Advent Message from the Choirmaster

by Jesse Ratcliffe, Director of Music

Hymn Writing: the marriage of text and melody

This Advent season, two hymns of sturdy composition and poetic beauty will bookend the season: Lo! He Comes with Clouds Descending and Come Thou Long Expected Jesus.

Of the thousands of hymn-writers known in Christendom, the works of brothers John and Charles Wesley (1703-91 & 1707-1788) have proved to be timeless. Both were ordained as Anglican clergymen and served as missionaries, which exposed them to various types of music across Europe.

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Hymn Singing on August 21

Hymn singing is vital to Christian worship—if you take the time to glance over many of the Psalms, you’ll notice that we are repeatedly directed to “come unto his presence with a song”. Through song we connect to each other during worship and it carries us forward as we depart on our separate journeys.

This Sunday, during the offertory anthem, we’ll learn a new hymn (maybe familiar to a few!) We The Lord’s People found on page 51. The hymn’s melody was composed by Richard Dirksen, the long-standing music director of the Washington National Cathedral. Dirksen’s nearly four decade tenure at the Cathedral not only fostered centuries of Anglican music, but expanded the national church’s acceptance of challenging newly-composed music.

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