Music for Harvest Thanksgiving — Sunday, October 11, 2020
Jubilate Deo – Benjamin Britten (1913-1976)
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Britten’s 1961 Jubilate Deo, a setting of Psalm 100, was composed for St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle. Jubilate Deo is one of the canticles for Morning Prayer, but it also appears as the proper Psalm at Harvest Thanksgiving. Britten’s setting is a spirited, joyous work. The organ music is filled with runs and detached, staccato notes, almost like birdsong. The choral parts are presented antiphonally, with sopranos and tenors answered by the altos and basses. The lines are almost unison, but the upper voice in each pairing has a slightly more ornamented line. A middle section is more hushed and introspective, but the joyful music quickly returns and the piece ends with a brilliant “Amen.”
O BE joyful in the LORD, all ye lands: serve the LORD with gladness, and come before his presence with a song.
Be ye sure that the LORD he is God; it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
O go your way into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise; be thankful unto him, and speak good of his Name.
For the LORD is gracious, his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth from generation to generation
Thou visitest the earth – Maurice Greene (1696-1755)
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Thou visitest the earth is often sung at Harvest Thanksgiving because of its text “Thou visitest the earth and blessest it: and crownest the year with thy goodness,” based on Psalm 65. It is actually taken from a longer verse anthem Thou O God art praised in Sion; this excerpt is set for tenor solo followed by an SATB setting of the same text. This short piece is arguably the most well-known of Greene’s works.
Greene lived and worked mainly in London during the Georgian period; he was roughly contemporary with Handel. He became organist at Wren’s recently rebuilt St Paul’s Cathedral where he had originally been a choirboy, singing under Jeremiah Clarke. He subsequently held a number of prestigious posts, including organist at the Chapel Royal, professor at Cambridge, and Master of the King’s Musick.
Thou visitest the earth, and blessest it,
and crownest the year with thy goodness.