Music for the Most Holy Trinity — Sunday, June 7, 2020

Bright the Vision That Delighted– Text: Richard Mant (1776-1848). Music: Richard Redhead (1820-1901).

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This hymn from the pen of Bishop Richard Mant is based on Isaiah’s vision in the temple (Isaiah 6:1-3), a vision that preceded his life commitment as a prophet of Israel. It appeared in the author’s Ancient Hymns from the Roman Breviary, with Original Hymns in 1837 under the heading “Hymn commemorative of the ‘Thrice Holy’”. The tune, REDHEAD No. 46, first appeared in Church Hymn Tunes 1853, edited by Richard Redhead, who attached numerals to the tunes instead of names; tunes which he did not compose are intermingled with his own in this collection. Deeply involved in the Oxford Movement, he was a leading figure in the 19th century revival of music in the Church of England.

Bright the vision that delighted
once the sight of Judah’s seer,
sweet the countless tongues united
to entrance the prophet’s ear.

Round the Lord in glory seated
cherubim and seraphim
filled the temple and repeated
each to each the alternate hymn:

“Lord, thy glory fills the heaven,
earth is with its fullness stored;
unto thee be glory given,
holy, holy, holy Lord.”

Heaven is still with glory ringing;
earth takes up the angels’ cry,
“Holy, holy, holy,” singing,
“Lord of hosts, the Lord most high.”

With his seraph train before him,
with his holy church below,
thus conspire we to adore him,
bid we thus our anthem flow:

“Lord, thy glory fills the heaven;
earth is with its fullness stored;
unto thee be glory given,
holy, holy, holy Lord.”


Te Deumin C – Charles Villiers Stanford (1852-1924)

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Most scholars agree the Te Deum was written at the beginning of the 5thcentury, and that it was originally composed in Latin and is not translated from the Greek. Its tripartite structure offers further insight into its origins. The first section is comprised of the first ten verses (a hymn of praise to God the Father which contains, in verses 5 and 6, the Tersanctus of the Mass), and concludes with a Trinitarian doxology in verses 11 to 13. The second section is Christological, a hymn in praise of Christ the Redeemer, the eternal Son, and the coming Judge. The third and concluding portion is derived almost exclusively from the psalms.

Since the 6th century the Te Deum has been sung at the end of Matins on Sundays and feast days except the Sundays of Advent and Lent, and has also been employed as a thanksgiving hymn at consecrations, ordinations, and royal coronations. Its parallels to the Creed and its praise of the Holy Trinity make it especially appropriate for Trinity Sunday.

Sir Charles Villiers Stanford was one of the seminal figures of the British musical renaissance in the late nineteenth century. Born in Dublin, he demonstrated talents as a composer from his teens and won an organ scholarship to Queens’ College, Cambridge, in 1870. From 1874 to 1892 he was organist of Trinity College, Cambridge, and his skills as a conductor led to appointments that included CUMS (Cambridge University Musical Society) and the Bach Choir. His two principal academic appointments were as professor of music at Cambridge from 1887 to 1924 and as professor of composition at the Royal College of Music from 1883 to 1924. He taught two generations of British composers including Vaughan Williams, Holst, Ireland, Moeran and Howells, and was knighted in 1902.

Stanford’s last important setting of the Morning, Communion and Evening Services, in C major, was composed in 1909. It is arguably his grandest and the one in which the thematic ideas are most closely knit together to provide a unifying force. This Te Deum from the Morning Service was sung by the St. James’ Choir at the close of High Mass on Trinity Sunday last year.

WE praise thee, O God: we acknowledge thee to be the Lord.
All the earth doth worship thee: the Father everlasting.

To thee all Angels cry aloud: the Heavens, and all the Powers therein.
To thee Cherubim and Seraphim: continually do cry,

Holy, Holy, Holy: Lord God of Sabaoth;
Heaven and earth are full of the Majesty: of thy glory.

The glorious company of the Apostles: praise thee.
The goodly fellowship of the Prophets: praise thee.
The noble army of Martyrs: praise thee.
The holy Church throughout all the world: doth acknowledge thee;
The Father: of an infinite Majesty;
Thine honourable, true: and only Son;
Also the Holy Ghost: the Comforter.

Thou art the King of Glory: O Christ.
Thou art the everlasting Son: of the Father.
When thou tookest upon thee to deliver man: thou didst not abhor the Virgin’s womb.
When thou hadst overcome the sharpness of death:
thou didst open the Kingdom of Heaven to all believers.
Thou sittest at the right hand of God: in the glory of the Father.
We believe that thou shalt come: to be our Judge.

We therefore pray thee, help thy servants: whom thou hast redeemed with thy precious blood.
Make them to be numbered with thy Saints: in glory everlasting.
O Lord, save thy people: and bless thine heritage.
Govern them: and lift them up for ever.
Day by day: we magnify thee; And we worship thy Name: ever world without end.

Vouchsafe, O Lord: to keep us this day without sin.
O Lord, have mercy upon us: have mercy upon us.
O Lord, let thy mercy lighten upon us: as our trust is in thee.
O Lord, in thee have I trusted: let me never be confounded.


Wir glauben all an einen Gott (BWV 680) – Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)

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From the program notes for this performance:


In this chorale, Bach needed no more than the first seven notes to compose a jubilant prelude.

Bach was inspired by the Italian style in composing this organ prelude based on the Creed. He turned it into a trio sonata for two manuals and pedal, which is both exuberant and triumphal. But Bach ignored the long chorale melody for the larger part. Walter’s melody for Luther’s first line, to which the words “Wir glauben all an einen Gott” (“We believe in one God”) are sung, were more than enough for him. He formed it into a jubilant theme, in which a buoyant downward leap generates a festive string of semiquavers. The material forms the basis for a dancy fugue that assures the listener that only one thing matters: faith.


In Leipzig, between 1731 and 1741, Bach published four parts of Clavier-Übung, a title used previously by Johann Kuhnau, his predecessor as cantor at the Thomasschule, for similar collections of works for organ and harpsichord. The compositions are very varied in nature and, although the title suggests otherwise, were difficult to play. The largest part, Clavier-Übung III (1739), is the only one devoted to organ, containing mostly chorale arrangements, or organ preludes based on Lutheran hymns. Bach made two versions of each chorale: one for great organ and one for a smaller type of organ.

Yours truly typically plays this jubilant work (BWV 680), based on the Creed, as a postlude on Trinity Sunday. Deo volente, again next year!

Gerald Harder