Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Peter Hallock

Word is spreading that composer and church musician Peter Hallock died on Sunday at the age of 89.  Hallock was for 40 years (1951-1991) the music director at St. Mark's Cathedral in Seattle.  One of his most lasting contributions to St. Mark's (and to the wider Episcopal church) was his development and promotion of the weekly service of Compline on Sunday nights, which he began in the 1950s and continued to direct until 2003.  During the second half of the twentieth century, when evening worship was disappearing in many places, St. Mark's Compline service grew and grew and continues today, inspiring many other churches to offer this kind of service.

Hallock's choral music and his psalm settings are widely sung in different denominations. If you have 30 minutes to spare, you can listen to the St. Mark's Compline service from January 12 of this year, which includes his setting of Psalm 89 and his anthem The Baptism of Jesus (1980), which I've chosen because my own choir sings this anthem every year at our Advent Lessons and Carols service.  The text is from a medieval carol, in both Latin and English.

Jesus autem hodie regressus est a Jordane. (But today Jesus emerges from the Jordan.) 
When Jesus Christ baptized was, the Holy Ghost descended with grace;
the Father’s voice was heard in the place:
Hic est filius meus, ipsum intende. (This is my Son, listen to him.) 
There were Three Persons and one Lord, the Son baptized with one accord,
the Father said this blessed word:
Hic est filius meus, ipsum intende. (This is my Son, listen to him.) 
Now, Jesus, as thou art both God and man, and were baptized in from Jordan,
At our last end, we pray thee, say then:
Hic est filius meus, ipsum intende. (This is my Son, listen to him.)

I heartily recommend taking the time to listen -- it could be a pleasant way to end the day. (we also sing Compline every week at my church, though our service is somewhat simpler than Seattle's.). 
 We remember Peter Hallock today and give thanks for his ministry in music, which will surely continue through his many works.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

A World Renewed to Life

The season of Easter links resurrection with new life and rebirth,  and sometimes with the season of spring as well.  It's been a long winter in many places in the US and we're ready for all these things, so I like that we have several more weeks of the Easter season.

A trip to a local library book sale yesterday yielded two interesting hymnals, one of them being Hymns of the Kingdom of God (1910), edited by Henry Sloane Coffin and Ambrose White Vernon.  This was a nondenominational hymnal, described in the Preface as "a small collection of large hymns" (small in its own time, perhaps, but it includes 488 hymns, which we probably wouldn't call small today).  Coincidentally, the Preface is dated Easter 1910, and so I looked for something new and different (to me) for the season.  The thing I like about today's text is that it's not just about the Easter story, it's about going out and telling the good news of the resurrection.

Proclaim to all, both far and near
That Christ is ris'n again;
That he is with us now and here,
And ever shall remain.

And what we say, let all this morn,
Go tell it to their friends,
That soon in every place shall dawn
Christ's reign, which never ends.

The earthly paths that Jesus trod
To heav'n at last shall come,
And all who hearken to the Word
Shall reach God's promised home.

He lives! His presence has not ceased,
Though foes and fears be rife;
And thus we hail in Easter’s feast
A world renewed to life!

Friedrich von Hardenberg, 1799;
tr. Catherine Winkworth, 1858; alt.
Tune: MAGNIFY (C.M.)

Calvin W. Laufer, 20th cent.

OK, the word "rife" is probably not the most user-friendly of terms, and I'm not sure modern hymnwriters should use it, but I do like the rest of that stanza.

I've had a copy of this hymnal downloaded from the internet for some time, but there's really no more convenient substitute for holding the book in your hand and leafing through it.

In the spirit of Eastertide I hope to bring some new life of my own to the blog here.  Hope someone out there is still listening.