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About Sunday’s Music – Transfiguration of Our Lord

Your life our lives supplying   The HYMN OF THE DAY, “O Morning Star, How Fair and Bright” (395) is the “Queen of Chorales,” one of the most significant hymns of the Church.  It also serves as the Hymn of the Day for Epiphany (January 6), and provides a fitting “bookend” to summarize themes of the Epiphany season.

Each stanza is rich in scriptural imagery and serves as a method of proclaiming and teaching doctrine for every Christian.  Stanza two, for example, describes Christ as the Vine and Christians as branches of Him, the Vine, as Jesus teaches in St. John 15.1-7.  Our only life is in Him: “As living branches of a tree, Your life our lives supplying.”  We live in Him until we rest in Him forever.

The PRELUDE is a partita on “How Lovely Shines the Morning Star” (BuxWV 223) by Dietrich Buxtehude (1637-1707).  Buxtehude, born in Denmark, was one of the most influential German composers of the mid-Baroque period, and had an influence on many musicians, including J.S. Bach.

With shining face and bright array, Christ deigns to manifest today   The DISTRIBUTION HYMN, “O Wondrous Type! O Vision Fair!” (413) is a Latin hymn from England in the 1495 Sarum Breviary, written for the Transfiguration.  As it recalls the account of Jesus’ transfiguration, it also shows its connection in the life of a Christian: “We pray Thee, bring us by Thy grace; To see Thy glory face to face.”  Christ’s transfiguration is an event that gives hope and comfort to the Christian in this life to sustain us unto eternal life.

The tune Deo gratias was used to celebrate the return of England’s King Henry V from his victory over France in the 1415 Battle of Agincourt.  When adapted in the twentieth-century to serve this hymn text, it was described as “a magnificently direct and stirring tune, with a vehement dignity, and remarkable expression of triumphant pride.”

The organ introduction is by John Eggert, professor of music emeritus at Concordia University—St. Paul, MN.

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