Thursday, December 17, 2009

Funk Quote

“Thus morally considered, it is certainly our duty to cultivate this talent for the blessings which society and the world may reap therefrom; but upon the Christian it has double claims; it is the language of heaven; it had its birth in the bright plains of the heavenly Paradise near the throne of the ETERNAL; it is the language in which the ransomed host of heaven unceasingly present their adoration an dpriase before the throne of God and the Lamb; the art of the Prophets and saints of old; the language of the apostles, primitive Christians, martyrs and reformers.

Shall the cultivation of a talent with which is associated the worship of the inhabitants both of heaven and earth be neglected by the chosen people of God? [emphasis added]

Can they permit their voices to be mute when all the earth is called upon to ‘sing praises’ to Jehovah? Certainly it is the Christian’s duty, to say nothing of his privilege, to cultivate all the talents which God has mercifully and kindly bestowed upon him; it is doubly his duty to cultivate those talents which he is called upon to exercise in the edifications of the saints, and for the worship of God, and so soon as he fully estimates its claims, and the importance of its cultivation, his enlightened mind and philanthropic heart will lead him to desire its cultivation by all those who are the especial objects of his care—those of his own household; nor will it stop here; he will use his influence to promote the happiness of his neighbor, and the good of the church and community around him.”

From the March 1860 issue of The Southern Musical Advocate and Singer's Friend.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The World According to Joseph Funk

I found these quotes while working on my research regarding Joseph Funk.

Taken from "The Southern Musical Advocate and Musician's Friend," May, 1860.

"MUSIC-WHAT IS IT? It is the language of Heaven! the medium of feeling! the solace of the lot of all! a flower of perennial bloom. Take her away from earth, and dark would be our passage to the tomb. Life would be a gloomy period and the world a barren waste."

A little flowery....but has a couple good points.

Another good one:
“Like woman, another of heaven’s gifts to man, it [music] 'doubles our joys and divides our sorrows;’ and, like her too, it finds its most appropriate place and its sweetest influence, in the bosom of the family.”

I'll leave you to think about that one!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

George Fox University Christmas Concert

I just got home from participating in the first of three Christmas concerts this weekend put on by George Fox University. Over 150 performers and a sold out audience of around 1200.
I'm in the back row, second from the end on the right. You can't really see me...
It was a great concert!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Claude Goudimel's contribution to the Genevan Psalter

Here the notes I used for a talk on Claude Goudimel and the Genevan Psalter for our Reformation Celebration on October 31st of 2009.

While Claude Goudimel was not directly involved in putting together the Genevan Psalter, and, in fact, he wasn’t even converted from Catholicism until the Genevan Psalter was nearly complete, he was one of the most influential men to help spread Calvinism through Europe in the late 16th century.

So before I talk about Goudimel directly, let me summarize the history of the Psalter up to the time Goudimel began to work it. The seeds for the Psalter were sown in 1532 when ClĂ©ment Marot, a popular and gifted French poet began settings a few Psalms to meter while employed at the French court in Paris (thirty years before the Genevan Psalter was finally finished). They were sung as popular poetry in the Catholic court. Calvin met Marot in 1536 and after hearing his verse and witnessing the congregational singing in Bucer’s church in Stassbourg, he began work on what would become the Genevan Psalter. Calvin took Marot’s 13 Psalms, put six more into verse along with Nunc Dimittis, Decalogue, and Nicene Creed and commissioned two German musicians from Bucer’s church two write simple melodies. This first Psalter was published in 1539. Marot the poet came to Geneva for a few years and the work proceeded and resulted in an expanded Psalter in 1542 and 1543. Marot died in 1544 leaving the Psalter far from done.

Five years later, Theodore de Beza, a scholar and Calvin’s eventual successor in Geneva, continued the work. Beza steadily worked away at the project, finally finishing the entire Psalter in 1562. Beza’s Psalms are very accurate and contain a high degree of fidelity to the original text, especially considering they are translations and put into meter. By 1562, the Genevan Psalter was considered “complete.” It contained all 150 Psalms, the Nunc dimittis and Decalogue set to 125 different tunes, each in a different meter.

Up to this point, Calvin had been the driving force behind the whole project. He had not participated in any of the musical or poetic work in the final edition, but it was his idea from the beginning and he worked tirelessly finding and inspiring qualified men to continue the project.

The completed Genevan Psalter was a monumental accomplishment in Christian history. This was probably the first time in history that all the Psalms were collected together and set in manner simple enough for the average person to sing.

This Psalter was used extensively in Geneva but it took men like Claude Goudimel spread the Psalms and with it, Calvinist ideas and theology through Europe and eventually across the world.

Goudimel was born around 1514 in Eastern France and received his education at the University of Paris. He was known as one of the best French composers of his day and composed quality in the form of both secular chansons and complex sacred music for the Roman Catholic Church. As a Catholic musician, he composed 5 settings of the mass, 3 magnificats, and several motets, AND several complicated pieces based on the tunes from the Genevan Psalter written for catholic use (until the Genevan tunes were outlawed by catholics). He seemed to be sympathetic with Protestants in the 1550’s, and he converted from Catholicism in 1560. The important work that Goudimel really accomplished was the harmonizationed versions of the Psalter that he produced between his conversion in 1560 and his death in 1573. He harmonized the complete Psalter three times. The first setting, finished in 1564 is the simple, hymn-like settings that we sing here at RCC. The second setting finished the following year, was a little more musically complex and his third and final setting was much more polyphonic and complicated. He was still finishing this harmonization when he was killed by Catholics in the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre in 1572.

While these harmonizations of the Psalter where not actually intended to be used in congregational worship, they where what really made the Psalter popular with the middle to upper classes in France and through Europe. Goudimel wrote in the preface to one edition that the music was to be used in the home for worship and recreation. It used to be a very popular recreational activity among the middle and upper class and even students to get together and sing and play in parts. Music was changing at a rapid rate during this period and music was more easily available with printing press so singing was kind of the “video games” of the 16th century (at least for college students).

These harmonizations became immensely popular in France and quickly spread through Europe. Calvinist theology often accompanied the Psalms , especially in Holland and Germany. They were translated into German very quickly and were seen as such a threat to Lutheranism that Dr. Cornelius Becker made his own version of the Psalms in German that would eventually result in Heinrich Schutz’s Psalter from which we sing today.

Since the 16th century, the Psalter has spread to Germany, Holland, Italy, England, Scotland, Hungary, Belgium, to the Americas, Canada, and even to South Africa, Australia, and have recently become popular in Japan.

Basic Questions

I've had a lot of stuff going through my head recently, but these questions keep coming to the top.

Why does God like music? Why does he command us to praise him through music? How does "praise" differ from "musical praise"? What's so special about words set to pitch and rhythm? Why does God delight in musical worship?
I don't really have answers. But I have some ideas...

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Psalm 32

We learned the version of Psalm 32 found in the Book of Psalms for Singing in preparation for Ash Wednesday this year. My congregation can now sing versions of all 7 penitential Psalms.
The progression within the Psalm from suffering to shouting for joy is remarkable. The Psalm seems to be about how humans deal with sin. The first verses don't even leave room for humans who don't sin. "Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven," not "Blessed is the one who never transgresses." We all sin, but the Psalm says that when we confess our sin to God and forsake it, God will bless us and give us joy.

Psalm 32

Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven,
whose sin is covered.
Blessed is the man against whom the
Lord counts no iniquity,
and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
my strength was dried up
as by the heat of summer. Selah

I acknowledged my sin to you,
and I did not cover my iniquity;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the
and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.

Therefore let everyone who is godly
offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found;
surely in the rush of great waters,
they shall not reach him.
You are a hiding place for me;
you preserve me from trouble;
you surround me with shouts of deliverance.

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding,
which must be curbed with bit and bridle,
or it will not stay near you.

Many are the sorrows of the wicked,
but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the
Be glad in the
Lord, and rejoice, O righteous,
and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Song Report

Every January I look back through the records of the liturgies for the year to review the songs we have used at Reformation Covenant Church. 

This year we sang 145 different hymns, which is a little up from last year at 131.
We sang 84 different Psalm settings, but 11 were duplicates (we know different versions of one Psalm, or we know different portions of one Psalm in different settings-like Psalm 119). So we sang 73 different Psalms last year. Not as good as the Medieval monks who sang through the Psalter every week, but we are making progress (we sang 64 different settings last year). Most of the 84 different settings are metrical Psalms, but we also know a few through-composed Psalms and an Anglican-chant setting or two.

In the future I would like to see that number of Psalms go up at a faster rate compared to the hymns, and eventually get the numbers closer to equal and maybe even more Psalms than hymns.