100 years ago: Sacred music of old

10 June 2009

June 11th 1909

WE HAVE been glancing through the pages of the Handbook pre­pared for the use of the spectators at Fulham [for the English Church Pageant (Features, 8 May; Diary, 5 June)], and our attention has been arrested by the music that is to be performed in the episodes. This, we believe, should prove to be a very in­structive item. For the first time in their lives, many people will make for themselves the surprising dis­covery that the music of an older day was rich in melodies of a grave and reverent type that well assorted with the great words to which the Church united them. They will hear for the first time the Am­brosian Te Deum; that “most solemn of mediæval melodies” (to quote the Handbook), the Dies Iræ; the Deprecamur Te; the Conditor alme siderum; and, what is new to most of us, the Sanctus attributed to Henry VI. Of music of the more modern type there will be found many examples, chosen, however, for their congruity with the scenes, by reason either of their date or their appropriateness. Thus at Parker’s Consecration, a nearly con­temporary tune is set to the common metre version of Veni Creator; in the Laudian scene Croft’s arrangement of the Burial Service is given; and to the Puritans there is assigned for their triumph song a wonderfully vigorous hymn tune that should be good to hear. We notice such sources of hymn tunes as Tallis, Lawes, and Crüger; and in the way of secular com­positions there are a few folk melodies. Altogether it is a remark­able programme of music.

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