Sunday 5th February 2023 Third before Lent/Septuagesima
Haydn (1732-1809) Originally dedicated to St Joannis de Deo, this Missa Brevis later became famous as the Little Organ Mass because of the setting of the Benedictus for solo soprano, with obligato solo organ. This Missa Brevis sees Haydn setting the text concisely, and the writing for a small ensemble of violins and continuo was so typical of the South German and Austrian ‘Missa Brevis’ settings, that this orchestration became known as the ‘Vienna church trio’. Haydn excelled in every musical genre, and whilst nowadays he is best remembered for his instrumental music, during his lifetime his vocal music brought him just as much recognition. It is easy to see why this was so; Haydn’s typical command of form, and gifts of melodic writing shine through in this setting of the mass.
Samuel Scheidt (1587–1654), Vater unser im Himmelreich
Born in Halle in Saxony, and working for much of his life there, Samuel Scheidt was one of the first internationally significant German composers. Working throughout his life in northern Germany (and hence removed from the influence of Italianate Catholic musical styles), he was a very important figure in the development of a distinctly German school of church music. Vater unser is an elaborate setting of the Lord’s Prayer, scored for double choir and continuo. It is likely that other instruments would have doubled the vocal lines, the grandeur of the clear, chordal textures analogising the powerful simplicity of German Protestantism.
Philip Radcliffe (1905–1986), God be in my head
Radcliffe spent his whole life as a fellow at King’s College, Cambridge, writing on subjects from fifteenth-century tonality to a noted biography of the composer John Ireland. God be in my head is a tender, eight-voice setting of this text, with a beautiful yet mysterious final cadence.