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Music for the Fifth Sunday after Pentecost — July 2, 2023

Prelude on ‘Rhosymedre’ – Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958)

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In 1920, shortly after returning from service in World War I, Ralph Vaughan Williams wrote three organ preludes based on Welsh hymn tunes. Of these, his prelude on Rhosymedre became the best known.

The tune Rhosymedre was composed by the Welsh Anglican parish priest John David Edwards (1805-1885), who named it after the town where he lived and included this hymn in a collection published in 1836.  The word Rhosymedre means ‘beautiful,’ and the tune appears in a number of hymnals and is sung to a variety of hymn texts, including “My Song is Love Unknown.”

The Welsh typically associate this hymn tune with celebration.  As such this lyrical, lovely, and ætherial organ prelude seems especially fitting for this weekend’s 40th anniversary of Fr Neil Gray’s ordination.

PJ Janson