Livestreamed from the Church of the Transfiguration, Orleans, MA

Saturday, July 2nd, 7:30 PM

Concert Program:

God of Our Fathers
Author: Daniel C. Roberts, Composer: George W. Warren, arr. Michael J. Hale

Zion’s Walls
John G. McCurry, adapt. Aaron Copland, arr. Glenn Koponen

Simple Gifts
Joseph Bracket, adapt. Copland, trans. Irving Fine

Foundation from Eight American Mountain Hymns
arr. Alice Parker

Psalm 100
Charles Ives

My Shepherd Will Supply My Need
Author: Isaac Watts, arr. Virgil Thomson

Amazing Grace
Author: John Newton, arr. Michael Hale, James Jordan, Timothy McKendree


A Prophecy of Peace
Samuel Adler

I Will Set His Dominion in the Sea
Bruce Neswick

Now Thank We All Our God
Author: Martin Rinckart, Composer: Johann Cruger, trans. Catherine Winkworth, arr. John Rutter

Battle Hymn of the Republic
Author: Julia Ward Howe, Composer: William Steffe, arr. Peter J Wilhousky

America the Beautiful
Katharine Lee Bates, Samuel Augustus Ward

Eternal Light
Leo Sowerby

Program Notes:

Thank you for joining us for this choral celebration of Independence Day—a day of Praise, Blessing, Gratitude, and great Supplication; a day to recognize the great heritage of God and country; a day to humbly submit ourselves once again to the God and Father who inspired this nation’s birth and ask that his hand of blessing remain upon us.

Tonight, we offer a program of choral works inspired by the founding principles upon which our nation still stands. You will hear from a diverse selection of beloved American composers such as Aaron Copland, Virgil Thomson, Alice Parker, Bruce Neswick, Samuel Adler, and Leo Sowerby. While we want you to enjoy the variety of musical styles each composer represents so well, our chief hope is that you will experience each piece as a prayer and meditate with us on God’s faithfulness.

God of Our Fathers
God of our fathers, whose almighty hand
Leads forth in beauty all the starry band
Of shining worlds in splendor through the skies,
Our grateful songs before thy throne arise.

Thy love divine hath led us in the past;
In this free land by thee our lot is cast.
Be thou our ruler, guardian, guide, and stay,
Thy word our law, thy paths our chosen way.

From war’s alarms, from deadly pestilence,
Be thy strong arm our ever-sure defense.
Thy true religion in our hearts increase.
Thy bounteous goodness nourish us in peace.

Refresh thy people on their toilsome way,
Lead us from night to never-ending day;
Fill all our lives with love and grace divine,
And glory, laud, and praise be ever thine.

We open our program with God of Our Fathers, a hymn written in 1876 by Daniel C. Roberts for a small Vermont town’s celebration of the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. George Warren penned the now familiar tune in 1892. Tonight’s arrangement by local composer Michael Hale uplifts us with the same spirit of gratitude and praise.

Zion’s Walls
Come fathers and mothers,
Come sisters and brothers,
Come join us in singing the praises of Zion.
O fathers don’t you feel determined
To meet within the walls of Zion.
We’ll shout and go round the walls of Zion.

Simple Gifts
’Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free,
’Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
’Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gain’d,
To bow and to bend we shan’t be asham’d,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
’Till by turning, turning we come round right.

Aaron Copland traveled the roads of America to hear and absorb many distinctive styles of folk music. As the son of Russian immigrants, he knew that the musical voice of the country, would at least in part, be found there. Two English composers, Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears, loved Copland’s American voice, and commissioned him to write a set of “Old American Songs.” Tonight, you will hear the choral arrangements of two of these: Zion’s Walls, which was a camp-meeting spiritual, and Simple Gifts, based on the Shaker tune made even more famous by Copland in his Appalachian Spring. Fittingly for tonight’s program, these pieces call us to worship, and give us pause to humbly and happily take our places in simplicity and freedom.

Foundation from Eight American Mountain Hymns
How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said,
To you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?

Fear not, I am with thee, O, be not dismayed;
For I am thy God, and will still give thee aid;
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand.

When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of sorrow shall not overflow;
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.

The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not, desert to his foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake!

How Firm a Foundation is another well-known and beloved hymn, filled with scriptural promises from the Old Testament, assuring us of divine protection and assistance in times of trouble. Widely beloved throughout American history, it was even sung during the funerals of U.S. Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, and of General Robert E. Lee. An interesting account of these lyrics bringing comfort—and unity—in times of uncertainty is found in an anecdote from the Spanish-American War. This conflict came about thirty years after the end of the U.S. Civil War. Tensions between the North and the South were still high. On Christmas Eve, 1898, this hymn was sung by an entire corps of the United States Army encamped near Havana, Cuba. Protestant and Catholic, North and South were singing together on Christmas day.

Psalm 100
Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye people.
Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing.
Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise:
be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting;
and his truth endureth to all generations.

Arguably one of the most original American composers of the twentieth century, Charles Ives was virtually unknown until he stopped composing. The last twenty years of his life were spent in seclusion, while conductors and other performers eagerly explored his music, often to great critical acclaim. His father was a strong influence on his experimental nature, teaching him about all kinds of music, particularly band and church music. He also gave his son the freedom to write what he heard outdoors, and this accounts for the unusual amount of polytonality in Ives’ work. Ives was deeply religious, and this spirit shines especially through his choral psalm settings. Psalm 100 dates from around 1898 and is scored for two choirs: the women’s choir is steadfast in C major in the opening verses, while the four-part choir underneath is quite chromatic in harmony. The chimes in the third verse are reminiscent of distant church bells. In the middle section, the women’s choir acts as an echo to the four-part choir, albeit in two different keys! The final verse marks a return to the opening material with chimes ringing—a joyous conclusion to the “praise” section of tonight’s program.

My Shepherd Will Supply My Need
My Shepherd will supply my need, Jehovah is His name;
In pastures fresh He makes me feed Beside the living stream.
He brings my wandering spirit back When I forsake His ways.
He leads me for His mercy’s sake In paths of truth and grace.

When I walk through the shades of death, Thy presence is my stay.
One word of Thy supporting breath Drives all my fears away.
Thy hand, in sight of all my foes, Doth still my table spread.
My cup with blessings overflows, Thine oil anoints my head.

The sure provisions of my God Attend me all my days,
O may Thy house be my abode And all my work be praise!
There would I find a settled rest, While others go and come,
No more a stranger, nor a guest, But like a child at home.

As a people, we are blessed that the Word of God is etched onto the framework of our nation—our founding fathers depended on the Scriptures; verses are set in stone in monuments and buildings from coast to coast; and, thanks to the great tradition of American hymn singing, it is also written on our hearts. John Adams once said, “The Bible contains the most profound Philosophy, the most perfect Morality, and the most refined Policy, that ever was conceived upon Earth. It is the most Republican Book in the World, and therefore I will still revere it. . . . Without national Morality, a Republican Government cannot be maintained.” The next portion of our program reflects this marvelous blessing.

Renowned American composer and critic Virgil Thomson studied music at Harvard and, like Aaron Copland and many other of his American contemporaries, in Paris, with the revered composition teacher Nadia Boulanger. When Virgil Thomson died in 1989, Leonard Bernstein wrote, “Virgil was loving and harsh, generous and mordant, simple but cynical, son of the hymnal, yet highly sophisticated.” It is astonishing to recall that the composer’s choral compositions extended from 1920 to 1984. They reflect the son of the hymnal and the highly sophisticated composer.

Based on Psalm 23, the poem written by Isaac Watts, the hymn My Shepherd Will Supply My Need was first published in 1719. “Resignation” was a hymn tune of unknown origin from Southern Appalachia in the nineteenth century. Thomson’s arrangement is one of the most beloved settings of this text and is woven into the fabric of our American heritage.

Amazing Grace
Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now am found
Was blind but now I see.

’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear
And grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come.
’Twas grace that brought me safe thus far
And grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promised good to me,
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures.

When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’ve first begun.
Amazing grace!

Alongside their bold declarations, great dreams, and fiery calls for action, the founding fathers also expressed great need in their many writings. In his prayer journal, George Washington wrote this line as part of a morning devotion: “as thou wouldst hear me calling upon thee in my prayers, so give me grace to hear thee calling on me in thy word. . . .” What exactly is grace? Unmerited favor and blessing: a universal need! While the hymn Amazing Grace came from the pen of English pastor John Newton, it has become an American favorite—a humble, heartfelt cry of praise and thanksgiving to the Savior who redeems us.

A Prophecy of Peace
And it shall come to pass in the end of days
that the mountain of the Lord’s house
shall be established as the top of the mountains.
And it shall be exalted above the hills;
And peoples shall flow unto it;
And many nations shall go and say:
Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
And to the house of the God of Jacob;
And He will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in His paths:
For out of Zion shall go forth the law;
And the word of the Lord from Jerusalem,
And he shall judge between many peoples;
And shall decide concerning mighty nations afar off;
And they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
And their spears into pruning hooks;
Then nation shall not lift up sword against nation;
Neither shall they learn war anymore;
but they shall sit every man under his vine and his fig tree;
And none shall make them afraid
For the mouth of the Lord,
the Lord of hosts hath spoken.
(Micah 4:1–4)

Samuel Adler believes “life is a gift.” The risk-taking composer of 400 published works taught for sixty-three years at Eastman and Juilliard, and has given masterclasses and workshops at over 300 universities worldwide. Having studied with Aaron Copland, Paul Hindemith, Randall Thompson, Walter Piston, Herbert Fromm, and others, Adler has taken his place among the most prolific American composers of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, and has received numerous awards—including ASCAP’s “Aaron Copland Lifetime Achievement Award.”

Adler’s works are rooted in his Jewish heritage, but express an ecumenical understanding and appreciation that bridges faiths and nationalities. His favorite choral work (by his own admission) A Prophecy of Peace is Adler’s keen and lively response to the great texts of the prophet Micah in the Old Testament, based on traditional Hebrew Biblical cantillation. The work opens with the voice of the prophet, who declares that even in the midst of trouble, destruction, and desolation, God will have the last word of peace, authority, and prosperity for his people.

I Will Set His Dominion in the Sea
I will set his dominion in the sea, and his right hand in the floods.
And he shall call me, Thou art my Father, Thou art my God,
and my strong salvation.
I will set his dominion in the sea.
And I will make him my first-born, higher than the kings of the earth.
The Lord hath chosen Zion to be an habitation for himself.
I will bless her victuals with increase, and will satisfy her poor with bread.
I will deck her priests with health, and her saints shall rejoice and sing.
Praised be the Lord for evermore. Amen.
I will set his dominion in the sea. Amen.
(Psalms 89:26–8, 51; 132:14, 16–17)

Bruce Neswick is the Canon for Music at Trinity Cathedral in Portland, OR. Prior to moving to Oregon, he served as Associate Professor at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University. Before moving to Indiana, he was the Director of Music at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City. He was the first director of the Washington Cathedral Girl Choristers and has also been music director of the Episcopal cathedrals in Buffalo, Lexington, and Atlanta.

Neswick’s characterization of the anthem I Will Set His Dominion in the Sea is inspired by the great text from the Psalms, claiming God’s authority over the land and its inhabitants, and the security and blessing we experience. A propulsive, rhythmic organ part, combined with declamatory and soaring vocal writing leads to the central section, with a lovely duet for sopranos as well as gentle, lilting music for the choir. A gradual accelerando from the organ brings us to the return of the opening. We especially invite you to enjoy the symphonic sounds from the newly finished St. Cecilia Organ, as its many colors and textures add depth and beauty of expression to Neswick’s vision.

As we stand here on Cape Cod, so close to the site where the Pilgrims first landed 400 years ago, and reflect on the ways God has guided, built, provided for, and directed our country ever since, we offer him our humble and heartfelt thanksgiving.

Now Thank We All Our God
Now thank we all our God
With heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things hath done,
In whom his world rejoices;
Who from our mothers’ arms
Hath blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love,
And still is ours today.

O may this bounteous God
Through all our life be near us,
With ever joyful hearts
And blessed peace to cheer us:
To keep us in his grace,
And guide us when perplexed,
And free us from all ills
In this world and the next.

All praise and thanks to God
The Father now be given,
The Son, and Him who reigns
With them in highest heaven,
The one eternal God,
Whom heaven and earth adore;
For thus it was, is now,
And shall be evermore. Amen.

The traditional hymn Now Thank We All Our God is an English translation of the German poem, “Nun danket alle Gott,” written by Lutheran pastor Martin Rinkart in 1636, and set to its well-known tune in 1647. J.S. Bach expanded this theme in his cantatas, and Felix Mendelssohn set it as a four-part hymn commonly sung today. This arrangement by John Rutter uses an introductory fanfare for four vocal parts (SATB), brass ensemble, timpani, percussion, and organ. The text offers exuberant praise and thanks to God, a fitting tribute to thank Almighty God who, in the words of George Washington, “is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be. We may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks and unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations.”

Battle Hymn of the Republic
Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord,
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored,
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword:
His truth is marching on.
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
His truth is marching on!

I have seen Him in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps;
They have builded Him an altar in the evening dews and damps;
I can read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps,
His day is marching on!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
His truth is marching on!

In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me:
As He died to make men holy, Let us die to make men free,
While God is marching on!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
His truth is marching on!

The Battle Hymn of the Republic was originally a camp meeting song from outdoor Protestant worship gatherings; the original tune was about going to Canaan’s happy shore. It became popular in American society during a religious movement known as the Second Great Awakening, when many of those who were part of that movement took action as abolitionists, fighting to put an end to slavery. In 1859, abolitionist John Brown attempted to start a slave rebellion in the South, for which he was later executed. The camp song about the promised land took on a militant tone and adopted new lyrics. After the Southern states seceded in 1861, abolitionist Julia Ward Howe overheard Union troops singing, and was inspired to write a set of lyrics that communicated the righteousness of the abolitionist cause. She published these lyrics as The Battle Hymn of the Republic in 1862. The Wilhousky setting of this nineteenth-century hymn is dearly loved and one of the most heartfelt musical expressions of American patriotism.

America the Beautiful
We invite you to join us in singing this hymn. Click here for pdf of hymn

Katharine Lee Bates wrote the poetry for America the Beautiful on a teachers’ trip to Pikes Peak in Colorado in 1893. It was first published in the Independence Day edition of the church periodical “The Congregationalist,” and later set to a hymn tune by Samuel A. Ward. This patriotic anthem captures the heart of the American spirit, its history, landscape, and people, its victories and sacrifices, its ideals and its flaws, recognizing that we must constantly submit ourselves as a nation to the grace and care of Almighty God—“from sea to shining sea.”

Eternal Light
Eternal Light, shine into our hearts,
Eternal Goodness, deliver us from evil,
Eternal Power, be our support,
Eternal Wisdom, scatter the darkness of our ignorance,
Eternal Pity, have mercy upon us,
Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Alcuin (735–804)

In our many travels to churches and concert halls around the world, Gloriæ Dei Cantores has always sought to learn the music and cultures of the countries that hosted us—and to share the depth and richness of America’s choral tradition, too. One such composer at the heart of that tradition is Leo Sowerby—the “Dean of American Church Musicians.” We leave you this evening with his prayer for God’s blessing, deliverance, protection, and guidance—a choral benediction, Eternal Light.

Thank you for joining us!