October Organ Voluntaries after 9.30 Mass
October 3 (Harvest) OT 27
Martin Rinkart, the only surviving Lutheran minister in Eilenburg during the 1637 plague, wrote the hymn Nun danket alle Gott, which we know as Now thank we all our God. Rumour has it this was written whilst the city remained under siege; Rinkart certainly had a very tough time personally. Bach’s sprightly setting solos out melody at the top in slow notes over a busy accompaniment.
October 10 OT 28
Today’s theme boils down to humility in the face of reality. The camel can get through the personal door in the city wall (the eye of the needle) only if it kneels and lowers its head. So, a suitably modest voluntary: O Gott, du frommer Gott, by Brahms. It’s tentative, questioning, and has a double echo after each phrase, as though having second thoughts; but ends in solid reassurance. http://www.hymntime.com/tch/htm/o/g/t/f/ogtfaitg.htm has a good translation of the text.
October 17 OT 29
The ultimate mystery of the Servant-God is hardly portrayed in a glittering or glib voluntary, so here instead is a gritty, towering, bold one: Christus der uns selig macht – in short, Christ makes us blessed through his own sufferings – by Bach. A solid texture fills the space between the top and bass – the chorale – in canon, 2 beats apart. Finally, a chain of discords resolves to make the point.
October 24 OT 30
After the humility, the joy of salvation; so a thoroughly upbeat voluntary today – the Finale from Louis Vierne’s (1879-1937) Symphonie No. 1. The tune is in the pedal (you can’t miss it) under a sparkling toccata in sunny D major, then there’s a quieter middle section with a new melody in canon at 2 beats apart, before the return with additional glitz, of the main theme.
October 31st All Saints
Hackneyed? Yes. Bad music? No. So, here is the Toccata from Widor’s Symphonie No. 6 (“the” toccata) in celebration of all who have lived the Beatitudes, attained their sainthood and set an example for us to follow. The rest of the Symphonie has a tale to tell, but it’s a long one and requires the specific colours of the French romantic organ to convey it adequately. Widor lived 1844-1937.