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Music for the Dormition of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Aug 15)

My soul doth magnify the Lord; My spirit hath rejoiced in God, my Savior.   In Latin, Mary’s Song in St. Luke 1.46-55 is called by its first word: Magnificat (“My soul magnifies…”).  Mary’s Song is the canticle at Vespers, the church’s evening office of prayer and psalms.

In Reformation Germany, the singing of the Magnificat was often associated with the psalm tone known as Tonus Peregrinus, especially on Sunday at Vespers.  In the medieval church, the psalms were sung to a series of eight psalm tones in Gregorian (or plainsong) chant.  Our choir uses these tones numerous times throughout the year for the Propers of the Divine Service.  A ninth psalm tone (sometimes referred to as Tone IX) was called Tonus PeregrinusTonus Peregrinus means “wandering tone,” because, unlike the other eight tones, it uses a different reciting tone as the pitch for each half of the psalm tone.

Joseph Klug’s Wittenberg hymnal of 1533, which Luther had a hand in editing, appoints the Tonus Peregrinus for the singing of the Magnificat, and this tradition carried on in numerous places and publications following the Reformation.

   Today’s PRELUDE is a setting of the Magnificat on the Tonus Peregrinus by Samuel Scheidt (1587-1654).  Scheidt wrote this setting for alternation between choir and organ.  The choir would sing a verse, followed by the organ “singing” a verse, alternating through the canticle.  Each organ verse was composed by Scheidt to meditate on the text and utilize different registrations on the organ.  Today we will hear the organ variations alone as the Prelude.


Sing of Mary, Sing of Jesus   The ENTRANCE HYMN, “Sing of Mary, Pure and Holy” (insert) is by Canadian author Roland F. Palmer (1891-1985).  The author of several devotional books, his hymn, written around 1914, was published in 1938.  It recounts Mary’s involvement in Our Lord’s life from His birth until His crucifixion.  It remembers Mary’s humble devotion to Our Lord, and focuses on Jesus’ work for our salvation: “Word made flesh, our Very Brother,” who “Took our nature by His birth.”  The introduction is by Wilbur Held (1914-2015).  The VOLUNTARY is a setting of this tune by Paul Manz (1919-2009).

Rejoice we all in the Lord   The INTROIT is an ancient plainsong setting arranged by Matthäus Ludecus (1527-1606).  He was a government official in Prignitz, Lüneberg, and Prenzlau.  As a musician, he published four collections of Lutheran liturgical works in 1589, from which today’s Introit is taken.

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