In the morning, we will hear two selections from Max Reger’s Opus 59, a collection of twelve pieces for organ published in 1901. Pastorale is a trio from the first half of the collection, which comprises settings of traditional compositional forms such as a toccata, fugue, and intermezzo. The pastorale form itself is typically in a three meter over a drone-like bass and has often been associated with nature, specifically the Christmas story of the shepherds. Famous examples include the Pastoral Symphony from Handel’s Messiah and the third movement of Vivaldi’s Spring concerto (The Four Seasons). The second half of Opus 59 contains mostly liturgical pieces of which the final work will be offered, Te Deum. Based on the Gregorian Chant melody ascribed to the ancient Christian hymn of praise, Te Deum Laudamus (Thee, O God, we praise), the piece slowly crescendos to a grand Regerian finale.
Soprano Jennifer Stimson will offer a setting of Psalm 23, our scripture reading this Sunday, by composer David Childs.
At 6:00 p.m., Bobby, vocalist Blair Carpenter, and other familiar friends of Plymouth will present a Celtic-inspired selection of songs and musical offerings.
At 10 a.m., we hear two organ works by German composers from two very different eras. J.S. Bach’s chorale prelude on Liebster Jesu, wir sind hier (translated as “Dearest Jesus, we are here”) opens the worship service. Bach wrote several settings of this tune by Johann Ahle (1664). The present setting, categorized as BWV 731, is an early work. The exact date of composition is unknown. Hermann Schroeder (1904-1984) strived to compose music free of any Romantic leanings and instead employed Medieval elements such as Gregorian Chant and modal scales along with quartal/quintal harmonies and aspects of atonality. He was considered a member of the “Neo-Baroque” movement which also included Paul Hindemith and Hugo Distler in its roster. Schroeder’s brief Praeludium will close the service.
The Summer Choir returns this Sunday in the second of three opportunities this season offering “In This Very Room” by Ron and Carol Harris. You too can join us if you wish! Rehearsal begins at 9:15 a.m. in the sanctuary.
At 6 p.m., Bobby will be joined by trumpeter Tony Gezzi and friends for an evening of eclectic musical stylings.
I also wanted to say just a few words about the trip to Texas Hal and I took this past week. In case you didn’t know, we had been selected for a Lilly Scholar grant, courtesy of the Church Music Institute, that enabled us to attend workshops at St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church in Dallas and a week of classes at Brite Divinity School at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth. The information received has been overwhelming and will be processed slowly in the coming weeks. I know our project as part of the Lilly Scholar grant, the refinement and continued intentional evolution of our 6:00 p.m. service, will greatly benefit from this past week, as will all of our service offerings at Plymouth. Being immersed in an environment of shared learning and being among our peers and colleagues from several different denominations was inspiring, motivating, and encouraging to the work we all do here. Hal and I will return next summer for continued study and will meet with our Colorado counterparts in this Lilly Project, representatives from Heart of the Rockies of Fort Collins and First Congregational Church of Boulder. We are excited to see realized a deepening and evolution of our services as we continue forward. More to come.
Director of Music
At 10 a.m., we celebrate 20th century American organ composers this July 4th “pre-weekend.” Paul Manz was Cantor Emeritus at Mount Olive Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where his legendary hymn festivals were first performed. Many of his organ improvisations have been published and elaborated upon including this week’s prelude, “Aria.” Calvin Hampton was organist/choirmaster at Calvary Episcopal Church in New York City. From 1974 - 1983, a year before his death, he performed in the country’s most famous organ recital series at Calvary, “Fridays at Midnight.” A composer known for his inventive settings of hymn tunes, an excerpt from Hampton’s Prelude and Variations on “Old Hundredth” (the tune of our familiar Doxology) will serve as the offertory. Organist David Johnson composed well over 300 pieces in his life, most for use in church. His trumpet voluntaries in particular have been widely used. “Voluntary in D Flat Major” will close this Sunday morning’s service in a suitably festive spirit.
At 6 p.m., Bobby will provide further explorations in music by American composers, both older and new.
Two excerpts from Romantic-era organ sonatas, both second in the composers’ organ sonata catalogue, will be heard this Sunday morning. “Grave and Allegro” from Organ Sonata No. 2 in A Flat Major (Fantasie-Sonate) by German composer Josef Rheinberger opens the morning service. Rheinberger composed twenty organ sonatas, all in different keys. He intended to write four more to cover all twenty-four major and minor key signatures but was prevented to do so by declining health. The sonatas pay homage to the counterpoint and classical form of Bach and also to the spirit of 19th century composers such as Brahms and Mendelssohn. The penultimate movement from Mendelssohn’s second organ sonata will then appropriately close the service, “Allegro maestoso.”
The Summer Choir begins their season anew this week with John Rutter’s original setting of the hymn text “All Things Bright and Beautiful." You are all welcome to join us…really! Rehearsal will begin at 9:15 a.m. this Sunday morning. All that is required is a love of singing. I hope to see you in the chancel!
At 6:00, we get to experience “Electric Hymnody.” Guitarist Alan Skowron will plug in and, along with vocalist Adrienne Harlow and friends of Plymouth, lead an electric spin on songs and musical offerings: jangly and perhaps a bit rockin’.
Director of Music
As always, here is a preview of this Sunday’s music.
We’ll be treated to a bluegrass style of worship at Rolland Moore Park this weekend. Thank you to Ben and Eli Slocumb for assembling a crew of talented musicians to lead our hymns and offer songs by such as artists as The Stanley Brothers and Mississippi John Hurt. It will be fun!
And looking ahead to these hazy, lazy summer months, Summer Choir will return for the following 10:00 a.m. Sunday services: June 17, July 8, and August 12.
All are welcome! Rehearsals will be just prior to the services at 9:15 a.m. Anthems will be very easy and if we must adjust, we will. If you enjoy singing and wish to have a very different view of the sanctuary for even just a brief moment, come and join us.
Hope to see you in the chancel!
Mark Heiskanen Director of Music
The First Sunday after Pentecost can also be acknowledged as Trinity Sunday. And it is to this traditional feast day on the Roman calendar that Sunday morning’s Baroque era organ selections will honor. A setting of the trinitarian hymn “Allein Gott in der Höh sei Her” (To God Alone on High be Glory) by early Baroque Dutch composer Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck begins the service. Sweelinck refined Renaissance era composition practices and helped usher in the North German organ school of composers which included Georg Böhm, J.S. Bach, Dietrich Buxtehude, and Samuel Scheidt, the latter two also being heard this Sunday morning. “Wir glauben all’ an einen Gott” (We all believe in one true God) serves as the Offertory this week. There are numerous settings in the organ literature of this Martin Luther hymn, whose text is based on the words of the Nicean Creed. Samuel Scheidt, also a student of Sweelinck, provides the setting this week. Buxtehude’s galloping Fugue in C Major concludes the service. Subtitled the ‘gigue fugue’, the work is in a compound three meter imitating the imported British jig dance. Bach employed many numerological references to the Trinity in his organ works (abundant in the triple fugue of his “St. Anne” E flat major masterpiece). Buxtehude did not presumably intend this ‘gigue’ to be a trinitarian reference, but it will do.
Come back later to Plymouth for a jazz-inflected service at 6:00. Vocalist Adrienne Harlow and trombonist Rob Borger and friends will join Bobby for a musically adventurous evening.
On this Pentecost Sunday, the ancient Latin hymn “Veni Creator Spiritus” (Come Creator Spirit) forms the basis for several musical offerings. This Invocation to the Holy Spirit is believed to have been composed by 9th century theologian and scholar Rabanus Maurus and is sung in Gregorian Chant. The morning services begin with Prelude and Passacaglia: “In Festo Pentecostes” (1981) by James Woodman. The Prelude is based on the chant melody which appears again in the fifteen-variation Passacaglia section over the recurring “ground bass,” played in the pedal. The service concludes with J.S. Bach’s setting of the Luther hymn, “Komm, Gott Schöpfer, heiliger Geist” (Come, God Creator, Holy Ghost). From the Great Eighteen Chorale Preludes, BWV 667 was composed in the last year of Bach’s life in 1750. Veni Creator serves as the cantus firmus, played in the pedal, while the manuals dictate an intricate ritornello figure above. Lastly, my celestial setting of the tune for handbells and choir will be heard as the introit at 11:00.
In the spirit of Pentecost, all of our current musical ensembles will be present together for both morning services. The Chancel Choir will offer Anton Bruckner’s “Locus iste,” an anthem written for the dedication of the votive chapel of Linz Cathedral, Austria in 1869. The text is the Latin Gradual for the anniversary of the dedication of a church, itself based on the biblical stories of Jacob’s Ladder and the burning bush. At 9:00, the Youth Bells will return for their last appearance this season. The Plymouth Ringers will present an arrangement by Bill Ingram of the spiritual “Every Time I Feel the Spirit” at 11:00.
And come experience the Fire of Pentecost at 6:00 in world music renditions of hymns of the spirit. Vocalist Blair Carpenter and Stuart Yoshida on ukulele and more will accompany Bobby in sounds of the spirit from around the world.
“Simple Song”, from Leonard Bernstein’s MASS: A Theatre Piece for Singers, Players, and Dancers
will be sung by our soprano choral section leader Emily Morris at both the 9:00 and 11:00 services. Flutist and Chancel Choir member Aaron McGrew will provide the obligato. MASS was commissioned by First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy and received its premiere in 1971 at the opening of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C. The Chancel Choir offers British composer Will Todd’s “Lighting the Way.” Subtitled "A Song for Pilgrims," the work was composed for the 1999 Lighting the Way Festival at Durham Cathedral in England.
A selection from Ned Rorem’s Organ Book III (1989), “Impromptu,” begins the morning services. Rorem won the Pulitzer Prize in 1976 for his orchestral composition, “Air,” and is also a published author, notably his essays on music and personal diaries. Canadian organist Healey Willan’s setting of the English folk melody Deo Gracias (translated "Thanks to God") closes the services. The tune is commonly known as the Agincourt Carol, the melody originating in the early fifteenth century in commemoration of the 1415 Battle of Agincourt.
Bobby welcomes two new additions to the 6:00 service musicians roster this week. Guitarist Alan Skowron is an active performer and instructor in the area specializing in jazz and classical. Vocalist Hannah Walters is also the music director and organist of Peace With Christ Lutheran Church here in Fort Collins. Bassist Guy Keith, percussionist Matt Brown, and yours truly will also be present and together provide a musically contemplative worship experience.
Director of Music
This Sunday morning’s choral and organ music will all hail from Britain. Two organ selections from Six Pieces by Frank Bridge, Allegro comodo and Allegro ben moderato, will be offered. The composer’s organ works are among his oft-performed repertoire. Bridge was also a mentor to his colleague and friend Benjamin Britten. Philip Wilby’s setting of “If ye love me,” a lovely alternative to the Thomas Tallis standard, will be sung by the Chancel Choir at 11:00, accompanied by organist Jean Merkel.
Come to the 6:00 service where Bobby and vocalist Adrienne Harlow will bring a gospel-tinged flavor to the congregational songs and musical selections.
This Sunday morning will be steeped in the musical imagination of famed Baroque composer George Frideric Händel (1685-1759). At the 9:00 service, violinist Harmony Tucker and myself will play Händel’s Sonata No. 1 in A Major as the prelude. Come early and hear this amazing work! Excerpts from Sonata No. 3 in F Major will also be offered.
At 10:00, join Dr. John Pippen in the Forum Room for his presentation on Part III of Händel’s Messiah. Dr. Pippen, Assistant Professor of Music History and Musicology at Colorado State University, will discuss the history of the work, the genre of the oratorio in general and its creators, and aspects of this Easter portion of Handel’s oratorio including form and text setting.
At 11:00, we will all have the privilege of experiencing the third part of Händel’s masterwork Messiah (1741). Accompanied by an eleven member chamber orchestra and featuring soloists from around the Fort Collins area, the Chancel Choir and friends will present all nine sections of part three in their entirety.*
Please join us for this Easter season service of scripture and music from Händel’s beloved oratorio, Messiah.
At 6:00, Bobby will be joined by harpist Alaina Borgers and friends for a Celtic-inspired service with other musical excursions very possible.
Director of Music
*Recordings of the musical offerings from April 29
Each week, Director of Music Mark Heiskanen writes a Music Minute previewing the upcoming Sunday's musical offerings and occasionally opines on other music-related topics.
We are blessed by an engaging music program at Plymouth!
Mark Heiskanen has been Plymouth's Director of Music since September 2017. Originally from Northeast Ohio, Mark has experience and great interest in a diverse range of musical styles including jazz, rock, musical theatre, and gospel. He is thrilled to serve a congregation and staff that values diversity and inclusion in all facets of life.