2017-05-07 Notes from the Bench

 

“Jubilate Deo” by Charles Villiers Stanford

 

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

 

Text:

O be joyful in the Lord, all ye lands:
serve the Lord with gladness,
and come before his presence with a song.
Be ye sure that the Lord he is God;
it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
O go your way into his gates with thanksgiving,
and into his courts with praise;
be thankful unto him, and speak good of his Name.
For the Lord is gracious, his mercy is everlasting;
and his truth endureth from generation to generation.
-Psalm 100

 

 

 

Today is the Fourth Sunday of Easter, frequently called “Good Shepherd Sunday.” Our Gospel reading for the day describes Christ as the “Good Shepherd,” the gatekeeper who calls all people into the fold of the human family. Psalm 100, the Jubilate Deo, is among the psalms that are more frequently sung by the Church. A psalm of praise and thanksgiving, the opening verses encourage all people to worship God through joyful song. This text acknowledges that God is the Lord of all people, and that people from every nation will come to worship and praise the one true God. The psalmist uses the imagery of humanity as sheep in the pasture; that God cares for all people and gathers them together into one, united human family.

Numerous composers from the Renaissance era through the present day have set this text to music. Our choirs will sing a setting by the well-known Anglican composer Charles Villiers Stanford (1852-1924). Stanford was born into a musical family in Dublin, Ireland. He received his education at the University of Cambridge and later went to Germany to study composition with Carl Reinecke in Leipzig, and Friedrich Kiel in Berlin. An accomplished composer and teacher, Stanford’s oeuvre includes symphonies, operas, concertos, chamber works, secular songs, piano and organ works, however, he is best remembered for his numerous sacred choral works, the foundation of music within the Anglican tradition. He was appointed the organist of Trinity College in Cambridge, England and was one of the founding professors of the Royal College of Music where he taught composition. Stanford is among a group of composers, Hubert Perry, Walter Parratt, and Alexander Mackenzie for example, that are regarded as bringing about a renaissance of English music in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Through most of his adult life, he enjoyed a high profile public career. Other English composers such as Gustav Holst, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Herbert Howells, Percy Grainger, and Edward Elgar were among Stanford’s notable students whose own achievements earned them a level of fame that surpassed that of their mentor, Stanford.

 

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