Music Notes for Lent IV

The opening hymn at this week’s service of Holy Communion will be Peter Abelard‘s (1079-1142) hymn ‘O what their joy and their glory must be’, translated by John Mason Neale (1818-1866). The Latin text, O quanta qualia sunt illa sabbata was written by Abelard for the hymnal used by the convent of the Paraclete near Paris founded by HeloiseHymnarus Paraclitensis. See Analecta Hymnica 48: 163. Neale’s translation was made for the Hymnal Noted Part II (1854) and was included, with alterations, in the Appendix (1868) to the first edition of Hymns Ancient and Modern published in 1861. The modern tune O QUANTA QUALIA is an adaptation of the original tune.
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The Communion hymn is ‘Bread of heaven on thee we feed’. Written by Josiah Conder (1789-1855), it was first published in Conder’s The Star in the East; with Other Poems (1824), entitled ‘For the Eucharist’, with quotations from John 6: 51-4 and John 15:1 (‘I am the true vine…’). It was included in The Congregational Hymn Book (1836), edited by Conder. The original text used the first person (‘Bread of heaven, on thee I feed’) but it was changed to ‘we’ in Josiah Pratt’s Psalms and Hymns (1829), which printed it in three four-line verses rather than two six-line ones. William Cooke and William Denton, in the Church Hymnal(1853), used the two verse form, with further alterations, which were taken over by the first edition of Hymns Ancient and Modern. Conder was a prominent non-conformist and abolitionist. In 1839 he became a founding committee member of the British and Foreign Anti-slavery Society for the Abolition of Slavery and the Slave-trade Throughout the World, and he also who took an active part in seeking to repeal the British anti-Jewish laws. The tune BREAD OF HEAVEN was composed by William Dalrymple Maclagan (1826-1910), sometime archbishop of York.
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Thomas AttwoodToday’s anthems are both by composers who were, successively, organist at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. The Offertory anthem is a setting of words from Psalm 51: 9-11, Turn thy face from my sins byThomas Attwood (1765-1838). A favourite of the Prince Regent, later
George IV, Attwood had been sent at the prince’s expense to study in Naples, and Vienna, where he become a favoured pupil of Mozart (1756-1791). Upon returning to Britain in 1787, he had been appointed as a chamber musician to the Prince Regent. In 1796 he was chosen as organist at St. Paul’s and appointed composer to His Majesty’s Chapel Royal.
John GossThe Communion motet is a setting of O Saviour of the world by Sir John Goss (1800-1880). Goss had been a chorister at the Chapel Royal in London, and, later was a pupil of Thomas Attwood. He was later appointed organist of St. Luke’s Church in Chelsea, which had a men and boys choir that sang Choral Evensong daily in the English cathedral tradition. Better known for his hymn tunes to ‘Praise my soul the King of heaven’and ‘See, amid the winter’s snow’, Attwood was described by a music critic of The Times as the last of the line of English composers who confined themselves almost entirely to ecclesiastical music. Like Attwood before him, Goss was a professor at London’s Royal Academy of Music, and he taught (Sir) Arthur Sullivan (1842-1900), and (Sir) John Stainer(1840-1901), who succeeded him as organist at St. Paul’s. The words come from the Latin Antiphon at Holy Unction and for the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, Salvator mundi, salva nos.