Singing Our Faith
This morning we present a special worship celebration, Singing Our Faith, to dedicate the new Sanctuary organ console. The new console—made possible by a generous gift from Marguerite and Reid Pitts, Jr., to the Generation to Generation Capital Campaign—was installed over the summer as part of a reconfiguration of the Sanctuary choir loft.
"One of the ways in which the church has taught us, down through the centuries, about the substance and beauty of our faith is through singing," says Senior Pastor Scott Black Johnston. "This service will take us on a unique tour of our faith through the lens of our favorite hymns, songs and carols. Our marvelous new organ console will lead the way!"
Singing Our Faith will be presented during the 11 am service only. At 9:30 am, in Kirkland Chapel, we invite you to Worship with Our Seminarians, a service of the Third Sunday after Epiphany led by seminarians Delphine Conzelmann and Ivy Lopedito, with Morgan King preaching.
Sonata no. 3 for Trumpet and Organ • Domenico Gabrielli (c. 1659–1690)
I. Grave – Allegro • IV. Presto
O Be Joyful in the Lord – John Rutter (b. 1945), Text: Psalm 100
How Can I Keep from Singing • American Folk Hymn, arr. Ronald Staheli (b. 1947)
Blest Pair of Sirens • C. Hubert H. Parry (1848–1918)
Text: At a solemn Musick by John Milton (1608–1674)
Prelude to a Te Deum • Marc-Antoine Charpentier (1643–1704)
The Anthem this morning is a gorgeous setting of the old American hymn, How Can I Keep From Singing? The arranger, Ronald Staheli, is the long-time chair of the choral department at Brigham Young University in Utah, and conductor of the BYU Singers, one of the finest collegiate vocal ensembles in the country. In his moving setting, Staheli perfectly captures the essence of the poignant text through rich harmonies and expressive use of the choral ensemble: after opening simply in two parts, the textures build to a powerful statement of, “All things are mine since truth I’ve found: how can I keep from singing?” closing quietly again with a soprano soloist, supported by the gentle flowing of the choir beneath.
The Offertory Anthem, Blest pair of sirens, is one of the greatest choral celebrations of music in the English language. A wonderfully majestic setting by C. Hubert H. Parry of Milton’s ode At a solemn Musick, the pair of sirens to which the title refers are none other than the two primary elements of song: voice and verse. The poem exhorts the heavenly music of the spheres to inspire our lives and our art with its perfection and beauty, until that time when we are called home by God, “to live with Him, and sing in endless morn of light.”
The piece received its first performance by the Bach Choir of London under the direction of Stanford on May 17, 1887 in honor of Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee. Admiration for the work had already begun to stir during the rehearsals, and the performance was, according to Parry, “quite uproariously received”—the composer was greeted with an enormous ovation and cheers from the audience! Parry’s brilliant neo-Baroque concerto structure, thrilling eight-part counterpoint and stirring melodies are a perfect match for the colorful text, and it has been a favorite selection for festive occasions since its premiere.