Harvest marks the end of summer, when all (hopefully) is safely gathered in, and all hatches have been battened down securely ere the winter storms begin to clear away what has been left, preparing the sleeping earth for the coming of next Spring. At Dalmahoy, as in many other places, animals are brought to church at St. Francistide to be blessed. Last year, all dogs; this year, who knows?
As you would expect, this year there are many Lutheran chorales and their preludes in October and November to celebrate the 500th anniversary of Luther's posting his Ninety-five Theses on the door of All Saints' Church in Wittenberg on 31 October 1517, All Hallows' Eve, the act which effectively kick-started the Reformation.
Sunday 1 October – Harvest Thanksgiving
Prelude: Divertimento on 'Monkland' – Heathcote Statham (1889-1973)
Communion: Intermezzo on 'Holyrood' – William Lloyd Webber (1914-1982)
Postlude: Songs of Praise (BBC commission 1980) – Herbert Chappell (b.1934)
Choral Evensong (with St. Mary's Choir)
Prelude: Adagio in E major – Frank Bridge (1879-1941)
Magnificat: The Song of Mary – Richard Shephard (b.1949)
Anthem: All things bright and beautiful – John Rutter (b.1945)
Postlude: Songs of Praise (BBC commission 1986) – Robert Prizeman (b.1952)
Two editions of 'Songs of Praise' on one Sunday? The BBC commissioned both theme tunes in the 1980s. Some consider the Chappell to be better than the Prizeman – you decide! The Song of Mary, a metrical version of the Magnificat, was commissioned by the National Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham to commemorate the millennium. It has since become known as the 'Walsingham Magnificat'
Sunday 8 October – Pentecost 18
Prelude: Elegy – George Thalben-Ball (1896-1987)
Communion: Gabriel's Oboe ('The Mission' 1986) – Ennio Morricone (b.1928)
Postlude: In these stones horizons sing – Karl Jenkins (b.1944)
Animal Blessing Service
Prelude: Sheep may safely graze – Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
Postlude: 'The Cat's Fugue' (Sonata K30) – Domenico Scarlatti (1685-1757)
The Scarlatti piece certainly deserves a place at an animal blessing service, having been partly 'written' by an animal. Scarlatti's cat Pulcinella is reputed to have composed the fugue subject by walking over the harpsichord keys (an 18th century 'Kitten on the Keys'?)
Prelude: Schmücke dich, O liebe Seele (BWV 654) - Bach
Communion: Rejoice in the Lord always – Anon (Mulliner Book)
Postlude: The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba ('Solomon') – George Frideric Handel (1685-1759)
'Deck thyself, my soul, with gladness' is one of the finest of all Lutheran communion hymns, first published in 1649, with words by Johann Franck and melody by Johann Crüger. Bach dresses the melody in the finest ornamentation. A suitable wedding garment, indeed (see today's Gospel from St. Matthew).
Sunday 22 October – Pentecost 20
Prelude: In the King's Hall ('Sigurd Jorsalfar') – Edvard Grieg (1843-1907)
Communion: Adagio (Piano Concerto in A minor) - Grieg
Postlude: Homage March ('Sigurd Jorsalfar') – Grieg
The prelude and postlude come from the incidental music composed by Edvard Grieg for a play by Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson celebrating King Sigurd I Magnusson, also known as Sigurd the Crusader (Jorsalfar), who was King of Norway from 1103 to 1130.
Sunday 29 October – Reformation Sunday
Prelude: Ein feste Burg – Johann Nicolaus Hanff (1663-1711)
Communion: O Lamm Gottes unschuldig (BWV 1095) - Bach
Postlude: Fantasia on 'Ein feste Burg' – Michael Praetorius (ca.1571-1621)
Preludes on two of the earliest of the Lutheran chorales. Luther wrote the words and music for 'Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott', a version of Psalm 46, sometime between 1527 and 1529. 'O Lamm Gottes, unschuldig' is an equally early Lutheran hymn, first published in 1531, with text and melody attributed to Nikolaus Decius. Originally intended as a German substitute for the Latin Agnus Dei, it became more and more used as a hymn for Passiontide.
November is the month of the dead, the harvest of humankind. It's the custom at Dalmahoy at the end of the All Souls' service to carry lighted lanterns into the darkness of the churchyard to place on graves or at the ancient standing stone. A few days later the focus is on war, and at the end of the month on Christ the King at the Day of Judgement separating sheep from goats. The wheel turns, and we are in Advent again looking forward to the coming of Christ in its twofold expressions – as a baby in Bethlehem and as a king at the end of time. The end of the year is also its beginning.
Thursday 2 November – All Souls
Prelude: Chorale Prelude on 'Eventide' – Charles Hubert Hastings Parry (1848-1918)
The Chorale Prelude on 'Eventide' ('Abide with me') is taken from his Second Set of Chorale Preludes, composed in 1915 and published by Novello in 1916. See James Garratt's commentary on the significance of this set of chorale preludes in the context of the First World War below his YouTube video of this piece.
Sunday 5 November – Pentecost 22
Music for the Royal Fireworks - Handel
Preludes: Bouree, The Rejoicing, Minuets I & II
Communion: La Paix
'Remember, remember the fifth of November'? I have, and here is Handel's incidental music to an official display in 1749 in London's Green Park. The display was nowhere near as successful as the music itself: it poured with rain and the scenery partly burnt down. Follow the link above for more about the event.
Sunday 12 November – Remembrance Sunday
Prelude: Solemn Prelude (from 'For the Fallen') – Edward Elgar (1857-1934)
Communion: Benedictus (from 'The Armed Man') – Karl Jenkins
Postlude: Wachet auf (Op.65 no.33) – Sigfrid Karg-Elert (1877-1933)
Although we commemorate Remembrance Sunday at Dalmahoy, we are using the readings for Pentecost 23. In a reference to today's Gospel about the wise and foolish bridesmaids we sing at the end of the service 'Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme', another great Lutheran hymn, written by Philipp Nicolai, first published in 1599 together with 'Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern' ('How brightly shines the morning star'), which we will save up for Christmastide!
Sunday 19 November -Pentecost 24
Voluntary in E flat (Op.6 no.7) – Samuel Wesley (1766-1837)
Prelude: 1st movement - Largo
Communion: 2nd movement - Andante quasi allegretto
Postlude: 3rd movement - Moderato
A voluntary in three movements from the talented Samuel Wesley's magnificent Opus 6 set, spread out over the whole service. For much more info on Wesley, and his historic meeting with Mendelssohn, see my 'Gorgeous Georgians' page (scroll down to the bottom).
Sunday 26 November – Christ the King
Prelude: Meditation on 'Brother James's Air' – Harold Darke (1888-1976)
Communion: Jesu, joy of man's desiring - Bach
Postlude: Fantasie triomphale (1900) – Johannes Haarklou (1847-1925)
Haarklou, composer, organist, conductor, and music critic, was born at Haukedalen, near Førde on the west coast of Norway, in the same county as Askvoll, where I lived and worked for a few years. I was there for his 150th birthday celebrations in 1997, when the organist of Førde parish church encouraged all the organists in the district to play something of his on the Sunday nearest his birthday. I, of course, obliged! In addition to this Fantasie, he wrote a prelude and fugue on BACH as well as two organ symphonies.