Music Notes for Trinity 21

Music you will hear at St. Thomas’ this Sunday, the Twenty-first after Trinity.



Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) Geistliches Leid Op. 30

A recording, sung by the Stuttgart Chamber Choir may be found here:

Portrait of Johannes Brahms (Hamburg, 1833-Vienna, 1897), German conductor and composer, Engraving

Portrait of Johannes Brahms (Hamburg, 1833-Vienna, 1897), German conductor and composer, Engraving

Composed in 1856 when he was 23 years old, Geistliches Leid (Sacred Song) is Brahms’s earliest accompanied choral work. It combines a formidable contrapuntal facility with breath-taking delicacy.  The organ introduction gives way to a double canon between soprano and tenor, followed by alto and bass. For the central section, Brahms re-works a number of ideas from the outer sections, juxtaposing major and minor keys before making a return to the opening material for the final stanza of Paul Fleming’s (1609-1640) poem. For the Amen, the canon is reversed, with bass and alto entering first, followed by soprano and tenor.

Along with Martin Opitz (1597-1639), Andreas Gryphus (1616-1664), Christian Hoffmann von Hoffmannswaldau (1616-1679) and Daniel Casper von Lohenstein (1635-1683), Paul Fleming is one of the writers now called ‘The Silesian Poets’. A German physician, hymn-writer, and the leading poet of his day, he supplied the texts for a number of J. S. Bach’s cantatas (BWV 13, BWV 44, & BWV 97).

Fleming was immersed in the Lutheran tradition, having been educated in Leipzig, first at the Thomasschule and subsequently at the university there. He was a medic by training but there is no evidence he practised medicine.


Déodat De Séverac (1872-1921)

de-Severac-DeodatThe Communion motet is a setting of St. Thomas Aquinas’s hymn, Tantum ergo by the French composer, Déodat de Séverac. After leaving his native Toulouse, he studied in Paris but at the Schola Cantorum rather than the more conventional (and secular) choice of the Paris Conservatoire.


53        Songs of thankfulness and praise           SALZBURG

403      Book of books, our people’s strength      LIEBSTER JESU

199      O God unseen yet ever near                   MEDITATION

We have a gospel to proclaim                 FULDA/GARDINER


Dr Giles Brightwell