The Time for Grand Things

It is no secret that I like grand things. I’m one of those slightly-naïve but cup-half-full people who finds life perpetually grand, hence my affection for grand liturgy and music, along with my devotion to all-things Royal and all-things Downton Abbey.

Eastertide is the time for grand things. Lent not so much. And there is spiritual value in both.

This Sunday’s (Apr. 10) anthem at the Offertory at our 10:30 liturgy is grand in every way – tune, text, instrumentation, voicing, phrases that rise and fall and finally rise. The text of “Come, risen Lord, and deign to be our guest,” written by Canon George Wallace Briggs (1875-1959), first appeared in the hymnal Songs of Praise (London, 1931). Briggs served as a canon priest for Leister and Worcester cathedrals for most of his career.

Canon Briggs’ text makes use of one of my favorite literary moments in all liturgical texts, when the altar is referred to God’s board: “Thy self at thine own board make manifest in thine own sacrament of bread and wine.” The original language is lifted from the 1549 First Book of Common Prayer: “then the Prieste standyng at Goddes borde shall begin.”

The tune is as grand as the text. Prominent 20th-century Episcopal musician Leo Sowerby (1985-1968) composed this music as the hymn Rosedale for the dedication of the Gloria in Excelsis Tower of Washington Cathedral in 1964. At that time, Sowerby was the director of the College of Church Musicians, and Rosedale was the name of the house on the cathedral close where the college was housed.

Sowerby scored Rosedale for congregation, four-part choir, brass choir and organ, ending with a soaring descant for the sopranos. We will use the anthem setting, which was published after the Washington Cathedral dedication service in 1964; however, we will sing the anthem with only voices and organ this Sunday.

And speaking of sopranos, we will have many more than usual at Church of the Holy Communion this Sunday morning. Our special guest choir for the 10:30 liturgy, the Rhodes College Women’s Chorus directed by Dr. Mona Kreitner, will join our own Parish Choir and Children’s Choir (directed by Mrs. Ellen Koziel), for numerous anthems during the liturgy, including the Sowerby. 

Listen to a recording of “Come, risen Lord” by the William Ferris Chorale, Kansas City, MO:

Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at 1:00 PM
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