dinner mints, and a little bit of time to get to know.




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


Andrew Kotylo - Concert Organist
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



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)


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


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.

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
February 2018
March 2018
April 2018
May 2018
June 2018
August 2018
September 2018
October 2018
December 2018
February 2019
March 2019
October 2019
December 2019
September 2020
December 2020
January 2021
September 2021
October 2021
December 2021
November 2022
December 2022
March 2023
July 2023
March 2024
April 2024