We open this Sunday's musical offerings with some favorites from the Pinkham era: Organ variations on O Come Emmanuel and Be Alert, Be Wakeful from the Dallas Anthem Book.
The main course is Johannes Brahms' motet O Heiland, reiß die Himmel auf, an elaborate setting of a 17th century text. Hearkening back to all of last week's Lutheran chorales, Brahms sets the text and chorale verse by verse in different treatments, expressing the various affects in the text and employing counterpoint technique he had learned from studying the Renaissance masters.
Speaking of Renaissance, our communion music is taken from the Missa Conditor alme siderum by Giovanni Animuccia, an Italian composer who was involved in the heart of Rome's liturgical musical life. He was one of Palestrina's most important predecessors and possibly his mentor, composing music at the very center of the Roman Catholic Church during the turbulent reforms of the Counter-Reformation and as part of the new movements that began to flourish around the middle of the 16th century.
The mass is based on the hymn Conditor alme siderum, a text from the 7th century used at Vespers during Advent. In Pope Urban VIII's revision of the hymns of the Roman Breviary in 1632, the Advent hymns were greatly altered and this hymn was no exception. Only one line of the original remained and thus the revised hymn, titled Creator alme siderum, is really a separate hymn in and of itself. It has subsequently been further transformed and translated into the hymn known in English as Creator of the Stars of Night, but if you listen carefully, you can still hear the hymn tune in the themes of Animuccia's Mass.