MusicNotes Jan 7-8


January 7-8


Prelude-     Chorale Prelude on O Morning Star, How Fair and Bright!    Paul Manz (1919-2009)


To help set the tone for this celebration of the Epiphany, I have chosen a piece to focus our attention on the star that the magi speak of in the Gospel reading. Manz' piece is based on the hymn tune, Wie schön leuchtet, found in the Worship hymnal on page 390.  Paul Manz was one of the most prominent composers of sacred choral and organ music in the past century. His music is a staple in sacred repertoire around the world and has inspired several doctoral dissertations. Besides his numerous compositions, he was also known for his "hymn festivals," programs that would feature hymn improvisations, harmonizations, and congregational singing, instead of the more traditional instrumental recitals.           

Closing Hymn-     I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light                 

This popular hymn was written by Kathleen Thomerson in 1966. Besides capturing the imagery of the star for Epiphany, this song also calls for discipleship and commitment. It is not enough for us to simply admire the light of God, but we are called to walk in that light and to let that light shine through us every day. The following is taken from Thomerson's own notes about the hymn:

"I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light" was written in the sweltering hot summer of 1966 by Kathleen Thomerson, an Episcopalian organist. Kathleen had moved to St. Louis, Missouri in the fall of 1995. The following summer, her mother came from Houston, Texas, to visit. Because an airline strike cancelled her mother's travel plans and a heat wave was making St. Louis unbearable. Thomerson decided to drive her mother back to Houston. This hymn came to her as she anticipated visiting her "brothers and sisters in Christ at the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer in Houston. It was written as a scriptural meditation and prayer…On one hand, it may be sung as a prayer for illumination. The congregation sings "Shine in my heart, Lord Jesus." The second stanza conveys a longing to see Jesus and to be led through Christ to the presence of the Father. On the other hand, it may be sung as a song of dedication. The worshiper commits to live in the light of Christ, singing, "I want to walk . . . I want to see . . . I'm looking for . . ." And in hope and anticipation, the worshiper concludes in stanza 3, "When we have run with patience the race, we shall know the joy of Jesus." (From Reformed Worship, Sept. 2008, No. 89)


Postlude-     Improvisation: Epiphany Toccata on I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light

Inspired by the message and tune of the closing song, I will improvise a short toccata based on the hymn. I will employ the brightest sounds that this organ has to offer, in order to reinforce the imagery of bright light and the star rising high in the East. Hopefully, this will help us keep in mind the lessons presented in the Gospel as we go forth from Mass, allowing the light to shine through us all week.   

Will Buthod
Director of Music
Church of St. Mary
(918) 749 2561, ext 120
1347 E. 49th Pl.
Tulsa, OK 74105

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