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.
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.
This week the choir returns to singing for the 11:00 am service, with two anthems: one an adaptation of the traditional spiritual “Jesus Is a Rock in a Weary Land,” by Bettye Forbes, the other a setting of Psalm 121 by Jean Berger. Berger’s setting (“I to the Hills Lift Up Mine Eyes”) uses a translation of Psalm 121 from the Bay Psalm Book, the first book to be printed in North America (1640).
This week the ancient Latin poem, ‘Ubi caritas et amor,’ features twice in the service. This text, based on 1 John 4:16 and thought to have been written before the tenth century, was from the Middle Ages one of the antiphons on Maundy Thursday, where it illustrates the “new commandment” that we love another (John 13:34). Sunday’s offertory is a modern setting of the Latin text, written by the English composer Alan Bullard, a student of Herbert Howells. Set for two sopranos and organ, it is sung by Lauren Hauser and Megan Sharp. The second setting is a congregational hymn, “Where Charity and Love Prevail,” which is an English translation of ‘Ubi caritas’ by Omer Westendorf (1916-1997), a Catholic composer and hymn writer.
This week two pieces by Johann Sebastian Bach with recorder will be performed. The Prelude will feature movements from Bach’s Sonata in F, BWV 1035, for recorder and organ. This is known more widely as a flute sonata in E, but there has been speculation that it might indeed have first been written for alto recorder in the more likely key of F, as played here. This piece was written during Bach’s Cöthen period (1717-1720). During Communion, portions of Bach’s Partita in a minor for flute solo, BWV 1013, will be heard. A copy of this piece was discovered in 1917 at St. Thomas’s School, Leipzig, where Bach had served as Cantor in his later years. Bach’s autograph manuscript is lost but the work is considered authentic by Schmitz in the Neue Bach Ausgabe.
Nancy Garlick is a retired faculty member of the McIntire Dept of Music of the University of Virginia where she taught clarinet and performed with the Charlottesville University Symphony Orchestra for 24 years. She began the study of recorder and early music performance just before retiring and now performs with The Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival, the Amherst Early Music Festival and locally with The Wild Geese Baroque Ensemble and the Crozet Quartet. On August 15th, she will make a now rare appearance as clarinet soloist with the Charlottesville Municipal Band at the Paramount.