Music

O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. Psalm 95:1 From the earliest times, music has played an important role in Christian worship, as well as in the worship of the Church’s predecessor, the Jewish Church (e.g., Exodus 15:20-21). Anglicanism in particular has a rich musical heritage.

Our music is considered sacred and an integral part of most of our worship services. With texts dating as early as the 2nd century and tunes as early as the 6th century, our service music includes ancient Hebrew psalms, plainsong, and traditional Anglican chant.  Our 1940 Hymnal includes sources ranging from the medieval to the Carolingian era, from Latin and Eastern Church canon to choral and symphonic works, and from the great hymnists of the 17th – 20th centuries.  It is indeed a “richly varied treasure bequeathed us from every age of the Church” through which we may “make the words the utterance of our own souls; the music the expression of our own personal worship, our own joy or sorrow or brave determination.” [From the Preface of the 1940 Hymnal, p. vi.]
 
We are constantly looking for voices and musicians; if you are interested in the music ministry, please get in touch with us.
 

Featured Hymn

O Sacred Head, Sore Wounded

 
The text and tune of this haunting Passion Week hymn have a long pedigree.  Many of the finest poets and musicians of their times had a hand in it as writers, composers, translators and arrangers. 
 
It all began with a poem entitled Salve Mundi Salutare, written in the 13th century and usually attributed to St. Bernard of Clairveaux, abbot of the monastery in Clairveaux, France, (although some later scholars credit Arnulf von Loewen (c. 1200- 1250), an important 13th century French poet). Bearing a caption reading, “a rhythmical prayer to the various members of Christ’s body suffering and hanging on the cross”, the poem was written as a Holy Week meditation and consisted of seven sections, each devoted to the injuries suffered by different parts of the body of Christ.  The seventh of these sections described the grievous wounds inflicted on Jesus’ head. 
 
Four hundred years later, Paulus Gerhardt, one of the finest German hymnists of the 17th century and author of 132 hymn texts of his own, translated the seventh section of Bernard’s poem from Latin into German.  In 1656, under the title “O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden,”   Gerhardt’s translation was published with music by his friend Johann Crüger in the German hymnal Praxis pietis melica.  The tune used was originally a love song, “Mein G’müth ist mir virwirret,” composed over fifty years earlier by the popular Renaissance composer, Hans Leo Hassler in his collection of court songs.  From this point on, Hassler’s tune was always associated with “O Sacred Head.”
 
In 1729, Johann Sebastian Bach included “O Sacred Head” in his masterwork, St. Matthew’s PassionHe liked the tune so well that he used it five times in this work.
 
In 1752 the first English translation (“O Head So Full of Bruises”) was made by John Gambold, an Anglican priest who joined the London Moravians.  In 1830 a new English version  (“O Sacred Head Now Wounded”) was published in the hymnal The Christian Lyre, translated from Gerhardt’s German text by Virginia native James W. Alexander (1804-1859).  This version is by far the most published of the English translations.  There were two other translators of note, Henry W. Baker (published in the first edition of Hymns Ancient and Modern in 1861, “O Sacred Head Surrounded”), and Robert Bridges, a turn-of-the-19th century English Poet Laureate, who created a fresh English translation from the original Latin (“O Sacred Head, Sore Wounded”), published in his Yattendon Hymnal in1899. It is Bridges’ translation that is found in our 1940 hymnal.
 
“O Sacred Head” is one of our most deeply devotional hymns and is found in all modern hymnals and in many languages today.  In 1899, the late 19th century theologian and church historian, Philip Schaff, in his book Christ in Song, wrote, “This classical hymn has shown an imperishable vitality in passing from the Latin into German, and from the German into the English, and proclaiming in three tongues, and in the name of three confessions – the Catholic, Lutheran, and Reformed – with equal effect, the dying love of the Saviour, and our boundless indebtedness to him.”
 

 

,

 
 
 

Playlists

Enjoy a random selection of hymns.