This past Sunday, March 11th, was Music Appreciation Sunday at Wekiva Presbyterian Church; the date was specifically chosen by our church's choir director, Betsy, several months ago.
The many musical choirs and ensembles brought us lovely sacred works and lifted our hearts to praise. Especially to be thanked are all of the directors of the various choirs and ensembles, including Joan Grace, Aloma Bratek, Heidi Efta (with Sam Thurmond and Judy Dalles) and our organist Gary Galloway, as well as all of the many members and friends of the congregation who volunteer their time and talents every Sunday to enrich our worship. This brought forth the following prayer as part of our morning prayers, this Sunday.
A Prayer for Music Appreciation Sunday, by John A. Dalles:
"God we thank you for calling us to praise you. To give our hearts, minds and voices to you in worship. We thank you for the creative minds from Miriam and King David onward whose gifts of music have been passed down to us. We thank you for our choirs and for choirs of angels, who together lift our hearts to praise. Bless, O Lord, the sacred musicians here at our church and in every church, in every time, whose music connects us to you, and you with us."
On a personal note, I was so pleased that our choir director Betsy selected an anthem by Glenn Rudolph for the occasion, since Glenn and I have been collaborating for more than a decade (Glenn writes the music, I write the words). Glenn is often asked to write anthems for special occasions in the church (that is the case with several we have done together). I did not, however, write the words to his anthem from this past Sunday.
The anthem that the choirs presented is one that Glenn wrote for lyrics by Al Bayly, (b. Bexhill-on-Sea, Sussex, England, 1901; d. Chichester, England, 1984). Called "Lord, We Bring Our Gift of Music" (2009), it has been published by MorningStar (2011) Catalog No: MSM-50-9215. Here is what Glenn says about the anthem on his website:
"Anthem for children's choir, SATB choir and organ with optional trumpet and flute. Original setting of the text "When the Morning Stars Together" by Albert F. Bayly. Commissioned in honor of Dr. John King, Music Director, Hitchcock Presbyterian Church, Scarsdale, NY. Premiered January 10, 2010. Published by MorningStar Press."
It is a splendid piece that ends with a congregation part, sung to the great Welsh hymn tune HYFRYDOL (meaning "good cheer"), composed by Rowland Prichard in about 1830, when Prichard was 20 or 21. It was first published in 1844 in his collection of hymns called "Cyfaill y Cantorion" ("The Singer's Friend"), a song book intended for children. I have long loved that particular hymn tune, and especially so since the day that Hal Hopson told me that Prichard used the rhythmic movement of the Welsh weavers at their looms as the inspiration for his music.
This anthem was also presented at Montreat this past summer, when a number of our church members were there. You can see and listen to that presentation by clicking here:
"Lord We Bring Our Gift of Music"
You may read more about Glenn and his compositions here:
You may click here to read about the hymn writer whose words comprise the lyrics of the anthem:
Alfred F. Bayly