Sunday, 21 August 2016

Singing with choirs and composers
from Saffron Walden to New York

Saffron Walden, a pretty, picture-postcard, market town in Essex, gives its name to one of Arthur Brown’s hymn tunes (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

I am the canon-in-residence in Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, this morning, preaching at the Cathedral Eucharist at 11 a.m. The celebrant is the Revd Abigail Sines, the new Dean’s Vicar of the Cathedral, and the setting is the Missa Brevis S Johannis de Deo by Franz Josef Haydn (1732-1809), sung by the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in New York.

This morning’s readings are: Isaiah 58: 9b-14; Psalm 103: 1-8; Hebrews 12: 18-29; Luke 13: 10-17.

I am preaching on the Gospel reading, which tells the story of the woman who is healed by Christ in a synagogue and who is called by ‘Daughter of Abraham,’ and I also plan to draw on a sermon preached about 1650 years ago by the Cappadocian Father, Saint Gregory Nazianus, in which he talks about the poor and the marginalised being sharing the imago Dei.

The music this morning includes hymns written by the Non-Juror Thomas Ken (1637-1711), WJ Sparrow-Simpson (1852-1952), Charlotte Elliott (1789-1871), Pope Innocent VI (died 1432) and Henry Lyte (1793-1847), and settings by François Barthélémon (1741-1808), John Stainer (1840-1901), Arthur Henry Brown (1830-1926), WA Mozart (1756-1791) and John Goss (1800-1880).

The composer Arthur Brown gave the name ‘Saffron Walden’ to his setting for Charlotte Elliott’s hymn ‘Just as I am.’ He was born on 24 July 1830 in Brentwood, Essex, and named ‘Saffron Walden’ and many other hymn tunes after places in his native Essex.

Brown began playing the organ at the age of 10, and was almost completely self-taught. He was the organist of the parish church in Brent¬wood for most of his life (1842-1853, and again in 1858-1888). He also played at Saint Edward’s, Romford (1853-1858), Saint Peter’s, South Weald (from 1889), and at Sir Anthony Browne’s School (to 1926).

He was a member of the London Gregorian Association, and helped to compile the Service Book for the annual festival in Saint Paul’s Cathedral. He supported the Oxford Movement, and pioneered the restoration of plainchant and Gregorian music in Anglican worship.

Brown edited a number of publications, including the Altar Hymnal. His also wrote settings for the Canticles and the Eucharist, a Children’s Festival Service, anthems, songs, part songs, and over 800 hymn tunes and carols.

He died on 15 February 1926 in Brentwood, his home town in Essex.


Almighty God,
who called your Church to bear witness
that you were in Christ reconciling the world to yourself:
Help us to proclaim the good news of your love,
that all who hear it may be drawn to you;
through him who was lifted up on the cross,
and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Post Communion Prayer:

God our creator,
you feed your children with the true manna,
the living bread from heaven.
Let this holy food sustain us through our earthly pilgrimage
until we come to that place
where hunger and thirst are no more;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.


Unknown said...

The Good News from Essex; not even Nashe would have with you.

Unknown said...

Two small words that contain all, 'and' between them the worn and twisted conjunction of their DNA.