Music to End Sunday, 13 June 2021
The theme of rest and sleep runs through our music this evening.
The Italian late baroque composer Domenico Scarlatti wrote nearly six hundred sonatas for keyboard. Many of them are boisterous and virtuosic, but tonight I have chosen the reflective Sonata in G minor to establish a mood of quiet contemplation.
Sonata in G minor
Composed by Domenico Scarlatti (Montserrat collection AM 2158).
Now we hear comforting words by Alan Gaunt, sung to the beautiful melody ‘Pastor Pastorum’ (more usually associated with ‘Faithful shepherd, feed me’). Alan served as Congregational and United Reformed Minister in different parts of the North of England for over forty years. His New Prayer for Worship proved to be something of a best seller both in the UK and in Australia/New Zealand. Hymn writing, encouraged by Eric Routley and Fred Kaan, followed later. ‘Come to me, says Jesus and I will give you rest’, inspired by Matthew 11: 28, was written in 1997.
‘Come to me’, says Jesus,
‘all who are distressed,
take my yoke upon you,
I will give you rest.
Hear the call of Jesus:
come, be deeply blessed,
his, the invitation
you, the honoured guest.
Here, where bread is broken;
here, where wine is poured,
thankfully receive him,
find your faith restored.
Pardon, feed and heal us,
humble, courteous Lord;
gracious host, for ever
honoured and adored.
‘Come to me’, says Jesus, ‘all who are distressed’
Based on Matthew 11: 28–30, words written by Alan Gaunt in 1997, set to a melody composed by Friedrich Silcher in 1838.
‘He watching over Israel slumbers not nor sleeps’, using words from Psalm 121: 4, is one of the lovely choruses from Part 2 of Mendelssohn’s ‘Elijah’. It follows the a cappella trio ‘Lift thine eyes’, based on verse 1 of the psalm. The music has a delightful tranquillity and an easy, relaxed flow. We hear it in a recent performance by the Cornerstone Chamber Choir and Orchestra.
He watching over Israel
slumbers not, nor sleeps
shouldst thou, walking in grief, languish
He will quicken thee
He watching over Israel slumbers not nor sleeps
Words written by Julius Schubring in 1846, adapted from Psalm 121: 4 and Psalm 138: 7, from oratorio Elijah, opus 70, composed by Felix Mendelssohn in 1846.
Morpheus is one of the finest pieces written for viola by one of that instrument’s greatest exponents, Rebecca Clarke. She composed the work in 1918 for a recital in New York’s Aeolian Hall. Morpheus (from the Greek ‘morpha’ meaning ‘form’) is Ovid’s name for the god of dreams, one of the thousand sons of Sleep. In later classical and mediaeval writings, Morpheus came to represent the flickering, shape-changing quality of the dream-like state, Clarke’s atmospheric score is brought to life by Louise Boynton.
Composed by Rebecca Clarke in 1918.
Performed by Louise Boynton (viola) Adrian Boynton (piano)
And so to prayer:
Dear God, as I lay me down to sleep, relax the tension of my body, calm the restlessness of my mind, still the thoughts which worry and perplex me. Help me to rest myself and all my problems in your strong and loving arms. Grant me sleep tonight, and tomorrow power to live.