The Parish Church of St John-at-Hampstead

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January 2019

Musical Notes for January

Peter Foggitt

Our traditional observance of the Epiphany features Peter Cornelius' exquisite juxtaposition of his song The Three Kings with the Lutheran chorale How brightly shines the morning star. Alongside this, Jonathan Dove's sparkling setting of words by Dorothy L. Sayers, commissioned by King's College, Cambridge, is featured alongside probably the most famous of all works written for that chapel, Howells' evening service Collegium Regale.

The following week, the (lesser-performed) Communion service of that setting — Collegium Regale is a 'great' service: that is to say, it includes a setting of the canticles at Matins and at Evensong, as well as the BCP Office for the Holy Communion — is sung alongside Marenzio's multi-purpose Epiphany motet commemorating the 'three wonders' of this season: the Revelation to the Gentiles, the Baptism of the Lord, and the first miracle at Cana.

Junior Choir services begin on the seventeenth of the month, on which occasion the abbot Anthony of Egypt is celebrated using the historic texts: The eye of the righteous meditates upon wisdom, and their tongue speaks justly; the law of God is in their heart, and their footsteps shall not slide.

On the morning of the twenty-seventh, Schütz's extraordinary double duet (two sopranos, two tenors) with continuo, Veni, sancte Spiritus, is offered with Haydn's ornate Mass setting in F — which itself has a soprano duet running throughout. That evening, the spectacular Hear my words of Parry appears with Gibbons' rather more reserved setting of the Collect of the Day.

At last month's Service of Nine Lessons and Carols, we bade farewell — after thirty-eight years (surely a record?) in the Parish Choir — to Martin Oxenham.  I was told that to ask in advance for a three-decade commitment might, apparently, deter some applicants to fill the newly-vacant position, but further news on this front will follow in January...

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