Father, we thank thee who hast planted – Text: Greek (Didache, 2nd century); tr. F. Bland Tucker (1895-1984) / Music: Genevan Psalter 1549, adapt. Louis Bourgeois (c. 1510-1561)
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The hymn heard here and found in our hymnals is a metrical paraphrase of some of the short traditional prayers in the Didache; it was written in 1939 by Francis Bland Tucker for the Episcopal Church USA’s Hymnal 1940. The Didache, otherwise known as the Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, dates from as early as the 2ndcentury. Some scholars believe that part of it, notably the prayers from which this hymn is derived, may be much older than the main work and come from the same source as the Gospel canticles.
The tune, Les Commandemens de Dieu, is one of the most widely known tunes adapted or composed by Louis Bourgeois. It was set to Clement Marot’s version of the Ten Commandments in 1547 and in subsequent editions of the Genevan Psalter. In the 19th century the tune appeared in England, altered to notes of equal length. Vaughan Williams restored the original rhythm in The English Hymnal 1906, which is the form in which we hear it in the above recording. It is found in both Common Praise and The New English Hymnal.
Father, we thank Thee who hast planted
Thy holy name within our hearts.
Knowledge and faith and life immortal
Jesus thy Son to us imparts.
Thou, Lord, didst make all for thy pleasure,
didst give man food for all his days,
giving in Christ the bread eternal;
Thine is the power, be thine the praise.
Watch o’er thy church, O Lord, in mercy,
save it from evil, guard it still.
Perfect it in thy love, unite it,
cleansed and conformed unto thy will.
As grain, once scattered on the hillsides,
was in this broken bread made one,
so from all lands thy church be gathered
into thy kingdom by thy Son.
Méditation (Communion) from Suite Médiévale – Jean Langlais (1907-1991)
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Jean Langlais was the organist of Ste. Clotilde, Paris, and a composer whose works include masses and organ music, some based on Gregorian themes, enhanced by polymodal harmonies, as well as music for other forces. Langlais became blind due to glaucoma when he was only two years old and was sent to the Institut National des Jeunes Aveugles in Paris, from which he progressed to the Paris Conservatoire, obtaining prizes in organ and studying composition with Marcel Dupré and Paul Dukas. He also studied improvisation with Charles Tournemire.
Many of his works for organ include brightly colourful registrations, irregular rhythms and metre changes, poetic and directly appealing melodies, rich harmonies, and early forms treated in contemporary styles. The Suite Médiévale, written in 1947 in the form of a low Mass, includes all these aspects. The Méditation (Communion) movement heard here incorporates the chant melody Ubi caritas, which enters after a brief introduction, followed shortly by Jesu dulcis memoria, and then by an ingenious melding of the two, with the former in the pedal and the latter in the uppermost voice. This recording features the brilliant organist Olivier Penin, the current organiste titulaire of Ste. Clotilde, playing the great Cavaillé-Coll organ at which Langlais presided from 1945 until 1988.