Pondering the Unknowable

Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021, Preacher: Rev. Jean Ward

2 people sitting on chairs under a tree watching the sun set

Sunday, October 17
Rev. Jean Ward
Pondering the Unknowable
Eleanor Daley, Director of Music
Soprano 1 – Amy Dodington
Soprano 1 – Anne Bornath
Alto 1 – Andrea Ludwig
Alto 2 – Lynn Featherstone
Scripture: Job 38:1-7 and Mark 10:35-45
Reader: Janice Barr

Prelude Adagio molto from Autumn (The Four Seasons)                Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741)
Netherlands Bach Society



Opening Hymn O God Beyond All Praising                Melody by Gustav Holst (1874-1934) from The Planets (Jupiter)
                                                                                  arr. Richard Proulx (1937-2010)

O God beyond all praising, we worship you today,
And sing the love amazing that songs cannot repay;
For we can only wonder at every gift you send,
At blessings without number and mercies without end:
We lift our hearts before you and wait upon your word,
We honour and adore you, our great and mighty Lord.

The flower of earthly splendour in time must surely die,
Its fragile bloom surrender to you the Lord most high;
But hidden from all nature the eternal seed is sown,
Though small in mortal stature, to heaven’s garden grown:
For Christ, the man from heaven, from death has set us free,
And we through him are given the final victory.

Then, hear, O gracious Saviour, accept the love we bring,
That we, who know your favour, may serve you as our King;
And whether our tomorrows be filled with good or ill,
We’ll triumph through our sorrows and rise to bless you still:
To marvel at your beauty and glory in your ways,
And make a joyful duty our sacrifice of praise.
(Michael Perry, ca. 1982)


Quartet This Sanctuary of My Soul                E. Daley
Soprano 1 – Amy Dodington
Soprano 1 – Anne Bornath
Alto 1 – Andrea Ludwig
Alto 2 – Lynn Featherstone

This sanctuary of my soul,
Unwitting I keep white and whole,
Unlatched and lit,
If Thou shouldst care to enter,
Or to tarry there.

With parted lips and outstretched hands,
And listening ears Thy servant stands.
Call Thou early, call Thou late,
To Thy great service dedicate.
My soul keep white and whole.
(Charles Hamilton Sorley, 1895-1915)


Hymn Lord, Whose Love in Humble Service                Melody: from “The Sacred Harp”, 1844
attributed to Benjamin Franklin White (1800-1879)

Lord, whose love in humble service
Bore the weight of human need,
Who upon the cross, forsaken,
Offered mercy’s perfect deed:
We, Your servants, bring the worship
Not of voice alone, but heart;
Consecrating to Your purpose
Every gift which You impart.

Called from worship into service,
Forth in Your great name we go,
To the child, the youth, the agèd,
Love in living deeds to show.
Hope and health, goodwill and comfort,
Counsel, aid, and peace we give,
That your children, Lord in freedom
May Your mercy know and live.
(Albert F. Bayly, 1901-1984)


Anthem We Turn to Christ Anew                Ian Kellam (1933-2014)

We turn to Christ anew
who hear his call today,
his way to walk, his will pursue,
his word obey.
To serve him as our King
and of his kingdom learn,
from sin and every evil thing
to him we turn.

We trust in Christ to save;
in him new life begins:
who by his cross a ransom gave
from all our sins.
Our spirits’ strength and stay
who when all flesh is dust
will keep us in that final day,
in him we trust.

We would be true to him
till earthly journeys end,
whose love no passing years can dim,
our changeless friend.
May we who bear his Name
our faith and love renew,
to follow Christ our single aim,
and find him true.
(Timothy Dudley-Smith, b. 1926)


Closing Hymn We are Pilgrims (The Servant Song)                Words and music: Richard Gillard (1977)


Postlude Sinfonia BWV 29                Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)


This morning’s hymns and anthem texts are reprinted under #A-717945. O God Beyond All Praising – words by Michael Perry, © 1982 Hope Publishing Company. Lord, Whose Love in Humble Service – words by Albert F. Bayly, © 1961 Oxford University Press. We Turn to Christ Anew – words by Timothy Dudley-Smith, © Hope Publishing Company. We Are Pilgrims – words by Richard Gillard, © 1977 Scripture in Song. All rights reserved.

♪ Music notes ♪

Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741) was an Italian Baroque composer, virtuoso violinist, teacher, and Roman Catholic priest. Born in Venice, the capital of the Venetian Republic, he is regarded as one of the greatest Baroque composers, and his influence during his lifetime was widespread across Europe. Vivaldi’s main teacher was probably his father, Giovanni Battista, who in 1685 was admitted as a violinist to the orchestra of the San Marco Basilica in Venice. Vivaldi composed many instrumental concertos for the violin and a variety of other musical instruments, as well as numerous sacred choral works and more than forty operas. His best-known work is a series of violin concertos known as The Four Seasons. Many of his compositions were written for the all-female music ensemble of the Ospedaledella Pietà, a home for abandoned children. He worked there as a Catholic priest and teacher from 1703 to 1715 and from 1723 to 1740. Vivaldi (who earned the nickname “The Red Priest”, due to his distinctive reddish hair) also had some success with expensive stagings of his operas in Venice, Mantua and Vienna. After meeting the Emperor Charles VI, he moved to Vienna, hoping for royal support. However, the Emperor died soon after Vivaldi’s arrival, and Vivaldi himself died in poverty less than a year later.

Gustav Holst (1874-1934) was an English composer, arranger and teacher. Best known for his orchestral suite The Planets, he composed many other works across a range of genres, although none achieved comparable success. There were professional musicians in the previous three generations of Holst’s family and it was clear from an early age that he would follow the same calling. He had hoped to become a pianist but was prevented by neuritis in his right arm. Despite his father’s reservations, he pursued a career as a composer, studying at the Royal College of Music under Charles Villiers Stanford. Unable to support himself by his compositions, he played the trombone professionally and later became a teacher—a great one, according to his colleague Ralph Vaughan Williams. Among other teaching activities, he built up a strong tradition of performance at Morley College, where he served as musical director from 1907 until 1924 and pioneered music education for women at St Paul’s Girls’ School, where he taught from 1905 until his death. Holst’s works were played frequently in the early years of the 20th century, but it was not until the international success of The Planets in the years immediately after the First World War that he became a well-known figure. A shy man, he did not welcome this fame and preferred to be left in peace to compose and teach. In his later years, his uncompromising, personal style of composition struck many music lovers as too austere, and his brief popularity declined. Nevertheless, he was a considerable influence on a number of younger English composers, including Benjamin Britten.

Richard Proulx (1937-2010) was an American musician who possessed of a rare combination of talents as a composer, conductor, music editor and organist. These talents, together with wide experience across denominational lines, gave him a unique perspective of both the opportunities and the challenges found in liturgical music making. His compositional output included congregational music in every form, sacred and secular choral works, song cycles, two operas, as well as instrumental and organ music. He served as a consultant for numerous hymnals, and conducted choral festivals in the USA, Canada, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Scotland, Australia, and New Zealand.

Michael Perry (1942-1996) was a Church of England clergyman, and one of the leading British hymnodists of the 20th century. He was educated at Dulwich College and went on to study at University College London; Oak Hill Theological College, London; Ridley Hall, Cambridge; and the University of Southampton. In the course of his short life, Perry wrote over 300 hymn texts – the most well known being O God Beyond All Praising, set to the tune “Thaxted” (a hymn tune by the English composer Gustav Holst, based on the stately theme from the middle section of the Jupiter movement of his orchestral suite The Planets, and named after Thaxted, the English village where Holst lived much of his life.) Perry was increasingly disabled by an inoperable brain tumour that was diagnosed in early 1996, and tragically died at the age of 54 in December of 1996.

This Sanctuary of My Soul was composed for the Covenanting service of Rev. Charles Miller, which took place at Fairlawn on Sunday, October 1, 1989.

Charles Hamilton Sorley (1895-1915) was born in Aberdeen, Scotland. The son of a professor of moral philosophy, he was a precocious and academically gifted child. His family moved to Cambridge when he was five, and Sorley attended King’s College choir school and Marlborough College. He began publishing poetry in the school journal and won a scholarship to Oxford, but the clouds of war were darkening, and it seemed unlikely that he would be able to take his place there. Instead, he moved to Germany for a short time to study the language and the culture. At the outbreak of the war, he was ordered to leave the country and he returned to Britain to volunteer for military service. He was commissioned into the Suffolk regiment, and as a young lieutenant, he was sent to the Western Front in the spring of 1915. Sorley was killed in action at the age of 20, during the Battle of Loos in October, 1915.

Benjamin Franklin White (1800-1879) began his musical career playing the fife in the War of 1812. He later collaborated with his brother-in-law William Walker, in collecting folk tunes and camp meeting melodies, but when Walker published “The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion” in 1835, he gave no credit to White, creating a lifelong rift between the two men. While earning his livelihood as a farmer in Georgia, White published “The Sacred Harp” in 1844, composing the tunes and harmonies of many of the hymns in the collection, and which, like Walker’s volume, used the shaped note system of notation. This musical notation – designed to facilitate congregational and social singing, was introduced in late 18th century England, and became a popular teaching device in American schools where singing was taught. Originating in the United States in New England, it was practiced primarily in the southern states, for both sacred and secular music. “The Sacred Harp” went through many printings and remains in use to this day, with its most recent republication occurring in 1991.

Albert F. Bayly (1901-1984) was born in Sussex, England. At age 15, he studied to become a shipwright at the Royal Dockyard in Portsmouth, and a few years later received a bachelor’s degree from London University. He was ordained in 1929 and served as a Congregational minister from 1929-1972. Bayly began writing hymns in 1945 to express a Christian response to modern scientific knowledge and to contemporary problems and opportunities, interpreting central biblical teaching for the present world. The author of close to 200 hymn texts, he is considered a forerunner of the ‘explosion’ in new English hymn writing after the Second World War, and is remembered as a pioneer of this cause throughout the English-speaking world.

British composer Ian Kellam (1933-2014) is especially admired for his sacred vocal compositions. He was born in Sheffield, England, and as a chorister studied with Dr. Tustin Baker, organist at Sheffield Cathedral, and with Herbert Sumsion, organist at Gloucester Cathedral. He later attended the Royal Academy of Music, where he studied with Howard Ferguson. His immersion in church music through childhood led him to a career in composition, with sacred works as the majority of his compositional output. Kellam’s extensive body of work for the church includes cantatas, anthems, motets, carols, and settings of the morning and evening canticles. Secular works include song cycles, instrumental pieces, and music for children. Additionally, he wrote theatre scores for many productions, including several for the Royal Shakespeare Company. Kellam loved writing for voices, and earned acclaim for his ability to support and craft lyrical melodies.

Timothy Dudley-Smith (b. 1926) is an English hymn writer and a retired bishop of the Church of England. As a hymn writer, Dudley-Smith has published some 400 hymn texts, many of which appear in hymnals throughout the English-speaking world and in translation. He is an honorary vice-president of the Hymn Society of Great Britain and Ireland, a Fellow of the Hymn Society in the United States and Canada, and a Fellow of the Royal School of Church Music. In 2003 he was awarded an OBE ‘for services to hymnody’, and in 2009 an honorary Doctor of Divinity (DD) from the University of Durham in the UK.
Richard Gillard (b. 1953) was born in England and emigrated to New Zealand with his family when he was three years old. His most well known composition “We Are Pilgrims” (The Servant Song), was first published in 1978 on a record album by Scripture in Song called “Father, Make Us One”, and has appeared subsequently in other Scripture in Song publications including a song book entitled “Songs of Praise”, which is widely used by New Zealand congregations. The hymn is also published in a number of hymn books throughout the English speaking world, including “Voices United”.

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) was a German composer of the Baroque period (ca. 1600-1750). He lived in Protestant north Germany in the days when music there made up an important part of the splendour of courts, of religious observance, and the daily happiness of the people. Over the course of his life, he held numerous posts: choir-boy, violinist in the orchestra of a prince, organist of town churches, and chief court musician. His last position was as music director at the St. Thomas Church and School in Leipzig, of which city his name is chiefly connected, since he remained there for almost the last thirty years of his life. He played many instruments, and as a clavichordist, harpsichordist, and organist, was supreme in his day. He was an extremely prolific composer and produced monumental instrumental compositions as the Art of the Fugue, the Brandenburg Concertos, and the Goldberg Variations, as well as cantatas, motets, sacred songs and arias, sonatas, concertos, suites, and an enormous amount of organ and other keyboard music. Two of Bach’s best known large choral works are the St. Matthew Passion and the Mass in B Minor, and since the 19th-century Bach revival, in no small part, thanks to Felix Mendelssohn, he is now regarded as one of the greatest composers of all time. Bach was twice married, and the parent of twenty (!) children, several of whom were also musicians.




Music Sources:

Look at the World John Rutter
Come, Ye Thankful People, Come George Job Elvey, arr. Mack Wilberg
Adagio molto from Autumn (The Four Seasons) Antonio Vivaldi
O God Beyond All Praising Gustav Holst from The Planets (Jupiter) arr. Richard Proulx
This Sanctuary of My Soul E. Daley
Lord, Whose Love in Humble Service from “The Sacred Harp”, attributed to Benjamin Franklin White
We Turn to Christ Anew Ian Kellam
We are Pilgrims (The Servant Song) Richard Gillard
Sinfonia BWV 29 Johann Sebastian Bach


Image Source:

Photo by Harli Marten on Unsplash