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 of the 10:30 Mass Music for December 30, 2018, the First Sunday After Christmas

Greetings in this Octave of Epiphany, 2019!  I hope that everyone had a lovely Christmas holiday with family, church and friends.  It has been a while since I posted to this blog.  We have had a very busy fall and winter at Holy Nativity.  I’ve also had a very busy fall and winter in my personal life: nothing bad or earth-shattering, just a lot of things happening.  But now I am finally able to take a deep breath and post some of our music from the Christmas season.

The service I have chosen to post in this monograph is our Mass at 10:30 A.M. for the First Sunday After Christmas, December 30, 2018.   The reason I chose this particular Mass is because I felt that, overall, the recording turned out very well.  Unfortunately, for our Christmas Eve late Mass, there were a few problems with the recording: quite a bit of music was not recorded from the carol program before Mass, the mics were not positioned at their best angle and hence picked up too many individual voices in the choir and not enough of our blended sound, and there was feedback from the mics that interfered with the sound of the music from the Ablutions hymn to the end of the Mass.  I didn’t feel that the Christmas Eve recording did our choir and soloists justice.  The choir did a lovely job, but it was kind of an off-night with the recording somewhat.  So, here are the number listings for the MP3 above, during our Mass on the Sunday after Christmas.   The organ postlude got slightly cut off at the end because it was a longer postlude than I usually play.  I have put the MP3 from the 8:00 A.M. Mass at end of this monograph with the line number for the Postlude, if you wish to hear a recording of it in full.  I hope you enjoy it.  I have put a star by all of the musical portions of the Mass.

1. *0:13—4:12 Benedictine Psalter for Christmastide, Plainchant (bad mic feedback and interference from 0:35 to 0:54):  The psalms chanted here, with Nativity antiphons from the Benedictine diurnal, were Psalms 93 and 100 (KJV numbering).

2. * 4:14- 10:59  Prelude: French Noëls: Michau qui causoit le grand bruit (C Major), and Noël Suisse (A minor) by Louis-Claude Daquin (1694-1772); Votre bonté grand Dieu (A Major) by Claude-Bénigne Balbastre (1727-1799)
3.*11:01-13:24 Three Mass bells and Processional Hymn: #94, While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks By Night
4. 13:38-14:14   Opening Acclamation, Collect for Purity & Summary of the Law
5. * 14:15-17:07 Willan’s Missa de Sancta Maria Magdalena: Kyrie & Gloria with zimbelstern  (bells) on the organ
6.* 17:11-17:50     Collect chanted by Fr. Garrin Dickinson, Pastor
7.18:05-19:20  Old Testament Reading: Isaiah 61: 10-62:3 — Subdeacon Malcolm Catter
8.* 19:23-21:47  Psalm 147: 13-21 in Anglican Chant–William Knyvett’s Chant 7, F Major
9. 21:49-22:45  Epistle: Galatians 3: 23-25; 4: 4-7– Reader Bob Hilton
10. * 22:49-25:56 Gradual Hymn: #82, Of the Father’s Love Begotten
11. * 26:03-29:04  Gospel chanted by Fr. John Kline: John 1: 1-18
12. * 29:05-29:47  Organ Interlude as Gospel Book is processed back to the ambo: Of the Father’s Love Begotten, played in triple metre with the melody on 8″ Chimneyflute, the Nasard (2 and 2/3) and the Tierce (1 and 1/3)
13. 29:49-43:21   Sermon by Fr. Garrin Dickinson: on the Incarnation of Christ as God the Word, the meaning of the Incarnation in our lives, and how it defines all who believe in Christ as the children of God
14. 43:48-50:24   Spoken parts of the service: Nicene Creed, Prayers of the People, Prayer of Confession, Absolution, and the Peace
15. 50:25- 50:32 Offertory Sentence–Fr. Garrin, spoken
16. * 50:34- 52:45 Choir Offertory Anthem: The Coventry Carol, arranged for SATB choir by Martin Shaw (1875-1958)–very nice recording and lovely job by the choir!
17. * 52:48-55:51  Offertory Hymn: #110, The Snow Lay On the Ground
18. * 55:52-56:34  French Noël organ interlude in the remainder of the censing
19. * 56:54-58:43 Sursum Corda and Preface to the Sanctus–plainchant led by Fr. Garrin
20. * 58:44- 59:29 Sanctus & Benedictus–Healey Willan’s Missa de Sancta Maria Magdalena
21. 59:37- 1:03:33 Spoken Eucharistic Prayer & Consecration of the Eucharist–Fr. Garrin
22. * 1:03:36-1:05:01  By Whom, with Whom and in Whom & Pater Noster–plainchant led by Fr. Garrin
23. * 1:05:09-1:06:37  Fraction anthem by Fr. Garrin & Agnus Dei by choir and congregation
24. 1:06:40-1:07:30  Spoken Prayers: Prayer of Humble Access & summoning of the faithful to Communion (“The gifts of God for the people of God”)
25. * 1:07:39-1:09:23  Organ Meditation: Puer nobis nascitur — Daquin, French Noël
26. * 1:09:26-1:13:19  Schubert’s “Ave Maria” sung and played on the organ by Gabrielle Bronzich (moi-même).  Mezzo-soprano Judy Craig will be singing this piece as a solo on Sunday, February 3 in honour of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary (feast day on February 2).  We are looking forward to that, and that recording will also be posted on this blog.
27. * 1:13:23-1:16:38  Ablutions Hymns: #84, Love Came Down at Christmas & #107, Good Christian Friends, Rejoice (with zimbelstern bells on the organ)
28. 1:16:39-1:17:33 Post-Communion Prayer, spoken
29. 1:17:35-1:17:52  Final Blessing –Fr. Garrin
30. 1:17:54-1:19:40  Announcements & Blessings for those with birthdays, name days, baptismal and wedding anniversaries
31. 1:19:47-1:19:53  Ite Missa est–spoken in English: Fr. John Kline
32. * 1:19:54-1:24:06  Final Hymn: #102, Once in Royal David’s City
33. 1:24:08-1:24:22  Prayer of the Blessed Sacrament — Fr. Garrin
34. * 1:24:23-1:28:58  Organ Postlude: English and Irish Christmas Carol Medley–improvisation by Gabrielle Bronzich–The Holly and the Ivy, Masters in This Hall, The Wren Boys’ Song, Past Three O-Clock, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, Here We Come A-Wassailing.
     Unfortunately, as I said before, my large finish for this Postlude got cut off.  So, here is the MP3 from the 8:00 A.M. Mass for December 30.  The Postlude on this audio link starts at 1:13:43 and ends at 1:19:35.
Well, that’s all for this blog post.  A joyful end of the Christmas season to all!
In Christ Our Incarnate Lord,
Gabrielle Bronzich, M.M.
Organist/Choirmaster, Holy Nativity Episcopal Church, Plano, TX



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