Post-Worship Treat for August 21, 2022

Post-Worship Treat for August 21, 2022

August 21, 2022

Lexington Presbyterian Church

Post-Worship Treat

William McCorkle plays the C. B. Fisk pipe organ, opus 128 (2007)

Helmut Walcha: Lobt Gott den Herrn, ihn Heiden all (Sing Praise to God, Who Reigns Above)

Today’s musical offering, by the German organist, Helmut Walcha (1907-1991), is based on a hymn tune by the prolific musical scholar/composer, Melchoir Vulpius ( 1570-1615).  The text is a hymn of thanksgiving’ by the German lawyer and religious scholar, Johann Jacob Schütz (1640-1690), was published in a sacred songbook in 1675.  Protestant worshipers today know this hymn in its English version by the celebrated English translator, France Elizabeth Cox (1812-1897), with the first line ‘Sing Praise to God, Who Reigns Above.’  Presbyterian hymnals have adopted a different tune.

Helmut Walcha, legendary organist/teacher of the twentieth century, was the first person to record all of the organ compositions of J. S. Bach, which Walcha did twice, once in mono and again in stereo.  In addition to his landmark performances, Walcha’s great legacy consists of a large body of hymn-based organ preludes, which display time-honored compositional techniques and formats, but written in a fresh tonal language that is distinctly of Walcha’s time.

The first stanza of Schütz’s hymn text (in Cox’s translation):

Sing praise to God who reigns above, the God of all creation,

The God of power, the God of love, the God of our salvation.

With healing balm my soul is filled, and every faithless murmur stilled:

To God all praise and glory!

This piece is from the second of four volumes of Helmut Walcha’s organ preludes, © 1963, Henry Litolff’s Verlag/C. F. Peters, Frankfurt, London, New York.

The text is in the public domain.

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