Greetings in Our Lord! I recently completed the article on the hymns and psalm tone for Sunday, October 15, 2017. This article will now focus on the organ and choir music for that day.
The hymns and psalm tone focused on the Scripture readings for October 15, which were the following: Isaiah 25: 1-9, Psalm 23, Philippians 4: 4-13, and Matthew 22: 1-14 for the Gospel reading. For the special music, only the choral anthem really had connection with the readings. The organ pieces were all focused on the recent Marian feasts that occurred on the Episcopal calendar during early October: the feast of the Holy Rosary on October 7, and the feast of the Motherhood of the Blessed Virgin Mary on October 11. Also, for Communion, I played an organ piece in honour of the recently departed in our parish.
These are the pieces of special music for Sunday, October 15, that we will be discussing in this article:
Prelude: Benedictine Psalter Gregorian Chant
Magnificat primi toni, BuxWV 203, Verses 1-6, Gloria Patri & Finale Dieterich Hansen Buxtehude (1637-1707)
Offertory Music: Choral Anthem: If Thou But Suffer God to Guide Thee George Neumark (1621-1681)/arr. Jody Wayne Lindh (b. 1952)
Organ Solo: Maria zart Organ Hymn Arnolt Schlick (c. 1460-1521)
Communion Music: Organ Solo: A Memorial Piece Sir Charles H. Parry, 1st Baronet (1848-1918)
Postlude: Salve Regina (Hail Holy Queen), Verse 1 Peeter Cornet (1575-1633)
Let us begin with the Prelude pieces: (1) a chanted portion of the Benedictine psalter from one of the Benedictine morning services, in this case Terce, and (2) the first six verses and final portion of the Magnificat primi toni by Buxtehude.
Prelude Part 1: Benedictine Psalter. . . .Gregorian Chant
I began the practice of chanting the Benedictine psalter from the morning services, either Lauds or Terce, as part of a double goal: first, to fulfill my own daily prayer rule, and secondly, to help people prepare their hearts for the Mass through the use of the Benedictine model of daily hours which are the foundation of the Book of Common Prayer. Initially, for my own purposes, I was just chanting the office quietly to myself, but the congregation at both Masses, 8:00 and 10:30 A.M., told me that they liked having the Benedictine psalter chanted out loud before service. So, I decided to chant a little bit louder from the organ loft while doing either Lauds or Terce, and here we are now. I’m glad that people find it helpful, and I’m glad to be supporting Anglican tradition by using the hourly services that Cranmer used when he compiled the first BCP in 1549.
In actual fact, on October 15, I chanted a portion of Lauds before the 8:00 Mass and all of Terce for the 10:30 Mass. The reason I did Terce before 10:30 is that I had finished Lauds between the 8:00 and 10:30 Masses. I never have time for Prime on Sundays, unfortunately, unless I do the much shorter Eastern Orthodox version, which is not Benedictine liturgically but based on Eastern practice. For services at Holy Nativity, I endeavour to stick with the Benedictine tradition. This particular Sunday, I used the antiphons from the Feast of the Holy Rosary because Saturday, the 14th of October, was the octave of that feast.
Most people reading this article will know what an antiphon is, but for anyone who is unfamiliar with the term, an antiphon is the refrain used at the beginning and end of a portion of psalms for a service in the Liturgy of the Hours. (Here is review of the services from the Liturgy of the Hours: https://christdesert.org/prayer/opus-dei/the-eight-daily-prayer-periods/). The Book of Common Prayer, as you may recall, has antiphons that are used at certain seasons of the Church Year. The Benedictine diurnal has certain daily antiphons, as well as special antiphons for feast days. For Lauds, there were five different antiphons for the Holy Rosary, not counting the regular Sunday antiphon of “Alleluia, Alleluia” because of Sunday always commemorating Our Lord’s Resurrection. For Terce, there was only one antiphon because there were only three psalms for the psalter portion of the service.
For Sunday, October 15, I didn’t have time to chant all of the Lauds psalms before the 8:00 Mass, but I was able to get in the first three psalms for Sunday. I will list those psalms with their antiphons here, using the King James Version numbering of the psalms to which people are most accustomed in the Western liturgical tradition.
FIRST THREE PSALMS FOR LAUDS:
Psalm 67 with the antiphon “Alleluia, Alleluia” for Sunday
Psalm 51 with the antiphon “Alleluia, Alleluia” for Sunday
Psalm 118, verses 1-29 with this Antiphon for Our Lady of the Rosary: “Be joyful, Virgin Mother; Christ hath risen from the tomb.”
This antiphon fits neatly with the Resurrection theme for Sundays, and the Resurrection is also the First Glorious Mystery of the Rosary. The five Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary, the Paschal cycle, are said on Saturdays, the Sundays of Paschaltide and Ordinary Time, and Wednesdays. Those of you who have the Rosary as a devotion are familiar with these.
For the 10:30 Mass, as I said before, I was able to do all of Terce because it’s a very brief service. These are the Psalms for Sunday Terce, with the one antiphon designated for Terce on the feast of the Holy Rosary.
PSALMS FOR TERCE, FEAST OF THE HOLY ROSARY OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY:
Antiphon for the psalter portion: “God is gone up with a merry noise, and the Lord with the sound of the trump.” (NOTE: I would point out here that this antiphon about the Ascension of the Lord covers the Second Glorious Mystery of the Rosary. The Five Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary are as follows, for anyone who doesn’t already know: (1) the Resurrection of Christ, (2) the Ascension of Christ, (3) the Descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, (4) the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and (5) the Coronation of the Virgin Mary).
Psalms for Sunday at Terce: Psalm 119: 33-40; Psalm 119: 41-48; and Psalm 119: 49-56.
The Scripture reading for Sunday at Terce is 1 John 4:16. For Sunday on October 15, since I was observing the octave of the Holy Rosary feast, I did the Terce reading for Holy Rosary instead: Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) 24: 25 and 39: 17. Then, there was a response to be chanted: R/ Thou art beautiful *and pleasant. Thou art beautiful. V/ O holy Mother of God, in thy felicity. And pleasant. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. R/ Thou art beautiful *and pleasant.
Well, that’s a lot of information, but it covers what was done for the Benedictine psalter portion of the Prelude, which appears to be here to stay. It seems to be working well for people in helping them pray before Mass and prepare for Communion.
Prelude Part 2: Magnificat primi toni, verses 1-6 and Finale. . . . . . . . .Dieterich Hansen Buxtehude (1637-1707)
Now let’s talk about the Magnificat by Buxtehude. In the Benedictine tradition and hence in the Anglican service of Evening Prayer, the Magnificat is sung for Vespers. Therefore, since it’s sung during a service on the evening preceding the Mass of the next day, it’s perfectly okay to play a Magnificat for an organ prelude or a choral prelude. Last year, I started the practice of directing the choir in singing a Magnificat setting for Christmas Eve during the prelude of Christmas carols before Midnight Mass, for example. So, aside from honouring the Mother of God’s two feast days on the Episcopal calendar on October 7 and 11, the choice of a Magnificat setting works well liturgically, even if it’s going a bit backwards from having chanted Terce!
Buxtehude’s Magnificat primi toni (Magnificat on the First Tone) represents a long-standing Western liturgical tradition with the organ: the alternatim practice of alternating sung verses of a Gregorian chant with a small organ piece, often an improvisation, called a verset. This practice goes back to the 16th century in Italy and can be found in the music of Girolamo Cavazzoni (1525-1577), although the practice is most often associated with the French Baroque period. The alternatim practice originates from the antiphonal singing that was done at Mass and at Vespers in the Roman Catholic Church during the Renaissance. Organ alternatim pieces are most often associated with the Ordinary of the Mass and the Magnificat of Vespers. What’s interesting about Buxtehude’s alternatim setting of the Magnificat is that he was Lutheran, as was the church he worked for in Lübeck, Germany, St. Mary of Lübeck (the Marienkirche), though it started out as a Catholic Church. For the history of the church, see this Wikipedia article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._Mary’s_Church,_Lübeck). So, the Lutheran Church must have retained the tradition of organ alternatim pieces for their Magnificat settings in their Vespers service. Or perhaps it was just a practice of the Marienkirche.
The Lutheran Vespers service during Buxtehude’s time would have resembled the Lutheran Vespers service during the time of Michael Praetorius (1571-1621). To find the structure laid out clearly, you would want to consult the north German Kirchenordnungen, or Instructions to Churches, from the 17th century. Basically, the Lutherans reduced the psalm portion of Vespers to one or two instead of four like today’s Benedictine Vespers, or five like the Roman Catholic Benedictine Vespers of the Counter-Reformation period. Here’s a rough layout of the Lutheran Vespers structure of Buxtehude’s time: (1) Psalm portion, either one or two psalms; (2) Reading of the day; (3) the Lord’s Prayer, (4) the Apostles’ Creed, (5) the Ten Commandments, (6) a seasonal hymn; (7) the sermon; (8) the Magnificat, sung either in Latin or German; (9) the Collect of the day; and (10) the Blessing (Benedicamus Domino). Compare and contrast that with Order of Vespers from the Lutheran Hymnal of 1941, from the Missouri Synod:
If my readers would like something more specific, here’s a Lutheran Vespers rubric from the Evangelical Lutheran Hymn-Book of 1912: http://www.projectwittenberg.org/etext/hymnals/ELHB1912/evening_service.htm
Buxtehude’s Magnificat primi toni has a total of sixteen versets, alternating between the sung portions of the chant versus the organ versets. However, some organists are of the opinion that Buxtehude’s Magnificat, this particular setting labeled BuxWV 203, was not written for liturgical use but rather for solo use. The reason they think this is because the organ versets are not related to the chant except in the vaguest way, and in fact are more like toccatas. The fourth verset resembles a French dance known as a courante. Here is a brief article by Jan R. Luth expressing the opinion that this piece was meant as a solo piece during Buxtehude’s time: http://www.hetorgel.nl/e1999-21.php.
Regardless of how it was meant to be performed, I performed it thus so: I sang the choral portions of chant in-between the organ versets with improvised chords underneath the chant melody, Renaissance in style. Then, I played the corresponding organ versets. For the Magnificat text, I used the King James Version of the Bible. Because there was not time to play the entire Magnificat setting, I sang the Gloria Patri after Verset 6 and skipped over to measure 125 of the piece, playing the remainder of the piece from there to the end. I didn’t like how the chant portions of my Buxtehude edition only included half of each Scriptural verse from the Magnificat, so I adapted the chant melody to the complete Magnificat verses of my choice from the Gospel of Luke. Thus, my performance of the piece went like this: (1) VERSET 1: Chant Luke 1: 46-47 (2) VERSET 2: Organ (3) VERSET 3: Chant Luke 1: 48 (4) VERSET 4: Organ (5) VERSET 5: Chant Luke 1: 49-50 (6) VERSET 6: Organ (7) Gloria Patri chanted (8) Measure 125 to the end.
Now, regarding Buxtehude’s life, he has been a frequent subject in the past few articles I’ve written because I have been playing a lot of his music. So, instead of reviewing his entire biography, for which there is a nice link here (https://www.thefamouspeople.com/profiles/dieterich-buxtehude-409.php), I will confine myself here to talking about one interesting episode of his life. Today, we’ll talk about his plan to marry off his eldest daughter to the next man who succeeded him as Organist at the Marienkirche in Lübeck.
If you wanted the job as Organist at the Marienkirche in Lübeck, the main condition for your employment was that you had to marry the daughter of the organist you succeeded. This worked out well for Buxtehude when he married Anna-Margarethe, the daughter of his predecessor Franz Tunder (1614-1667). However, when Buxtehude was ready to retire, nobody was in a particular rush to marry his daughter, Anna Margareta. (Do you suppose she was named after her mother?).
Some sources say that Anna Margareta Buxtehude (1675-1709) was considered very unattractive by prospective candidates for Buxtehude’s job. Others say that the suitors considered her too old because she was approaching her early thirties. It has also been said that she had a dull personality. Whatever the truth may have been, approaching 30 as a prospective wife was a serious problem during Buxtehude’s time, because the age of 30 was virtually on the edge of menopause for women back then! Women during that time did most of their childbearing between 18 and 25. As a matter of fact, the average life expectancy for the eighteenth century was 35 years! So, when 18-year-old George Frideric Handel interviewed for being Buxtehude’s successor in 1703, and found out that Anna Margareta was 28 years old, he gracefully declined the offer of the job. His friend Johann Mathesson, who had come with him to also interview for the position, similarly lost interest after he met Anna Margareta and discovered her age. Johann Sebastian Bach, who was 20 years old when he interviewed for the same position in 1705, also declined from marrying the poor woman, who was 30 by that time. Bach had walked over 200 miles to meet Buxtehude, only to be asked if he might take a wife ten years his senior! Instead, Bach ended up marrying a young lady from his choir when he returned to his church job in Arnstadt. In fact, he had already expressed interest in that young lady before he journeyed to Lübeck for the famous meeting with Buxtehude. As for Anna Margareta Buxtehude, the story is that she was as equally uninterested in Handel and Bach as they were in her.
Poor old Buxtehude didn’t find a successor for his position until close to his death in 1707. He had to extract a promise from his student and assistant, Johann Christian Schieferdecker (1679-1732), that Schieferdecker would marry Anna Margareta after Buxtehude died. That’s what one story says. Another story says that after Buxtehude died, Johann Christian fell in love with Anna Margareta, and the church ministers took care of the wedding details. Whichever version was true, that wedding was on September 5, 1707. The bride was 32 years old by that time, and the groom was 25! In any case, at least she wasn’t left abandoned. She gave birth to their only child, Johanna Sophia, in 1708. Then, Anna Margareta died on December 18 of the following year. The poor dear! She was too old to be giving birth.
What happened to Buxtehude’s other daughters? They all got married too. It’s not as if they had many professional options during that time. The middle daughter, Anna Sophia, got a divorce from her husband, Johann Nicolaus Herman the spice dealer, three years after marrying him. That was in 1716. Oh, well.
Thus ends your Buxtehude lore for today. We now move on to the second piece of special music for October 15, the choral anthem for Offertory.
Offertory Music: Choral Anthem: If Thou But Suffer God to Guide Thee George Neumark (1621-1681)/arr. Jody Wayne Lindh (b. 1952)
This piece was actually the Communion Anthem for the previous Sunday of October, October 8. The choir sang it a second time for this Sunday, October 15. It has a text that can go with any Scripture readings. On Sunday October 8, it was a good response to the exhortations in all the readings to bear good fruit in the Lord. For Sunday October 15, it was a response to the parable of the wedding feast, Matthew 22: 1-14. The text also went well with the other readings on October 15 about God providing a feast for His people, and the exhortation to live a holy life in the Epistle reading. For all of those readings, see this link: http://lectionarypage.net/YearA/Pentecost/AProp23.html.
The entire text of the Lutheran hymn which was arranged for this choral anthem, “If Thou But Suffer God to Guide Thee,” can be found here: http://www.lutheran-hymnal.com/lyrics/tlh518.htm. For our purposes, the stanzas of the hymn (and the anthem) that went best with the readings were verses 1, 3 and 7. Verse 1 goes well with the Old Testament reading, Isaiah 25: 1-9, especially the last three verses of that reading: “Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, so that he might save us.This is the LORD for whom we have waited; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.” Verse 3 goes with Psalm 23, in particular these verses: “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies. Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.” The last two lines of verse 3 in this hymn, “Nor doubt our inmost wants are known/ to Him who chose us for His own,” fit well with the last verse of the Gospel Reading in Matthew 22: 1-14: “For many are called, but few are chosen.” Verse 7 once again goes with Psalm 23, the psalm for Sunday, October 15. It also fits with how the king in the Gospel parable sent out to invite all of the poor and the wretched–those who were considered undeserving—to his wedding feast, in place of his original guests who refused to come.
1. If thou but suffer God to guide thee
And hope in Him through all thy ways,
He’ll give thee strength, whate’er betide thee,
And bear thee through the evil days.
Who trusts in God’s unchanging love
Builds on the Rock that naught can move.
3. Be patient and await His leisure
In cheerful hope, with heart content
To take whate’er thy Father’s pleasure
And His discerning love hath sent,
Nor doubt our inmost wants are known
To Him who chose us for His own.
7. Sing, pray, and keep His ways unswerving,
Perform thy duties faithfully,
And trust His Word, though undeserving,
Thou yet shalt find it true for thee.
God never yet forsook in need
The soul that trusted Him indeed.
Now, I will mention some interesting facts about the composer of the hymn, Georg Neumark, and then some facts about the very talented arranger of the anthem, Mr. Jody Wayne Lindh, who is also a composer.
Georg Neumark (1621-1681), a German poet and composer of hymns, lived for sixty years during a time that was not only marked by the hardships of the Thirty Years War (1618-1648), but also a time when the average life span was anywhere from thirty-five to forty. He was the son of a clothier, Michael Neumark, and his wife Martha Neumark. Georg was born in Langensalza, a spa town in Thuringia, Germany, on March 16, 1621. Here is the Wikipedia article on that town and its history: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bad_Langensalza. Starting at the age of nine, he attended school first at the Gymnasium (similar to a high school, only starting with younger students much like an English prep school) of Schleusingen, a town about an hour and twenty-seven minutes south of Langensalza with today’s transportation. In his time, you would have had to calculate the time in terms of the fact that the average carriage during the 17th century could not travel over fifteen miles per hour. He was only at the school in Schleusingen for a short time, being transferred to the Gymnasium in Gotha, a town that is presently thirty-two minutes southwest of Langensalza. In 1640, he received his certificate of dimission, that is, his certificate of permission to depart from the school. He subsequently enrolled at the University of Königsberg to study law. Remember that during his time, in order to attend school or obtain employment, he had to have a sponsor or reference. He could not just show up in Königsberg and put his name on the enrollment list. Remember also that he would not have received his certificate of leave from the school in Gotha had not his marks (grades) and conduct been sufficient to the school’s standards. There was no such thing as being a C-average student, and certainly no such thing as failing one’s courses. The field of law, to which he aspired, was one of the most solid professions in Europe during the Renaissance and Baroque periods.
On his way to Königsberg, however, the young man met with misfortune, the first of several in his life that would keep him on his knees to God, crying for help and mercy many times. He joined a band of merchants who were on their way to the Leipzig Michaelmas Fair, hoping to have safety through their numbers as he made his way towards Königsberg. Unfortunately, their numbers were not sufficient for protection, for a band of highwaymen swept down upon them when they reached Gardelegen, a town about 268 miles from Königsberg. The robbers took everything that Georg Neumark had, except for his prayer book. The leader of the gang, who was honest enough to know that being an unrepentant thief did not exactly put him on the path to heaven, was afraid to take Georg’s prayer book. He didn’t need Divine reprisals! The thieves were already struggling enough with hunger and displacement caused by the war, hence their choice of occupation. So, they left Georg his Lutheran prayer book. Otherwise, they took all of his money and other possessions except for some money that he had sewn into the insides of his clothes. Crestfallen and traumatised, he trudged backward to the town of Magdeburg, a city on the Elbe river that is two hours and twenty-nine minutes north of Georg’s hometown of Langensalza and fifty-two minutes (40.2 miles) from Gardelegen—at least by today’s transportation standards. But poor Georg was making the journey on foot. That meant three miles per hour!
Again, there are 40.2 miles between Gardelegen, where Georg was robbed, and Magdeburg. 40 divided by 3 is 13.4, so that means that it took Georg about 13 hours to make that walk. He would have had to have stopped and slept during that time, so that would have been about a day and a half or so with no food or money. He would have been compelled to rely on the charity of any church he might pass, or the kindness of farmers along the way. Or perhaps he would have had to simply gather oats in barns that he passed, rely on any fruit that might have fallen to the ground from an obliging tree, or gather nuts and berries along the way, and even then he would have needed to know which ones were poisonous. It was autumn, so he had to rely on whatever woodland food was available in northern Germany during that season. He didn’t have a weapon with which to kill or skin woodland game such as rabbits, because any knife he had would have been taken by the robbers. (And it would have been a knife; it was highly unlikely that he carried a bow and quiver of arrows, and certainly not a gun). The only thing to drink along the way was river water. So, it is reasonable to assume that by the time he reached Magdeburg, he was not at all well physically. Here is a picture of Magdeburg today. It probably looks similar in many ways to what Georg Neumark would have seen as he approached it.
In Magdeburg, Georg made some new friends. (We unfortunately don’t know their names). Because he desperately needed employment so that he could save up money for travelling to Königsberg, they tried to find him a job to no avail. They suggested that he move on to Lüneberg. That was another walk of 126 miles, which means that it would have taken him 42 hours of walking. When he reached Lüneberg, he made friends there as well, but again could find no employment. His friends at Lüneberg sent him on to Winsen, a fourteen-mile (i.e., five-hour) walk from Lüneberg, not as bad a walk as the previous one! In Winsen, he was sent on to Hamburg. For that journey, he had to walk 22.7 miles, or rather, about eight hours. Surely in Hamburg he would find employment! Alas, no! Remember that the season was autumn. So, either from October or November to December, he languished in Hamburg, searching fruitlessly (literally!) for a job. Finally, in December, he left for Kiel, a town 60.7 miles (and therefore twenty hours on foot) from Hamburg. There, in Kiel, he befriended the chief Lutheran pastor, Nicolaus Becker.
Becker took the hapless young man under his wing, trying in every way to help him find a position. Finally, at the end of December, the family tutor of the local judge, Judge Stephan Henning, fled town due to his involvement in a disgraceful scandal. Pastor Becker stepped up and immediately recommended Georg Neumark to Judge Henning for the post of tutor. Thus, finally, Neumark received the employment that would later enable him to finally make the journey to Königsberg.
Remember that during this time, the Thirty Years War was raging all around the protagonists in our story. It has been said that the events of the Thirty Years War propelled Neumark towards the town of Kiel. There is no record that we can find of Neumark running into an actual battle. Most of the battles in his area of Germany had already taken place about ten years earlier. Thus, when Georg Neumark was in Magdeburg, that town was still recovering from being sacked by Catholic armies in May of 1631. Hamburg had been briefly under Danish rule in 1621. There was a major victory for the Protestant armies over the Catholic forces in 1631, northwest of Leipzig, at the Battle of Breitenfeld. The effect of all this was the shifting of populations from city to city, often on the road as refugees. Then, when the battles were over, there was widespread poverty and hardship due to destroyed homes and property. So, most of the cities to which Georg Neumark travelled in search of work were still in a state of recovery from the effects of the Thirty Years War.
To return to the subject of Georg Neumark’s employment, which he finally found in Kiel with the help of his Lutheran pastor, it was the reception of this job after his grave period of hardship that inspired him to write his famous hymn, “If Thou But Suffer God to Guide Thee.”
He stayed at his position in Judge Henning’s house for about two and half to three years, and it was a happy time for him. In June of 1643, he finally had enough money to travel to Königsberg, where he was received as a law student at the university there. He studied law for five years while supporting himself as a family tutor. He met with another great misfortune during this time: in 1646, he lost all of his possessions once more, this time in a fire. In 1648, he left Königsberg, going from Warsaw to Thorn and then back to Hamburg. In 1651, he had the good fortune to attract the notice of Duke Wilhelm II of Sachse-Weimar. The Duke appointed him to several positions: court poet, registrar of the Weimar administration, librarian, and secretary of the Ducal Archives. He became a member of the Fruitbearing Society, a literary society in Weimar founded by scholars and nobility in 1617 for the promotion of literature and scholarly writing in the German vernacular. Neumark also became a member of the Pegnitz Order, another literary society founded in 1644. He did very well in Weimar until he went blind in 1681. But the Duke was merciful to him, and allowed him to continue receiving a salary. Neumark died in Weimar on June 18, 1681.
As you can see from his life, he had many occasions to be thankful to the Lord for provision during times of dire testing and trials. But his most famous hymn, “If Thou But Suffer God to Guide Thee,” Wer nur den lieben Gott lässt walten, was written in 1641 after he received the position as tutor to Judge Henning’s family. Here is what Neumark himself wrote about the composition of that hymn: “Which good fortune coming suddenly, and as if fallen from heaven, greatly rejoiced me, and on that very day I composed to the honour of my beloved Lord the here and there well-known hymn ‘Wer nur den lieben Gott lässt walten’; and had certainly cause enough to thank the Divine compassion for such unlooked for grace shown to me.” He wrote this as a reflection on his life, Thrünendes Haus-Kreuiz, in Weimar, in 1681. Since he was blind by that time, he must have dictated the text. He exemplified a Christian attitude of gratitude, and trust in God during difficult times. Below is a picture of Georg Neumark.
The arranger of Neumark’s hymn as a choral anthem, Mr. Jody W. Lindh, is a retired Minister of Music. He served University Park United Methodist Church in Dallas, TX from 1969 to 2013. Here is the notice of his retirement, along with the announcement of the retirement of his wife JoNell, who was pastor at Chapel Hill United Methodist Church in Farmers Branch, Texas: https://www.chapelhillumc.org/2013/letter_from_pastor_jonell_february_26_2013/. Here is a more extensive biography on composer, arranger and Minister of Music Jody Lindh, on the Choristers’ Guild website: https://www.choristersguild.org/document//197/. Although Mr. Lindh served in the Methodist Church for most of his career, he actually is a Lutheran. He was born and raised Lutheran, in Elim Lutheran Church in Marquette, Kansas, a parish founded by his great-grandfather during the 1880’s. Here is an article from the University Park Methodist Church’s published periodical, The UP Word, in which Mr. Lindh is interviewed about his forty-five years of service as Music Minister of University Park Methodist Church. He tells his inspiring story here: http://www.upumc.org/download_file/view/109.
This hopefully has revealed everything you would want to know about Wer nur den lieben Gott lässt walten and the beautiful choral arrangement of it by Lindh, excellently performed by Holy Nativity Episcopal Choir for the Offertory anthem on October 15. We now move on to the organ solo played after the anthem.
Offertory Music: Choral Anthem: If Thou But Suffer God to Guide Thee George Neumark (1621-1681)/arr. Jody Wayne Lindh (b. 1952)
Organ Solo: Maria zart Organ Hymn Arnolt Schlick (c. 1460-1521)
Maria zart, as the title of the piece indicates, is an organ piece written in honour of the Holy Virgin Mary, Mother of God. Remember that the term “Mother of God” does not refer to the Virgin Mary being the mother of God the Father, but to the fact that she was and is the mother of God the Word, our Incarnate Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Her actual original Greek title, bestowed upon her by the Council of Ephesus in 431 A.D., is Theotokos, which means “God-bearer.” It’s important because back then, as now, there were many people who were not willing to acknowledge the Divine Nature of Jesus Christ. There were many people who, like some people today, merely thought of Jesus as a rabbi, a teacher, a philosopher, or a nice guy. Sound familiar? The Council of Ephesus was one in several that condemned such heretical thinking, and sought to affirm that Jesus was/is both human and Divine. But I digress.
The title Maria zart is German, and literally means “Mary Tender.” The entire title of the song is Maria zart, von edler Art. The song is a Marian devotional piece written by Arnolt Schlick (c. 1460-1521), and published in his tablature (lute) book of 1512, in Mainz. Composer Jacob Obrecht used the song in a Marian Mass setting called Missa Maria zart. This is the German text of the song, with its English translation below.
Maria zart, von edler Art, ein Ros ohn’ allen Doren.
Du hast aus Macht herwiederbracht,
Das vor lang war verloren durch Adams Fall.
Dir hat die Wahl Sankt Gabriel versprochen.
Hilf, daß nicht wird gerochen mein‘ Sünd und Schuld.
Erwirb mir Huld,
Dann kein Trost ist, wo du nicht bist.
Barmherzigkeit erwerben; am letzten End,
ich bitt’, nich wend’ von mir in meinem Sterben.
Maria rein, Du bist allein der Sünder Trost auf Erden,
Darum dich hat der ewig Rat erwählt, ein Mutter werden
Des höchsten Heil, der durch Urteil
Am jüngsten Tag wird richten.
Halt mich in deinen Pflichten,
O werte Frucht, all’ mein‘ Zuflucht
Hab’ ich zu dir; am Kreuz bist mir
Mit Sankt Johannes geben,
Daß du auch mein’ Mutter wöll’st sein,
Frist hier und dort mein Leben.
Maria tender, of noble being, a rose without thorns.
By your power you have returned
what had been long lost through Adam’s fall.
You have been chosen by Saint Gabriel’s promise.
Help that my sin and guilt may not be avenged.
Procure my grace
For there is no consolation without You.
Gain mercy for me; at the end,
I pray to You: turn not away from me at my death.
Maria pure, you alone are the sinner’s earthly consolation,
Therefore the eternal counsel chose you as a Mother
To the Utmost Salvation, Who by judgment
On the last day will judge.
Hold me in your duty,
O worthy fruit, all my refuge I find in you;
On the cross you are given
together with St. John,
That you may also be my mother,
Here in this time, and in my life.
The text has a reference to Christ’s judgment in the second stanza that can only be understood if the words “Utmost Salvation” are capitalized in the English translation. Otherwise, that particular verse can be confusing to the reader. The tone of this song is very Catholic, beseeching the Virgin Mary to intercede for grace, consolation, refuge and a good account on the Day of Judgment. In the first verse, when it refers to the Theotokos returning “by her power” what had been lost through Adam’s fall, that “power” referred to is her response to the Archangel Gabriel following the Annunciation: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord. Be it done unto me according to thy word.” It is the power of free will to choose God’s will.
The organ version of Maria zart is an ornamented piece written by Schlick, based on his own tune. It has some very short fugal passages in it. It has been said that Schlick made some advances in his organ music that were precursors of compositional features found in German Baroque music. He was one of the first Renaissance composers to weave contrapuntal lines around a chorale tune, in the manner of the later Lutheran chorale preludes which would develop in the 17th century.
Here is the Wikipedia article on Arnolt Schlick: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arnolt_Schlick. He has an interesting story. The most interesting fact about him is that he was apparently blind for much of his life, and yet his profession was that of court organist in the service of Elector Philip the Upright, ruler of the Palatinate (territory in the Holy Roman Empire) of the Rhine. He also was an organ building consultant! Ponder the fact that he did all of his inspections of church organs with only his senses of touch and hearing to aid him, in a time two-hundred years before Braille had been invented, and before any standardized way of teaching life skills to the blind had developed in the educational system. This means that he taught all of those skills to himself, and developed his own methods of dealing with his handicap. I think that’s pretty amazing. Don’t you?
Schlick was a native of Heidelberg, Germany and spent his life in a house not far from Heidelberg Castle. He wrote the first German treatise ever on organ building and organ playing, Spiegel der Orgelmacher und Organisten (“Mirror of Organ-builders and Organists”), published in 1511. In addition, Schlick played the harp and the lute. He was very skilled on both instruments. His blindness did not prevent him from playing instruments, just as blindness does not prevent such things in the present day. However, for composition, he would have had to rely on someone to write down his works as he played them, of course. Again, it would be two hundred more years before the invention of Braille. Below is a picture of Heidelberg Castle, an illustration from Schlick’s organ treatise, and a picture of Schlick himself.
Illustration from Schlick’s treatise on how to build and play organs, 1511
Arnolt Schlick himself
Schlick married one of Elector Philip’s servants, a lady by the name of Barbara Struplerin. He was much sought after as a consultant on newly built organs. He managed to test many new instruments. Only one person ever had the cheek to make disparaging remarks about his blindness, and that person was the German composer Sebastian Virdung (born in 1465). Schlick’s response was to point out Virdung’s many mistakes in the musical examples found in the treatise Virdung wrote, Musica getutscht. Think on that for a moment: Virdung, a sighted person, was making more mistakes in his musical manuscripts than a blind fellow. That rebuke was quite a good smack in the face from Schlick to Virdung! Schlick also rebuked Virdung for being ungrateful to those who had helped him. Ingratitude was a serious accusation in the age of patronage. Virdung later was dismissed from his position at Konstanz Cathedral in 1508 due to problems with his temper. Apparently, he was too harsh with the choirboys! Schlick, by contrast, was very well liked by all who knew him. There is no record of him having had any children by his wife Barbara. My guess is that it was a childless marriage.
We now move forward to the music for Communion.
Communion Music: Organ Solo: A Memorial Piece Sir Charles H. Parry, 1st Baronet (1848-1918)
We have already discussed several details of the life and work of Sir Charles Hubert Hastings Parry, 1st Baronet. In this article, I will merely post a biographical link here: http://www.classical.net/music/comp.lst/acc/parry.php. I also will list a couple of interesting facts not highlighted in my previous articles. First of all, he was not only knighted in 1898 and created as First Baronet in 1902, but also he was appointed Commander of the Royal Victorian Order in 1905 for his contributions and service in the field of music. The second fact I’ll mention is that he taught composition to students who would become some of the major English composers of the early twentieth century: Ralph Vaughan Williams, OM (Order of Merit), who lived from 1872 to 1958; Gustav Holst (1874-1934); George Butterworth, MC (Military Cross), 1885-1916; and Herbert Howells, CH & CBE (Order of the Companions of Honour and Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire), 1892-1983. Parry taught these honoured and decorated men, some of whom became pillars of hymnody in the Church of England.
Here is another biographical link on Parry from the Hymnary site: https://hymnary.org/person/Parry_CHH. Here is his picture, also.
Unfortunately, I cannot find any information on his Memorial Piece which I played for Communion. Presumably, it’s meant to be a prayer for the departed. Since we were approaching All Saints and All Souls Day, forthcoming at the end of October, and since we had a few recent deaths in Holy Nativity parish, I thought it would be good to have a piece in memory of the departed. What better time to remember the departed than when the congregation is receiving Holy Communion?
We now move on to the last special piece of music for October 15, the organ postlude.
Postlude: Salve Regina (Hail Holy Queen), Verse 1 Peeter Cornet (1575-1633)
I don’t suppose it takes a lot of guesswork to surmise that the postlude was another Marian piece, which I selected in honour of the feast of the Holy Rosary of the Mother of God. Let’s take a moment to talk about the prayer and chant on which the piece was based, and then I’ll give some brief details about the life and work of Peeter Cornet. (You don’t suppose, with the spelling of his first name, that he could have been. . . .Flemish? Surely not!).
The text Salve, Regina, known in English as “Hail, Holy Queen,” is a fervent Latin hymn asking for the Blessed Virgin Mary’s intercession, dating from somewhere between 1054 and 1153 A.D. The author of the hymn is unknown, though there have been many educated guesses. Among the potential authors are the Bishop of Le Puy (c. 1080 A.D.), Adhemar de Monteil (died 1098 A.D.), Hermann Contractus of Reichenau (1013-1054 A.D.), and Bernard of Clairvaux (1091-1153), a saint of the Roman Catholic Church. Hermann Contractus of Reichenau is thought to be the most likely author. In the Benedictine tradition, the Salve Regina is sung as the final anthem of Compline during the period of the Western liturgical year from Saturday evening Vespers before Trinity Sunday, to None of the Saturday before the first Sunday of Advent. The “Hail, Holy Queen” is also the final Marian prayer of the Rosary. Below is the most well-known translation of the hymn.
Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy. Hail, our life, our sweetness and our hope. To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve. To thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this vale of tears. Turn then, most gracious Advocate, thine eyes of mercy towards us; and after this our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary!
Before we talk about the chant and Cornet’s music, I would like to clarify something about the Salve Regina that is of importance to both Anglican and Eastern Orthodox theology. In both the Anglican and the Eastern Orthodox traditions, the title “Queen” given to the Mother of God is meant to be honourific. It does not literally mean “Queen” in the same sense of a Roman Empress or a royal personage equal to Christ. It is a logical honourific for Mary the Mother of God, because Christ her Son is the King. It therefore follows that she is the Queen. HOWEVER, the distinction of an honourific title versus a literal title is very important, because she is not considered equal to Christ.
In Latin, the idea of “Queen” being an honourific title is problematic because of the meaning of the Latin word Regina. There is no other word with the proper shade of meaning to convey an honourific title in Latin. Regina in Latin literally means “Queen” and refers to a woman who rules a kingdom in her own right. Queens in early medieval Europe, which is the time during which the title Regina would have been used (because there was no such title in ancient Rome), ruled as co-governors with their kings. For more information on this, please reference page 282 of Women in Early Medieval Europe by Lisa M. Bitel. In Greek, if you were talking of the Virgin Mary as a queen, you would use the word Basilissa, which literally means “Empress.” HOWEVER, that word is not understood in Greek culture and history to mean a woman ruling in her own right, or as a co-governor with a king. Basilissa was an honourific title in the Late Roman (i.e. Byzantine) Empire. All women referred to as “Empress” in the Late Roman Empire were understood to be merely regents who ruled until their sons came of age. The Basilissa was also an intercessor for the people before her son. To avoid confusion, the Eastern Church dispensed with calling the Virgin Mary by the title of Basilissa and instead relied on titles such as Theotokos (God-Bearer) and Panagia (All-Holy). So, whenever one sings the Salve Regina, he/she will want to bear in mind that the word Regina is problematic theologically. It might be better just to sing the hymn in English, where there is more leeway for interpreting the title as honourific rather than literal.
If you are asking yourself, “Why does all this matter?,” the answer is quite simple. There have been evangelical groups for quite some time who have accused Anglican, Roman Catholic and Orthodox Christians of being pagan in practice rather than Christian, especially in the veneration of the Virgin Mary. Why? Unfortunately, the title “Queen of Heaven” can be found in reference to several pagan goddesses of the ancient period, in particular the Egyptian goddess Isis and the Sumerian goddess Inanna. First of all, the idea that veneration of the Mother of God is a continuation of ancient pagan practice is part of an erroneous assumption known as the Pagan Influence Fallacy. Correlations have been drawn between Divine and honourary titles in Christianity and divine titles in pagan religions because of literal translations of Latin, Greek, and middle Eastern languages of the ancient world, into modern English. First of all, this approach is flawed, because we must bear in mind the fact that those languages were all quite different from modern English. Words in those languages had various shades of meaning. Words could change their meaning according to context in a sentence. In modern English, we tend to have one word per shade of meaning, for English is a very precise language. In other languages, especially ancient languages, there is often only one word that has different shades of meaning depending on how it is used in context. In short, one has to read the full sentence to understand the meaning of the word. What “Queen of Heaven” meant to an Isiac priest or priestess from the Roman Empire was completely different from what it means to a Christian taking the word “queen” in the context of “intercessor,” or as an honourary title given to the Virgin Mary because Jesus is the King. Secondly, archaeological evidence and primary sources (written records) of the time periods in question often tend to contradict the Pagan Influence Fallacy. The Pagan Influence Fallacy was invented to discredit liturgical Christianity by its opponents, and later it was used to discredit Christianity by those opposed to the faith altogether. The Pagan Influence Fallacy has its origins in the 16th-century Reformation, and became quite prevalent in atheist and agnostic circles during the late twentieth century. It was also a popular idea promoted by communists.
So, when one uses “Hail, Holy Queen” in a liturgical setting or in private prayer, one must remember that “Queen” is an honourific title that denotes the Virgin Mary’s role as an intercessor before her Son, as was the case with the Byzantine empresses, who modeled their rule on none other than the Virgin Mary, Mother of God. Also, when we say, “Hail, Holy Queen,” we are not addressing her in the same context in which the Egyptians or Sumerians addressed their goddesses. “Queen of Heaven” to them meant a goddess who was the author(ess) of creation. Every Christian has always known from the earliest history of the Church, indeed from the Gospels themselves, that the Virgin Mary was not and is not the Creator of the universe. V/Here endeth the soapbox. R/Thanks be to God.
Now, about this piece of music and Peeter Cornet: the chant used for the Salve Regina can be found here, in modern notation.
This is the melody that Peeter Cornet used as his cantus firmus in his piece, which is an ornamental piece based on the above Gregorian chant melody. It is the sort of piece that can be played quietly and meditatively, or loudly with a grand organ registration. Because it was the postlude, and it was not the Lenten or Advent season when postludes might sometimes be more quiet and reflective, I chose to play it with zest and a full sound. There are people who try to register Renaissance pieces as though they were being played on Renaissance organs. Sometimes, I use this approach, but other times I think it’s nonsense to limit the sound of an organ piece based on the limited registrations of organs in Cornet’s time. Sometimes, I think that if you’ve got the sound, then you should use it! So, for Sunday, October 15, I used a full registration for this piece with principals, mixtures and reeds. I treated it rather like a French Baroque plein jeu. If any aficionados of early music don’t like that, then they can play the piece according to their own tastes.
Last but not least, let us finally discuss the life and work of Flemish composer Peeter Cornet. Well, folks, not much is known about him! Wherever he went, he would change his name according to national custom. In French-speaking areas of Europe, he was known as Pierre Cornet. In Italy, he was known as Pietro Cornet. He was a native of Brussels, which at that time was the capital city of the Southern Netherlands. He came from a musical family of violinists, singers and organists. He was born around 1575. He got his first job as Organist at the St. Nicholas Church in Brussels. This would have been a Catholic church, because Brussels at that time was under the rule of Spain. Spain ruthlessly suppressed Protestantism in the Netherlands during the late 16th and 17th centuries. The history of that can be found in this article: https://www.museeprotestant.org/en/notice/protestantism-in-belgium/.
To return to the subject of Peeter Cornet, he worked at St. Nicholas from 1603 to 1606. In 1606, he was appointed court organist by Albert VII, Archduke of Austria and his wife Infanta Isabella Clara Eugenia of Spain. (Infanta was the title given to the royal princesses of Spain). In 1611, Cornet was briefly a canon of the Roman Catholic Church, but he gave that up because he decided to get married.
It seems that Cornet remained in the position of court organist for the rest of his life. We don’t hear much of him after 1611 except for the following: (1) his name is listed as court organist in the court account books between 1612 and 1618; (2) he made English composer and organ virtuoso Peter Philips (c. 1560-1628), who was also an exiled Catholic priest, the godfather of one of his children; (3) he gave advice on the maintenance or building (not sure which) of the organ at St. Rumbold’s Cathedral in 1615; and (4) he signed a contract with the same church in 1624 to build a choir division for that organ. So, evidently, he was involved in organ building, though we hear precious little about the details. Here is a picture of St. Rumbold’s Cathedral in modern-day Belgium.
In his music, he liked to use the types of rhythmic changes and ornamental passages commonly associated with virginal (harpsichord) music of the time. He wrote pieces that were essentially Italian in style, only he expanded the forms and did more varied things with the cantus firmus melodies and fugal passages.
Today, he is often considered to be one of the best early Baroque composers of keyboard music. What I like about his music, aside from the high quality, is his liturgical adaptability. One can find many of the liturgical pieces needed for the Church Year among his works, and these pieces can be used for a variety of functions during the Mass. Best of all, he has some wonderful Marian pieces for feast days of the Mother of God.
Well, thus ends the series of articles on the music offered to the Lord at Holy Nativity during mid-October. I hope you have found the information here interesting and informative.
In Christ Our Lord,
Gabrielle Bronzich, M.M., Organist & Choirmaster, Holy Nativity Episcopal Church