Saturday, September 11, 2010

Hymns for Sunday

Since this is Sunday I thought I would listen to a CD of Hymns.  The name of the CD is Sing, ye Heavens the Cambridge Singers under the direction of John Rutter.  cd    John Rutter is an amazing English composer, conductor, and arranger.  I have listened to many of his recordings and I just love the way he pairs the choral music and arrangements together.  bio 
The first hymn on the CD is a personal favorite Our God Our Help in Ages Past.  It was written by Isaac Watts bio  I used to sing this as a boy sopranowith Leigh Street choir and we used to sing it a lot in community singing at the Hyde Whit Walks accompanied by a local English Brass band.

The origin of the Whit Week processions of “Sunday school scholars” (which are still held to this day) dates back to 19th July 1821 when there was a procession of the children of Manchester to commemorate the coronation of George IV. On that day children of all denominations walked in procession from their schools and assembled at Ardwick Green to sing “God save the King”. From then on the annual festival flourished and, in the course of time, St Ann’s Square became the assembly ground. The numbers continued to grow and this was moved to Albert Square in 1878.Each Whit Friday, local churches or chapels in the region employed bands to lead traditional processions through the streets. Whit Friday was the "Scholars' Walk", or the Church's Annual Day when the girls would have a new dress and the boys would have new trousers, and neighbours, friends and relatives would give a penny for their new clothes. The church officers, clergy and children carried baskets of flowers or ribbons attached to banners. Since I was a Mormon, we were not allowed to march in the parade but we would go down to Hyde Market and watch all the chidren walk by in their new clothes and we would join in the singing. 

Anyway back to the hymn the hyms is very regal and the words are very meaningful.  According to wikipedia the hymn was sung at a religious service in 1941 just before the Atlantic Charter was signed by Churchill and Roosevelt. 

The next track King of Love my Shepherd Is is wtitten using anOld Irish Tune and Rutter uses a beautiful Irish Harp accompaniment. history 

A Mighty Fortress is written by Luther. history  Somebody told me as I was leading the music in Church that Brass had no place in a religious meeting because "the spirit leaves when brass is played."  He was objecting to the organist playing an organ stop that sounded like brass.  He would have a real fir listening to Rutter's arrangements

Veni Creator Spiritus is the next track.  I have such a love for Gregorian Chant I ofter wonder if I was a monk in a previous incarnation (even though I do not believe that principle). 

Lo he comes with clouds descendingwas written by John Wesley.  Wesley was an interesting man.  Dad and my Grandma Grimshaw  used to go to the Joel Lane Metheodist Chrurch before they began attending the LDS Church. 

Christ the Lord is Risen today is another rousing brass number.  I love singing this at Easter.  I get so nostalgic when  sing hyms.  they go right to my souls and tears always seem to come.  This is no exception.  It is another hymn written by Wesley. 

Now the CD turns to hymns based on folk melodies. The first one is Be thou my vision based on an old Irish tune and again I get emotional when I hear it.  It is so simple and melodious.    I need to learn the song and sing as a solo

Another song of my childhood is All Things Bright and Beautiful , another song I sang as a boy soprano.  We also used to sing the song at devotionals we had at school.  All the boys would gather and we would sing from a little blue hymnal we had.  Unfortunately I lost the hymnal.  It was such a good thing to sing everyday.

Morning has broken has been a favorite song of mine ever since I heard it sung by Cat Stevens in the 60's.  Little did I know it was a children's hymn before it became a popular song.  Within the last couple of years I got to sing it with a quartet formed for my fortieth High School reunion at East High School in Salt Lake City on the stage that was used for the film High School Musical. 

What a song Amazing Grace is.  It was written by John Newton who was a clergyman who had an amazing conversion story. It also the title of an amazing film movie .  At my mother's wedding a solitary piper played the hymn on bagpipes.  It was very emotional.

Every autumn, at harvestime, each church in England has a Harvest Festival a celebratory service when people bring in part of their harvests and they sing the next hymn We Plough the Fields and Scatter.  I miss that. I would love the services and seeing all the fruits and vegetables decorating the churches.

Another song I remember as a boy was The Day thou gavest and we used to sing it a funerals.  A beautiful hymn though. 

The CD ends with a rousing version of a Henry Purcell hymn called Christ is made the sure foundation . 
Purcell's  music to me is always accesible and always leaves me feeling elevated.

This CD holds many wonderful renditions of well known hymns and I am touched by the memories it brings back and the feelings of my old home in England.  May the Lord bless and Keep you on this Sunday. 

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