Music for St James’ Day — July 23, 2023

Communion service in G – Francis Jackson (1917-2022)

Watch Kyrie eleison on YouTube.
Watch Gloria in excelsis on YouTube.
Watch Sanctus & Benedictus on YouTube.
Watch Agnus Dei on YouTube.

Dr Francis Jackson CBE (1917-2022) was a British organist and composer. He was born in Malton, Yorkshire and received his early education as a chorister at York Minster under his predecessor, the legendary Sir Edward Bairstow. Jackson succeeded Bairstow as Organist of York Minster in 1946, a post he held until his official retirement in 1982. His extensive output of sacred and secular music includes canticles, mass settings, anthems, hymn tunes, organ pieces, two acclaimed monodramas, an overture, a concerto, a symphony, and solo songs. Jackson’s creative output continued well past his retirement.

This Sunday’s setting of the mass ordinary in church is Jackson’s Communion service in G, dating from around 1950. The music is in G, but not G major. There is no F sharp in the key signature, creating a sense of the mixolydian mode. This is like a major scale, but with a flattened seventh note, which lends a bluesy tinge to some of the writing. This is colourful, imaginative music by a man who was wholly dedicated to his craft.

Gerald Harder