Notes, Texts, and Translations

Abendlied (Evening song)

This short motet by Rheinberger is a setting of a portion of the “Road to Emmaus” story, where the resurrected Jesus walks alongside his disciples who do not yet recognize him, but ask him to stay with them at the close of day. This recognition-without-recognition is a powerful story of the importance of seeing the divine presence in our day-to-day lives, even in unexpected places. Rheinberger’s setting depicts this with sumptuous harmony and a powerful climax to the final phrase which dissipates gently like a sunset.

Bleib bei uns, denn es will Abend werden, und der Tag hat sich geneiget.

Stay with us, for it will soon be evening, and the day is coming to a close. (Luke 24:29)

Funeral Music for Queen Mary

Henry Purcell was one of England's greatest composers, and in his relatively short life wrote hundreds of works, many of which are staples of the repertoire even today. In 1695 he composed music for the funeral of Queen Mary II, who had died the previous year, which included these settings of three of the Funeral Sentences from the Book of Common Prayer (1662). The remaining six sentences were likely sung to settings by Thomas Morley, and two additional instrumental pieces survive which have been attributed to Purcell. Purcell's settings of the first two sentences alternate between soloists (Verse) and the full ensemble (Chorus) are full of intense and melancholy dissonance – particularly striking are the ascending chromatic lines at "the bitter pains." The third sentence ("Thou knowest, Lord") is much simpler and more straightforward in style: a mostly homophonic setting for the full ensemble without the complicated solo parts of the earlier sections, this setting was sung at Purcell's own funeral after he died the same year at the age of 36.

Man that is born of a woman
hath but a short time to live,
and is full of misery.
He cometh up, and is cut down like a flower;
he fleeth as it were a shadow,
and ne'er continueth in one stay.

In the midst of life we are in death:
of whom may we seek for succour,
but of thee, O Lord,
who for our sins art justly displeased?

Yet, O Lord, O Lord most mighty,
O holy and most merciful Saviour,
deliver us not into the bitter pains
of eternal death.

Thou knowest, Lord, the secrets of our hearts;
shut not thy merciful ears unto our pray'rs;
but spare us, Lord most holy, O God most mighty.

O holy and most merciful Saviour,
thou most worthy Judge eternal,
suffer us not, at our last hour,
for any pains of death, to fall from thee. Amen.
 

Pilgrim’s Hymn

This piece was adapted from the final chorus of Paulus’ one-act opera “The Three Hermits” and soon took on a life of its own, becoming his first self-published work, being performed thousands of times across the world (including at the funerals of both Gerald Ford & Ronald Reagan!), and solidifying him in the pantheon of great American composers of choral music. Michael Dennis Browne’s text was inspired by the troparia of thanksgiving from the Eastern Orthodox liturgy (particularly the way the Trinitarian doxology is divided between other text) and offers a clear message of hope and trust in the divine. Paulus’ homophonic setting allows the words to be clearly understood, while the scintillating harmony is at once peaceful and powerfully emotional.

Even before we call on your name

To ask you, O God,

when we seek for the words to glorify you,

you hear our prayer;

unceasing love, O unceasing love,

surpassing all we know.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son,

and to the Holy Spirit.

 

Even with darkness sealing us in,

we breathe your name,

and through all the days that follow so fast,

we trust in you;

endless your grace, O endless your grace,

beyond all mortal dream.

Both now and forever,

and unto ages and ages.

Amen.

Partita in a minor

A composer and virtuoso viola da gamba player, Kühnel only published one volume of music: a set of fourteen sonatas and partitas for one or two viols, from which this partita comes. His pieces are stylistically similar to other virtuoso viol music of the time, showing off the viol’s range and ability to play chords, while also showing influence from the nascent virtuoso violin music (e.g. Biber) and the improvisatory stylus phantasticus of German organists of the time (e.g. Buxtehude).

Musikalische Exequien | Concert in Form einer Teutschen Begräbnis-Missa (Concerto in the form of a German burial Mass)

In 1565, Schütz was commissioned to compose the funeral music for Count Henry II Reuss, Count of Gera, which comprises the multi-part “concerto” which we are performing this afternoon, a motet (Herr, wenn ich nur dich habe) and a setting of the Nunc dimittis. Henry II chose the texts himself, some of which are from scripture and others by contemporary Lutheran writers, including Martin Luther. The musical style of the piece, although restrained in scope because of diminished resources available during the Thirty Years’ War, is an exemplar of the early German Baroque style: moments of ornate monody contrasted with chorale-like homophony, and always at the service of the text. Although of course not technically a Requiem in the upper-case-C Catholic sense (and not drawing from the same texts), it is known as the first Requiem in the German language, and is the most-recorded and -performed work of 17th-century German vocal music. Although it is doubtful that Brahms knew this work well when he composed his "Ein Deutsches Requiem," it is interesting that he used some of the same texts! In addition to the texts and translations, a few words about specific movements appear in brackets below.

Intonatio:

Nacket bin ich von Mutterleibe kommen.

Soli:

Nacket werde ich wiederum dahinfahren, der Herr hat's gegeben, der Herr hat's genommen, der Name des Herren sei gelobet.

Naked shall I return there in turn, The Lord gave, the Lord has taken away, the name of the Lord be praised. (Job 1:21)

[The incipit here recalls Gregorian chant, and despite the often secular influence of the musical style, clearly sets the tone of this as a sacred work. This juxtaposition between the sacred and secular is clear even in the name of the piece: Schütz titles it a "concerto" but one "in the form of a German burial mass."]

Capella:

Herr Gott Vater im Himmel, erbarm dich über uns.

Lord God, Father in heaven, have mercy on us. (Kyrie eleison)

[This alternation between solo/small group sections and the full chorus (capella) will continue throughout the piece as the main formal structure. Additionally, the specific alternation with this altered Kyrie text again solidifies this as a piece of service music and aligns it with centuries-old liturgical traditions.]

Soli:

Christus ist mein Leben, Sterben ist mein Gewinn. Siehe, das ist Gottes Lamm, das der Welt Sünde trägt.

Christ is my life, dying is my gain. Behold, that is the Lamb of God who carries the sins of the world. (Philippians 1:21, John 1:29b)

 

Capella:

Jesu Christe, Gottes Sohn, erbarm dich über uns.

Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us. (Christe eleison)

Soli:

Leben wir, so leben wir dem Herren. Sterben wir, so sterben wir dem Herren, darum wir leben oder sterben, so sind wir des Herren.

If we live, we live to the Lord. If we die, we die to the Lord, therefore if we live, or we die, we are the Lord’s. (Romans 14:8)

 

Capella:

Herr Gott heiliger Geist, erbarm dich über uns.

Lord God, Holy Spirit, have mercy on us. (Kyrie eleison)

Intonatio:

Also hat Gott die Welt geliebet, daß er seinen eingebornen Sohn gab.

Soli:

Auf daß alle, die an ihn gläuben, nicht verloren werden, sondern das ewige Leben haben.

God loved the world so much that he gave his only-begotten son so that all who believed in him would not be lost, but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

Capella:

Er sprach zu seinem lieben Sohn: die Zeit ist hie zu erbarmen, fahr hin, mein's Herzens werte Kron und sei das Heil der Armen, und hilf ihn aus der Sünden Not, erwürg für sie den bittern Tod und laß sie mit dir leben.

He spoke to his beloved Son: the time is here for mercy, go forth, worthy crown of my heart and be the salvation of the poor, and help them out of the hardship of sin, strangle bitter death for them and let them live with you. (Martin Luther, 1523)

[The music of this movement has a parallel in that of the final movement, which is a setting of a different stanza of this hymn by Luther. Additionally, after the initial scripture and ancient liturgy, Luther is established in this important place in the form of the piece.]

 

Soli:

Das Blut Jesu Christi, des Sohnes Gottes, machet uns rein von allen Sünden.

The blood of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, makes us pure from all sins. (1 John 1:7b)

[The contrast between the dark harmonic tension of "Das Blut" and the uplifting, almost charming rhythm of "machet uns rein" hearkens to a core element of the piece's theology: the tension and ultimate connection between Christ's suffering and our salvation.]

 

Capella:

Durch ihn ist uns vergeben die Sünd, geschenkt das Leben, im Himmel soll'n wir haben, o Gott, wie große Gaben.

Through him are we forgiven of sin, our life restored, in heaven we shall have such great gifts, O God. (Ludwig Helmbold, 1575)

 

[Musically, this is the closest to a straight-up chorale, and is the only music which is repeated almost exactly in a later movement (Sein Wort, sein Tauf...")]

Soli:

Unser Wandel ist im Himmel, von dannen wir auch warten des Heilandes Jesu Christi, des Herren, welcher unsern nichtigen Leib verklären wird, daß er ähnlich werde seinem verklärten Leibe.

Our life is in heaven, from there we await the Savior, Jesus Christ, the Lord who will transfigure our empty body that it will become similar to his transfigured body. (Philippians 3:20-21a)

 

Capella:

Es ist allhier ein Jammertal, Angst, Not und Trübsal überall, des Bleibens ist ein kleine Zeit, voller Mühseligkeit, und wers bedenkt, ist immer im Streit.

Here all around is a vale of tears, fear, distress, and tribulation everywhere, [our] stay here is a short time full of arduousness and they who consider it are always in conflict. (Johann Leon, 1582)

 

Soli:

Wenn eure Sünde gleich blutrot wäre, soll sie doch schneeweiß werden, wenn sie gleich ist wie rosinfarb, soll sie doch wie Wolle werden.

Were your sins to be red as blood, they shall be white as snow, were they crimson, they shall be like wool. (Isaiah 1:18b)

[This movement is one of the more virtuosic passages for the soloists, and one of the most interesting moments of text-painting: the word "Wolle" (wool) is set with a quick, almost circular motive, suggesting the spinning of wool.]

 

Capella:

Sein Wort, sein Tauf, sein Nachtmahl dient wider allen Unfall, der Heilge Geist im Glauben lehrt uns darauf vertrauen.

His word, his baptism, his Eucharist serve us against all misfortune, the Holy Spirit in faith teaches us whereon to have faith. (Ludwig Helmbold, 1575)

 

Soli:

Gehe hin, mein Volk, in eine Kammer und schleuß die Tür nach dir zu, verbirge dich einen kleinen Augenblick, bis der Zorn vorrübergehe. 

Go in, my people, in a chamber and close the door after you, hide yourself for a moment until the wrath has passed over [you]. (Isaiah 26:20)

[This solo is in many ways the central movement of the work, and is the most intimate – one of the longest sections scored for a soloist, it provides a musical respite. I will also say that the irony of preparing this piece to be performed in March 2020 and then reemerging two years later after figuratively "go[ing] in and clos[ing] the door" as a result of the global pandemic is not lost on me!]

 

Soli: Der Gerechten Seelen sind in Gottes Hand und keine Qual rühret sie an, für den Unverständigen werden sie angesehen, als stürben sie, und ihr Abschied wird für eine Pein gerechnet, und ihr Hinfahren für Verderben, aber sie sind in Frieden.

The souls of the righteous are in the hand of God and no torment shall touch them, to those that lack understanding they seem to die, but they are at peace, and their parting will be reckoned as misery and their going forth as destruction. (Wisdom 3:1-3)

 

Soli: Herr, wenn ich nur dich habe, so frage ich nichts nach Himmel und Erden, wenn mir gleich Leib und Seele verschmacht, so bist du Gott allzeit meines Herzens Trost und mein Teil.

Lord, when I have only you I ask for nothing else in heaven or on earth, when both by body and soul are languishing you, God, are at all times my heart’s comfort and my due. (Psalm 73:25-26)

 

Capella:

Er ist das Heil und selig Licht für die Heiden, zu erleuchten, die dich kennen nicht und zu weiden, er ist seines Volks Israel der Preis, Ehr, Freud und Wonne.

He is the salvation and blessed light for the gentiles, to enlighten those who know you not and to graze them, he is for his people Israel the praise, honor, joy, and delight. (Martin Luther, 1524)

[This text is a stanza of Luther's hymn "Mit Fried und Freud ich fahr dahin," and Schütz borrows and riffs on the original melody, which is also by Luther!]

 

Soli:

Unser Leben währet siebenzig Jahr, und wenn's hoch kömmt, so sind's achtzig Jahr, und wenn es köstlich gewesen ist, so ist es Müh und Arbeit gewesen.

Our life lasts seventy years, and, if longer, eighty years, and if it is pleasing, yet it is trouble and labor. (Psalm 90:10a)

[This duet for two basses capitalizes on the unique texture of close voicing that low, a relatively uncommon texture both then and now. Of particular interest is that the part for the second bass soloist is contained in the alto choir book, implying that one of the men singing alto would have then jumped to the bottom of his range to sing this duet, only to then come in on the first measure of the next piece back in his alto register!] 

Capella:

Ach, wie elend ist unser Zeit allhier auf dieser Erden, gar bald der Mensch darnieder leit, wir müssen alle sterben, allhier in diesem Jammertal ist Müh und Arbeit überall, auch wenn dirs wohl gelinget.

Ah, how wretched is our time on this earth soon humankind is laid low we all must die here in this vale of tears is trouble and labor everywhere, even if you prosper. (Johannes Gigas, 1566)

 

Soli:

Ich weiß, daß mein Erlöser lebt, und er wird mich hernach aus der Erden auferwecken, und werde darnach mit dieser meiner Haut umgeben werden, und werde in meinem Fleisch Gott sehen.

I know that my Redeemer lives and he will reawaken me from the earth, and afterward will be clothed with this my skin and in my flesh shall I see God. (Job 19:25-26)

[Schütz switches to a spritely triple meter for these next two movements – triple meter has long been associated with divinity in sacred music because of the Trinity, and this central message of hope of the resurrection is amplified by this meter change.]

 

Capella:

Weil du vom Tod erstanden bist, werd ich im Grab nicht bleiben, mein höchster Trost dein Auffahrt ist, Todsfurcht kannst du vertreiben, denn wo du bist, da komm ich hin, daß ich stets bei dir leb und bin, drum fahr ich hin mit Freuden.

Since you rose from the dead I will not remain in the grave, my highest comfort is your Ascension, you can drive away the fear of death, for where you are, I will go that I may live and be with you, therefore I go forth with joy. (Nikolaus Herman, 1560)

 

Soli:

Herr, ich lasse dich nicht, du segnest mich denn.

Lord, I will not let you go until you bless me. (Genesis, 32:27b)

 

Capella:

Er sprach zu mir: halt dich an mich, es soll dir itzt gelingen, ich geb mich selber ganz für dich, da will ich für dich ringen, den Tod verschlingt das Leben mein, mein Unschuld trägt die Sünden dein, da bist du selig worden.

He said to me: hold fast to me, the you shall prosper, I give myself wholly to you, and will struggle for you, my life devours Death, my innocence bears your sins, you have been saved. (Martin Luther, 1523)

[Here in the final movement we have the musical parallel to the earlier setting of Luther, albeit elongated at the end with a coda of extended harmonic diversions. Once again establishing Luther in a key place in the work, Schütz brings this textually and musically diverse piece to a close with this affirmation that "you have been saved," ultimately solidifying the message of hope.

Abide with me

This hymn tune was originally written by William H. Monk expressly for this text by Henry Francis Lyte. Monk was the editor of Hymns Ancient and Modern, a hymnal for the Church of England first published in 1861, and this hymn has become one of his most enduring compositions. The text opens with a clear reference to the "Road to Emmaus" story, connecting it back to the Rheinberger and (as you may have guessed) inspiring the name of the concert: "Road to Resurrection." Although perhaps primarily known for his virtuosic choral arrangements of African-American spirituals, Moses Hogan was also a prolific composer, as well as an internationally-renowned conductor and educator. Beyond simply expanding the harmonic language of the original, his arrangement of this hymn transforms it into a piece of elegant and haunting beauty. Although only setting two complete stanzas, Hogan closes the piece with the final lines from two other stanzas, thus recalling the overall poetic structure of the original. The final "amen" brings the piece to a close with Hogan's trademark harmonic beauty, and also brings today's concert to a close. We hope this music has brought you peace and joy, and on behalf of all the musicians, thank you for being with us this afternoon.

Abide with me: fast falls the eventide;
the darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide with me.

 

I need thy presence every passing hour.
What but thy grace can foil the tempter's power?
Who like thyself my guide and strength can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, O abide with me.

O thou who changest not, abide with me.

Iin life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.

Amen.