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Lift Every Voice and Sing!

In Honor of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Offertory Anthem: “Freedom Train” Rollo Dilworth (b. 1970)

The title Freedom Train celebrates the Underground Railroad which was a network of secret routes and safe houses established during the early to mid-19th century and was used by African-American slaves to escape into free state. Freedom Train was commissioned by the Chicago Children’s Choir and Josephine Lee in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Chicago Children’s Choir. You will hear many “freedom” songs throughout the piece.


Sources given upon request.


More than 150 of Dilworth's choral compositions and arrangements have been published—many of which are a part of the Henry Leck Creating Artistry Choral Series with Hal Leonard Corporation. Additional publications can be found in the catalogs of Santa Barbara Music Publishing and Colla Voce Music, Inc. Dilworth is a contributing author for the Essential Elements for Choir and the Experiencing Choral Music textbook series, both published by the Hal Leonard Corporation/Glencoe/McGraw-Hill Publications, and for Music Express! Teachers Magazine. He has authored 3 books of choral warm up exercises intended for elementary and secondary choral ensembles, entitled Choir Builders: Fundamental Vocal Techniques for General and Classroom Use (2006); Choir Builders for Growing Voices (2009); and Choir Builders for Growing Voices 2 (2014). A frequent presenter at local, state, regional and national conferences, Dilworth has conducted 43 all-state choirs at various levels (elementary, middle school, high school), and has conducted 6 regional honor choirs and 4 national honor choirs (ADCA, OAKE and NafME). He has most recently appeared as guest conductor for international choral festivals and master classes in Australia, Canada, Taiwan, Ireland, and China. For the 2015-2016 season, Dilworth was invited to conduct all-state choirs in North Carolina, Oklahoma, Ohio, Arizona and Massachusetts. He will also conduct honor choirs for the Central and Southwest regions of the American Choral Directors Association. International festival and clinic invitations include Canada, Singapore, Austria and France. Dilworth is currently National Board Chair for Chorus America. He is an active life member of the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA). He also holds memberships with several other organizations, including the National Association for Music Education (NafME), the National Association of Negro Musicians (NANM) and the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP). In 2017, he received the Temple University Faculty Award for Research and Creative Achievement. He is an alumnus of Northwestern University’s Bienen School of Music.


https://www.temple.edu/boyer/about/people/rollodilworth.asp; accessed 13 January 2018


Communion Anthem: “This Little Light of Mine” arr. Tony Royse (b. 1939)

This Little Light of Mine is a traditional gospel song first recorded by musicologist John Lomax in 1939. It was often sung during civil rights protests in the ‘50s & '60s, when Sam Cooke’s version was popular. The song’s theme has been attributed to many potential scriptural sources including:


Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven - Matthew 5:16


No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar or under a bushel, but on a stand, that those who enter may see the light - Luke 11:33


You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. 15 Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house - Matthew 5:14–15


Tony Royse is a Canadian educator, composer, arranger, and conductor. He is a graduate of Trinity College, London. He has been the director of music at many schools including The Dragon School (Oxford), Appleby College (Ontario, Canada), Hilton College (Natal, South Africa), as well as conducting orchestras, choral societies, and choirs in all the countries listed above. His compositions include ballet, orchestral, instrumental, and choral music in both religious and secular modes. The recipient of several composition prizes, he won the Bantock Composition Prize in 1958, the Oxford Diocesan Magazine Hymn Writing Prize in 1971, the Enfield Schools Orchestra Prize in 1986, and the Amadeus Choir Toronto International Carol Composition Prize three times in 1992, 1994, and 1996.


Sources given upon request.


Several of today’s hymns have had a long history in the fight for equality. The poetry for Lift Every Voice and Sing was written by James Weldon Johnson, American lyricist, poet, novelist, anthologist, civil rights leader, and international diplomat. He began his professional life as an educator and lawyer in Florida (one of the early African Americans admitted to the Florida Bar), but in the summer of 1899, he and his brother, composer J(ohn) Rosamond Johnson, went to New York with hopes of finding a producer for their operetta. Although they were unsuccessful in this endeavor, they gained entrance to the musical-theater circles of New York; they formed a collaborative relationship with Bob Cole and became one of the outstanding songwriting teams of the early 1900s. Many of their approximately 200 songs were interpolated in musical comedies. In addition to his popular-song lyrics, Johnson wrote much of his poetry with music in mind, and some of these poems have been used by composers. Aside from the many settings by his brother (among which Lift Every Voice and Sing, 1901, became known as the “Negro National Anthem”), Johnson’s texts have been set by Harry T. Burleigh (Passionale, 1915), Louis Gruenberg (The Creation: a Negro Sermon, 1926), Otto Mortensen (Sence You Went Away, 1945), and Wolfgang Fortner (The Creation, 1957).


John Rosamond Johnson was an American composer, lyricist, vocalist, actor, theatrical director, and educator. From 1890 to 1896 Johnson studied music at the New England Conservatory. After returning to Jacksonville (spring 1897), he taught music privately and was supervisor of music for Jacksonville public schools (1896–9). He was also choirmaster and organist at a large Baptist church and taught music at the Baptist Academy. Johnson’s earliest compositions, with his brother as lyricist, date from this time. Throughout his career Johnson was dedicated to advancing the dignity of African American artists. He was a founding officer of the Frogs (1908, named after Aristophanes’s comedy), a professional organization for black artists and businesspeople, as well as a charter member of ASCAP (1914) and a founding member of the Negro Actors Guild of America (1939). In recognition of the dignified representation of American Indians in The Red Moon, Johnson was made a sub-chief of the Iroquois (Caughawaga, Quebec) in 1921. His papers are housed at the Irving S. Gilmore Music Library, Yale University.


Sources given upon request.


We Shall Overcome is a gospel song which became a protest song and a key anthem of the Civil Rights Movement. The song is most commonly attributed as being lyrically descended from "I'll Overcome Some Day", a hymn by Charles Albert Tindley that was first published in 1900. The modern version of the song was first said to have been sung by tobacco workers led by Lucille Simmons during a 1945 strike in Charleston, South Carolina. In 1947, the song was published under the title "We Will Overcome" in an edition of the People's Songs Bulletin (a publication of People's Songs, an organization of which Pete Seeger was the director), as a contribution of and with an introduction by Zilphia Horton, then-music director of the Highlander Folk School of Monteagle, Tennessee (an adult education school that trained union organizers). Horton said she had learned the song from Simmons, and she considered it to be her favorite song. She taught it to many others, including Pete Seeger, who included it in his repertoire, as did many other activist singers, such as Frank Hamilton and Joe Glazer, who recorded it in 1950. The song became associated with the Civil Rights Movement from 1959, when Guy Carawan stepped in with his and Seeger's version as song leader at Highlander, which was then focused on nonviolent civil rights activism. It quickly became the movement's unofficial anthem. Seeger and other famous folksingers in the early 1960s, such as Joan Baez, sang the song at rallies, folk festivals, and concerts in the North and helped make it widely known. Since its rise to prominence, the song, and songs based on it, have been used in a variety of protests worldwide.


Sources given upon request.


The melody of Precious Lord, take my hand is credited to the Rev. Thomas A. Dorsey, and drawn extensively from the 1844 hymn tune, "Maitland". "Maitland" is often attributed to American composer George N. Allen (1812–1877), but the earliest known source (Plymouth Collection, 1855) shows that Allen was the author/adapter of the text Must Jesus bear the cross alone, not the composer of the tune, and the tune itself was printed without attribution for many years. "Maitland" is also sometimes attributed to The Oberlin Social and Sabbath School Hymn Book, which Allen edited, but this collection does not contain music. This tune originally appeared in hymnals and tune books as Cross and Crown; the name "Maitland" appears as early as 1868. Dorsey said that he used it as inspiration. Dorsey wrote "Precious Lord" in response to his inconsolable bereavement at the death of his wife, Nettie Harper, in childbirth, and his infant son in August 1932. (Mr. Dorsey can be seen telling this story in the 1981 gospel music documentary Say Amen, Somebody.) The earliest known recording was made on February 16, 1937, by the Heavenly Gospel Singers (Bluebird B6846). The song is published in more than 40 languages. It was Martin Luther King Jr.'s favorite song, and he often invited gospel singer Mahalia Jackson to sing it at civil rights rallies to inspire crowds; at his request she sang it at his funeral in April 1968. King's last words before his assassination was a request to play it at a mass he was due to attend that night. Opera singer Leontyne Price sang it at the state funeral of President Lyndon B. Johnson in January 1973, and Aretha Franklin sang it at Mahalia Jackson's funeral in 1972. Franklin also recorded a live version of the song for her album Amazing Grace (1972) as a medley with "You've Got a Friend". It was sung by Nina Simone at the Westbury Music Fair on April 7, 1968, three days after King's assassination. That evening was dedicated to him and recorded on the album 'Nuff Said!. It was also performed by Ledisi in the movie and soundtrack for Selma in which Ledisi portrays Mahalia Jackson. Most recently it was performed by Beyoncé at the 57th Annual Grammy Awards on February 8, 2015.


Sources given upon request.





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