Elizabeth and Alex are sitting in my living room. Alex is quietly looking at a book. Elizabeth has ear buds in and is plugged into a phone meeting. Their plane came in last night. I skipped going to the airport and Eileen picked them up. I haven’t had a chance to chat with Elizabeth yet. Alex is sleepy but friendly. I got a hug.
Next Sunday (a week from today) I have scheduled organ music by Sharon J. Willis.
I am learning the first and third movement of her “Agora Sacred Suite for Organ: a Celebration of Church Music.” The movements are loosely based on spirituals and the hymn, “The Church’s One Foundation, “Aurelia.” In the introduction to her suite, Dr. Willis says “these pieces are not arrangements but short works that represent the spirit and symbolism of each tune. In turn these melodic fragments and quotations become source material for thematic development.”
I quite like the way she does this. Her ideas are fresh and show an easy familiarity not only with the African American spiritual but rock and movie music. It works. I will have to seek out more music by her. Apparently she is the founder of Americolor Opera Alliance and has written many operas. I do like the way she writes.
The following week we close our Eucharist with the hymn, “O day of peace that dimly shines.” In the Hymnal 1982, this Carl Daw text is set to Charles Hubert Parry’s famous tune called “Jerusalem.”
I have decided it’s going to be stuffy Anglican Sunday and scheduled a postlude by William Mathias (called fittingly enough “Postlude”). I have paired this postlude with a short piece by Parry but wasn’t satisfied with it. Then I found a love little chorale prelude called “Jesu Dulcis Memoria.” Four pages and quite beautiful.
Parry subtitles it “Jesu, the very thought of thee.” I wanted to make sure it would not be an inappropriate reference to use this prelude based on this hymn so I looked in the Hymnal 1982. The text is there but set to a different tune. There is a melody in the hymnal by this name but it is a different melody.
I looked through reference books and Hymns Ancient and Modern and The English Hymnal and could find Parry’s melody paired with the name “Jesu dulcis memoria.” But the melody in the Hymnal 1982 appears to be not exactly a Gregorian chant but a later French tune. Googling didn’t resolve this, but I plan to play the Parry anyway. It’s not a melody that would ring a bell in parishioners minds but it is beautiful.
Elizabeth took her conference call into the kitchen. Now I’m reading books to Alex. Gotta go.