Music to End Sunday, 4 July 2021

Dear Friends,

Exactly one year ago today, Ernesto invited me to share with you music on a Sunday evening, and so began ‘Music to end the day’, which we have maintained every Sunday since then. We begin tonight with the very first piece offered in this series on 5 July 2020, the chorale prelude ‘Liebster Jesu, wir sind hier’ (Dearest Jesus, we are here) by J.S. Bach. A tenderly decorated version of the well-known Lutheran melody is projected on a solo register against three-part counterpoint in left hand and pedal.

Dearest Jesus, we are here, at thy call, thy presence owning;
pleading now in holy fear that great sacrifice atoning:
Word incarnate, much in wonder on this mystery deep we ponder.

Jesus, strong to save – the same yesterday, today, for ever –
make us fear and love thy name, serving thee with best endeavour:
in this life, O never forsake us, but to bliss hereafter take us.

Organ prelude – Liebster Jesu, wir sind hier

Now we hear Bernadette Farrell’s lovely paraphrase of Psalm 139, recorded in the intimacy of our lovely Chapel at Christ the Cornerstone. Bernadette is one of our best-known composers of Catholic liturgical music. Her first commission was for Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral for the National Pastoral Congress of 1980. She was a founding member of the St Thomas More group and served on the Roman Catholic Bishops’ Liturgical Commission for many years. She also worked in London’s East End, authored a report on immigration (adopted by government) and led campaigns on safety, sanctuary, housing, wages and health.

O God, you search me, and you know me
All my thoughts lie open to your gaze
When I walk or lie down, you are before me

Ever the maker and keeper of my days.
You know my resting and my rising
You discern my purpose from afar
And with love everlasting, you besiege me
In every moment of life or death, you are.
Before a word is on my tongue, Lord,
You have known its meaning through and through
You are with me beyond my understanding
God of my present, my past and future, too.
Although your Spirit is upon me
Still I search for shelter from your light
There is nowhere on Earth I can escape you
Even the darkness is radiant in your sight.
For you created me and shaped me
Gave me life within my mother’s womb
For the wonder of who I am, I praise you
Safe in your hands, all creation is made new
Mmm, all creation is made new.

Hymn – O God, you search me and you know me

Charles Stanford is one of the key figures, along with Hubert Parry, of the great revival of English music at the end of the nineteenth century. He was also an outstanding teacher and, through his work as Professor of Composition at the Royal College of Music, nurtured some of the finest English composers of modern times. His several settings of the evening canticles (Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis) are regularly sung in churches and cathedrals throughout the land (including Christ the Cornerstone). He also wrote several a cappella anthems, including this lovely setting of Psalm 119: 1. Notice how Stanford skilfully contrasts higher and lower voices in the rich six-part texture.

Beati quorum via integra est,
qui ambulant in lege Domini.

Blessed are the undefiled in the way,
who walk in the law of the Lord.

Beati Quorum Via

Now we hear a special arrangement of Fred Khan’s lovely hymn, ‘Put peace into each other’s hands’, which I made for a BBC broadcast a few years ago. Fred Kaan served with distinction as Secretary of the International Congregational Council, as Chairman of the Council for World Mission and a Moderator of the West Midlands Province of the URC. The Cornerstone Choir was honoured to work with him some years ago on a new setting of Magnificat, a collaboration between Fred Kaan and Norwegian composer Knut Nystedt. ‘Put Peace into each other’s hands’ uses the traditional Irish tune ‘St Columba’, first sung as a hymn at the dedication of a chapel in County Londonderry in the 1850s.

Put peace into each other’s hands
and like a treasure hold it;
protect it like a candle-flame,
with tenderness enfold it.

Put peace into each other’s hands
with loving expectation;
be gentle in your words and ways,
in touch with God’s creation.

Put peace into each other’s hands
like bread we break for sharing;
look people warmly in the eye:
our life is meant for caring.

Give thanks for strong yet tender hands,
held out in trust and blessing.
Where words fall short, let hands speak out,
the heights of love expressing.

Put peace into each other’s hands,
he is love’s deepest measure;
in love make peace, give peace a chance,
and share it like a treasure.

Fred Kaan (1929–2009)

Put peace into each other’s hands

We end our sequence with the Chanson and Rondeau from John Rutter’s ’Suite Antique’ for flute, harpsichord and strings. It was written in 1979 for a celebration concert in West Sussex, and uses the same musical forces as Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto no. 5, which was performed on the same occasion. The beguiling melody of the Chanson contrasts with the lively, sometimes unpredictable rhythms of the Rondeau (using unusual timesignatures, such as 5/8 and 7/8). The music is superbly written for the instruments. It is witty, brilliantly coloured and, above all, good fun.

Postlude: Chanson and Finale

Goodnight, everyone.

Adrian Boynton