This Sunday we celebrate the life and work of Martin Luther King, Jr. All three hymns this week derive from the African-American spiritual tradition. The choir sings two anthems, one another setting of a spiritual, “We Shall Walk Through the Valley,” arranged by Undine Smith Moore. The other, “Christ Is the World’s True Light,” is by English composer Walter Kendall Stanton. The organ music this week is by William Bolcom, from his collection of “Gospel Preludes.”
This week the adult choir will sing two songs that reflect the themes of light and journeying: Star of the East, Bethlehem’s Star by Greg Gilpin and Jyothi Dho Prabu (Give Us Light) by Charles Vas, arranged by Valerie Shields. The second anthem is a traditional bhajan (shared praise) from north India. Both the text and the music were written by Indian composer Charles Vas. The opening and closing organ voluntaries are settings of How Brightly Shines the Morning Star by Boston composer James Woodman and German composer Johann Pachelbel.
This weekend three Christmas services are packed into just 19 hours! On Christmas Eve, a pick-up choir of members of the Singers choir, alumni, and other friends will sing for the 5 o’clock service, with anthems by McNeil Robinson and John Joubert. At the 8:30 Christmas Eve, the adult choir will sing anthems by Carl Schalk, Gerald Brown, and Bob Chilcott. An organ prelude, beginning at 8 o’clock, precedes the service. Both Christmas Eve services also feature candlelit singing of Silent Night and timpani, played by Max Patek. On Christmas morning Megan Sharp will sing solos by Max Reger and Phyllis Tate. Ken and Tracy will also contribute a version of The Friendly Beasts. We wish everyone a very merry Christmas!
This week the choir sings a modern setting by Andrew Smith of the medieval carol, “There is no rose of such virtue.” This well-known text is found in an early fifteenth-century manuscript kept at Trinity College, Cambridge and combines verses in Middle English with phrases in Latin that serve as a refrain. The English used is readily understandable, but it is interesting to know that in Middle English the word “virtue” in the title referred not only to the “moral excellence” of the rose but also to its life-sustaining force, a special healing power of the plant. In addition, the choir is singing the anthem, “Jesus, Emmanuel,” by the Alabama-based composer K. Lee Scott.
This week the choir sings two anthems, the first “Rejoice, Rejoice, the Savior Comes,” by William Tans’ur and arranged by Michael Burkhardt. Tans’ur was an eighteenth-century music teacher, bookseller, and composer in rural England. Born Tanzer, as an adult he changed the spelling of his surname and styled himself a “musico theorico.” His music has a forthright and somewhat unrefined character typical of rural English music of the time. The second anthem is “Mary’s Magnificat,” by the modern English composer Andrew Carter. The piece features a soprano solo, sung this week by Ellie Weikle, a Westminster member currently studying music at James Madison University, as well as a violin solo by Leah Patek, a junior at CHS.