Sunday 2nd October - Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost
Prelude: Psalm-Prelude Set 1 no.1 – Herbert Howells (1892-1983)
Howells' first set of Psalm Preludes, written in 1915 at the time when he was diagnosed with Graves' disease and given six months to live, are meditations on verses from the Psalms. This first one is based on Psalm 34 v.6: Lo, the poor crieth, and the Lord heareth him : yea, and saveth him out of all his troubles.
Communion: Jesu, joy of man's desiring (from Cantata 147) – Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
The tenth and last movement of the cantata 'Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben' ('Heart and Mouth and Deed and Life'), is most commonly sung in English to the poem 'Jesu, joy of man's desiring' by Robert Bridges.
Voluntary: Nun danket alle Gott (Op.65 no.59) – Sigfrid Karg-Elert (1877-1933)
This well-known prelude on 'Now thank we all our God' is from Karg-Elert's set of 66 Chorale Improvisations, Op. 65 written in 1909. I play another prelude from this set on All Saints' Day.
Sunday 9th October - Twenty-first Sunday after Pentecost
Prelude: Psalm-Prelude Set 1 no.2 – Herbert Howells
Psalm 37 v.11: But the meek-spirited shall possess the earth : and shall be refreshed in the multitude of peace.
Communion: Aberystwyth – Charles Hylton Stewart (1884-1932)
Hylton Stewart was organist at Rochester Cathedral. His set of 'Five Short and Easy Pieces' was written in 1928 and dedicated to his assistant Percy Whitlock.
Voluntary: 'Jig' Fugue in C (BuxWV 174) – Dieterich Buxtehude (ca.1637/39-1707)
Dietrich Buxtehude, born in Helsingborg, Skåne, at that time part of Denmark, but now part of Sweden, became organist of the Marienkirche in Lübeck in 1688 as successor to Franz Tunder. In 1705, Bach travelled 200 miles on foot from Arnstadt to meet the eminent Lübeck organist and hear him play. Bach met him and studied with him for several months in 1705 and 1706. At Buxtehude's retirement, both Handel and Johann Mattheson were offered the position at Lübeck, but as one of the conditions of taking the post was having to marry Buxtehude's daughter Anna Margareta, neither accepted the job offer. The job and the daughter went to Johann Christian Schieferdecker instead. (Unfortunately, no portrait of Anna Margareta Buxtehude is to be found on the Internet!)
Animal Blessing Service
Prelude: The Swan (from 'Carnival of the Animals') – Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921)
The penultimate creature in Saint-Saëns' famous menagerie, which was composed in 1886. The original is for two pianos and solo cello.
Voluntary: Penguins' Playtime – Nigel Ogden
Nigel Ogden, a cinema organist, took over from Robin Richmond as the presenter of the BBC Radio 2 programme 'The Organist Entertains'. 'Penguins' Playtime' is pure fun!
Sunday 16th October - Twenty-second Sunday after Pentecost
Prelude: Psalm-Prelude Set 1 no.3 – Herbert Howells
Psalm 23 v.4: Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil : for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff comfort me.
Communion: Prelude (Four Short Pieces) – William H. Harris (1883-1973)
Harris, who succeeded Hylton Stewart at St. George's Chapel, Windsor, in 1933, wrote this prelude in August 1931 in St. Thomas's Church, Leipzig, where Bach was once Cantor and is now buried.
Voluntary: St. Denio (Six Hymn Preludes)– Percy Whitlock (1903-1946)
'Six Hymn Preludes' are an early set by Whitlock, originally dating from 1923, but revised for publication in 1944.
Sunday 23rd October - Twenty-third Sunday after Pentecost
Prelude: How lovely are thy dwellings fair (A German Requiem) – Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)
The central movement of Brahms' non-liturgical 'Requiem', composed between 1865 and 1868, sets verses from Psalm 84:
1. O how amiable are thy dwellings : thou Lord of hosts!
2. My soul hath a desire and longing to enter into the courts of the Lord : my heart and my flesh rejoice in the living God.
4. Blessed are they that dwell in thy house : they will be alway praising thee.
Communion: Andante tranquillo (Five Short Pieces) – Percy Whitlock
Whitlock returned the compliment to Hylton Stewart by dedicating his 1929 set of 'Five Short Pieces' to him.
Voluntary: Darwall's 148th (Six Hymn Preludes)– Percy Whitlock
Sunday 30th October - All Saints
Prelude: Prelude on a Hymn of All Saints – George Henschel (1850-1934)
Based on Richard Strutt's 1925 tune 'St. Catherine's Court', sung to 'In our day of thanksgiving', our last hymn today. Henschel, a friend of Brahms, died at Aviemore, where he had a holiday home. He is buried in Alvie kirkyard near Loch Alvie.
Communion: Schmücke dich, O liebe Seele (Op.65 no.51) – Sigfrid Karg-Elert
Johann Franck's hymn 'Schmücke dich, o liebe Seele', with a melody by Johann Crüger, is a Eucharistic hymn. It matches the Parable of the Great Banquet from the Gospel of Matthew (22:1-14).
Voluntary: Saints on a Spree – Nigel Ogden
Saints on a Spree is a stylish and not altogether reverent fantasy on several popular tunes associated with saintliness. Lively episodes in Latin-American and schmaltzy-waltz mood pull the carpet from under a solemn, hymn-like opening. Things get even more wild when Widor's Toccata from the Fifth Symphony and Brahms's Lullaby put in an appearance. (Stainer and Bell's website)
Wednesday 2nd November - All Souls' Day
Prelude: Pie Jesu (Requiem) – Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924)
Pious Lord Jesus, Give them rest.
Pious Lord Jesus, Give them everlasting rest.
Fauré wrote, 'Everything I managed to entertain by way of religious illusion I put into my Requiem, which moreover is dominated from beginning to end by a very human feeling of faith in eternal rest.'
The Requiem was first performed in 1888 in La Madeleine in Paris for a funeral mass.
Anthem: Russian Contakion of the Departed
Give rest, O Christ, to thy servant with thy saints:
where sorrow and pain are no more;
neither sighing but life everlasting.
Sunday 6th November - Twenty-fifth Sunday after Pentecost
Prelude: I know that my Redeemer liveth ('Messiah') – George Frideric Handel (1685-1759)
'Messiah' was composed in a white-hot burst of inspiration in just 24 days. After the splendour of the Hallelujah Chorus has closed Part Two, the third part of the oratorio opens with a single soprano affirming the Christian teaching about the afterlife with a firm, unequivocal 'I know'.
Communion: Siciliana: La Paix (Fireworks Music) - Handel
Voluntary: Overture (Fireworks Music) – Handel
This set of orchestral pieces was first performed in Green Park on 27 April 1749 to accompany a firework display in celebration of the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, negotiated 18 October 1748, ending the War of the Austrian Succession. (Amongst other matters, the treaty confirmed the right of succession of the house of Hanover both in Great Britain and in Hanover.) Handel’s large open-air orchestra consisted of trumpets, horns, oboes, bassoons, kettledrums, side drums, flutes and fifes, together with the serpent. The music was a great success, in stark contrast to the display, which was an utter shambles, including the misfiring of some of the fireworks and the burning down of the main part of the scenery - a Doric Temple 114 feet high and 410 feet long.
Sunday 13th November - Twenty-sixth Sunday after Pentecost
Prelude: Solemn Prelude (from 'For the Fallen') – Edward Elgar (1857-1934)
'For the Fallen' was written in 1916 as the third part of the cantata 'The Spirit of England', a setting of three poems by Laurence Binyon. This third part includes the famous words 'They shall grow not old...'
Communion: Benedictus (from 'The Armed Man') – Karl Jenkins (b.1944)
Jenkins' 'The Armed Man', subtitled 'A Mass for Peace'. The piece was commissioned by the Royal Armouries Museum for the Millennium celebrations, to mark the museum's move from London to Leeds, and it was dedicated to victims of the Kosovo crisis. Like Benjamin Britten's War Requiem before it, it is essentially an anti-war piece and is based on the Catholic Mass, which Jenkins combines with other sources, principally the fifteenth century folk song 'L'homme armé' in the first and last movements.
Voluntary: Dambusters' March – Eric Coates
Used as the signature tune for the 1955 film of the same name, we will (attempt to) sing the three verses of our last hymn during the march itself. The 'big tune' comes three times, firstly softly (v.1), immediately repeated moderately loudly (v.2), then at the very end at the top of your voices (v.3). Enjoy!
Sunday 20th November - Christ the King
Prelude: Imperial March (Op.32) – Edward Elgar
Composed for Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1897.
Communion: The Queen's Alman – William Byrd (ca.1539/40-1623)
From the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book, a collection of 297 keyboard pieces dating from between 1591 and after 1613. The queen in the title was, of course, Elizabeth I of England, and an alman is a type of slow dance.
Voluntary: Crown Imperial – William Walton (1902-1983)
Composed for the aborted coronation of King Edward VIII, it was subsequently used for the coronation of his brother King George VI in 1937. Walton derived the march's title from the line 'In beawtie berying the crone imperiall' from William Dunbar's poem 'In Honour of the City of London'.