MUSIC NOTES THE FEAST OF BLESSED ABSALOM JONES FEBRUARY 12, 2023
Welcome to Music Notes!
Your weekly insight to the music making at St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Philadelphia!
We have a lot of Music & Arts events coming up at St. Martin’s so please mark your calendars and tell all your friends:
Black History Month Celebration Concert – February 15 at 7pm
Call for Art – We are looking for Artists and Creators both amateur and professional, children and adult, to create works in response to the Stations of the Cross! Three categories of honoraria will be available for Professionals, Amateurs, and Youth for the most inspiring work in each group! More information here.
Healing with the Arts – February 25, All Day
Join St. Martin’s Resident Ensemble, the Fairmount String Quartet, along with the Wellspring Ministry in a day of healing ministry through music, art, poetry, worship, and fellowship. More details and ticket options available here.
This week in music at St. Martin’s we recognize African American abolitionist and clergyman Absalom Jones, a Saint in the Episcopal Church, whose work became prominent right here in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. We recognize him both in the propers of our liturgy and in our hymns and music.
This week’s Offertory music is the hymn for the Episcopal Saint, Blessed Absalom Jones. With text written by American priest and theologian, The Reverend Canon Harold Lewis (b. 1947). The text, which depicts Absalom’s life, is set to the tune Lauda Anima by British Composer John Goss, and is commonly used for the hymn text “Praise my soul the King of Heaven”. Consider this as you sing the lines:
One fine morning, while at worship,
Wrested from his knees in prayer;
He, his friends, were thus evicted:
“You no more may praise God here.”
There is a beautiful dichotomy between the tune (and its connotations) and the text we sing on Sunday, which leads to a very considered and powerful hymn in recognition of a renowned and important figure in history who is still relevant today.
Amy Beach (1867-1944) was a pioneer for American art music. The first woman to write and publish large-scale symphonic works, which were then performed by some of the leading orchestras of the time. Her Gaelic Symphony was premiered by the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 1986. She was renowned not only as a composer but also a great piano recitalist both here and in Europe, though she received no European training which was unusual for American musicians of the time.
From a wealthy family, Beach is reported to have been a child prodigy, singing, composing, and playing from a very early age. Of high(er) society, Beach was not encouraged in her musical pursuits as a career, and it was only after the death of her husband who had strict control over her performances and teaching, that she could fully immerse herself in the profession. Beach is recognized not only for her musical talents, but for breaking down barriers for female musicians and dispelling societal “norms”.
Peace I Leave with You is a beautiful example of what simple text, simple melody, some beautiful harmony, and effective part-writing can achieve in under two minutes!
Coda: The organ music, particularly the postlude, this Sunday may contain subtle (or not so subtle) nods to a certain “sports ball” event happening on Sunday so keep your ears open!
Director of Music & Arts