Monday, June 29, 2009

Christmas in July

On our journey through the Creed this summer, we have reached the recounting of the nativity: "He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary." Naturally, this gives us an excuse to sing "Joy to the World" in July.

I decided to extend the musical theme with the prelude. We can't have Christmas music without at least a nod toward Advent, right? So the prelude on Wednesday night will be Dieterich Buxtehude's "Chorale Fantasia on Wie Schon Leuchtet," known to us as "O Morning Star How Fair and Bright."

Buxtehude is an important name in organ music history. He was an organist and composer in Lubeck, Germany, in the late 17th century and was one of the greatest composers of the mid-Baroque era. His works had great influence on the next generation of better-known composers, including Telemann, Handel, and especially J.S. Bach. The prelude I'm playing is one of his best known works, and it develops the entire text of the hymn in a highly ornamented style. You might even open your hymnal to follow along.


  1. Rev. Robert FerroJune 30, 2009 at 1:31 PM

    Actually our opening hymn, "Joy to the World" is in the Advent section of the hymnal (it was also in the Advent section of the old "red" hymnal). Although most folks associate it with Christmas, it does have some Advent themes. I think of "Joy to the World" as a nice transition from Advent to Christmas, and as a good Opening Hymn for Christmas Eve or closing hymn for the 4th Sunday of Advent. So the "Advent" Prelude should flow nicely into Joy to the World.

  2. Aw, gee, ok, I guess technically "Joy to the World" does make the Advent cut-off, but I do notice that it's the very last one in that section. Plus, the first line is "Joy to the world, the Lord is come!" Sounds like a midnight mass to me. Either way, you can't argue that "Go Tell it on the Mountain" is a Christmas hymn!