The title of the tune, Pisgah,” from the tune from Southern Harmony, derives from the Hebrew word for summit and was the biblical mountain from which Moses first saw the promised land. It’s also the name for a mountain in North Carolina! For the complete story of how this part of American came to have a name from the ancient book of Deuteronomy see https://www.pisgahinn.com/history-of-pisgah-inn/.
Rev. Wells will chose music from this steaming playlist for tonight’s Maundy Thursday service on Zoom:
This repository of tunes from almost 200 years ago is so rich, so contemporary in its emotion, exploring each tune is an experience outside time itself. I’d never heard of this particular tune, The Lone Pilgrim. If it’s not in some hymnal, it’s a shame. Love this song. Love it…
Here’s another tune from the Southern Harmony, and Musical Companion hymnal compiled by William Walker in 1835. This is a hearty, up-tempo tune alternating between minor and major. It’s a lot of fun to play.
The hyman book called Southern Harmony, and Music Companion was compiled by William Walker in 1835. It uses a form of musical notation called shaped note, which my father, born and raised in rural southern Mississippi, learned as a child. I think these songs are some of the best hymn tunes ever written, on a parallel with the great hymn tunes of Europe and the UK. Much simpler, for sure, but incredibly indelible. They demand to be sung. They roll around the mind for hours.
I’m working on a digital album of 15 to 20 of these songs. Here’s the first 6 I’ve done so far:
This week’s Lenten focus is on the German composer and saintly figure, Hildegard of Bingen, so all the music this week is German. A contemporary of the famous J.S. Bach and his cousin, is Johann Gottfried Walther, best known for his many chorale preludes on hymn tunes, of which this is a great example, the tune appearing in the manuals and in the pedals (as you can see performed by Peter Lorre’s “The Hand” video insert).
Here’s my St. Patrick’s Day (free streaming) playlist: https://soundcloud.com/hilton-kean-jones/sets/hiltons-st-patricks-day.
If you want to just listen to some background music, I continue to accumulated tracks that I’d done for my church job at https://soundcloud.com/hilton-kean-jones/sets/music-at-lakewood. Easter Sunday I’m going to do my first in-person since more than a year ago. There’ll be good ventilation, I’ll be double masked plus a face shield and very distanced physically. Not sure if they will continue with in person services, however. They are only accommodating distancing by having two services and achieving adequate fresh air by opening an entire wall of sliding doors. It will soon be too hot to do that, keeping up two services isn’t sustainable, and it’s still way too soon to give up on distancing since such a small percentage of the population is vaccinated. So, they may go back to cyber until it’s either safe to have in-person services continuously or it’s cool enough outside to make the sanctuary open-air. That’s not up to me. I know I’m not willing to eat indoor restaurants yet…don’t know how I feel about playing indoor services. It’s causing me a lot of anxiety but I’m trying to stay calm. LOL
This week’s Lenten saintly figure is Hildegard of Bingen, a German composer (1098-1179). In her honor, all works this week are German. We don’t hear much about Hermann Schroeder over here but we should. He was a prolific and influential teacher and composer in Germany. He was especially important in bringing German Catholic church music out of heavy (dare I say, bad…not to be confused with the excellent, authentic) Romanticism (upper-case “R”) into interesting yet accessible 20th Century music. I suspect the reason the world of classical music has ignored him is that he’s part of a genre of music composition termed, “Neoclassical.” Neoclassical composers are shunned because the style in mid-20th Century music that was fashionable with those who controlled the purse strings and awards of the contemporary classical music scene were committed to dodecaphonic serialism. (My own theory as to why this was true was that that kind of music was easy to write articles about and since the primary proponents of that music were college professors it was a good fit.) Only problem was performing musicians themselves and audiences (especially) didn’t enjoy it. Fortunately, a number of composers in the 60s who came out of a genre of contemporary music of the extreme avant garde and who were proponents of the compositional ideas of John Cage revolted against the academic establishment and their style evolved into what eventually become known as minimalism. Its most stunning quality was that it was fun to play, tonal, and a pleasure to listen to! (Shocking at that time.) Surprisingly, a similar revolt was happening in eastern Europe: dramatic, very expressive music known as the “Polish School.” Those two revolts have continued to evolve and merge and together are now just known as “music.” It’s my fervent hope that this stylistic freedom will encourage a positive reassessment of neoclassicism. Maybe Schroeder and others will finally have their day.
GATHERING MUSIC: Basse et Dessus de Trompette — Clérambault
PRELUDE: Feuilles Volantes #1 – Duparc
MUSIC 1: Il Pleut Bergère — French folk song
MUSIC 2: je ne cuit pas — Machaut (1300-1377)
OFFERTORY: May We See Your Radiant Face — HKJ (USF Chamber Singers, Dr. John Richmond, dir., recorded in 1980s)
PREPARATION FOR PRAYER: Je T’appartiens — Bécaud
POSTLUDE: Prière des Orgues (from “Mass for the Poor” )— Satie