Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Horatio W. Parker

Composer Horatio William Parker, born today in Auburndale, Massachusetts in 1863, is pictured here in his Yale academic robes (he was the first Dean of the Yale School of Music from 1904 to 1919).

In The History of American Music (1915), author Lewis Charles Elson recounts some recollections of Horatio's mother, Isabella, who was a church organist. According to her, the child Horatio showed no interest in music. His interest developed rather suddenly when he was fourteen (she pinpointed it to October, 1877), when he began "to ask all sorts of questions about it, and to spend literally whole days at the piano, beginning at daylight, and stopping only when his father sent him to bed." She began to teach him piano and organ, and within two years he was the organist at St. Paul's Church in Dedham, Massachusetts.

He also started to compose during these years; among his first works was a set of fifty songs with texts by childrens' writer and illustrator Kate Greenaway, described as having "good melody and sufficient accoampaniment."

Of course, as recounted here on his previous birthdays, he went on to become one of the most prominent composers of his day, particularly renowned for his contributions to church music with his oratorios, anthems, service music, and hymn tunes. Since we've already some of his tunes, today I'm directing you to one of his anthems. Perhaps his most lasting one is the Easter anthem Light's glittering morn, sung here at St. Peter's Catholic Church in Columbia, SC during a regional convocation of the American Guild of Organists (text is below). Listen for when the familiar hymn tune VICTORY comes in from the choir, over the soloist - it's my favorite moment in this favorite piece.

Light's glittering morn bedecks the sky;
heaven thunders forth its victor cry;
the glad earth shouts her triumph high,
and groaning hell makes wild reply.

While he, the King, the mighty King,
despoiling death of all its sting,
and, trampling down the powers of night,
brings forth his ransomed saints to light.

That Eastertide with joy was bright,
the sun shone out with fairer light,
when, to their longing eyes restored,
the glad apostles saw their Lord.

He bade them see his hands, his side,
where yet the glorious wounds abide;
the tokens true which made it plain
their Lord indeed was risen again.

O Jesus, King of gentleness,
do thou thyself our hearts possess
that we may give thee all our days
the tribute of our grateful praise.

O Lord of all, with us abide,
in this our joyful Eastertide;
from every weapon death can wield
Thine own redeemed forever shield.

[Congregation joins:]
The strife is o'er, the battle done,
The victory of life is won,
The song of triumph has begun.

Alleluia, alleluia! (et repetitur)

All praise be thine, O risen Lord,
from death to endless life restored.
All praise to God the Father be,
and Holy Ghost, eternally.
Alleluia, Amen!

Aurora lucis rutilat, formerly attributed to Ambrose of Milan;
tr John Mason Neale, 1851

Two Years Ago: Horatio W. Parker

One Year Ago: Horatio W. Parker

No comments: