2014-04-06 Notes from the Bench

“Richard de Castre’s Prayer to Jesus” by Sir Richard Runciman Terry

A commentary on this week’s music by Dr. James T. Gerber, Music Associate


Jesu, Lord, that madest me,
And with Thy blessed blood has bought,
Forgive that I have grieved Thee
With word, with will, and eke with thought.
Jesu, in whom is all my trust,
That died upon the roodë tree,
Withdraw my heart from fleshly lust
And from all worldly vanity.
Jesu, for Thy woundës smart
On feet and on Thy handës two,
Make me meek and low of heart,
And Thee to love as I should do.
Jesu, keep them that be good,
Amend them that have grieved Thee,
And send them fruits of earthly food
As each man need’th in his degree. 



The text of this carol dates back to c. 1430 and is an excerpt of a longer prayer attributed to Richard de Caste who was the vicar of St. Stephen’s Church in Norwich, England during the early fifteenth century.


Sir Richard Runciman Terry (1865-1938) was English organist, choir director, and musicologist.  Terry contributed to the revival of interest in in Tudor era liturgical music (1485-1603); the polyphonic choral music of composers such as Thomas Tallis (1505-1585), William Byrd (c. 1540-1623), and Orlando Gibbons (1583-1625) which is today regarded as one of the high points of English sacred music. Terry’s interest in music of this era began while he served as the organist and music director for the Roman Catholic Benedictine Downside School in Somerset.  Gregorian chant, being revived by the monks at Solesmes Abbey in France, was an additional inspiration to Terry and became a significant part of the Downside repertoire.  From 1901 to 1924, Terry was the director of music at Westminster Roman Catholic Cathedral in London, the mother church of the Roman Catholic community in England and Wales.  There, he established a meritorious choral tradition with repertoire comprised of Gregorian chant and sacred polyphony.  Terry was also active as a music editor and journalist.  In 1922, Terry was awarded knighthood.


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