Music for the Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost — September 17, 2023

Prayer to Jesus – Text: Richard Rolle (1300-1349) / Music: George Oldroyd (1886-1951)

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Heralded as one of the great English mystics of the Middle Ages, Richard Rolle’s religious adventures have been venerated since the 14th century. In the Fire of Love, Rolle describes his divine encounters by dividing the nature of the experience into three unique stages. Rolle describes the first stage as the sensation of spiritual fire, a glowing presence accompanied by a feeling of physical warmth in his chest. Rolle says that the second stage is marked by an overwhelming sense of peace and joy, a taste of sweetness in his soul. Finally, Rolle explains how in the third stage the glorious song of angels resounds, signifying his union with God’s divine love. Rolle’s artistic re-telling of his encounters enlightens us to the powerful religious experiences of Christian mystics during the medieval period.

George Oldroyd was an English organist, teacher, and composer, primarily of Anglican church music. From 1919 to 1920 he was organist at St Alban’s Church, Holborn and from 1920 at St Michael’s Church, Croydon; both are churches firmly rooted in the Anglo-Catholic tradition. For this morning’s communion motet, Oldroyd borrows a text from Richard Rolle, whose poetry infuses the piece with passion and humility.

Jhesu, since Thou me made and bought, be thou my love all my thought, and help that I may to thee be brought, withouten thee I may do nought.

Jhesu, since thou must to thy will, and naething is that thee may let, with thy grace my heart fulfil, my love and my liking in thee is set.

Jhesu at thy will I pray that I might be, all my heart fulfil, with perfect love to thee. That I have done ill Jhesu forgive thou me, and suffer me never to spill. Jhesu, for pity. Amen.

Gerald Harder