Alleluia, Alleluia

The Fifth Sunday of Easter
May 19, 2019

As we continue the Easter Feast, Praying Twice is focusing on Easter hymns. This week, we are singing one of the modern Easter hymns in The Hymnal 1982, "Alleluia, alleluia, give thanks to the risen Lord" (Alleluia No. 1). The words and music were written by Donald Fishel (b. 1950) when he was a college student. Listen to a recording: Alleluia No. 1

Fishel remains active as a composer and flute instructor. He currently lives in Nashville, Tennessee. 

Hymnologist C. Michael Hawn writes:

In the years following the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), Roman Catholic composers contributed many new songs for congregational use in a variety of musical styles. The folk song style of the 1960s and 1970s became very popular because of its fresh sound to parishioners of this era, the accessibility of the guitar and the singability of the tunes, especially for those unaccustomed to singing in the liturgy.

(History of Hymns: https://www.umcdiscipleship.o…


The Fourth Sunday of Easter
May 12, 2019

During the Great Fifty Days of Easter, my articles in Praying Twice are focusing on Easter hymns. Today's entrance hymn is "The strife is o'er, the battle done," set to the tune Victory. One of the most popular Easter hymns, this pairing of text and tune was first published in England in 1861. It first appeared in an Episcopal hymnal in 1892. 

Hear a recording: The strife is o'er.

The original, anonymous Latin text appears in a publication from 1695; it is believed to be older. The music was adapted from a Magnificat by the great Italian Renaissance composer, Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina. William H. Monk, who adapted the music, composed the distinctive "Alleluias" that begin and end the hymn.

The tune conveys a stately grandeur appropriate for the Easter feast. The opening and closing alleluias form a fanfare, joyfully proclaiming Christ's resurrection. Every stanza concludes with a jubilant alleluia as well, …

Welcome, Happy Morning!

The Third Sunday of Easter
May 5, 2019

As our celebration of the Great Fifty Days of Easter continues, we enjoy singing the wide variety of Easter hymns found in The Hymnal 1982. Today's entrance hymn - "Welcome, happy morning!" - is a favorite among many Episcopalians. Hear a recording: Welcome, happy morning!

The original Latin text dates from the sixth century and is drawn from a 114-line poem by Venantius Fortunatus. A popular hymn in the Middle Ages, it was translated into German in the 14th and 15th centuries. It is mentioned in correspondence between Archbishop Cranmer and King Henry VIII, and it was the first Latin hymn translated into English for church use. The translation we use today was created by John Ellerton in the 19th century.

The tune, Fortunatus, is named for the author of the text. The music was composed specifically for Ellerton's translation by Sir Arthur S. Sullivan. He published this combination of text and tune in an English hymnal which he edit…

At the Lamb's High Feast We Sing

The Second Sunday of Easter
April 28, 2019

The Easter season is marked by festive music and joyful worship. The Great Fifty Days of Easter continue through the Day of Pentecost. "Alleluias" have returned and appear throughout the liturgy from the opening acclamation to the dismissal. The Paschal candle burns brightly throughout the season.

The season is set apart through our service music which is used throughout the Great Fifty Days. We sing the Gloria in excelsis (Glory to God in the highest) and Sanctus (Holy, holy, holy) from the festive mass setting by William Mathias. The Fraction Anthem (sung at the breaking of the bread) specifically refers to the resurrected Jesus: "The disciples knew the Lord Jesus in the breaking of the bread." The alleluias sung or spoken in the dismissal are only allowed during the Great Fifty Days of Easter. This gives us one final reminder to keep the Easter feast as we go forth into the world.

During the Easter season, we will sing many…

Christ the Lord Is Risen Today!

Easter Day
April 21, 2019

Easter Day at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral is filled with joyful music for congregation, choir, brass, and organ as we celebrate Jesus' resurrection. In addition to rousing hymn arrangements by Richard Webster (Trinity Church, Copley Square, Boston), our Cathedral Choir and brass quintet look forward to offering several festive anthems each year.

In last year's blog post, I discussed Samuel Barber's remarkable "Easter Chorale," which we are singing again this year. Read that post here: Easter Day 2018

Our second anthem, "Introit for Easter (Christ Is Arisen)"," is by Giovanni Gabrieli (c.1556-1612), an Italian Renaissance composer who worked at St. Mark's Cathedral in Venice. He is best known for his compositions for choir and brass that utilize antiphonal techniques - alternating and then combining various groups of singers and instruments for sonic effect.

This year, we are singing "Christ the Lord Is Ris'n Today&…