April 28, 2013 - 5:00 PM 
Choral EvensonG and Benediction
Christ Church, New Haven CT
  • Introit: Charles Wood Hail gladdening light
    Preces: Robert W. Lehman
    Psalm 8, Domine, Dominus noster  chant: George Thalben-Ball
    Psalm 84, Quam dilecta! chant: C.H.H. Parry
    Canticles: Herbert Brewer in D
    Anthem: Gerald Finzi God is gone up
    Benediction: Marcel Dupré O Salutaris hostia

About the Music

The Anglican Singers are honored to lead the service of choral evensong this evening at historic Christ Church, a parish rich in its history; its architecture; its commitment to music-in-liturgy; and its continuing mission of social justice, as evidenced in its work with those in need, in New Haven and beyond.  These elements closely parallel those of the Singers’ “home church,” St. James Episcopal Church of New London.

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The program features primarily the works of 19th and 20th-century British and American composers, some of which are an integral part of the Singers’ repertoire.

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The Anglo-Irish composer Charles Wood (1866-1926) wrote “Hail, gladdening light,” tonight’s introit, as an anthem for double mixed chorus, to be performed antiphonally between the two choirs.  The joyous, vigorous music complements the evening canticle, Phos hilaron, paraphrased by poet and churchman John Keble (1792-1866).

As is well known to this congregation, American composer Robert W. Lehman (b. 1960) was, for a number of years, organist and choirmaster at Christ Church, so his buoyant Preces and Responses are no doubt familiar to many at this service.

The long-lived Australian-English composer George T. Thalben-Ball (1896-1987) served throughout his distinguished career as an organist and choirmaster.  He also composed a number of choral anthems and organ pieces, including, in the latter category, Elegy, which was performed at the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales.  Tonight’s setting of Psalm 8 (Domine, Dominus noster) is taken from Sir George’s Choral Psalter.

C.H.H. Parry (1848-1918) may be best known for his iconic anthem “Jerusalem,” and for popular hymn tunes like Laudate Dominum and Repton, but he also composed in several other genres as well as taught and authored books on music theory and history.  Parry’s setting of Psalm 84 (Quam dilecta!) is an example of his rousing and memorable musical style.

A. Herbert Brewer (1865-1928) was a prominent composer as well as an organist and choirmaster of high esteem.  His spacious Service in D was reset in 1927 for the Three Choirs Festival at Hereford Cathedral.  The Magnificat is rousing and triumphant, while the Nunc dimittis, as befits the text, is introspective and tranquil, until the repeated exultant Gloria.

British composer Gerald Finzi (1901-1956) has been called “the most thoughtful of the composers who formed the core of the English musical renaissance [whose] fastidious craftsmanship is reflected in his small number of works.”  One of that “small number of works” is “God is gone up,” whose wonderful text is taken from Edward Taylor’s (ca. 1646-1729) “Sacramental Meditations.”  Finzi’s robust treatment of portions of this praise-psalm, interspersed with tender and lyrical phrasing, keeps the listener on the edge of his seat.

For the Benediction, the chorus draws from the French tradition, singing Marcel Dupré’s O Salutaris hostia (“O Saving Victim” – set to hymn tunes in both the 1940 and the 1982 hymnal).  A musical prodigy, Dupré (1886-1971) took to the organ almost from his cradle, and his virtuosity on the instrument has been described as miraculous.  In the prayer-song O Salutaris hostia, this virtuosity is on display yet never covers or overwhelms the simple waltz-like beauty of the choral lines.

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Celebrating the Fifth Sunday of Easter, the Anglican Singers give thanks for the invitation to perform choral evensong in this sacred and historic space.  In so doing, they, like the musicians at Christ Church, are bound and privileged to carry on a beloved and venerable tradition.

Anne Carr Bingham