Sunday, February 11, 2024

Music for Meditation: “Songs of Thankfulness and Praise”…Setting by Wilbur Held

“Songs of Thankfulness and Praise” is a wonderful hymn that takes the reader/singer through the entire season of Epiphany, with its Gospel readings and theological emphases, in four verses – beginning with the Wise Men, then continuing through the miracles Jesus performed (such as changing water into wine at the wedding in Cana), and ending with a verse describing the Transfiguration and looking ahead to Good Friday and Easter. This organ setting of the tune used for “Songs of Thankfulness and Praise,” a German chorale melody called “Salzburg” in most hymnals, is by the American composer Wilbur Held (1914-2015), who passed away several years ago at the age of 100. “Songs of Thankfulness and Praise” may be found at Hymn #94 in First Baptist’s hymnal.

Offertory: Allegro (from Pastorella, BWV 590)….J.S. Bach

Bach’s Pastorella, a work modeled on similar compositions by Italian seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century keyboard composers, is in four sections. The last of these (and the least “pastoral” in style) is a flowing Allegro whose main theme is remarkably similar to that of the final movement of Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 3.

Postlude – “Songs of Thankfulness and Praise”….Robert Hobby

Robert Hobby, a distinguished organist and church musician, is Director of Music for Trinity English Lutheran Church in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and a widely published composer of organ and choral music. His setting of “Songs of Thankfulness and Praise” features brilliant, toccata-like writing for the hands, while the pedal sounds forth the hymn melody in longer note values. This piece provides a suitably festive conclusion to the Epiphany season, before the more subdued musical selections to be heard during Lent.

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