Welcome to the Holy Nativity Episcopal Church Music Program!


sing unto the LORD a new songsing unto the LORD, all the earth. Sing unto the LORD, bless his name; shew forth his salvation from day to day.  –Psalm 96, KJV

Welcome to our music blog for the Church of the Holy Nativity!  I am Gabrielle Bronzich, M.M., the Director of Music, Organist and Choirmaster for Holy Nativity Episcopal Church in Plano, TX.  Holy Nativity is a Rite One Episcopal parish with a growing community and a music program full of enthusiastic, talented singers in our choir, vocal soloists and instrumentalists.  We have a growing program here, and we welcome anyone who feels called to serve the Lord through music in this parish to contact me personally and meet with me about what we offer here.   We also offer service hours through singing in the choir for students in elementary, junior high or high school from twelve years old and up.

On this blog, you’ll find YouTube videos and MP3’s of the music here at Holy Nativity, as well as articles on the hymns, organ music and vocal music offered to the Lord here.  We use the word “offer” here instead of the word “perform,” because although excellence of performance is important here, the highest purpose of our music in the worship service (which is mainly the Mass) is to offer a living sacrifice of praise to the Lord for His glory and for the edification and sanctification of God’s people.  Holy Nativity Episcopal Church is a warm, Christ-centered community of believers who promote the Christian way of life revealed in the Holy Gospel.   The community of Holy Nativity believes in the pursuit of a close relationship with Jesus in daily life, and the pursuit of a holy life as shown by Christ and preached by the Apostles in Holy Scripture.  The Church of the Holy Nativity believes in sacramental life and worship, which helps believers to grow in the Lord Jesus.

We hope you will find this blog inspirational and resourceful.  If you have any questions or would like to participate in our music program, please contact me at Holy Nativity, at 972-424-4574.  Have a blessed day!

MP3 Recording for the 8:00 Mass at Holy Nativity, August 19, 2018: 13th Sunday After Pentecost

     Greetings on this last Thursday of August!   At long last, I’m getting around to uploading the MP3’s from some of our August services onto this blog.  Today’s services are the two morning Masses from August 19, the Thirteenth Sunday of Pentecost, which was on the Sunday during the Octave of the Dormition and Assumption of Our Lady.  Because it was during the Octave of that feast, which is called the Feast of St. Mary the Virgin in the Episcopal tradition, there were some Marian hymns and special pieces of music dedicated to the Mother of God.  At the 8:00 A.M. Mass, I sang Schubert’s Ave Maria.  At the 10:30 Mass, the Schubert Ave Maria was sung by mezzo-soprano Judy Craig.  Then, she and I sang a short duet of the old-time Protestant hymn, “How Great Thou Art.”  There will be another article written about the 10:30 Mass, so that I can focus in more detail on the music there.

     Here is the 8:00 A.M. Mass, which is not a fully sung Mass.   It has all of the organ music such as Preludes, Postludes and Offertory pieces, plus the four hymns and psalm.  But the rest of the Mass, the Ordinary, is not sung but said.  I have put the numbers below for the start of the musical parts of the Mass, and also for differentiation between what is sung and what is spoken.  I have used bold print below to denote all musical selections.

0:00-0:39  Long period of time between when the recording was turned on and the chanting of the Office began: we can hear the recording being turned on downstairs and someone walking on the floor.  

0:39 – 4:22    Benedictine Psalter in Gregorian chant:  Some beginning psalms of Lauds with the antiphons for Assumption, Psalm 67 & Psalm 118: 1-17.  Normally, the first three psalms of Lauds are 67, 51 and then 118 for Sunday.  However, I skipped Psalm 51 on this particular Sunday because Dormition/Assumption is a feast concerned with the bodily resurrection of the Mother of God.  Also, the 8:00 Mass crowd never has the opportunity to hear Psalm 118 because there is limited time for chanting the psalter before Mass. Unfortunately, though, I started the Psalter a bit too late, so I wasn’t able to finish Psalm 118.   

4:26 – 8:15   Organ Prelude: Ave Maria von Arcadelt by Franz Liszt (1811-1886)

8:17 – 11:22   Three service bells for the beginning of Mass & the Processional            Hymn:  #278, Sing We Of the Blessed Mother (Rustington)–My voice can be                      heard in the organ loft.  I’m one of those organists who sings and plays                                at the same time.  There is no choir at the 8:00 Mass.  It’s what is                                          referred to as a Low Mass.

11:23 – 13:57  Opening Acclamation, Kyrie, Gloria & Collect of the Mass: all spoken

14:19 – 14:58  Old Testament Reading:  Proverbs 9: 1-6

15:01 – 16:48  Psalm 34: 9-14, chanted by the congregation:  The Psalm Chant is based on the Basque Annunciation carol, “The Angel Gabriel From Heaven Came.”  It was composed by John L. Speller (b. 1949).  It is the psalm tone we use here in relation to all Marian feasts or Octaves within those feasts.  Here is the tone itself, with psalm pointing under it.  It doesn’t come up that often.  It will come up again in September, on the Sunday in the Octave of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, September 9 to be exact. 

9 Fear the LORD, you that | are His saints; *                                                                                              for those who | fear Him lack nothing

10 The young lions lack and | suf – fer hunger, *                                                                                      but those who seek the LORD lack| noth – ing that is good.

11 Come, children, and  | listen to me; *                                                                                                      I will teach you the  | fear of the LORD.     

12 Who among you | loves life *                                                                                                                 and desires long life to en- | joy pros – per – i – ty?   

13 Keep your tongue from  | ev – il – speaking *                                                                                       and your | lips from ly – ing words.     

14 Turn from evil and  | do good; *                                                                                                             seek | peace and pur – sue it.

Glory to the Father and | to the Son, *                                                                                                      and | to the Ho – ly Spirit.                                                                                                          As it was in the be-| ginning, is now, *                                                                                                     and | will be for – ever.  A-men.          

16:50 – 17:49   Epistle Reading: Ephesians 5: 15-20

17:53 – 21:24   Gradual Hymn: #307, Lord Enthroned in Heavenly Splendor (Bryn                                                                           Calfaria)

21:24 – 22: 32   Gospel Reading: John 6: 53-59

22:33 –  23:23   Procession of Gospel back to the ambo:  Deo Gratias from Messe pour  les paroisses by François Couperin (1668-1733)

23:25 – 39:49   Sermon by Rev. C. Jeff Kraemer

40:00 – 41:22    Nicene Creed — spoken

41: 24 – 44:26   Prayers of the People & Collect — spoken

44:27 – 46:00  Prayer of Confession & Priest’s Absolution — congregation & Fr. Kraemer

46:04 – 47:16  The Peace: the exchange of peace is passed sacramentally, first from the Priest to the altar party, then from the subdeacons to the first person in each row of the congregation, from whence it is passed on by them to other people around them.  Then, at the end of the exchange of “Peace be with you,” the priest says the Offertory Sentence.  This is the signal that the Offertory music will begin.

47:24 – 51:24  Offertory Music: Ave Maria by Franz Schubert (1797-1828), sung & played by Gabrielle Bronzich, Mezzo-Soprano & Organist-Choirmaster (me).  This was done in honour of Our Lady’s Dormition and Assumption, celebrated on August 15, and for which feast this Sunday was within the Octave.  The Ave Maria was originally composed with a German devotional text rather than the Angelic Salutation (the Hail Mary).  Now, it is most often performed in Latin as that prayer, instead of as a devotional piece with the German poem.  Technically, I’m a soprano instead of a mezzo-soprano, at least in tone.  But my range does not exceed an operatic mezzo in the upper register.  I used to be a coloratura soprano, but I lost notes in my upper range and the ability, by and large, to sing coloratura opera arias due to chronic respiratory infections when I taught school.  I taught school (elementary music and middle/upper school choir) from 1998 to 2016, and then God called me back into the field of church music full time.  I am thankful for that, because even though I learned a lot from teaching, being in church music ministry is my true calling and is best for me as a woman of faith. It was also best for my singing voice.

51:26 –  59:28        Eucharistic Prayer, Ordinary of the Mass, Pater Noster, Fraction, Agnus Dei, and Prayer of Humble Access — spoken

1:00:00 –  1:04:20   Communion Music: Organ Solo:  Benedictus, Messe pour les paroisses (‘Blessed Is He that Cometh in the Name of the Lord’ from ‘Mass for the Parishes’)            François Couperin  (1668-1733):   Here is an example of a piece that was written during the French Baroque period specifically for Mass.  This piece is connected with the Benedictus text of the Sanctus, which I have quoted in the translation of the title.  There could not be a more appropriate time, when people are receiving the Body and Blood of Christ, for them to hear an organ meditation upon the words “Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord.”  Messe pour les paroisses is an example of an Organ Mass.  For more information on what that is, please see this  article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_Organ_Mass.  Here is a biographical link on François Couperin: http://www.baroquemusic.org/biocouperin.html.

     I saw that more time was needed when people were taking Communion, so I attempted to play the piece through a second time.  There wasn’t time to get all the way through the piece the second time, so I improvised an ending.  No one can tell except for someone who knows the music.  This piece is a Cromhorne en taille piece, a term for a special type of French Baroque organ piece wherein we have a reed stop being played in the tenor voice, which has the melody.  The Schalmey stop on the Swell was too harsh for this piece, and I couldn’t have used it anyway without compromising Couperin’s instructions for soft 8″ and 4″ flutes in the accompaniment.  So, for the reed sound, I used a Chimney Flute 8, the Nasard (2 and 2/3″), and the Tierce (1 and 1/3).  For the accompaniment, I used the Bourdon 8 and Spitzflöte 4 on the Swell, coupled to the pedal.  There is no 8″ flute on the pedal.  So any flutes thereupon have to be coupled from the manuals.

1:04:24 – 1:06:54   Ablutions Hymn: #258, Virgin-Born, We Bow Before Thee (Psalm 86)

1:06:55 –  1:11:50   Post-Communion Prayer & Blessing, Announcements, Birthday/Anniversary blessings, and Dismissal from Mass (Ite missa est & Deo gratias) 

1:11:52 – 1:16:31  Closing Hymn: #460, Alleluia!  Sing to Jesus (Hyfrydol)

1:16:31 – 1: 16: 51  Prayer to the Blessed Sacrament & Benedictine Prayer for the Departed

1:16: 52 – 1:19:09 Organ Postludes, listed below:  Both pieces were so short that I played them together.  The postludes were also in honour of Our Lady’s Dormition and Assumption.    Charles Callahan is a contemporary composer from Cambridge, Massachusetts.  Here is some information on him: https://www.morningstarmusic.com/composers/c/callahan

I have not been able to find any information on William Edmondstoune Duncan except that he was a contemporary of English nationalist composer Percy Grainger, who preserved a great many English folk songs in his various suites for wind ensemble and other works.  Duncan is mentioned briefly in a biography of Grainger entitled Grainger the Modernist, a book written by Suzanne Robinson and Kay Dreyfus.  Duncan is mentioned on page 83 of the book as an editor of a volume of English songs called The Minstrelsy of England, published in 1905.


Postlude on Hail, Holy Queen Enthroned Above   Charles Callahan (b. 1951)

Ave Maria Voluntary           William Edmondstoune Duncan (1866-1920) 

 That is all the information I have for you all today!  I wish you a blessed day and a nice evening.

In Christ Our Lord and For His Glory,

Gabrielle Bronzich, M.M., Organist-Choirmaster, Holy Nativity Episcopal Church,        Plano, TX       









for those who | fear Him lack nothing.
10 The young lions lack and | suf – fer hunger, *

but those who seek the LORD lack| noth – ing that is good.
11 Come, children, and | listen to me; * I will teach you the | fear of the LORD.
12 Who among you | loves life *

and desires long life to en- | joy pros – per – i – ty?
13 Keep your tongue from | ev – il – speaking *

and your | lips from ly – ing words.
14 Turn from evil and | do good; * seek | peace and pur – sue it. Glory to the Father and | to the Son, * and | to the Ho – ly Spirit. As it was in the be-| ginning, is now, * and | will be for – ever. A-men.





The Prelude Music for the Twelfth Sunday of Pentecost, the Sunday within the Octave of Transfiguration, August 12, 2018: Benedictine Chant and the World of Johann Feldmair in Renaissance Salzburg

     Greetings in Christ to all who are reading this monograph!   I hope everyone had a spiritually profitable and holy feast of Christ’s Transfiguration this August!  August is filled with very nice feast days, in particular the Transfiguration on August 6 and the Dormition & Assumption of the Mother of God on August 15.  The feast of the Holy Transfiguration of Our Lord is always on August 6 on the Gregorian Calendar.  The Julian Calendar date of the feast is thirteen days later, on August 19, just as a point of interest. 

     The music at the Church of the Holy Nativity for Sunday, August 12, was selected not only according to the Scripture readings of the Mass, but also according to the festal Octave of Transfiguration; it was the Sunday during the Octave on the Gregorian calendar.  There was also some Marian music to prepare the congregation for the feast of St. Mary the Virgin on August 15, again, known as the Dormition and Assumption of Our Lady.  I will write more about that presently, in particular the Anglican point of view on the Assumption as explained to me by two Episcopal priests.  But right now, for exploring the music of Sunday August 12, let us begin with the music for the Prelude.  I have started making little liturgical notes in parentheses in the church bulletin when music is specifically connected to the Octave of a feast in the Benedictine diurnal.  Why?  The simple reason is that the Rule of St. Benedict saturates Anglican practice, so I endeavour to unite the music not only with the Anglican Church Year but also with the Benedictine observances.

     To facilitate the reading of this monograph, I’m only writing this article about the prelude music.  There will be other monographs, God willing, covering the remainder of the music during the August 12 Mass.  Here are the titles of the chants I sang and the organ piece I played for the Prelude.

Prelude:  For the Transfiguration (Aug. 6) & St. Mary the Virgin (Aug. 15)                                  Benedictine Psalter, Transfiguration Antiphons                           Gregorian chant

  Magnificat a 6 voci in D                                            Johann Feldmair, composed c. 1600

     For the Benedictine psalm portion prior to Mass on August 12, I selected the psalms and antiphons of Lauds from the Feast of the Transfiguration, as you can see from the listing above.  Here are the Psalm numbers for Lauds with their respective antiphons for that feast day. The numbering of the psalms will be given according to the King James Version of the Bible, instead of using Septuagint numbers which are less well known in Western Christianity.  (In Eastern Christianity, the Septuagint numbering is always used, and the numbers are always one less than the KJV numbers: for example Psalm 23 would be listed as 22).  

Psalm 93  Antiphon 1: Jesus taketh + Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, and was transfigured before them.

Psalm 100  Antiphon 2:  His face did shine + as the sun, and His raiment was white as the light, alleluia.

Psalm 63 Antiphon 3: And behold, + there appeared unto them Moses and Elias, talking with Jesus.

The Song of the Three Children, Daniel 3: 35-66   Antiphon 4: Then answered Peter, + and said unto Jesus, ‘Lord, it is good for us to be here.’

Psalms 148-150  Antiphon 5:  While he yet spake, + behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them.

     In addition to the rich theology of the Transfiguration feast, we benefit from the affirmation of the New Covenant found in the Feast of the Dormition and Assumption of Our Lady.  For anyone unfamiliar with the term “Dormition,” it means the Falling Asleep (i.e. dying) of the Virgin Mary.   The teaching concerning what happened to her at her death is part of Holy Tradition in the Church, and this teaching was accepted in the Church both in the East and West as early as 451 A.D., when the Patriarch of Jerusalem affirmed that there were no relics of the Virgin Mary because she was assumed body and soul into heaven, having been bodily resurrected by her Son Jesus after her death.  The Patriarch affirmed that the belief came from apostolic times.  Later, the belief developed in the West that she didn’t die, but was assumed into heaven in lieu of death.  Well, if people want to think of it that way, they’re welcome to do so; but the concept that she died first, before being bodily resurrected by her Son and taken to heaven, is much more in congruence with the teachings of the early Church.  From what I understand, having discussed the matter with Father Garrin Dickinson and Father Noe Mendez, the Anglican tradition is more inclined to go with the early Church’s rendition of the event.

     To return to the Prelude music, that being said, August 12 was three days before the Feast of the Dormition and Assumption.  The period of the three days prior to a major feast are known as the Forefeast.  So, I played a Marian organ piece in honour of the Forefeast of the Dormition and Assumption.  Observing the Forefeast also helped to prepare the congregation for their feast day on August 15.  On the Episcopal liturgical calendar, the feast day on August 15 is simply referred to as the Feast of St. Mary the Virgin.

    Now, concerning the organ Magnificat setting by Johann Feldmair, I can say only one thing of the composer: we know nothing of him except that he composed the piece in 1600, and that he either lived in Salzburg, Austria or visited there regularly from another local town.  We know that he participated in the church music of Salzburg because his piece is included in a book entitled “Organ and Keyboard Music at the Salzburg Court, 1500-1800.”  We also know that he’s not the same person as Johann Georg Feldmayr, a German composer who was born in 1756 and died in Hamburg in 1834.  Our Feldmair here was a Renaissance composer, obviously.  We don’t even know where he served as Organist, or if he had a regular post, but I’m guessing his church was probably the Cathedral of Salzburg and that Feldmair served under Archbishop Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau, Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg from 1587 to 1612.  Here is the Wikipedia article on Archbishop    von Raitenau: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wolf_Dietrich_von_Raitenau.  

     The Archbishop was a member of the ruling Hapsburg family.  He was an art collector and a proponent of the writings of Niccolò Machiavelli.  He considered himself to be a prince who truly demonstrated the ideals of the Renaissance, which meant that he favoured the new learning in the literary and artistic study of classical Greece and Rome, as well as new scientific ideas.  Regarding Mass, he obviously liked the polyphonic and antiphonal music typical of his time period, as is demonstrated in Feldmair’s Magnificat setting and several other Renaissance pieces in the aforementioned collection of organ music from the Royal Court of Salzburg.  We know that Feldmair’s probable patron and employer looked like this:

   Here is a picture of Feldmair’s church where he likely played the organ for the Archbishop’s Masses, either regularly or occasionally: the Salzburg Cathedral.

Salzburg Cathedral 1.jpg

     Prince-Archbishop Raitenau had the original cathedral, a Romanesque basilica, demolished during his reign due to damage of the building from a fire in 1598.  Because the Archbishop loved Italian Baroque architecture and was a patron thereof, he ordered the new building to be designed by architect Vincenzo Scamozzi (1548-1616), a native of Vicenza, Italy, who also did much of his work in Venice.  Here is a picture of Scamozzi.

Scamozzi portrait by Veronese.jpg

However, Archbishop Raitenau was not able to see the building to completion. Salzburg was invaded by Bavarian troops in 1612, and the Archbishop was placed under arrest! The Salzburg Cathedral Chapter elected a new archbishop to take his place, Prince-Archbishop Markus Sittich von Hohenems, who ruled in Salzburg from 1612 until his death in 1619.  Here is his picture.

So, the cathedral was completed under the new Prince-Archbishop’s reign.  It was also re-designed by architect Santino Solari (1576-1646), who based his design on Scalozzi’s ideas but also made some major changes.  Here is the octagonal dome Solari designed, which the composer Johann Feldmair would have regularly seen whenever he played for Mass.


     However, as we read the history of the Salzburg Cathedral, we are apprised of another fact in our speculations about Feldmair.  He would have been in a subordinate position as an organist and composer, because the Kapellmeister for the Royal Salzburg Court was Italian composer Stefano Bernardi (ca. 1577-1637).  Also, we know that Feldmair composed his organ piece Magnificat a 6 voci in 1600, which would have been when Bernardi was about twenty-three years old.  We don’t know if Feldmair was older or younger than Bernardi.  We don’t know if he was an old-timer at the cathedral, or a student of Bernardi.  Here is the Wikipedia article on Bernardi: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stefano_Bernardi.

     So, all we know of Feldmair is that he likely lived through the transition of power between the two Prince-Archbishops of Salzburg, Raitenau and Von Hohenems.  He worked with or under the Kapellmeister Stefano Bernardi, or at least he was acquainted with him.  For all we know, Feldmair may have just been an occasional visitor or performer at the Salzburg Cathedral.  We also can speculate that Feldmair survived the Bavarian invasion of Salzburg.  We don’t know when he was born, when he died, or any other details of his life.

     I therefore will show some more pictures here of sights in late Renaissance/early Baroque Salzburg that would have been familiar to Feldmair.   Here is the Residenzplatz (residential square) with the Prince-Archbishop’s palace and a fountain built during the Baroque period.

Image result for residenzplatz salzburg sound of music

Does the picture look familiar?  It should!  A scene from “The Sound of Music” was shot here, the scene during the song “Do Re Mi” when Maria and the children dance around the fountain!  

     Here is the Benedictine Abbey of St. Peter in Salzburg, another place with which Feldmair would have been familiar. 

     Here is the interior of the Abbey’s church.

     Here is the Hohensalzburg Fortress, which was extended in 1500 and completed in 1681.  I’m guessing that by the time of its completion, Feldmair would have been dead.

Hohensalzburg fortress atop the Mönchsberg in Salzburg, Austria.

     Here is the Nonnburg Abbey, another important monastery in Salzburg with which Feldmair would have been familiar.  It was also featured in “The Sound of Music.”  Do you remember the scene when Maria was leaving the Abbey, saying to herself, “When God closes a door, somehow He opens a window”? This looks like the door from which Maria left the Abbey in that scene.


     Here is another site Feldmair would have visited: St. Sebastian’s Church, where, about a century and a half later, both the father and wife of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Leopold and Constanze Mozart, were laid to rest in the cemetery there. 

Church St. Sebastian © Tourismus Salzburg GmbH

     The aforementioned cemetery is here:

Church St. Sebastian 2 © Tourismus Salzburg GmbH

    If Feldmair lived in or stayed periodically in Salzburg, he would have shopped on this street here, the Getreidegasse, which means “Grain Lane.”  This is the same street on which Mozart was born about 150 years or so later.  In Feldmair’s time, this street was probably called its older name, the Trabegasse (Trot Lane).

Salzburg. Getreidegasse (Grain Lane) is a busy shopping street in the Altstadt (Old Town) section of Salzburg. The house at Getreidegasse 9 is the place where Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born and where he lived until the age of 17. Originally called Trabegasse (derived from traben "to trot"), its name was changed several times before it became the Grain Lane.

     Most of Salzburg’s Renaissance architecture was redone during the Baroque period, thus I have not been able to find any photos of buildings from 1600 in their original form.  Here is a building from Tirol that would have been more typical of what Feldmair would see regularly.  This is the courtyard of the Schloss Tratzberg.

     One last question about Feldmair’s familiar places: what did the organ look like at the Salzburg Cathedral?  Well, several organs were installed there, starting with two organs in 1628 when the cathedral was consecrated.   There are a total of five organs!  Here are two of them.

1583 - Salzburg - Dom.JPG

     There are more photos of the other organs from a blog by Katherine Crosier, wife of Carl Crosier (1945-2014), who was the cantor at Lutheran Church of Honolulu.  If you look at her blog article, you will see a video of one of the Salzburg organs being played. http://insanity.blogs.lchwelcome.org/2018/07/03/5-organs-in-salzburg-cathedral/

     Here is a video from YouTube showing the interior of the Salzburg Cathedral:


     Here is a video showing footage of the cathedral during a choir rehearsal.  The music is not at all from the Renaissance period, but you can get a really nice idea of the amazing acoustics.


     Well, we have done a lot of speculation about Johann Feldmair’s life, and that’s about all we can do.  The only other thing we can do to capture possible vignettes of his life is examine some basic facts about daily life in urban Renaissance Austria.  Here are some of those facts.

     By Feldmair’s time, Austria was emerging as the main German-speaking state in Europe.  Austria was under threat from the Ottoman Empire at that time, and there was also conflict caused by the Reformation in Germany.   However, the Prince-Archbishops of Salzburg were among many Church leaders who strove to maintain firm Catholicism in Austria.   At the same time, there were a lot of financial ups and downs in Austria because of the turmoil caused by the Thirty Years War and the Ottoman wars later in the 17th century.  

     Musicians like Feldmair would have been considered part of the merchant class.  This meant that soups and broths would have been a major part of his diet, and because he was better off economically than a peasant, he would have enjoyed spices and sugar in his soups.  He would have been able to afford chicken, which he would eat fairly regularly. If he ate any other meat, which would not have been daily but probably biweekly or monthly, he would have had mostly beef, pork and venison.  It would have been boiled, and, if he was lucky, basted with fruit juices or rose water. If he played the organ or sang at a wedding, he would have enjoyed a variety of game birds at the wedding feast: helpings of swan, peacock, pheasant, and crane.  He also might have gotten some chicken, mutton, ham, turkey, or rabbit.  At a wedding feast, he would also have enjoyed helpings of fruit, various jellies, nuts and cheese for dessert.  On average, he probably would not have enjoyed wedding feasts but once or twice a year.  Who could get married with all that fuss between Catholics and Protestants going on?   Last but not least, he would have eaten his food with his hands, with only a knife for any sort of utensil.  Chances are that he would need to bring his own knife when eating away from home, unless he was fortunate enough to dine with Kapellmeister Bernardi.  Kappellmeister Bernardi would have eaten like an aristocrat, so there would have been plenty of meat on his table and jellies made from the fat of the meat, as well as jelly confections made from various fruits and spices.  There also would have been plenty of wine, probably the best from Italy.  When Feldmair dined on his own, in his rooms or more likely at the local tavern, he would have drunk ale.

     Growing up in the late 1500’s, he would have worn clothes similar to the male outfits pictured here.

Image result for german renaissance clothing 1600

     A king and a nobleman from 1600 are shown wearing doublets in the photo below.  A member of the merchant class might could buy one or two of these per year, and they had to be fitted by a tailor.  A doublet was never laundered, but hung in a closet to air out.  There were summer doublets and winter doublets.  They were protected from being malodorous because the gentleman would wear a shirt and underclothing beneath them.  The hose worn would have been made of wool during the winter and linen during the summer.  Hose would be hung up to air out unless stained, in which case they had to be carefully handwashed by a professional laundress.

Image result for male fashion germany 1600s

     Here is a man’s shoe from the 17th century, a photo of an original and then a reproduction.  There was no need for organ shoes, because most organs were manual only.  So, Feldmair would have no doubt had a pair of these to wear from day to day.

Image result for male shoes renaissance germany

Image result for male shoes renaissance germany reproduction

     Did Feldmair have a beard?   Maybe.  If he did, he wore it short.  Many men were actually clean-shaven during the Renaissance because big, bushy beards tended to get lice.   Did he wear a hat?  He would have worn one all the time when he was out in the street, looking something like this:

Isaac Claesz van Swanenburg, Self-Portrait, 1568.  Stedelijk Museum De Lakenhal, Leiden

     Italy was considered the center of fashion, art and culture during the late Renaissance, and even more so during the early Baroque period in Salzburg.  If Feldmair could buy clothes that looked Italian, he would be a stylish gentleman.   

     That’s about all we can surmise about Feldmair.  Life expectancy was not much higher than 35 years of age in his time.  If Feldmair had gotten ill or required surgery of any kind, he would have seen the local barber, because they were the surgeons during that time.  He would probably have lived longer by not going to see the barber.  If he was lucky, he belonged to a guild for musicians or a merchants’ guild that included musicians, and they would help arrange and pay for his funeral expenses.   Basically, as long as he avoided epidemics and war, he was okay.  Generally, Salzburg stayed fairly stable in that regard.

     As for his Magnificat setting for organ which he wrote in 1600, here is some information on that.  The Magnificat is a regular hymn sung at every Vespers service in the Benedictine tradition.  Because it is a Vespers hymn, settings of it for organ may be played at Vespers itself or during the Prelude to Mass.  However, I don’t recommend playing a Magnificat during the Mass, from a liturgical standpoint.   When choosing a setting of the Magnificat to sing or play, I think it good to consider the hymn’s place in the order of Benedictine services.  That order is as follows, from the beginning of the day before the Mass until the Mass itself, which would usually be on the following morning: e.g. the cycle of services prior to Sunday Mass would begin on Saturday.  On Sunday, Lauds, Prime and Terce for Sunday could be chanted prior to Mass, depending on the time of the Mass.


2. Lauds

3. Prime

4. Terce

5. Sext

6. Nones

7. Vespers

8.  Mass

     Feldmair’s Magnificat has no cantus firmus.  There is no discernible Gregorian chant or other hymn melody that serves as a basis for the piece. It is a through-composed piece that begins with a simple triadic chord progression in D major: D to G to D, then to B minor, and then to A major with a suspension and back to D.  Feldmair develops this idea.  Then he takes the first two chords in the opening phrase, transposes them to G major, and begins a series of antiphonal phrases back and forth.  The rest of the piece is made up of  these antiphonal chord progressions, which always start in G and end on an A major chord with a suspension, leading to a resolution on a D major chord.  After he does about three different antiphonal progressions with one fughette in the middle of the third one, he returns to his opening idea with the same chord progression as the beginning.  Then, he combines that with some more of the fughal ideas he explored earlier, bringing the piece to a close with a fanfare-like flourish.  Magnificat a 6 voci is Italian for “Magnificat in Six Voices.”   This simply illustrates that Feldmair is attempting to present his work in six-note chords and fughettes: in other words, there are often three notes played in the right hand with three also in the left hand.  The whole piece sounds like six people singing a type of antiphonal motet.  I’m sure that my readers know the meaning of antiphonal, but in case anyone doesn’t, I’m referring to music wherein melodies are echoed back and forth on two sides of the church, between two groups. . .or on an organ, between one manual (keyboard) and another.  Here is an example of choral and brass antiphonal music from the Renaissance period.  Notice how the different sections of the choir and the instrumental ensemble pass phrases back and forth to each other.


     In registering the organ for this piece (deciding which stops to use), I played it on two manuals.  On the Holy Nativity organ, we have no stops on the Positif.  So, I always couple the Swell to the Positif.  (For anyone who is unfamiliar with these terms, please note that the Great is the middle and main keyboard; the Swell is the top keyboard and has a box that opens and closes in the pipe ranks for the effect of creating dynamics; and the Positif is the bottom keyboard.  At least, that’s the way it is on the Holy Nativity organ).  For the top manual, which for me is always the Great because I can’t reach the Swell very effectively with my petite arms, I used the Chimney Flute 8 (8-foot pipe, that is) with the Blockflöte 2, creating a clarinet-like sound.  For the bottom manual, I used the Schalmey reed stop from the swell with a Bourdon 8 (another gentle flute sound) to soften it a bit.  I coupled the Chimney Flute and Blockflöte to the pedal.  I also used a Bourdon 16 on the pedal.  So, here’s what I had, basically, with the aim of creating the reedy sound of a Renaissance organ, except not quite so brash and a bit milder.  For those unfamiliar with organs, terms like “swell to pedal” mean that I’m putting the sounds of the Swell keyboard onto the pedal by pulling out the coupler.  Again, for those who don’t know, the numerals refer to the lengths of the organ pipes by feet: i.e., Bourdon 16 means a 16-foot-long pipe that sounds like a large, whoofy flute.

PEDAL:                      SWELL:                GREAT:                      POSITIF:

Bourdon 16              Schalmey 8          Chimney Flute 8      Swell to Positif

Great to Pedal          Bourdon 8            Blockflöte 2             

    At the end of the piece, for that closing fanfare, I coupled the Swell to the Great.

    There does not appear to be a single recording of this piece by anyone on YouTube.  I will have to make a recording on the organ here at Holy Nativity and post it.

    That is all the information I have on the Prelude music for August 12. I hope you have enjoyed this monograph.  Glory be to God forever!

In Christ Jesus Our Lord,

Gabrielle Bronzich, M.M., Organist & Choirmaster,

Holy Nativity Episcopal Church, Plano, TX


MP3 Recording of the Music for 10:30 A.M. Mass on Pentecost Sunday, May 20, 2018

Greetings in Christ!  I pray that blessings will come upon all who are reading this blog, in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit!

Here is the recording of the music at the 10:30 A.M. Whitsunday (Pentecost) Mass at Holy Nativity.  Overall, it was a pretty good recording, with the exception of one mistake I made when recording: I placed the mic upstairs in the choir loft too close to the soprano section of the choir, and thus on most of the hymns, we can hear one or two soprano voices above the other voices in the choir.  Next year, during the fall when the choir comes back from summer break, I will start experimenting more with mic placement.  I will either place the mic to the far left of the choir loft, or closer to the tenor and bass section; or I will have two mic’s on both sides of the loft.  I think that the latter plan is better and will result in a more balanced sound in the choir for the recordings.

Despite that mistake in the mic placement, the recording of the music overall was very nice.  It was also nice despite the fact that I was and still am recovering from my rotator cuff and elbow injury in my left arm, injuries I sustained during the Lent and Paschal seasons.

During Lent, as many people know who follow this blog, I injured my left elbow from overuse, contracting Golfer’s Elbow!  A friend of mine refers to it as Organist’s Elbow, because I certainly don’t play golf.  My elbow injury was more or less healed up by Easter, or so I thought.  Then, about four Sundays after Easter, I ended up with a strained rotator cuff in the left arm, which made the Golfer’s Elbow return.  My dexterity and control has suffered in my left hand and sometimes in my feet, because of my efforts not to strain myself while playing.  It’s amazing how all of the muscles of our bodies are connected to each other.  I never dreamt that an injury of my left arm could affect my feet, but it does. I have to watch how I have my arms positioned on the manuals while playing pedals, and I must pay close attention to the level of tension and stretching in my muscles when playing, in order to achieve optimum relaxation and positions that won’t further the injury.  In obedience to the doctor’s instructions, I have had to reduce my organ practicing to only one session a week, for no more than about an hour.  I had to go from playing pieces by Widor to playing light Baroque, Renaissance and medieval pieces for Mass.  This past Paschal season, I played quite a bit of music by German composer Carl van der Hoeven (1580-1661) and Italian priest and composer Steffano Bernardi (c. 1577-1637).  There was also quite a bit of Couperin, and some Perotin (Beata viscera Mariae) which I mostly chanted with an open fifth on the organ with period registration.

Presently, my left arm is starting to regain strength, but I’m still on anti-inflammatory pain pills and the regimen of resting the arm that the doctor gave me (one practice session per week only).  I am still not allowed to do my primary form of exercise, lap swimming.  I instead must resort to walking, high-step marching and riding the exercise bike instead.  How very vexing that I cannot swim with the arrival of the summer months!  But the doctor is afraid that if I start swimming as yet, I will tear that rotator cuff.  We certainly don’t want that!  If that happened, I would have to hire a long-term substitute.  So, I had better obey the doctor.

Nevertheless, the Pentecost music came out nicely, even though I couldn’t play Bach’s Leipzig chorale prelude, Komm, Gott Schöpfer, Heiliger Geist this year as I did the year before, and my playing lacks the dexterity and control I had on Easter Sunday–a few missed notes, a loss of footing here and there. (Blast!).  The choir sang beautifully.

Anyway! Here is the MP3, and beneath it is a list of the pieces according to loader line so that you can skip to whatever you want to hear.

0:24-6:54  Benedictine Terce for Pentecost, chanted by Gabrielle Bronzich

6:55-9:25 Organ Prelude: Nun bitten wir den Heiligen Geist, BuxWV 209–Buxtehude

9:29-13:50 Three bells at the beginning of the Mass & Opening Hymn #225, “Hail Thee, Festival Day” (composed by Ralph Vaughan Williams) in the Hymnal 1982. Jeremiah Clarke’s “Trumpet Voluntary” also is played at the end of the hymn to accommodate the choir and altar party as they finish the solemn procession.

14:40-15:32 Kyrie eleison from Healey Willan’s Missa de Sancta Maria Magdalena

15:32-17:35  Willan Gloria with Zimbelstern bells used on the organ: the bells on the organ were used throughout the Paschal season

17:35-18:27 Collect, chanted by Father C. Jeff Kraemer

20:20-23:38 Psalm 104: 25-35, 37 — psalm tone by Sir Henry Walford Davies, KCVO, OBE (1869-1941)

25:19-28:01 Gradual Hymn #504, Come Holy Ghost — Veni Creator Spiritus

28:02-29:38 Gospel chanted by Fr. John Kline

29:39-30:17 Organ interlude as the Gospel Book is carried back to the altar: excerpt from Couperin’s Dialogue: Basse de Trompette (Dialogue on the Trumpets, Bugles and Tierces of the Great Manual), from Messe pour les paroisses (Mass for the Parishes)– François Couperin (1668-1733)

30:18-43:22 Sermon — Fr. C. Jeff Kraemer

45:22-48:30 Chanted Prayers of the People and Collect: Jan Crowder & Fr. Kraemer

51:40-54:29 Offertory Anthem: Draw Us In the Spirit’s Tether — Harold W. Friedell (1905-1958)

54:36-57:10 Organ Solo: Veni Creator Spiritus — Jehan Titelouze (c. 1563-1633)

58:01-1:01:01 Sursum corda & Sanctus (Willan)

1:06:19 Agnus Dei (Willan)

10:09:03-1:12:18 Organ Solo for Communion: Medley of Medieval Pentecost Hymns Sarum Chant from the Dublin Troper, ca. 1360, and Byzantine Pentecost Troparion — improvised, Gabrielle Bronzich

1:12:20-1:14:49 Vocal Solo with organ accompaniment sung and played by Gabrielle Bronzich: Regina Caeli by Luigi Cervi  (c. 1868-1931) — This is a duet that I converted to a solo.  Later, at another Mass, it will be performed as a duet by myself and mezzo-soprano Judy Craig, with myself on the alto part and Judy on the soprano part.  But this Sunday, I did it as a solo.

1:14:52-1:17:45 Ablutions Hymn,  #516, “Come Down, O Love Divine” Down Ampney (composed by Ralph Vaughan Williams)

1:24:25-1:26:59 Ite missa est & Final Hymn, #365, “Come, Thou Almighty King” Moscow;  Organ Postlude: L’Éclatante Michel Corrette (1707-1795)


I hope that all who are following this blog enjoyed the music!  Have a blessed day!

In Christ,

Gabrielle Bronzich, M.M., Organist-Choirmaster, Holy Nativity Episcopal Church, Plano, TX









First Two Audio Recordings of the 10:30 A.M. Mass at Holy Nativity, Easter Season 2018

Post-Pentecost Greetings, everyone!  Summer is finally here, and with the end of the high liturgical seasons of the Church, I have time to get caught up a little on writing articles for this blog and finally posting some recordings!   The first two recordings of the 10:30 Mass for the Easter Season at Holy Nativity came out very well.  We are still experimenting with things such as mic placement and resolving matters of feedback, but by and large the recording process for the Sunday morning Mass is going well.

Since the first two Sundays of Easter, Easter Sunday itself on April 1 and Thomas Sunday or Low Sunday on April 8, came out so well, I thought I would share them on this blog.

I have posted the MP3 link here, and then the loader line numbers for the musical portions of the Mass.  You find those numbers by looking directly to the left, underneath the MP3 line where you play or pause the recording.  For example, if you listening to the music at 11:12, it would look like this:



Here is the MP3 for Easter Sunday, April 1, 2018, 10:30 A.M. Mass.

Here is the list of tracks by loader line number:

0:09-1:56 Easter Benedictine Psalter, chanted by Gabrielle

1:57-4:46 Organ Prelude: Surrexit Christus Hodie by Orlando di Lasso (1532-1594)

4:56-6:14 Reprise of last part of the prelude because the processional party needed a bit more time to get in place

6:16-9:25 Three service bells and Processional Hymn #207, “Jesus Christ Is Risen Today,” with Zimbelstern used on the organ and congregational bells on the “Alleluia” refrains

10:32-11:21  Kyrie (Missa de Sancta Maria Magdalena in D–Healey Willan)

11:22-13:20 Willan Gloria– intoned by Fr. Garrin; Zimbelstern (bells) used on the organ

13:23-14:15 Collect chanted by Fr. Garrin

16:09-18:11 Psalm 118: 14-17, 22-24: tone in D Major by Richard Woodward, Jr. (1744-1777)

18:53-21:44 Gradual Hymn, #184, “Christ the Lord Is Risen Again,” congregational bells on “Alleluia” refrains

21:51-23:52  Gospel chanted by Fr. John Kline

23:53-24:25   Air de Trompette 2 by Jean-Baptiste Lully (1632-1687) on organ, for processional of Gospel book back to the ambo

24:29-40:59 Sermon by Fr. Garrin: Choosing to Believe in the Resurrection

42:57-46:17 Prayers of the People–chanted by Jan Crowder, collect chanted by Fr. Garrin

49:32-51:05 Offertory Anthem #1: Surrexit Christus Hodie by Samuel Scheidt (1587-1654), soloist soprano Annie Royer

51:08-54:17 Offertory Anthem #2: This Joyful Eastertide, arr. Sir William H. Harris, KCVO

54:24-55:30 Organ Interlude: Pavane D’Angleterre by Claude Gervaise (1525-1583)

56:37-59:21 Sursum corda Sanctus–Fr. Garrin, choir, congregation; Zimbel used on organ

1:03:43-1:05:14 By Whom, with Whom & in Whom, Pater Noster–Fr. Garrin, choir, congregation

1:05:23-1:06:48 Fraction Anthem & Agnus Dei

1:07:50-1:11:59 Communion organ music: Basse de Trompette from Messe pour les paroisses–Couperin

1:12:07-1:13:02 Medici Court Dance–Anonymous, 16th century; harpsichord piece sometimes played on organ

1:13:08-1:15:17 Communion Anthem: Regina Caeli by Gregor Aichinger (1565-1628)

1:15:25-1:17:50 Ablutions Hymn, #204, Now the Green Blade Riseth

1:17:52-1:19:44  Irish flute improvisation on Now the Green Blade Riseth–Gabrielle; actually played on soprano recorder

1:19:50-1:20:16 Organ improvisation on Ablutions hymn while the altar party finishes

1:23:42-1:24:05 Ite Missa Est–chanted in English by Fr. John Kline, Paschal version (of course)

1:24:06-1:26:45 Final Hymn, #417, This Is the Feast of Victory–Zimbel used on organ and congregational bells during the “Alleluia” refrains

1:27:09-1:32:05  Organ Postlude: Toccata by Charles-Marie Widor from Symphonie Gothique

     Here is the MP3 for Thomas Sunday, the Second Sunday of Easter.  On that Sunday, the choir was on break from singing in the loft. I always give them a break for the week after Easter.  So, all of the special music (preludes, offertory and communion pieces and postlude) were played on the organ.  However, the lectern mic in the church picked up the choir singing beautiful harmony in the congregation during the psalm.

Here is the list of the music for Thomas Sunday, April 8, 2018, by loading line number:

0:35-11:10 Benedictine chant: Pater noster, Regina Caeli, Lauds Psalter: Ps. 118, 93, 100 & 63 (KJV numbering; Septuagint numbering: Psalms 117, 92, 99 and 62)

11:12-14:23 Organ Prelude: O Filii et Filiae: Rondeau, Double & Trio–Jean-François Dandrieu (1682-1738)

14:28-17:32 Three service bells, Processional Hymn #184, Christ the Lord Is Risen Again–Zimbelstern used on organ from verse 2 onward

18:23-19:13 Willan Kyrie

19:14-21:17 Willan Gloria with Zimbelstern used on organ–intoned by Fr. Kline

21:18-22:01 Collect chanted by Fr. Kline

24:28-26:15 Psalm 118: 19-24, D Major tone by Richard Woodward, Jr. (1744-1777)

27:18-30:00 Gradual Hymn, #206, O Sons and Daughters, Let Us Sing

30:03-33:17  Gospel chanted by Fr. Kline

33:17-33:58 Renaissance-style organ improvisation on O Filii et Filiae

34:00-43:53 Sermon on St. Thomas’s doubting and belief by Fr. Kline

45:38-48:46 Prayers of the People chanted by Bob Hilton with Collect chanted by Fr. Kline

52:11-57:12  Offertory organ solo: Offertoire: L’Éclatante by Michel Corrette (1707-1795)

57:30-1:00:10 Sursum corda & Sanctus with Zimbel used on organ

1:03:54-1:04:13 By Whom, with Whom & in Whom–Fr. Kline

1:04:15-1:05:17  Our Father chanted by everyone, a capella

1:05:20-1:06:55 Fraction anthem & Agnus Dei

1:08:13-1:13:30 Communion music on organ: En Taille & En Duo from O Filii et Filiae suite by J.F. Dandrieu — the mic feedback is a bit skittish in this one

1:13:35-1:16:24 Ablutions Hymn, #183, Victimae paschali laudes (in English)

1:20:04-1:22:52 Ite Missa est & Final Hymn, #180, He Is Risen, He Is Risen!

1:23:05-1:25:20  Organ Postlude: O Filii et Filiae: En Basse de Trompette, En Musette, En Grand Jeu–Jean-François Dandrieu  (1682-1738)

     I was very proud of the choir for their dedication and hard work that led to such a lovely offering to the Lord on Easter Sunday.   I hope that you enjoy these recordings.

In Christ Our Lord,

Gabrielle Bronzich, Organist/Choirmaster, Holy Nativity Episcopal Church, Plano, TX





The Music for Ascension Thursday 2018: From the Prelude to the Gradual Hymn

Ascension Coptic 2

     Christ is Ascended in Glory!  A joyous Ascensiontide to everyone as we enter the closing weeks of the Easter season! 

      This past Lent and Eastertide have been exceedingly busy, so I have not been able to write any articles for a while.  I hope now to have a little time to catch up as we head into the summer months.  This article will discuss the music for the first half of the evening Mass for Ascension Thursday of 2018.   Another article will follow with information on the music from the latter part of the Mass.

      At 7:00 P.M. on May 10, 2018, we had a lovely Ascension Thursday Mass at the Church of the Holy Nativity.  I was very pleased especially with the choir, who sang beautifully.  There was only a small number of us, and yet we had a beautiful sound that filled the church with song.  We have a small but very dedicated group, and last night we had some beautiful anthems and violin music.  In this article, I will talk about that music and the composers thereof, as well as the hymns we sang.   We will begin with the Prelude Music.

     This year, I have been recovering from some muscular overuse injuries in my left arm.   Over Lent, I had Golfer’s Elbow in my left arm, which resulted not from golf (which I don’t play!), but from overpracticing on the organ!  This past week, I developed a strained rotator cuff in that same arm.  So, the result was that I had to lighten my organ playing for Ascension Thursday.  Instead of playing the Max Reger chorale prelude “On Christ’s Ascension I Now Build” on the organ, I played only the pedal line, the chorale melody in the tenor, and the middle voices of the treble part.  The upper treble part was played by a lady in the choir who is a violinist, Mrs. Valerie Pankratz.  The prelude was therefore an organ and violin duet instead of merely an organ solo.  Before the organ and violin duet, I chanted a psalm and hymn from Benedictine Vespers for Ascension.

Excerpts from Benedictine Vespers for Ascension Gregorian chant                                              
On Christ’s Ascension I Now Build, Op. 67 Max Reger (1873-1916)
                  Violinist, Valerie Pankratz; Organist, Gabrielle Bronzich

     The Benedictine Monastic Diurnal I use is the one published by Lancelot Andrewes Press, originally published by the Oxford University Press in 1932 and 1963.  Last night, for one of the preludes before Ascension Mass, I chanted the first psalm of Vespers, Psalm 110 (or 109 in Septuagint numbering), with the first antiphon for Ascension Vespers.  Here is the text of that antiphon.

ANTIPHON I, ASCENSION:  Ye men of Galilee, (+) why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come, Alleluia.

     The melody I used is from the Latin Gregorian chant Introit for Ascension, “Viri Galilaei.”   Here is a YouTube link to that chant, which can be found in the Liber Usualis, 1961 edition.  I used the first portion of that melody as a psalm tone.  I could have used regular Benedictine psalm tones, but I wanted something more festal for Ascension.


The other excerpt I chanted from Ascension Vespers was the hymn, Jesu nostra redemptio.  I didn’t have the standard melody of that handy, so I used a different one that I have heard used in Benedictine Office before.  Here is the melody that is more standard, and a YouTube link of the Benedictine Monks of Notre Dame de Triors singing the chant.

     The melody I actually used for that hymn was the Mode 8 Worcester Manuscript version from the 13th century.  This Worcester melody can be found in the Hymnal 1982, #38, “Jesus, Redeemer of the World.”  Unfortunately, I can’t find a performed version of that melody on YouTube.  The funny thing about that melody is that I originally learned it not from the Hymnal 1982, but from hearing it on an episode of “Brother Cadfael” on the PBS Mystery series!  The Benedictine brothers in the show were singing it for Vespers.  Isn’t that a hoot?  But it is nonetheless a valid melody to use for this hymn, and it’s the only one I know, so I sang it before Ascension Mass as part of the Prelude.

     The other part of the Prelude music, the organ choral prelude by Max Reger, “On Christ’s Ascension I Now Build,” was converted to an organ and violin duet, as I stated before.  This was because of the rotator cuff and elbow injury in my left arm.  The piece turned out okay as an adaptation for organ and strings, and Mrs. Pankratz played it beautifully, but I think that if I decide next year to do an organ and violin piece, we will opt for a Handel piece that is actually for violin and continuo or organ.  (What a concept!).  I think that next year, the Reger piece is going to be retired for a while.  Granted, I hope that I won’t have a rotator cuff injury next year.  But that Reger chorale prelude is a rather demanding piece to get off the shelf and practice once a year, and it’s almost impossible if one becomes ill or injured.

     Here is a biographical article about late Romantic German composer Max Reger: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Lib/Reger-Max.htm.  He was an organist, concert pianist, conductor and music professor. Originally from Brand, Bavaria, he lived from 1873 to 1916. He was the Director of Music at the Leipzig University Church, a professor at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Leipzig, and Music Director at the royal court of Duke Georg II of Saxe-Meiningen. His compositions, although late German Romantic in harmony, tend to be very traditional in form. During his lifetime, he enjoyed writing fugues, chorale preludes, and polyphonic music. He could be described as almost neo-Baroque and sometimes neo-Classical, with the exception of the fact that his harmonic modulations were innovative in accordance with the time period in which he lived (the time of Wagner). He considered himself to be a successor to Brahms.  That idea is not at all implausible, in my opinion.

     The facts I find most interesting about him are as follows: (1) His full name was Johann Baptist Joseph Maximilian Reger.  I wonder which of those saints he chose to honour on a name day.  I wonder if he had three name days, one for each!  (2) He had an interesting employer in Duke Georg II of Saxe-Meiningen, whose biographical information can be found here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georg_II,_Duke_of_Saxe-Meiningen.  (3) Because his wife Elsa was divorced and a Protestant, he got excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church when he married her in December of 1902.  (4) His wife was the main person who kept his memory alive, by founding the Max Reger Archive, the Max Reger Institute, and publishing an autobiography about her life with him.  Here is her biographical information: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elsa_Reger.  (5) He was the subject of two documentary films: Max Reger — Music as a perpetual state by Miramonte Films in 2002, and Max Reger: The Last Giant by Fugue State Films in 2016.  The latter film can be found on DVD.

     Here is a video from last year of me practicing Reger’s chorale prelude, “On Christ’s Ascension I Now Build.”  This will give you an idea of what the piece sounds like, even though the performance is during a practice session and is not optimal.  Because I was practicing, I played the piece through about four times.

     The lyrics to the Lutheran chorale “On Christ’s Ascension I Now Build,” which in German is called Auf Christi Himmelfahrt allein, were written by Joshua Wegelin (also spelled Wegelein), Doctor of Divinity and Superintendent of the Evangelical college in Augsburg. Wegelin lived from 1604 to 1640. Biographical information can be found on him here: http://hymnary.org/person/Wegelin_J.
     The tune usually associated with Wegelin’s lyrics is called Nun Freut Euch, a hymn by Martin Luther, and it was published in the first Lutheran hymnal. This first Lutheran hymnal was published in the year 1524, in Wittenberg (a town in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany); the hymnal was entitled Etlich christlich Lieder. However! This version of Nun Freut Euch is NOT the tune upon which Reger based his composition. Reger based his chorale prelude on a later version of the tune written by Martin Luther in 1535. This later tune is also known as Es ist gewisslich an der Zeit, and it was published in a book entitled Geistliche Lieder, in 1535, the same year that Luther wrote it.
     We now turn to the Processional Hymn for Ascension Thursday Mass.
Processional: #214, Hail the Day That Sees Him Rise Llanfair
     The words to this hymn were written by Charles Wesley (1707-1788) in 1739. Charles Wesley’s biographical information can be found here: http://hymnary.org/text/hail_the_da…
     The particular text used in the Hymnal 1982 is actually not Wesley’s original text. The text in the Hymnal 1982 is a version that was altered by Anglican clergyman Thomas Cotterill (1779-1820). I actually appreciate the altered version because it’s more in keeping with the teachings of the Church fathers. To compare the various texts, see the Hymnary website here: http://hymnary.org/text/hail_the_da…
     When I choose hymns, I try to find hymns with lyrics that resound with the teachings of Holy Scripture, the early Church fathers and the Seven Ecumenical Councils. I also look for beauty in the melody, and for a tune that can be sung comfortably by the congregation. The tune of this hymn, Llanfair, can be identified as Welsh by its very spelling. Llanfair dates back to an 1817 manuscript, and is attributed to Robert Williams (1781-1821), a singer and hymn composer who was actually blind! Williams, despite his disability, could write out a hymn tune after hearing it for the first time. I’m not sure how he managed that, unless he used note names and wrote them down by feeling. He certainly could not have seen a musical staff, for Louis Braille would not invent his system of musical notation for the blind until 1829, eight years after Williams’ death. Anyway, Williams was a singer, composer, and basket weaver. He lived on the isle of Anglesey.
     We now turn to the Psalm and chant tone for Ascension Thursday.  Below is the Psalm number, done according to the King James Version system of numbering (as opposed to the Septuagint numbering which is also used in St. Jerome’s Vulgate Bible).   I also have listed the number of the Psalm tone and the composer, and have put the psalm setting there below the chant so that my readers may sing the setting for themselves if they wish.  Bold text denotes a word sung on two notes, and underlined text denotes more than one syllable sung on one note.  A dash divides the syllables into separate notes; for example, the word “Zi – on” is sung on two different notes for each syllable.  The odd-numbered verses are sung on the first two phrases of the chant, and the even-numbered ones on the last two phrases.  I think that the bar lines are self-explanatory.  The last verse is sung to the last two phrases of the psalm chant, hence the asterisk at the beginning of the verse.
Psalm: Psalm 110, Chant 7 by William Knyvett (1779-1856) after George Frederic Handel.

1. The LORD said to my Lord, “Sit at | my right hand,*                                                                          until I make Your | e- ne- mies Your footstool.”

2.  The LORD will send the sceptre of Your power | out of Zi- on,*                                                       saying, “Rule over Your enemies | round a- bout You.

3. Princely state has been Yours from the day of Your birth;                                                                 in the beauty of holiness have | I be- gotten You, *                                                                             like dew from the | womb of the morning.”

4. The LORD has sworn and He will | not re- cant: *                                                                              “You are a priest forever after the order | of Mel- chi- ze- dek.”

5. * The LORD Who is at your right hand                                                                                                     will smite kings in the day | of His wrath;

       He will | rule over the nations.

Glory to the Father and | to the Son, *                                                                                                     and | to the Ho- ly Spirit.

As it was in the be- | ginning, is now,                                                                                                      and | will be for- ever, A- men.

     The text for the psalm comes from the Psalter in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer. The psalm tone, written by 19th-century British composer and singer William Knyvett, was adapted from a tone by George Frederic Handel (1685-1759). Here is some biographical information on William Knyvett: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Willi…
     I always check to see if composers from England have been knighted, because I think it’s proper for such accomplishments and titles to be acknowledged, especially if the composer was actually knighted for his service to his church. William Knyvett, of English 19th-century remembrance, was not a knight. There is, however, a Sir William Knyvett, an English knight who lived from from circa 1440 to 1515. He is not an ancestor of Knyvett the musician, as far as we can tell. Oh, well, ships that pass in the. . .knight. (Yes, that was a bad one!).
     We now will discuss the Gradual Hymn.
Gradual Hymn: #218, A Hymn of Glory Let Us Sing   Deo gracias
     This is a wonderful medieval hymn with a fetching organ fanfare at the beginning, in the accompaniment of the Hymnal 1982. The words to the hymn were written by Venerable Bede. Biographical information on him can be found here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/histor…
     Venerable Bede’s text was translated by Elizabeth Rundle Charles in 1858. Her information can be found on the Hymnary website here: http://hymnary.org/person/Charles_E…
     The glorious tune of this hymn, Deo Gracias or Agincourt, is an English ballad melody from the 15th century. The manuscript of this ballad can be found in the Wren Library at Trinity College, Cambridge. The manuscript is called the Trinity Carol Roll. Here is the Wikipedia article on that: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trini…
     The version of the tune found in the Hymnal 1982 was arranged by E. Power Biggs (1906-1977), and harmonised by Richard Proulx (1937-2010). The pedal part is a bear to play, but it can be done. I left out some eighth notes.
Fanfare for the Procession of the Gospel:
After the Gospel was chanted, I played a fanfare on the organ as the priest and the servers processed back to the altar with the Gospel book. That fanfare was Air de Trompette 2 by Jean-Baptiste Lully (1632-1687), a trumpet and drum piece that I adapted for the organ. It is a Baroque fanfare that I have been using for much of the Paschal season, and it seemed appropriate for the reading concerning Christ’s Ascension. It also was in C Major, which was a nice contrast to the key of the Gradual Hymn, which was in a C minor mode (not the key, the mode, because it’s a medieval melody and not subject to the rules of a key signature. In fact, Deo Gracias in the Hymnal 1982 is in the Dorian mode, in C).
     This concludes the music for the first part of the Mass.  The Offertory music, Anaphora (Ordinary of the Mass during the Eucharistic Prayer), Communion music and final hymn will be discussed in the next article in this series.
      A glorious conclusion of the Paschal season to all!  
In Christ Our Risen and Ascended Lord,
Gabrielle Bronzich, Organist/Choirmaster, Holy Nativity Episcopal Church, Plano, TX

The Music for the Feast of the Epiphany, Celebrated at Holy Nativity Church on Sunday, January 7, 2018: Part I, the Prelude, Processional Hymn, Psalm Chant, and Gradual Hymn

      Greetings in Christ Our Incarnate Lord!   On Sunday, January 7, 2018, the feast of the Epiphany was observed at Holy Nativity.  It was observed on Sunday, January 7, instead of on the date it fell, January 6, so that more people would be at church to enjoy and celebrate it.  So, I had the joy of providing organ music and hymns for the end of the Christmas season on the Gregorian calendar, on Sunday the 7th.  That same day was also Christmas Day for me, as an Eastern Orthodox Christian, on the Julian calendar.  It was special to me that I was able to sing and play Christmas carols at Holy Nativity on that particular day.

     Usually, I divide the music articles on this blog into two parts, one covering the hymns and psalm setting only, and the other covering the organ and choir music.  However, for Epiphany Sunday on January 7, the choir was on a well-deserved break from singing, having sung such beautiful music on Christmas Eve for the midnight Mass.  So, the music for Epiphany this year was all hymns with just a bit of organ music here and there.  This article will still be in two parts, as previous ones, but divided up differently than in previous articles.  Part I here focuses on the prelude, the opening hymn, the psalm chant, and the gradual hymn.  Part II will focus on the Offertory, Ablutions, and Final hymns as well as the organ music for Communion and the Postlude.  Right now, we will begin with the music for the Prelude. 

     There were two pieces of music for the prelude, as usual: some chanting from the Benedictine service of Lauds for the Holy Epiphany, and an organ piece.  Here are the titles:

Preludes: Benedictine Psalter for the Epiphany    Gregorian chant
À la venue de Noël (At the Coming of Christmas) Claude-Bénigne Balbastre (1724-1799)

     Everyone is, I think, accustomed by now to the traditional chanting of the Benedictine services, either Lauds or Terce, before each of the morning Masses.  I use a very free style of Gregorian chant, sometimes standard Gregorian psalm tones and other times psalm tones based on Gregorian hymn melodies.  The purpose of chanting the Psalter from the morning services prior to Mass is threefold: (1) to give congregation members entering the church a sacred, contemplative atmosphere which hopefully encourages individual prayer and devotions before Mass; (2) very simply, to observe some of the Benedictine Office for the benefit of others in the congregation who observe it, not to mention keeping the Rule of St. Benedict for myself;  (3) to help the congregation, through the theology contained in the Psalter and hymns from the Benedictine diurnal, in their preparation for Communion.

     For the Feast of the Epiphany, there are some quite lovely antiphons for Lauds.  I will share them here, along with a reference to the psalms with which each of them are connected.  Some Benedictine diurnals use the Greek system of numbering for the psalms.  For this article, I am using the King James Version psalter numbering which is used in the Book of Common Prayer, for the sake of clarity.  This is the same numbering which is used in most Bibles in the Western tradition. I will also give the Latin title associated with each psalm.

     First of all, the antiphon “Alleluia, Alleluia” is always used for the first three psalms of Lauds on a Sunday, which are Psalms 67 (Deus misereatur), 51 (Miserere mei, Deus) and 118 (Confitemini Domino).  The next group of psalms and their antiphons for Epiphany are as follows.  I used the Epiphany antiphons instead of the regular Sunday antiphons.

Psalm 93 (Dominus regnavit): Before the morning star begotten, + and Lord from everlasting, our Saviour is made manifest unto the world today.

Psalm 100 (Jubilate Deo): Thy light is come, + O Jerusalem, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee: and the Gentiles shall come to thy light, alleluia.

Psalm 63 (Deus, Deus meus): When they had opened their treasures, + the wise men presented unto the Lord gold, frankincense, and myrrh, alleluia.

The Song of the Three Children, Daniel 3:35-66 (Benedicite, omnia opera): O ye seas and floods, + bless ye the Lord: O ye wells, sing a hymn unto the Lord, alleluia.

Psalm 148 (Laudate Dominum), Psalm 149 (Cantate Domino), and Psalm 150 (Laudate Dominum in sanctis ejus):  Like a flame of fire, + that star glittereth yonder, revealing God, the King of kings: the wise men, when they beheld it, offered presents unto the mighty Ruler.

     These beautiful antiphons were chanted also on January 13, for the Octave of the Epiphany.  I actually chanted them one last time on Sunday, January 14, since January 13 fell on a Saturday and there were no church services at Holy Nativity for that day.  For online access to Benedictine services, I highly recommend this website, which has all of the psalms and other texts of each service in Latin on the left side of the page, and English on the right:  http://divinumofficium.com/cgi-bin/horas/officium.pl.  Another really great thing about this website is that there are options for which historical period one may want for usage of Benedictine services.  You can click on a link that allows you to have versions of the Benedictine services for all of the following historical periods/liturgical variations: Pre-Tridentine monastic (6th century to 1570), Tridentine 1570, Tridentine 1910, Divino Afflatu (1911), Reduced 1955, Rubrics 1960, and 1960 Newcalendar.   I personally like Pre-Tridentine monastic and Rubrics 1960 the best, in terms of liturgical format that is most true to the early Church.

     Let us now turn our attention to the organ prelude, an example of one of the 18th-century French Noëls for organ that were composed by several well-known French Baroque composers such as Louis-Nicolas Clérambault (1676–1749), Jean-François Dandrieu (c. 1682–1738), François d’Agincourt (1684–1758), Louis-Claude Daquin (1694–1772) and several others.  What is a French Noël?  Very simply, it’s a French Christmas carol, and in this context, a carol that has been arranged in a special way for organ.  First, the carol is played through, usually in a plein jeu registration (i.e., specified group of organ stops often indicated by the composer in the music).  The plein jeu consists of principal and reed stops, and tends to be quite loud and full.   After the Christmas carol is played in the plein jeu registration, it is presented by the composer in a series of variations that are played on solo organ stops and often presented as common Baroque dances such as the gigue.  The gigue, of which there is always at least one in most French Noëls for organ, is a very lively Baroque dance which features triple metres such as 3/8, 6/8 and sometimes 9/8, with lots of triplets and triple dotted rhythms.  Here is a performance on YouTube of a gigue, by two dancers in Baroque costume:


     The particular French Noël that I played for Epiphany Sunday was set to variations for the organ by Claude-Bénigne Balbastre (1724-1799).  We will talk a little bit about his life in a moment.  First, I want to discuss the actual Noël, or Christmas carol, that he used for this setting.  In French, it’s called À la venue de Noël, which I translated literally for the church bulletin, “At the Coming of Christmas.”  Another name for this carol is “Aici l’estela de Nadal” or “Nadal des Ausèls” (literally, “Christmas Carol of the Birds”).  It’s from the Occitan region of France, known as Provence.  The Occitan language actually is spoken not only in southern France, but also in the Occitan Valleys of Italy, Monaco, and the Val d’Aran of Spain where it is referred to as the Aranese language.  

     Nadal des Ausèls, also called Noël des Ausels, is listed by choral arranger Walter Ehret in his book, The International Book of Carols (published 1963 & 1980), as a carol from Bas-Quercy in southwestern France, near the Spanish border.  This is the first verse, in Occitan.   Next to each Occitan phrase I have placed the corresponding phrases of an anonymous, very inaccurate, but well-known English translation.  Here is Verse 1:

Aici l’estelo de Nadal                             Whence comes this rush of wings afar,

Qu’es aquel brut sur nostre oustal?   Following straight the Noël star?

Es une troupe d’auselons                     Birds from the woods in wondrous flight

A Bethléem ban dous à dons.              Bethlehem seek this holy night.

      Here is an old choral arrangement of this carol, in English.  We’ll probably sing this for next year’s Christmas Eve service.  You’ll find the musical arrangement I’m referring to at the bottom of this webpage: https://hymnary.org/tune/basquercy_17122.  Here is a copy of the music.

Christmas Carols and Hymns: for school and choir page 5


     Here is a performance of the English version of the carol, “Whence Comes This Rush of Wings Afar,” by the Vancouver Chamber Choir:


     Now there is but one question to puzzle over: How did this Occitan carol, Noël des Ausels, become known in Baroque urban France as “À la venue de Noël”?  Well, I have a theory about that.  King Louis XIV of France, the Sun King, started a program of standardising all of the French dialects into the dialect of French he spoke, which is called Île-de-France, after the Parisian area of France for which it’s named.  Along with that dialect standardisation came a lot of appropriation of folk songs from various areas of France.  My theory is that he had an Île-de-France version of the text written, and then this carol was popularised in his court.  Here is a French Baroque-style performance of the carol, as Louis XIV would have most preferred it: 


     The organ setting of this carol, by Claude-Bénigne Balbastre (1724-1799), was not from the period of Louis XIV’s reign at all, of course, but rather from the period of the reign of Louis XVI.  Louis XVI was the last French king, who was infamously executed by guillotine during the French Revolution.  À la venue de Noël was written in a Baroque style despite being from a later period, and it was one of several wonderful organ Noëls that Balbastre wrote.  The biography of Claude-Bénigne Balbastre can be found here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claude_Balbastre.  Here are the facts I found most interesting about him:  (1) The second part of his first name, Bénigne, was the name of his father.  (2) He came originally from Dijon, France.  That’s in the area of Burgundy.  Here’s the Wikipedia article on the town of Dijon: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dijon.  Dijon is famous for its mustard, the original recipe of which was created in 1856! (3) Claude Balbastre studied with Claude Rameau, the younger brother of famous Baroque French composer and musician Jean-Philippe Rameau.  The Rameau family was also from Dijon.  (4) Balbastre moved to Paris in 1750, where he became the organist at St. Roch.  St. Roch is pictured here.

P1190023 Paris Ier église Saint-Roch rwk.jpg

     St. Roch was the church where the infamous Marquis de Sade (from whom we get the word “sadism”) was married in 1763!  Guess who would have played the organ for his wedding?  Claude Balbastre!  Balbastre himself got married that same year.

      Balbastre eventually lost his job during the French revolution.  He survived the Reign of Terror by playing revolutionary songs on the organ.  He died in 1799, in Paris.  Here is a picture of him.  He looks rather sweet here, playing his Baroque-era guitar.  All I can say is that he was pretty smart to survive the Revolution, when his life would have been endangered by his aristocratic and Church associations.  He must have known how to schmooze.

Claude Balbastre. Miniature on ivory. Musée de Dijon.


     We now will focus on the Processional Hymn for Epiphany Sunday.  That hymn was “We Thee Kings of Orient Are.”  Here is the title as listed in the church program:

Processional:  #128, We Three Kings of Orient Are Three Kings of Orient

“We Three Kings” is also known as “The Quest of the Magi.”  It was written in 1857 by John Henry Hopkins, Jr.  He wrote it for a Christmas pageant in New York City, although he himself served as the rector of Christ Episcopal Church in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

 John Henry Hopkins, Jr. (1820-1891) was a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  The son of an Episcopal bishop (John Henry Hopkins, Sr., Bishop of the Diocese of Vermont, 1792-1868), he got his Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Vermont in 1839, and his Master’s Degree from that same university in 1845.  He started out as a journalist, but went into the Episcopal Church as a deacon, getting his degree from the General Theological Seminary of the Episcopal Church (in Chelsea, Manhattan, New York) in 1850.

The Christmas pageant for which he wrote “We Three Kings” was apparently just a family Christmas pageant for his nieces and nephews, not a pageant held at a major church in New York.  Aside from composing the famous Christmas carol so beloved in America today and so commonly associated with the Feast of the Epiphany, his other claim to fame was that he delivered the eulogy at the funeral for U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant in 1885.  His nephew, John Henry Hopkins III, wrote the popular children’s hymn in the Episcopal hymnal, “I Sing a Song of the Saints of God.”

John Henry Hopkins, Jr. played a major role in the development of hymnody in the Episcopal Church.  Here is the biographical entry about him from the Hymnary website, with a list of some of his other hymns: https://hymnary.org/person/Hopkins_JohnHJr.

     Below is a wonderful performance of “We Three Kings” by the Robert Shaw Chorale.

     We now turn to the psalm chant, written by William Knyvett (1779-1856).  William Knyvett of the late 18th and mid-19th century is not to be confused with Sir William Knyvett, the fourteenth- and early fifteenth-century knight.  Before I give some details on William Knyvett the non-knight, however, I will put a copy of the psalm setting here.  Underlined text indicates syllables sung on one note.  Bold text indicates one syllable sung on two notes.  Each dash represents a syllabic division, and on each of those syllables is sung one note.  The reciting notes are separated from the moving notes of the phrase by a measure line like so: |  .  I hope this is clear.

Music Time standard notation

Psalm 72: 1-2, 10-17        Deus, judicium

1 Give the King Your | justice, O God, *

          and Your righteousness | to the King’s Son;

2 That he may rule Your | peo-ple righteous-ly *

          and the | poor with justice.

10 The kings of Tarshish and of the isles | shall pay tribute, *

          and the kings of Arabia and | Sa-ba of-fer gifts.

11 All kings shall bow | down be-fore Him, *

          and all the | nat-ions do him service.

12 For he shall deliver the poor who cries out | in dis-tress, *

          and the op- | pressed who has no helper.

13 He shall have pity on the | lowly and poor; *

          he shall preserve the | lives of the needy.

14 He shall redeem their lives from op- | pression and violence, *

          and dear shall their | blood be in His sight.

15 Long may He live!  And may there be given to Him

          gold  | from A – ra – bia; *

     may prayer be made for Him always, and

          may they | bless Him all the day long.

16 May there be abundance of grain on the earth,

          growing thick even  | on the hilltops; *

     may its fruit flourish like Lebanon, and its

          grain like |  grass up – on the earth.

17 May His Name remain forever and be established

          as long as the | sun en – dures; *

     may all the nations bless themselves

          in |  Him and call Him blessèd.                  

Glory to the Father and | to the Son; *

          and | to the Ho-ly Spirit:

As it was in the be- | ginning, is now, *

          and | will be for-ever. A-men.


     William Knyvett was known mainly as a singer and composer of the early to mid-nineteenth century.    He had his start as a singer when he was just a child.  He was born on April 21, 1779, in London.  His father, Charles Knyvett (1752-1822), was a musician.  William was his third son.  William received his early musical training from his father.  He also studied with glee choral composer Samuel Webbe, who, interestingly enough, was a Roman Catholic in England during the time when that faith had become rather uncommon.   William Knyvett’s other teacher was Giovanni Battista Cimador, an Italian whose original surname was Cimadoro, but was Anglicised to Cimador by the musician himself when he moved to England in 1791.  Giovanni Battista Cimador is most famous now for his double bass concerto, because there are not many concerti written for that instrument.  Cimador was originally from Venice.  When he moved to London, he worked as a singing teacher, composer and pianist.  We can surmise that young William Knyvett, who would have only been twelve years old when Cimador first arrived in London, studied voice and composition with the Venetian immigrant.

     As mentioned before, Knyvett got his start as a principal alto in a London treble chorus.  He is first listed as being in the treble choir for the Concerts of Antient Music (spelling from that time period!), also known as the King’s Concerts, in 1795.  By this time, he would have been sixteen.  So, by age sixteen, he had changed from soprano to alto.  In 1797, at the young age of eighteen, he was already appointed as one of the gentlemen of the Chapel Royal!  Even though he was actually a deep bass in his natural vocal range, he had a well-developed falsetto and often took counter-tenor parts in the choir and on solos.  He became a concert singer in London and a conductor at various music festivals, such as the Birmingham Triennial Music Festival, for the next forty years or so.  The Birmingham Triennial Music Festival, which had become an annual music festival by 1784, raised funds for the Birmingham General Hospital.  The festival was held annually until 1912.  The start of WWI saw the demise of the festival.  Anyway, Knyvett was the conductor at that festival several times during his life.

     In addition to all of his work as a singer and conductor, he also wrote some popular songs and quite a few choral works.  He wrote a choral work for the coronation of Queen Victoria called “This Is the Day that the Lord Has Made.”  Unfortunately, that work was not published.  

     Although he gained the gracious patronage of the Prince of Wales, William Knyvett was not skilled in business matters.  He speculated badly, and ended up as a poor man.  His  obituary from the Gentleman’s Magazine, Volume 202, states the following: “November 17, 1856.  At his residence, Clarges-House, Ryde, in the Isle of Wight, in his 78th year, William Knyvett, Esq., Composer to, and Gentleman of, Her Majesty’s Chapels-Royal, and one of the Lay-Clerks of Westminster Abbey.”   A footnote in the obituary states this about his father: “Mr. Knyvett, senior, was one of the Gentlemen of the Chapels-Royal to George III, and became also Organist of the same in 1802.  He had three sons, Charles, Henry and William, all of whom left large and well-stationed families.”

     You can find the Gentleman’s Magazine, Volume 202, in Google Books.  There are many other interesting facts we can find out about William Knyvett by reading his obituary:  (1) He was married twice.  The name of his first wife is not listed, but it is noted that he had “a large family” with her.   (2) His two eldest sons became Lieutenant-Colonels in the East Indian Army.  (3) His second wife, Deborah Travis, was a famous musical performer of Handel’s works.  She bore him no children.  They married in 1826.  (4) He had a friendly personality and a good sense of humour, described thus in his obituary: “In private life, Mr. W. Knyvett gained the esteem of all who were acquainted with him, and these were not inconsiderable in number or station.  His conversation was marked by a playful humour, sometimes approaching to wit, and never tinged by spleen, that rendered him an agreeable companion in whatever society he mixed.”

     So, basically, what we have learned about William Knyvett is that he may not have been gifted with business speculation, but he certainly was a nice fellow who got along with everyone and could make people laugh.  Well, he could not very well have been a Gentleman of the Chapel Royal if he had been possessed of a sour disposition and irksome personality!  Musicians who wanted to be successful in late 18th- and early 19th-century London had to be charming as well as talented.  That’s actually still true of musicians today, in London or elsewhere.  Talent is important, but talent must blend with social skills if one wants to amount to anything.  That really hasn’t changed in 300 years.

     We now move on to the last piece of music to be discussed in this first part of the Epiphany article series: the Gradual Hymn, “What Child Is This?”  Here is the title as listed in the church program.

Gradual: #115, What Child Is This  Greensleeves

There are a couple of urban legends about the origin of the melody known as Greensleeves.  A rather absurd, fanciful book about Druids, which I won’t even bother citing here, claims that Greensleeves was the original Briton hymn sung by the Druids for the summer solstice!  Well, everyone who knows anything about Druids knows that they left no written tradition.  There’s no written or archaeological evidence that such a claim could even stand as a plausible sniff, let alone a historical fact.  

      The more popular urban legend is that King Henry VIII of England, Bluff King Hal, was the composer of the song.  This story was spread by his daughter, Queen Elizabeth I, as far as we know.  It is natural that she would want her renowned father credited with that song.  It’s also true that he was a good composer in his own right.  However, he did not write Greensleeves; it postdates his death!  The earliest published version of the song was 1580, and King Henry VIII died in 1547.  

The harmonic structure of the song is a progression of chords known as a romanesca, a popular harmonic formula that dates to the mid-sixteenth century, at the earliest.  It was most popular with Italian composers of the Renaissance, but it also was found very prominently in the songs of Spanish composers from that period.  (There’s another big ‘poo-poo,’ as Madeline of the Ludwig Bemelmans books would put it, on the whole idea of a Druidic origin of the song!).  Here’s a musical example showing the chord progression of a romanesca.

In September of 1580, the first ballad version of Greensleeves was published at the London Stationer’s Company by one Richard Jones, who referred to the tune as a “northern dittye.”  More versions of it were published by the year 1581.  It was also found in several late sixteenth-century lute books.  The bottom line here is that we don’t know who actually wrote the original Greensleeves melody.  Here is a thorough article on the mythology and history surrounding the tune: https://earlymusicmuse.com/greensleeves1of3mythology/. 

As early as 1686, there were Christmas and New Year’s texts that had been adapted to the tune.  The most famous lyrics, however, are those of the Christmas and Epiphany carol we know today.  Those lyrics were written in the 19th century by William Chatterton Dix (1837-1898).  His biography can be found here, on the Hymnary website: https://hymnary.org/person/Dix_WC.

Dix wrote the lyrics, “What Child Is This,” in response to his recovery from an almost fatal illness that he had contracted while working as an insurance company manager.  He managed a maritime insurance company in Glasgow, Scotland.  He was struck by the illness at the age of 29.  We have no record of what illness it was in his biographical information, but we know that he turned 29 in the year 1866.  If we trace the history of illness and epidemics in Glasgow from that period, we find that Glasgow was one of the most unsanitary cities in nineteenth-century Scotland with horrible housing conditions.  There was an epidemic of cholera in the late 1840’s during the Christmas season.  There were other epidemics throughout the nineteenth century of fevers and rheumatic diseases, specifically Measles, scarlet fever and diphtheria.  There were also a large number of children with rickets, and they easily contracted the aforementioned diseases.  Tuberculosis was naturally rampant in 19th-century Glasgow as well, and there were problems with pollution of milk in the city which led to a number of sanitary laws being passed about the sale of milk and standards to be observed on the condition of milk products delivered in the city.  My guess is that Dix caught one of the many fevers that spread through Glasgow during the 1860’s, or he might have drunk a cup of milk that was polluted with disease bacteria.  He was severely depressed by his illness, which he had for a long period.  His response to that illness was to become a writer of many hymn texts, of which are included famous hymns such as “As With Gladness Men of Old” and “What Child Is This?.”  The Wikipedia article on “What Child Is This?” states that Dix’s poem, The Manger Throne, from which the lyrics of “What Child Is This” were taken, was written in 1865.  However, that date does not match up with the claim that Dix had his severe illness at age 29.  Again, that would have been in 1866.  He had a spiritual renewal after his recovery from illness.  That renewal put him on the path of expressing his own Epiphany through the hymn texts he wrote.  Below is a picture of William Chatterton Dix, and a picture of his grave.  He was only sixty-one years old when he died, though the cause of his death is not listed.   By the time he died, he was no longer living in Scotland, but in Cheddar in Somerset, England.  He was buried in the churchyard of his parish church, St. Andrew’s.  I also have posted a picture of that here as well.

William Chatterton Dix.jpg

William Chatterton Dix (1837-1898)

The grave of William Chatterton Dix


A memorial plaque to William Chatterton Dix at Bristol Cathedral with names of his most famous hymn texts: he was born in Bristol, hence the honour accorded him here.



The parish church of St. Andrew’s in Cheddar, Somerset: the church dates back to the 14th century.  It was restored in 1873.

     I hope you have enjoyed this article on the first half of the music from Epiphany Sunday at Holy Nativity on January 7, 2018.  The second installment is coming soon, and will cover the rest of the music of the Mass that day, from the Offertory to the Postlude.  I hope that all who read this article are experiencing a blessed time during the Sundays after Epiphany, and a spiritually profitable preparation for Lent.

In Christ Jesus Our Lord,

Gabrielle Bronzich, M.M., Organist & Choirmaster of Holy Nativity Episcopal Church, Plano, TX

The Organ and Choral Music for Sunday, October 15th, Nineteenth Sunday After Pentecost

     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.


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. 


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 beautifulV/ 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. 

English translation: 

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.  



Heidelberg Castle


Illustration from Schlick’s treatise on how to build and play organs, 1511


Image result

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.

Image result for salve regina dominican

     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