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Draw Us in the Spirit's Tether

Offertory Anthem: “O Thou, the Central Orb” Charles Wood (1866-1926)


I chose the Offertory anthem because of today’s gospel reading (Mark 13:24-37). The text of the anthem and the reading speak of the coming of “the Son of Man” in glory to gather his elect around him (Come, quickly come, and let thy glory shine, gilding our darksome heaven with rays Divine. Thy saints with holy luster round Thee move, as stars about thy throne, set in the height of God's ordaining counsel, as Thy sight gives measured grace to each, Thy power to prove).


Charles Wood was an Irish composer and teacher. A chorister at Armagh Cathedral, he was educated at the cathedral school. He received training in harmony and counterpoint from T.O. Marks, the cathedral organist, as well as encouragement from his elder brother, William Wood, himself a professional musician. In 1883 he was elected to the Morley Open Scholarship in Composition at the newly instituted RCM where he studied composition with Parry and Stanford. He won an organ scholarship to Selwyn College, Cambridge in 1888 where, after five terms, he migrated to Gonville and Caius as organ scholar. In 1888 he was appointed to teach harmony at the RCM and the following year he was made a lecturer in harmony and counterpoint at Caius. He was elected a fellow there in 1894, and in 1897 he became university lecturer in harmony and counterpoint, succeeding George Garrett. At Cambridge, Wood was awarded the degrees of BA and MusB in 1890 and those of MA and MusD in 1894. Besides playing an active part as organist at Caius, he assisted Stanford as conductor of the Cambridge University Musical Society (1888–94) and was bandmaster of the University Volunteers (1889–97). In addition to his work at the RCM he was an examiner for the Associated Board which took him to Australia (1901–2), was a founder member and vice-president of the Irish Folk-song Society (1904) and president of the Musical Association (1924). In recognition of his contribution to British musical life, he received an honorary PhD from Leeds University (1904) and an honorary DMus from Oxford (1924). In 1924, after Stanford's death, he was elected professor of music at Cambridge, a position he held for only two years until his death in 1926. Wood is known today primarily as a composer of Anglican church music. His numerous settings of the evening canticles derive in part their thematic cohesion and textural variety from the example of Stanford though he rarely adopted the symphonic conception of his teacher. In his later settings, he showed a marked inclination towards contrapuntal and harmonic archaisms as demonstrated in his frequently performed Magnificat and Nunc dimittis in F ‘Collegium Regale’ for double choir with its elements of verse structure, antiphony, and diatonic simplicity. A more intense antiquarianism, verging on the austere, is apparent in his a cappella settings of the Nunc dimittis for R.R. Terry at Westminster Cathedral (both 1916), his Communion Service in the Phrygian mode (published 1923) and the St Mark Passion (which has been presented here at St. Matthew’s on Good Friday several times over the years), a preoccupation reinforced by his collaboration with the Rev. G.R. Woodward in the 1890s, which resulted in the publication of The Cowley Carol Book, The Cambridge Carol Book, An Italian Carol Book and the hymn book Songs of Syon. Wood's thorough assimilation of 16th-century models also assisted him in the production of a series of fine large-scale anthems, Hail, Gladdening Light (1919), Tis the Day of Resurrection (1927) and O King Most High (1932), though it is in his anthems with organ, notably O Thou, the Central Orb (?1914–15) and the exquisite Expectans expectavi (1919), that Wood's harmonic imagination is given full rein.


Jeremy Dibble. "Wood, Charles." Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press. Web. 2 Dec. 2017. <http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/30536>.


Communion Motet: “Draw Us in the Spirit’s Tether” Harold Friedell (1905-1958)


Today’s Communion Motet is based on our Epistle (I Corinthians 1:3-9). Both texts speak of gathering strength in community and using that strength to answer God’s call to faithfulness.

Harold Friedell was an American organist. He was well known as a performer and educator, teaching at Juilliard and Union Seminary, a composer of many choral anthems and solo organ pieces, and as a prominent leader in the American Guild of Organists. He was born in Jamaica, Queens, New York. At age sixteen, he became the organist of First United Methodist Episcopal Church in Jamaica, Queens, while studying organ with Clement Gale and David McK. Williams. Seven years later, in 1927, he was appointed Organist at Calvary Church, New York, and he also worked at St. James the Less, Scarsdale training a boys and girls choir on weekdays and playing for Sunday afternoon services. In 1929, he earned the FAGO diploma from the American Guild of Organists, its highest designation, while he continued to study at Juilliard School under Bernard Wagenaar and Roger Sessions. In 1931, Friedell was appointed Organist and Choirmaster at St. John's Church, Jersey City, New Jersey, and the next year, 1932, he married Muriel Healy on June 26 in the chapel of St. Bartholomew's Church. Unfortunately, Muriel died just six months later on December 29. Friedell later remarried in 1934 to Amy Valleau McGown in St. John's Church, and in that same year became the accompanist to the Downtown Glee Club and a regularly featured recitalist at Trinity Church. Friedell returned to Calvary Church in 1939, this time as both Organist and Choirmaster, and by this time he had also earned the F.T.C.L. diploma, the highest certificate from Trinity College London in instrumental and vocal teaching. In 1945, Friedell was appointed to the faculty of Union Theological Seminary School of Sacred Music, initially teaching composition, and later, improvisation as well. The next year saw an appointed as Organist and Master of the Choir to St. Bartholomew's Church, where his first marriage had been celebrated and with which he would be associated for the rest of his career. In that same year, Friedell resigned from his teaching duties at Juilliard and from his volunteer positions with the AGO, but he continued to teach at Union. In 1957, Friedell was awarded the honorary degree Doctor of Music from Missouri Valley College in Marshall, Missouri. He also represented the AGO at the First International Congress of Organists in London and did some further travel and concertizing in France. Harold Friedell died on 17 February 1958, a Monday morning, of a heart attack while walking to the train station in Hastings-on-Hudson in heavy snow from a storm the previous evening. The funeral was held on 20 February at St. Bartholomew's Church, and Friedell was buried in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, Tarrytown, New York.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harold_Friedell (accessed 1 Dec 2017)


Mark Crayton


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