Musical Musings~Reflections on Sunday's Music

September 24, 2017

Five Reasons A Passacaglia Is Exciting

Sunday's postlude will feature a passacaglia by John Ebenezer West composed in memory of the German organist Josef Rheinberger.  Here are five reasons to stay and listen to this musical form:

1. A Spanish dance in triple meter that develops more of a celebratory feel

2. We like things to repeat- the ground bass or ostinato will repeat 14 times

3.  The word pasor (walk)  from passacaglia reminds us of taking a "stroll" through the various styles of composing

4. These styles of composing include rhythmic and harmonic changes, additional melodies and short trumpet tunes

5. The crowning sound of the organ can be displayed through the gradual increase of stops and sounds

Musical Musings~Reflections on Sunday's Music

August 27, 2017

 Pachelbel's amalgam of organ styles

Pachelbel’s “Toccata in E Minor” remains a delight for the ears as one of the South German composer’s twenty surviving toccatas.  Johann Pachelbel hails from Nuernberg with his parents raising him within the Lutheran tradition. Pachelbel’s compositions possess the gift of a composer marrying an Italianate style and a North German style of organ performance.  The composer explores this in the “Toccata in E Minor” by employing an uncomplicated contrapuntal style that emphasizes melody and harmony. 

The work begins in a rhapsodic nature above a pedalpoint in the pedal line with fast-moving notes in the left and right hands.  At first it may seem that Pachelbel explores imitative counterpoint, however it appears that the composer prefers restating a melodic motive/idea that circles through the circle of fifths.  This motive includes five sixteenth notes and four thirty-second notes.  As someone that taught J.C. Bach who eventually began to teach J.S. Bach, there remains no doubt that this work helped shape the compositional output of J.S. Bach.

Musical Musings~ Reflections on Sunday’s Music 

July 10, 2016 

Five reasons the Toccata and Fugue in D Minor is by Bach 

Musicologists often debate the authorship of today's postlude, however I'd like to take a different direction. Let's present five reasons why this work is undoubtedly composed by the German master-J.S. Bach: 
1. The final chord progression of the fugue is nowhere else to be found in the works of Bach-it sounds surprising, however this is the composer exploring contemporary harmonies! 
2. Yes, this work fits the violin like a glove, however J.S. Bach aptly practiced and played the violin. Why would Bach not transcribe this to the organ even though it may be challenging to play? 
3. Yes, the parallel octaves at the beginning do not in any way resemble practices of the Baroque composers, however Bach may have just been adapting good music to an organ that had poor registration choices, making it fuller and louder. 
4. Yes, Bach did master the rules of counterpoint, however just like his colleague Dietrich Buxtehude (who he traveled to Lübeck just to hear him play), Bach employs a subdominant answer in the fugue instead of a dominant one. 
5.This work was attributed to Bach in a collection of works compiled by Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy. Why should we have cause to doubt the authorship by the very person who introduced Bach in 1829 after Bach's music had been in obscurity for almost 100 years?

Sunday's Prelude: Toccata Jazzica-Michel

Sunday's Postlude: Toccata and Fugue in D Minor (BWV 565)-J.S. Bach

Musicians: Kieren Morehead, Sanctuary Choir

Musical Musings~ Reflections on Sunday’s Music 

July 3, 2016 

Great Is Thy Faithfulness-Notes from Austin Lovelace 

Many volumes of hymn studies give exotic stories about the origin of gospel songs, but the author wrote in 1955 that there were no special circumstances for his. The Methodist minister gives the "faithfulness of God" as the main theme, and the promise of an unchanging God who assures us of pardon, peace and presence. Its use during the Billy Graham crusades, with its message of great personal comfort have spread its message all over the world.

Sunday's Prelude: God Save The King Variations- Wesley

Sunday's Postlude: National Hymn- Arr. Thewes
 

Musical Musings~ Reflections on Sunday’s Music
 

June 26, 2016 

Pretty Nice Time For A Chorale Partita! 

Today we have the joy of experiencing a chorale partita throughout the worship service. The Baroque composer Georg Böhm developed this genre of music for the keyboard that is based on a hymn tune. Today's chorale partita is based on "From All That Dwell Below The Skies." Generally, this form of music begins with an introduction of the chorale followed by movements that function as variations. 
For the Gathering Music the theme is presented as a rhythmic fanfare, followed by a chiffy, celebratory flutes. A vibrant toccata closes the set of music followed by a trumpet tune in 6/8 meter.  For our Introit, the sustaining sound of the strings of the organ will present the cantus firmus in an airy, dream-like state. And finally, for our Special Music, the theme will be presented in its relative minor in a responsorial fashion between the feet and the hands.

Sunday's Prelude: Partita on "Lasst Uns Erfreuen"-Ameigh

Sunday's Postlude: Lead On Eternal Sovereign-Holst/Hopson

Musician: Sharon Smeltzer, vocalist

Musical Musings~ Reflections on Sunday’s Music 

June 19, 2016 

Non Nobis Domine-is Byrd the composer? 

Today's Introit will feature the Brass Trio playing a work that includes the text: "Not unto us, O Lord, but to Your Name give glory." Recent research has discovered that this canon attributed to Byrd includes extracted portions from a Wilder 5-voice motet from the 1500s set to the phrase "there is none to console" and therefore may not be composed by William Byrd. The "Non Nobis" text or the first one mentioned here came from the first collect of the Thanksgiving service added to the Book of Common Prayer. We even have records of Mozart and Beethoven admiring this canon.  So, what may be the verdict? My opinion remains that due to the spirit and respect of sharing each other's works (which unfortunately is uncommon today), I can see the possibility of extracting a secular text about comfort and using it as a message to seek our comfort and release in Jesus. Through what secular texts may God be speaking to you today?

Sundays' Preludes: Madrigal; Lamentazione-Gluck; Preludio et Fuga-Pergolesi

Sunday's Postlude: Psalm XIX-Marcello

Musicians: Brass Trio

Musical Musings~ Reflections on Sunday’s Music 

June 12, 2016 

Come, Thou Fount Of Every Blessing-Notes from Austin Lovelace 

Born of humble parents, Robinson , the lyricist of this hymn, could not afford schooling for the ministry, so he was apprenticed at fourteen to a London barber and hairdresser. After a dissolute youth he was converted by George Whitefield and became a Calvinistic Methodist minister. Like the more famous John Newton's "Amazing Grace," his hymn is one of providence and grace. Like Jacob, who raised an Ebenezer ( a stone altar which signified that God has brought him thus far), he confesses how great a debtor he is to the grace of God, as are we all.

Sundays' Preludes: Sketches No. 1+2- Robert Schumann

Sunday's Postlude: Sketch No. 4-Robert Schumann

 

Musical Musings~ Reflections on Sunday’s Music 

June 5, 2016 

Time To Dance: The Siciliana! 

Today's Postlude by the Exceptional Friends is a cohesion of the blues and baroque dance styles.  The siciliana dance is derived from the Baroque dance suite and is usually in 6/8 time with short phrases. The dance also includes lilting and dotted rhythms that resemble a slow jig.  Musicologists link the siciliana to the peasant dances of Sicily, Italy.  Its melancholic nature certainly relates to the blues, however in this work Dr. Joe Utterback has incorporated elements of the blues that give it a renewed energy: blue notes and blue scales, tremolandos and grace notes. The short phrase approach lines up well with ever predictable progression of the blues: I-IV-I-V-IV -I. Listen closely for how Dr. Joe Utterback alters this pattern by including the third and second scale degrees instead of the expected progression leading into a turnaround or transitional section before the 8-bar blues resumes.

Sundays' Preludes: This Is Amazing Grace; Here I Am To Worship

Sunday's Postlude: Sicilianablues-Utterback

Musicians: Exceptional Friends, Tanya Marshall, Kelly Miskis, Revolution Team, Alex Ruzanic 

Musical Musings~ Reflections on Sunday’s Music 

May 22, 2016 

J.S. Bach's Prelude and Fugue in E-Flat Major (BWV 552) 

Today's Gathering Music and Postlude features an organ work by J.S. Bach that remains a testament of the composer's mastery of his compositional craft and devotion to his persevering faith in Christ.  Some musicologists view this work as a sermon on the Trinity. 
The prelude remains the longest prelude Bach ever composed and begins in the French-Overture style ( slow dotted rhythms complement fast fugal writing). As Bach holds emotion and intellect in perfect balance, the symbolism of the Trinity becomes readily apparent through the slow dotted rhythm selection representing the Father, the style galant  tuneful section representing the Son, and a electric sixteenth-note counterpoint section representing the Holy Spirit. 
The Fugue, in tri-partite form, also represents the Trinity. Listen for the "Father" section at the beginning which includes slow, fugal writing followed by the "Son" section in the middle which consists of rapid, fugal writing for manuals only. Finally, Bach's depiction of the Paraclete closes the movement through the representation of the gigue dance and the lengthening of the notes of the theme, also known as augmentation.

Sunday's Prelude: Prelude In E-Flat Major-J.S. Bach (BWV 552.1)

Sunday's Postlude: Fugue In E-Flat Major-J.S. Bach (BWV 552.2)

Musicians:  Steel City Harmonizers and Trombone Quartet

Musical Musings~ Reflections on Sunday’s Music 

May 15, 2016 

Faith based questions on Today's Prelude 

As we listen to the organ selection by Maurice Duruflé in today's Gathering Music, I would like to encourage us to meditate and ponder the following for each movement: 

Theme: Where is the Holy Spirit in my life? 
1st Variation: What is the Holy Spirit calling me to do in Beulah church? 
2nd Variation: Where is the joy of the Lord? 
3rd Variation: What act of faith and perseverance is the Holy Spirit calling me to? 
Final: What spiritual renewal do I need as well as the church?

Sunday's Prelude: Choral Variations on Veni Creator-Durufle

Sunday's Postlude: Reign In Us-Glover/Neufeld

Musicians: Revolution Team; Sanctuary Choir

Musical Musings~ Reflections on Sunday’s Music 

May 8, 2016 

Jehan Alain's Litanies 

Today's postlude includes repetition, planned sonorities, additive rhythms and non- Western scales to illustrate the transcendence of God. The French composer Jehan Alain composed this work in aguish as he was mourning the death of his 23 year-old sister Marie-Odile due to a mountain accident. One describes a litany as a series of invocations and supplications read by a leader which a congregation then alternatively responds to. In Litanies, Alain develops a quasi plainsong melody as the invocation, however instead of functioning as a lament, the invocation becomes a storm overthrowing everything in  its way. The inscription that precedes this work by Alain explains this well: "When the Christian soul in distress can no longer find new words to implore the mercy of God, it repeats ceaselessly and with a vehement faith the same invocation. Reason has reached its limits: faith alone can go further."

Sunday's Prelude: Morceau Symphonique-Guilmant

Sunday's Postlude: Litanies-Alain

Musicians: Howard Bear, trombone; Chancel Bells; Sanctuary Choir

Musical Musings~ Reflections on Sunday’s Music 

May 1, 2016 

Our God, Our Help In Ages Past- Notes from Austin C. Lovelace 

The hymn is a paraphrase of verses 1-11 of Psalm 90. It was written in the form of Hebrew poetry: Thesis stated in stanzas 1-3 (God's goodness and providence); Antithesis stated in stanza 4 (our mortality); Synthesis in stanza 5 (God continues to demonstrate care and protection and will be our eternal home).

Sunday's Prelude:  Variations on "O God Our Help In Ages Past" -Christa Rakich

Sunday's Postlude: Ballet-Praetorius

Musicians:  Beulah Brass Trio and Communion Choir

Musical Musings~ Reflections on Sunday’s Music 

April 24, 2016 

J.S. Bach's Allabreve (BWV 589) 

Today's postlude from J.S. Bach comes from Bach's  Weimar compositional period and was very likely based on the Concerto Grosso in D Major of Corelli. The work comprises of four sections.  Listen very carefully for the entries of the theme which are always prepared with rests preceding each one of them. Phillip Spitta describes the works as such: "Everything is calculated not so much to prove the vital and formative power of an individually characteristic idea...as to present a grand, organic whole, of which the fundamental principle is established only on broad lines...Though we may call the Canzona a romantic child of German feeling and Italian mold, we must be reminded, in this Allabreve, of the bright blue heavens, whose image is reflected from the serene surface of a deep, clear, sea."  Listen to see if you can hear the splendor and glory of the Kingdom of Heaven reflecting upon creation. 

Sunday's Prelude: Psalm 95- Emma Lou Diemer

Sunday's Postlude: Allabreve (BWV 589)- J.S. Bach

Musicians: Sanctuary Choir


 

Musical Musings~ Reflections on Sunday’s Music 

April 17, 2016 

J.S. Bach's Allabreve (BWV 589) 

Today's postlude from J.S. Bach comes from Bach's  Weimar compositional period and was very likely based on the Concerto Grosso in D Major of Corelli. The work comprises of four sections.  Listen very carefully for the entries of the theme which are always prepared with rests preceding each one of them. Phillip Spitta describes the works as such: "Everything is calculated not so much to prove the vital and formative power of an individually characteristic idea...as to present a grand, organic whole, of which the fundamental principle is established only on broad lines...Though we may call the Canzona a romantic child of German feeling and Italian mold, we must be reminded, in this Allabreve, of the bright blue heavens, whose image is reflected from the serene surface of a deep, clear, sea."  Listen to see if you can hear the splendor and glory of the Kingdom of Heaven reflecting upon creation.

Sunday's Prelude: Selections by Revolution Team

Sunday's Postlude: Allabreve (BWV 589)- Bach

Musicians:  Revolution Team, Sanctuary Choir

Musical Musings~ Reflections on Sunday’s Music 

April 10, 2016 

Because You Live, O Christ- Notes from LindaJo H. McKim on the Lyricist 

Shirley Errena Murray was born in Invercargill, New Zealand, in 1931. Educated in the classics, French, and music at Otago University, she became a teacher of languages. Murray has served as a church organist, pianist, affairs coordinator for Amnesty International in New Zealand, and from 1981-1991 worked in the Labour Party Research Unit in Parliament. She has written poems and satirical songs as well as hymns. Five of her hymns are included in our hymnal. This is the first appearance of her hymnody in the United States, although some of her hymns have been published in Australia and Great Britain.

Sunday's Prelude: At Easter-tide-Stanford

Sunday's Postlude: This Joyful Eastertide-Bender

Musicians: Exceptional Friends, Sanctuary Choir

Musical Musings~ Reflections on Sunday’s Music
 

April 3, 2016 

Who is John L. Bell? 

For today's Introit. Act Of Praise and Offertory we will hear the music of the Scottish hymn-writer and minister. John Bell is primarily a liturgical composer that has a deep interest in the music of non-European cultures. Bell remains focused and determined to  renew the passion for the song of the congregation and assembly and has begun this process at the grass roots level. A member of the of the Iona community, he often presents workshops such as "Celebrating the Unsung Jesus" and "The Lost Traditions of Protest and Lament" in addition to his regular preaching schedule. John Bell's music is not only infectious, but also tuneful and easy to hum along to. Please feel free to try that this morning.

Sunday's Prelude: Luebeck harpsichord selections

Sunday's Postlude: Fantasie in g-Mendelssohn-Bartholdy

Musicians: Communion Choir
 

Musical Musings~ Reflections on Sunday’s Music 

March 20, 2016 

The Lenten Motets of Robert Farrell 

For today's Choir Cantata, the Credo Quartet and Sanctuary Choir will sing the music of local composer Robert Farrell.  The first movement, which includes the adoration of Christ and the redemption of the cross, features rich  unison passages with expanded  seventh choral harmonies and clashing seconds. The second movement tells of Jesus' mercy and redemption, arresting the listener from the start moving into polyphony till its finish.  The third movement is a song of love for Jesus who gave up everything (including His life) for each one of us. One  musical example of this is the use of the tritone representing the sacrifice of Jesus.

Sunday's Prelude: Cortege et Litanie-Dupre

Sunday's Postlude: Prelude from Suite Medievale- Langlais

Musicians:  Breathe! Children, Credo Quartet, Sanctuary Choir

Musical Musings~ Reflections on Sunday’s Music 

March 13, 2016 

Five Characteristics To Listen For In The Music of Max Reger 

Today, we celebrate the music of German composer Max Reger who was born in Brand, Germany in  1873 and passed away in 1916 near Leipzig, Germany. As we celebrate the centennial of his passing and powerful compositions, here are five characteristics of Reger's music to listen for today during our Gathering Music and  Offertory. 
1. Fast  harmonic modulations that give a misty feel 
2.  Thick counterpoint 
3.  Music reminiscent of the styles and music of Johannes Brahms 
4.  Orchestral in nature 
5. Music appears atonal (not in any key or mode) even though it has a distinct harmonic direction and movement.

Sundays' Preludes: Es ist gewisslich an der Zeit; Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan; Wunderbarer Koenig-Reger (Op. 135)

Sunday's Postlude: Sicilianablues- Joe Utterback

Musicians: Exceptional Friends, Tanya Marshall, Sanctuary Choir
 

Musical Musings~ Reflections on Sunday’s Music 

March 6, 2016 

Just As I Am-Hymn Notes from Austin C .Lovelace 

Charlotte Elliott, the author of this hymn, became a semi-invalid at 32 and felt her life was useless. A visiting Swiss evangelist, Dr. Cesar Malan, asked her if she were a Christian-a question which she (as daughter of a clergyman) resented and told him so.  Later she apologized and said she did not know how to come to Christ. "Come to him just as you are," was the answer. Twelve years later she wrote this highly personal witness to salvation.

Sunday's Prelude: Meditation-Dupre

Sunday's Postlude: Excerpt from Chorale No. 2-Franck

Musicians: Bob Mc Adams, Communion Choir, Miranda Morehead



 

Musical Musings~ Reflections on Sunday’s Music 

February 28, 2016 

More Music of Phillip McIntyre to celebrate Black History Month 

All throughout the month of February we will be celebrating the music of African-American composers. Today, we experience the music of Phillip McIntrye, a gifted player and improviser, once again.  Levy Armwood stated that Phillip (1951-1991) "reveled in the majesty of the organ."  McIntryre's setting of "Were You There" during today's Gathering Music is written in a plaintive and reflective style.  As the Act of Praise, we will hear the composer's setting of "Rockingham" which exhibits a homophonic texture within warm harmonies. A brief interlude leads to a triumphant and broad ending. Finally, during our offering, the organist's setting of "Maryton" will showcase the instrument families of the flutes and strings.

Sunday's Prelude: Were You There- Arr. McIntryre

Sunday's Postlude: Prelude in G Major (BWV 541)- J.S. Bach

Musicians: Sanctuary Choir

Musical Musings~ Reflections on Sunday’s Music 

February 21, 2016 

Faith based questions on "Lenten Contemplation" by Nancy Sandro 

As we listen to the chimes play "Lenten Contemplation" this morning, I would like to encourage us to ask the following: 
As we experience the clarity and transparency of the chimes-what is God trying to make more clear or relevant for me at this time in my faith journey?
How can I wait patiently for the Lord?
As the musicians play together it reminds me of God's faithfulness-how has God demonstrated his faithfulness towards me lately?

Sundays' Preludes: Songs by the Revolution Team

Sunday's Postlude: Toccata in F-Buxtehude

Musicians: Chancel Bells, Anat Kardontchik, Revolution Team, Sanctuary Choir

Musical Musings~ Reflections on Sunday’s Music
 

February 14, 2016 

Beulah celebrates Black History Month musically 

All throughout the month of February we will be celebrating the music of African-American composers. Today, we experience the music of a gifted player and improviser-Phillip McIntyre.  McIntyre lived from 1951-1991 in Washington D.C. and composed engaging settings of hymns and spirituals that captured his harmonic treatment from his improvisations. "Morecambe" and "Sojourner" are set in a plaintive and reflective style.  McIntyre creates harmonic interest through the use of suspensions, mild dissonances and chromaticism.  In "Herzliebster Jesu", the dissonances are even more pronounced, symbolizing the suffering of Jesus on the cross.

Sundays' Preludes: MORECAME, HERZLIEBSTER JESU, SOJOURNER- Arr. Phillip Barnette MacIntrye

Sunday's Postlude: He's Got The Whole World In His Hands- Arr. Joe Utterback

Musicians: Bob Mc Adams, Sanctuary Choir

Musical Musings~ Reflections on Sunday’s Music 

February 7, 2016 

Breathe! Children and Communion Choir Share Together 

Today, the young and the old will sing together! During the Act of Praise, our singers of all ages will sing the doxology of the Psalter-Psalm 150. David Haas, the composer of "All Creation, Sing Praise" states that this psalm includes the "entirety of our humanity-our bodies, hands and throats in worshipping the God of Israel." Throughout the song many instances of God's divine and mighty deeds are mentioned, however Haas would not want us to forget that we do not just offer praise only in remembrance of Israel's journey but also in every place, every time, for everything and in every way. When can we "lose ourselves in God?" Haas suggests through the act of rejoicing at the mystery of being alive in the divine presence.

Sundays' Preludes: Truro, Woodworth, Cranham-McIntryre

Sunday's Postlude: Toccata on "Sing To The Lord A New Song"- Arr. Roberts

Musicians: Breathe! Bells/Children, Communion Choir, Steel City Harmonizers

Musical Musings~ Reflections on Sunday’s Music 

January 31, 2016 

Jesu, Jesu Fill Us With Your Love- A Beulah Connection 

The text and tune of "Jesu, Jesu Fill Us With Your Love" was adapted and translated into English by African missionary Thomas Stevenson Colvin.  Colvin spent most of his time on the mission field in a place well-known to the people of Beulah: Malawi. In Malawi, Colvin was principally involved with the Christian Council of Malawi's refugees. He also promoted and expanded the African musical heritage by composing and writing hymns arising from the African context. Sixteen years ago Colvin went to be with Jesus, however it is in his songs that the need for Christ becomes readily apparent and this does not just apply for Africa but for the worldwide communion of the church of Jesus Christ.

Sundays' Preludes: Cornerstone and Holy Is The Lord

Sunday's Postlude: "Halleluljah will be restored" from Rubrics- Locklair

Musicians: Kelly Miskis, Miranda Morehead, Revolution Team, Sanctuary Choir, Rebecca Stevens

Musical Musings~ Reflections on Sunday’s Music 

January 10, 2016 

The Music of Taizé 

Today, all of us have the opportunity to experience the music and worship approach of the ecumenical community of Taizé located in France. This practice of worship consists of meditative singing and periods of silence in order to reach a state of contemplation.  Joyce Borger states that in this service short chants are repeatedly sung developing a meditative character. Each one of the songs uses just a few words to express a basic reality of faith, that can be quickly grasped by the mind. As the words are sung over many times, this reality gradually penetrates the whole being.

Sunday's Prelude: "Goodness" from Elements Of The Spirit- Ruzanic

Sunday's Postlude: Indescribable-Laura Story

Musicians: Taize Choir; Kelly Miskis

Musical Musings~ Reflections on Sunday’s Music 

January 3, 2016 

We Three Kings-Hymn Notes from Austin C .Lovelace 

After a career as a reporter and tutor, Hopkins became an Episcopal minister with interests in music. His Epiphany hymn is based on the visit of the Wise Men (Matthew 2:1-11) and is the first modern American Christmas carol. The hymn with its dialogue style with each of the Wise Men singing a stanza has become an American classic in Christmas dramas.

Sunday's Prelude: Variations on "Angels We Have Heard On High"- Arr. Visser

Sunday's Postlude: Song Of The Magi- Arr. Joe Utterback

Musicians: Communion Choir
 

Musical Musings~ Reflections on Sunday’s Music 

December 20, 2015 

Today's Postlude: Who Was Charles Villiers Stanford? 

Stanford was raised within a musical family in Dublin and hails from Ireland. He studied in Cambridge, Leipzig and Berlin and served as an organist at Trinity College in Cambridge. Stanford was one of the founding professors of the Royal College of Music where he taught composition for most of his life. Some of his students included Gustav Holst and Ralph Vaughan Williams.  Stanford appreciated the principles and techniques of the classical tradition and generally his music emulates the scores of German composer Johannes Brahms. Also, by composing primarily in the Anglican tradition, he transformed the music of the British Isles.  Today's postlude is based on a popular Christmas carol quite common to the Anglican tradition~ can you guess it?

Sunday's Prelude: Wachet auf ruft uns die Stimme (BWV 645)-J.S. Bach

Sunday's Postlude: At Christmas-Tide, Op. 182 No. 1-Charles V. Stanford

Musicians: Credo Quartet and Sanctuary Choir
 

Please note: Musical Musings will return on 1/3/2016-Merry Christmas!

Musical Musings~ Reflections on Sunday’s Music 

December 13, 2015 

Characteristics of chant within "Jesus, We Taste of You, the Living Bread" 

Today's offertory music is an anthem that includes chant and it will be presented by the Exceptional Friends and Sanctuary Choir. "Jesus, We Taste of You, the Living Bread" will prepare us for communion and includes the genre of chant. Listen for the free rhythm within that reminds us that the music is wedded to a spiritual text. It should resemble more of a spoken sound rather than a sung sound. This form of sung prayer remains another powerful way to experience the presence of Jesus Christ and differs from our more metrical music possibly reminding us of Jesus' transcendence.

Sunday's Prelude: Nun komm der Heiden Heiland (BWV 659)-J.S. Bach

Sunday's Postlude: Nun komm der Heiden Heiland (BWV 661)-J.S. Bach

Musicians: Exceptional Friends, Tanya Marshall,  Sanctuary Choir

.

Musical Musings~ Reflections on Sunday’s Music 

November 22, 2015 

Louis Vierne's  Improvisation 

For today's postlude we will hear a transcribed improvisation of the French organist Louis Vierne from November 1928. Since this work displays a sense of majesty and grandeur, it will be played today in honor of Jesus as our King.  The improvisation may appear disparate at first , however this is only attests to the outstanding improvising ability of Louis Vierne. Regularly, Vierne played this music for services in the grand cathedral of Notre Dame. As we all listen to this work, I would like to challenge us with this thought: Where are we not experiencing or seeing God's majesty?

Sundays' Preludes: Das alte Jahr vergangen ist (BWV 1091)-J.S. Bach
                            Abide With Me-arr. Gumma


Sunday's Postlude: Improvisation-Vierne

Musicians:  Credo Trio; Sanctuary Choir; Anne+Chip Yearick, handbell duet

Musical Musings~ Reflections on Sunday’s Music 

November 15, 2015 

Faith based questions on the music and texts of Kent Fillmore and Robert Morehead 

Today, we have 2 hymns by Kent and Robert. Here are some faith-based reflections for each of them while you listen/sing:  
1. Awaited Lamb (Introit with Exceptional Friends and Miranda Morehead, flute) 
            * In our lives, how might we be awaiting the Lamb? 
            * How can we practice patience in regards to waiting for our Savior? 
2. Faith Promise (Hymn of Response) 
            * How do we come to God with contrite hearts? 
            * What riches do we discover within our fulfilled needs?

Sunday's  Prelude: Count Your Blessings-Fillmore/Miskis/Morehead

Sunday's Postlude: Now Thank We All Our God-Bach/Fox

Musicians: Barbershop Choir; Exceptional Friends;  Tanya Marshall, keyboard; Miranda Morehead,flute; Revolution Team; Sanctuary Choir

Musical Musings~ Reflections on Sunday’s Music 

November 8, 2015 

The Battle Hymn Of Republic-celebrating the visual side of handbells 

Is it not wonderful to experience the various techniques of the handbells? 
Our postlude this morning gives us as the listeners a wonderful opportunity to stop and listen and watch the visual gift of playing the handbells. 
Please watch for the following two techniques: 
1. The thumb damp (TD ) or Mallet-  For the "thumb damp" the ringers will use their thumb to stop the sound creating a staccato effect by placing their thumb on the outside of the handbell casting. Another way of stopping the sound is striking the outside of the handbell casting with a mallet. 
2. Shake (SK)-  At the beginning and ending of the "Battle Hymn of Republic" shaking will occur. This is when the ringers will rapidly shake the handbells with the clapper striking both sides of the handbell.

Sundays' Preludes: Patriotic Triptych-arr. Sobaje
                            The Church In the Wildwood-Arr. Miller


Sunday's Postlude: Battle Hymn of The Republuic-Arr. McChesney/R. Morehead

Musicians: Chancel Bells, Embellishments, Sanctuary Choir

Musical Musings~ Reflections on Sunday’s Music 

November 1, 2015 

Elements of Fruit: Self-Control- an excerpt of a larger work by Alex Ruzanic 

Today we hear the last movement of the suite: 
From Alexander Wood Ruzanic (composer):  The Greek word used in Galatians 5:23 is "egkrateia", meaning "strong, having mastery, able to control one's thoughts and actions."  This piece is simple with a flourish that takes much control to reign it in and that is our life...steady with moments it feels out of control, but if we surrender to God the simple harmony of life returns.   That is what this final piece conveys. 

From Robert Morehead (pianist):    Ruzanic musically paints self-control through a cyclical approach and the return of the theme from the "Love" movement.

Sunday's Preludes: Alle Menschen muessen sterben (BWV 1117)-J.S. Bach
                            Herr Gott, nun schleuss den Himmel auf (BWV 1092)-J.S. Bach


Sunday's Postlude:  Praeludium zum Haus des Herren-Franz Liszt

Musicians: Beulah Instrumental Ensemble, Communion Choir

Musical Musings~ Reflections on Sunday’s Music 

October 25, 2015 

Elements of Fruit: Gentleness- an excerpt of a larger work by Alex Ruzanic 

For the next three weeks I will be playing musical "vignettes" based on the Fruit of The Spirit composed by our Director of Youth Ministries Alex Ruzanic. Throughout this series each of us will be able to read a few points from the composer and the pianist: 

From Alexander Wood Ruzanic (composer):  Gentleness is defined as "a disposition that is even-tempered, tranquil, balanced in spirit, unpretentious, and that has the passions under control. The word is best translated 'meekness,' not as an indication of weakness, but of power and strength under control. The person who possesses this quality pardons injuries, corrects faults, and rules his own spirit well".  Two of my favorite and gentle piano players are Vince Guaraldi  (Peanuts piano player) and Johnny Costa (Mr. Rogers) so this piece is a dedication and nod toward their playing styles.
  
From Robert Morehead (pianist):    Gentleness "peeks through" as Ruzanic composes a rhythmic jazz-oriented shell of an accompaniment that exhibits a certain degree of translucence.    

Sunday's Prelude: "Gentleness" from Elements Of The Spirit- A.W. Ruzanic

Sunday's Postlude: Organ Concerto in C Major (BWV 595)- J.S. Bach

Musicians: BREATH! Bells and Choir; Sanctuary Choir

Musical Musings~ Reflections on Sunday’s Music 

October 18, 2015 

Elements of Fruit: Faithfulness- an excerpt of a larger work by Alex Ruzanic 

From Robert Morehead (pianist):    Functional harmony meets counterpoint as Ruzanic musically articulates faithfulness through a predictable harmonic shape that is further accented by a tuneful walking bass.   

Sunday's Preludes: Ich hab mein Sach Gott heimgestellt (BWV 1113); Vater unser im Himmelreich (BWV 737)-J.S. Bach
                            Christe, der du bist Tag und Licht-Pachelbel
                            Fuga: Christe, der du bist Tag und Licht -Weimarer Tablaturbuch


Sunday's Postlude:  Festal Toccata-Arthur Banyon

Musicians: Bob Mc Adams-guitarist; Katina Psomiadis-flutist; Sanctuary Choir

Musical Musings~ Reflections on Sunday’s Music 

October 11, 2015 

Elements of Fruit: Goodness- an excerpt of a larger work by Alex Ruzanic 

For the next four weeks I will be playing musical "vignettes" based on the Fruit of The Spirit composed by our Director of Youth Ministries Alex Ruzanic. Throughout this series each of us will be able to read a few points from the composer and the pianist: 

From Alexander Wood Ruzanic (composer):  Goodness is a very hard attribute to understand yet alone describe in a piece of music.   Simply put goodness is "Kindly feeling, kindness, generosity, joy in being good".   I believe one of the best ways to describe this is with simplicity. 
  
From Robert Morehead (pianist):    A toggling approach utilizing the percussive sound of the piano depicts an alternatim approach as Ruzanic displays "gentleness" in a series of rhythmic and melodic versets.  

Sunday's Preludes: Ehre sei dir, Christe, der du leidest Not (BWV 1097); Herr Jesu Christ, du hoechstes Gut
                            (BWV 1114); Fuga on "Machs mit mir Gott, nach deiner Guet" (BWV 957/1)-J.S. Bach


Sunday's Postlude: Paraphrase on a Melody of Beethoven: The Heavens Declare The Eternal Glory-Dupre

Musicians: Miranda Morehead; Sanctuary Choir

Musical Musings~ Reflections on Sunday’s Music 

October 4, 2015 

Elements of Fruit: Patience- an excerpt of a larger work by Alex Ruzanic 

For the next five weeks I will be playing musical "vignettes" based on the Fruit of The Spirit composed by our Director of Youth Ministries Alex Ruzanic. Throughout this series each of us will be able to read a few points from the composer and the pianist: 
From Alexander Wood Ruzanic (composer):  Kindness is acting for the good of people regardless of what they do.  We need to respond in kind regardless of how we are treated. Today's music reflects this somber perspective.   There is also a middle section that is tension filled describing when things don't go as planned yet in the end we must act kind. 

From Robert Morehead (pianist):    Ruzanic employs a special touch to the tune  of "Simple Gifts" through the application of expanded chords, running  sixteenth note figurations, diverse octave and surprising fermata placements and waltz-like rhythms. 

Sunday's Preludes: 2 International Selections (Taiwanese and Jewish); Kindness-Ruzanic; 
                            "O God Our Help In Ages Past"- Arr. Callahan


Sunday's Postlude:"Amen! Shall Sound" from Rubrics-Locklair

Musicians:  Howard Bear-trombone; Beulah Brass Duo; Jeff Gamza-timpani; Revolution Team ; Sanctuary Choir;  Steel City Harmonizers; Jayla Strothers-soloist
 

Musical Musings~ Reflections on Sunday’s Music 

September 27, 2015 

Elements of Fruit: Patience- an excerpt of a larger work by Alex Ruzanic 

For the next six weeks I will be playing musical "vignettes" based on the Fruit of The Spirit composed by our Director of Youth Ministries Alex Ruzanic. Throughout this series each of us will be able to read a few points from the composer and the pianist: 

From Alexander Wood Ruzanic (composer):  Patience is a sad or solemn concept. One must live "with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love".   Today's music attempts to find that place for the listener. A tension of life. 

From Robert Morehead (pianist):    Set artistically in the Romantic style of the Chopin nocturne, this work in ternary form exhibits two characteristics of the Polish composer: a lyrical melody above a "patterned" accompaniment and an increasing technical complexity.  

Sunday's Prelude: "Patience" from Elements Of The Spirit- Ruzanic

Sunday's Postlude: Grand Choeur-Salome

Musicians: Sanctuary Choir; Sharon Smeltzer

Musical Musings~ Reflections on Sunday’s Music 

September 20, 2015 

Elements of Fruit: Peace- an excerpt of a larger work by Alex Ruzanic 

For the next seven weeks I will be playing musical "vignettes" based on the Fruit of The Spirit composed by our Director of Youth Ministries Alex Ruzanic. Throughout this series each of us will be able to read a few points from the composer and the pianist: 

From Alexander Wood Ruzanic (composer):  This piece of music expresses the idea of wholeness, completeness, or tranquility in the soul that is unaffected by the outward circumstances or pressures.  I use the hymn O Sacred Head Now Wounded as a background for what is the ultimate peace...Christ's ability to let the Father do what needs to happen...Christ dies for us. 

From Robert Morehead (pianist):   The juxtaposition of two textures set against the angelic sound and color of the orchestral chimes possibly represents the blessing of peace that is available to us in Christ amidst the pressing forces of the world we live in.

Sunday's Prelude: Indescribable-Reeves/Story; Holy, Holy, Holy (NICAEA)

Sunday's Postlude: "Introduction-Choral" and "Menuet Gothique" from Suite Gothique, Op. 25-Boellmann

Musicians: Kelly Miskis; Revolution Team; Sanctuary Choir; Trombone Quartet. 

 

Musical Musings~ Reflections on Sunday’s Music 

September 13, 2015 

Elements of Fruit: Joy- an excerpt of a larger work by Alex Ruzanic 

For the next eight weeks I will be playing musical "vignettes" based on the Fruit of The Spirit composed by our Director of Youth Ministries Alex Ruzanic. Throughout this series each of us will be able to read a few points from the composer and the pianist: 

From Alexander Wood Ruzanic (composer):  Joy is such an unusual concept...it isn't happiness but rather a sweet content found in the Lord. It refers to what George Campbell Morgan wrote : "Joy is love's consciousness." 

From Robert Morehead (pianist):  Ruzanic transforms the abiding impressionistic texture of Satie found in the first movement of the suite through careful application of rubato, running triplets, and a two against three polyrhythm. Prudent and mindful articulation is necessary for the pianist.

Sunday's Prelude:  J.S. Bach: Allein zu dir, Herr Jesus Christ (BWV 1100); Jesu, meines Lebens Leben (BWV 1118)
                            "Larghetto" from Sonata in c Major, Op. 1 No. 7-Handel


Sunday's Postlude: Praeludium in e-Bruhns

Musicians: Katya Janpoladyan, cellist; Rev. James C. Morehead, recorder; Sanctaury Choir 

Musical Musings~ Reflections on Sunday’s Music 

September 6, 2015 

Elements of Fruit: Love- an excerpt of a larger work by Alex Ruzanic 

For the next nine weeks I will be playing musical "vignettes" based on the Fruit of The Spirit composed by our Director of Youth Ministries Alex Ruzanic. Throughout this series each of us will be able to read a few points from the composer and the pianist: 
From Alex Ruzanic (composer):  Love is complex and wild ride...It starts simple but gets incredibly dense with our relationship with God which will end in peace.  This piece tries to contain this thought. 
From Robert Morehead (pianist): Set in the impressionistic genre of Erik Satie, the concept of the depth and warmth of God's love appears evident through the use of a steady rhythm in the left hand accented by  expanded chords (often in 7ths) in the right hand.

​Musical Musings~ Reflections on Sunday’s Music 


June 21, 2015
  1.  Our Hymn of Response~Reflections from the lyricist
"Jesus Sat and Watched The Crowd" is based on the story of the widow's offering.
Carolyn Winfrey Gillette states: "One of the wonderful Bible stories that many children learn in church school is " the widow's mite." It is one of the first stories we learn and perhaps one of the hardest to accept. As adults, we argue with the text: "Who would take care of her, if she gave everything away? Is it practical to give away everything? Isn't careful planning and saving a better approach?"
Sometimes people are reluctant to give to the church because they are not happy with how every penny is being spent by the institution. It is interesting that Jesus had problems with the Temple and yet he did not allow that to become an excuse for not giving to God. Jesus still commended the woman for her faithful and sacrificial gift. God knows what is in our hearts and our wallets. And we probably know, deep inside, that giving generously and trusting God completely will lead to the richness that the widow knew when she gave everything she had."

Sunday's Prelude: Scarlatti Piano Sonatas (L 457, L 217)
Sunday's Postlude: "Toccata" from God Who Blesses Us, His Name Be Praised-Richman

 

​Musical Musings~ Reflections on Sunday’s Music 


June 7, 2015
  1.  Today's Musical Offering: E'en So, Lord Jesus, Quickly Come
Today's offering music is an arrangement for trumpet of Paul Manz's 1953 motet "E'en So, Lord Jesus, Quickly Come." The text of the work was primarily adapted from Revelation 22: "And night shall be no more; they need no light nor lamp nor sun, for Christ will be their all."
Paul and Ruth Manz composed this motet during a severe illness of their three-year old son. Ruth Manz stated the following about this challenging valley of their lives: "I think we'd reached the point where we felt that time was certainly running out so we committed it to the Lord and said, 'Lord Jesus, quickly come.'"
Her husband Paul began composing the piece at his son's bedside setting it with a slow (adagio) tempo however allowing space for the phrases to "breathe."
The great news is that due to a dedicated spirit of prayer their son recovered.
We are not granted our next hour-when will we commit our time to the Lord completely by saying " E'en so, Lord Jesus, quickly come?"

​Musical Musings~ Reflections on Sunday’s Music 


May 31, 2015
  1.  Connecting today's organ works to the story of Paul
As we study Paul's Final Days as part of our Story series, we are reminded that Paul never wasted a moment. As Adam T. Barr mentions, "whether writing letters or witnessing to Roman soldiers, Paul spent his entire life sharing the gospel and caring for the young, growing churches he had planted." Today's Gathering Music  is based upon the creed of the church. The first version is an earlier work of Bach and is a fugue that includes a distinctive leap of a fifth which could possibly represent a type of leitmotif of faith.  It is also of interest that this same leap characterizes the later work of Bach (BWV 680) and one can hear it right at the beginning. A basso ostinato is added to the voices of the fugue and its firm tread (listen for it in the pedals) signifies a reliance on faith. 

Sunday's Prelude:  Wir glauben all an einen Gott (BWV 1098, 680)- J.S. Bach
Sunday's Postlude:  Allegro in B-flat- Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy
 

Musical Musings~ Reflections on Sunday’s Music 


May 24, 2015
  1.  A Musical Offering: Come, Holy Ghost, Our Souls Inspire
This ninth century hymn has been sung since the 11th century at ordinations, coronations, and confirmation services. The Holy Spirit with creative energy inspires the soul, lightens with celestial fire, imparts the sevenfold gifts (See Revelation 1:4), anoints with unction (oil) to comfort, illuminates our blinded sight, cheers our soiled face, guards us from spiritual foes, and guides our paths. The melody is ancient, having first been associated with an Ambrosian Easter hymn.  (notes from Austin Lovelace)

Sunday's Prelude:       Ashokan Farewell- Ungar/Arr. Welch
Sunday's Postlude:     Toccata on "Come Holy Spirit"- Macchia

​Musical Musings~ Reflections on Sunday’s Music 


May 17, 2015
  1. In Christ Alone
"In Christ Alone" was written by Stuart Townend and Keith Getty in 2002 and is considered a modern hymn that encompasses the themes of life, death and the resurrection of Christ.  Townend and Getty capture biblical truth in this hymn which according to them "will not only cause people to express their worship in church, but will build them up in their Christian lives." Stuart Townend is particularly excited about the lyrics: "The lyric excites me because it places our hope, our assurance, our eternal destiny in the right place-on the solid foundation of Christ. I know in my own life I need reminding continually not to live by my feelings or my circumstances, but by the unchanging truth of the gospel."

Sunday's Prelude- All Who Are Thirsty (Brown)
Sunday's Postlude-"Allegro" from Water Music (Handel)

​Musical Musings~ Reflections on Sunday’s Music 


May 10, 2015
  1. The transcendence of Handel's Messiah
Today, we will hear 2 movements from Handel's masterpiece that was composed in only 24 days and initially exhibited a low number of compositional errors before its first performance on April 13, 1742 in Dublin.  Handel stated the following on composing the oratorio with texts selected from the King James Bible by Charles Jennens: "I did think I did see all Heaven before me and the great God Himself." On composing the "Hallelujah Chorus" he exclaimed after weeping: "Whether I was in my body or out of my body as I wrote it I know not. God knows." When his assistant checked on him in his work area, Handel held up the famous chorus and proclaimed: "I have seen the face of God!"  There is no doubt that The Messiah  of the most performed works of any composer and interestingly enough Handel did not want the credit. At the end of his score, Handel wrote the letters "SDG" for Soli Deo Gloria, which means , "To God Alone The Glory."

Sunday's Prelude: Sonata-Cherubini (Arr. Chilla)
Sunday's Postlude: "Hallelujah" from Messiah -Handel

​Musical Musings~ Reflections on Sunday’s Music 


May 3, 2015
  1. Ave Verum Corpus-A moment for Mozart to experience Christ?
Mozart, to our knowledge, did not hold strong beliefs of the Christian faith throughout his life. However, during the sickness of his wife Constanze (who was pregnant with their 6th child), he composed a short Eucharistic motet titled: "Ave Verum Corpus." The text of this motet focuses on Jesus' sacrifice on the cross for all people and the symbolism of water and blood in correspondence to communion. Wolff states that this motet "foreshadows aspects of (Mozart's) Requiem such as declamatory gesture, textures, and integration of forward- and backward- looking stylistic elements." Interestingly enough, Mozart interrupted the composition of one of his most famous operas (Die Zauberflöte)  to compose this motet. Quite possibly Mozart may have been relating his spouse's suffering to his own as is was only six months before his own death. Of particular note is the last line of the text: "O sweet Jesus, O holy Jesus, O Jesus, son of Mary, have mercy on me." 

Prelude: Christ, der du bist der helle Tag (BWV 1120); Wir danken dir, Herr Jesu Christ (BWV 1096); Du Friedefuerst, Herr Jesu Christ (BWV 1102)-J.S. Bach
Postlude: "Minuet" from Music For The Royal Fireworks-Handel/Biggs

​Musical Musings~ Reflections on Sunday’s Music 


April 26, 2015
  1. Jeanne Demessieux's short  work "Tu Es Petrus"
Today's  short Act of Praise contains a chant that depicts Matthew 16:18: "And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.   Listen  for the following in Jeanne Demessieux's setting for the organ:
  • Its march-like quality representing the beginning of the journey of the Church of Christ
  • Its rigid, stationary and fixed bass line that represents the foundation of the Church
  • Its loud, declamatory statement of the chant reminding us of the victory of the Church-that God has already acquired the victory!
Prelude: Largo-Handel
Postlude: Paraphrase On A Chorus In Judas Maccabeus (handel), Op. 90, No. 16- Guilmant
 

​Musical Musings~ Reflections on Sunday’s Music 


April 19, 2015
  1. A spiritual take on a motet of Handel
 Today, for our Introit, the Sanctuary Choir will sing a short vocal motet of the Baroque composer.  This motet is a response to Psalm 141.  Chris Juby via twitter summarizes it this way: "O LORD, may my prayer be as incense. Do not turn my heart to evil. Let the righteous rebuke me. Keep me from the traps of the wicked."
Handel's textual response reminds us that our only response to evil and sin is trusting alone in our Savior Jesus Christ.  Set in a slow tempo and indicative of small dynamic shifts, I think Handel allows the believer to hear this in a different way:
1. The opening statement including its simple fugue-like imitation reminds us that much vies for our attention and trust other than Christ
2. The softer dynamic reminds us that trusting involves Jesus living in our hearts
3. The louder dynamic at the finish can be considered a statement of faith as we trust God through the times of trial ("The times we want to shout") but we still  remain unwavering from our commitment to Jesus.
I invite you to try this interpretation today. 

Sunday's Prelude:  "I Know That My Redeemer Liveth" from Messiah- Gower/Handel
Sunday's Postlude: "The Rejoicing" from The Music For The Royal Fireworks-Biggs/Handel

Musical Musings~ Reflections on Sunday’s Music 


March 22 2015
  1. Hymn History: God of Grace And God Of Glory
This hymn text was composed in 1930 by Harry E. Fosdick as an opening hymn for a worship service.  The theme centers around the Church's role in the world. Fosdick was a controversial preacher as he refused certain church positions because he thought they were more concerned with their wealth than with worshiping Christ. Tiffany Shomsky states, "This hymn is a prayer for God's help for the church to live in God's power and love. Each stanza concludes with a two-line petition for wisdom and courage that was originally meant to be sung to one musical phrase." In fact, the original tune set to Fosdick's text was "Regent Square" and as the librettist, he was not pleased when churches began to select "Cwm Rhondda" as the tune instead. Maybe that is due to the fact that hymnal editiors considered it to have too much vigor to be a "proper hymn tune." Nevertheless, the tune and text remain today as a bold prayer asking for God's wisdom and courage to face the problems of the everyday.