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About Sunday’s Music – Oculi-Third Sunday in Lent

Lord of Our Life and God of Our Salvation   The HYMN OF THE DAY (659) praises Jesus Christ, the Lord Who has the words of eternal life (St. John 6.68). Christ is the One Who defeats Satan, the accuser, and helps His saints (Revelation 12.10). Though they are surrounded by foes with unfurled banners, yet the Lord’s banner of love waves over His Church (Song of Solomon 2.4) and preserves Her. Though darkness surrounds the believers, His Light of the Gospel shines through the darkness. Though the Church is assaulted by devils, still the Lord’s armor (Ephesians 6) defends Her. This hymn is unusual in that the second stanza of the text is sturdy and loud; the text then tapers off from billows to prayers for peace. He brings His peace to our hearts, to the Church, to the world, and is in fullness in heaven.

—Adapted from the Rev. Thomas Lock, Kantor; Trinity—Denver, for LOGIA Online

Lamb of God, Pure and Holy   The PRELUDE is based on Nicolaus Decius’ (1485-1546) trope of the Agnus Dei, “O Lamb Gottes, Unschuldig” (literally, O Lamb of God, innocent [one]), translated as “Lamb of God, Pure and Holy” (434).  The composition is by J.S. Bach (1685-1750) from his collection Orgelbüchlein (“Little Organ Book”), organ settings of the chief hymns of the Church designed to teach organ technique while providing rich, accessible music for Divine Service.

Four of the seven chorales of Christ’s Passion in the collection are canonic (round), perhaps related to the emphasis on sacrifice—the Lamb being led to the slaughter; or obedience—the Son following the will of the Father.  In this organ composition (BWV 618), the melody is heard first in the bass (pedal) and then two beats later in the alto.  The soprano (right hand) and tenor (left hand) play an imitative counter melody.  Listen for the melody, slightly more dominant, yet still quiet, in the long notes in the pedal.

The CHORAL VOLUNTARY is a setting of St. John 3.16-17 by John Stainer (1840-1901).  He learned to play organ at a young age on an organ built by his father in their home.  By age 9, he was a chorister at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London.

At age 16, he became organist at St. Michael’s College—Tenbury.  He was organist at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London and professor at University of Oxford.  He composed many choral anthems, cantatas, and an oratorio, The Crucifixion.  He is also known for his contributions toward the study of medieval music, studies in organ and music theory, and his collaboration on a dictionary of musical terms.

God So Loved the World is representative of his contributions toward the Romantic period of music.

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