This week the choir sings two anthems, “Bow Down Low” as arranged by David Bridges and “Laudate nomen Domini” by Christopher Tye. “Bow Down Low” is a religious song of the Shakers, the longest surviving religious communal group in the United States. The song is an example of a “laboring song,” in which the act of sweeping and cleaning is applied both to one’s home and one’s soul. The second anthem is an excerpt from Tye’s Actes of the Apostles, which was published in London around 1553. The only music of Tye’s to be published during his lifetime — and perhaps the only collection of polyphonic music to be based on that book of the Bible — the work consisted of the first fourteen chapters of Acts in Tye’s own versification, set to attractive but unpretentious music. History has not been kind to the work, especially to Tye’s poetry, and its music is generally now performed to alternative texts.
If you love to sing, but don’t want to come out to an evening rehearsal, or you would like a musical group that does not perform, then Life-Long Song may be just the thing that you are looking for. Life-Long Song is a musical gathering that meets on Thursday mornings from 11:00-noon for 10 weeks in the fall and 10 weeks in the spring. It is a daytime singing program for adults that provides a regular opportunity for making music in community and having fun, while improving physical health and mental agility. While designed specifically for older adults, anyone is welcome to join. No special skills or previous experience is necessary. If you have questions or would like more information, please contact Megan Sharp, Director of Fine Arts.
This week the choir sings two anthems, “Draw Us in the Spirit’s Tether” by Harold Friedell, and “Love Thy Neighbor” by Michael Helman. “Draw Us in the Spirit’s Tether” is the best known anthem by Friedell, an organist and composer who spent his entire career in the New York City area. In addition to teaching at Juilliard School of Music and Union Theological Seminary, Friedell was director of music at St. Bartholomew’s Church in New York. The popularity of his anthem is evident in its use as a hymn in many recent hymnals (including the Presbyterian Hymnal). Its use as a hymn brings the piece full circle: Friedell first composed the melody as a hymn tune before arranging and publishing it in anthem form.
This week choirs for children and youth begin. At Westminster we have choirs for school-age children and youth. The Choristers is a lively group of children, kindergarten through fourth grade. On Thursdays we gather, usually in the courtyard, to play from 3:30-4:00. At 4:00 we move to the choir room for stretches, vocal warm ups, and time for singing, moving, creating crafts, praying and reading Bible stories. The first rehearsal is Thursday, September 7. This choir prepares children to be active worship leaders in our church. The Choristers sing in worship every 4-6 weeks and participate in the service of Lessons and Carols in December.
The Singers are a mix of youth (grade 5 and up) and adults that love to sing. We gather in the choir room after the 11:00 worship service for a hearty snack and time of singing. This energetic group leads worship every 4-5 weeks and participates in the service of Lessons and Carols in December. The Singers begin their year with a retreat from 12:15-2:00 pm in the choir room on Sunday, September 10.
If you have any questions about the choirs at Westminster please contact Megan Sharp, Director of Fine Arts.
The opening hymn this week, “All Creatures of Our God and King,” is a translation of the “Canticle of the Sun” or the “Canticle of the Creatures,” by Francis of Assissi. Written in an Umbrian dialect of Italian near the end of his life in c. 1224, it is considered the first religious poem in Italian, perhaps even the first work of literature in that language. According to tradition, the first time it was sung in its entirety was on Francis’ deathbed, the verse about “sister death” having only just been added. The English version was made in the early twentieth century by William Draper, a Yorkshire rector who also set it to the early 17th-century German tune, LASST UNS ERFREUEN.