This Sunday is the last Sunday the choir sings before its summer break. We will sing two anthems, the first being “Lord, Here Am I,” by the Minnesota-based composer Stephen Paulus (1949-2014). The piece sets a poem by Herbert Brokering (1926-2009), a Lutheran pastor, poet, and hymn writer. The second anthem is a setting by Alan Bullard of “The Peace of God,” a traditional Hebridean blessing.
This Sunday is Pentecost, and a small group from the choir will sing the anthem, “O Breath of life,” by the British composer Alan Bullard, incorporating a traditional English folk tune. The organ music this Sunday is by Maurice Duruflé, from his “Prelude, Adagio, et Choral varié sur le thème du Veni Creator.” Duruflé was a French organist, composer, and perfectionist who was famously critical of his own compositions. He published very little, and continued to revise pieces even after they had appeared in print.
This week the Choristers and Singers will be participating in worship, singing three different anthems. The two choirs will combine for “Wade in the Water,” in an arrangement by Bruce Trinkley. This is a traditional African-American spiritual whose words have a dual meaning — on the one hand, they refer to the practice of baptism, but also served as advice to runaway slaves that they should use water to throw bloodhounds off their scent. The “Moses” referred to in the song could mean both the Biblical figure and Harriet Tubman, who led many slaves to freedom. The Choristers will also sing “Spirit Boundless,” by Betty Ann Ramseth, which incorporates the 17th-century German chorale, “Werde Munter.” The final anthem is “When You Pass Through the Waters,” a setting by Paul Weber of Isaiah 43:1-3.
This week the adult choir sings two anthems. The first, Cantate Domino, by the Italian baroque composer Giuseppe Pitoni, is a setting of the first verses of Psalm 98. The second is a choral arrangement of the song, “They’ll Know We Are Christians by Our Love,” which was originally written by Fr. Peter Scholtes in the 1960s. The choir will sing an arrangement by our own Daniel Grotz, who has sung with the choir throughout his time as a student at UVA. Now in his fourth year, Daniel will graduate in two weeks with a bachelor’s degree, having majored in both music and English.
This week is the fourth Sunday of Easter, which is also known as Good Shepherd Sunday, as both the Psalm (23) and Gospel reading (John 10:11-18) for the day refer to God or Jesus as a shepherd. The choir’s two anthems also have a common theme of the shepherding God. The first, “The Lord Is My Shepherd,” a setting of the twenty-third psalm, is an arrangement by Larry Long of an African-American spiritual. The second, “When Some Kind Shepherd from His Fold,” is an arrangement of an American folk hymn by Alice Parker. The text is found in John Needham’s Hymns Devotional and Moral on Various Subjects (Bristol, England, 1768), while the music derives from American shape-note hymnals in the early nineteenth century.