Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Moravian music in 17th century Iceland

The Passion-Hymns are Icelandic poet Hallgrimur Petursson's 1657 masterpiece, the Easter Saga told in song. He set his work to stately Moravian hymn-tunes. Hallgrimur combined the Moravian singing-service tradition with the Icelandic Saga rimer tradition to create The Passion-Hymns.

Librettist and author Dall Wilson first adapted The Passion-Hymns to English in 2004, when the work premiered at First Moravian Church in Manhattan. Wilson is developing a documentary about the influence of Moravian music in Hallgrimur’s day.

The Passion-Hymns is available for purchase at http://stores.lulu.com/dallwilson for $29.95 plus shipping. The site includes a sample of the book. A link to video of the music performed by various groups can be found at http://www.youtube.com/dallwilson or click directly here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sGMSzPkP5iU

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Where do I find Moravian anthems for sale?

Stumped as to where to find Moravian anthems?

You might want to try J.W. Pepper and SheetMusicPlus.com. We have ordered anthems for the lending library from both companies. SheetMusicPlus.com even has a great budget shipipng rate of $2.99 regardless of how much is ordered. The only downside is that the $2.99 shipping option might take a few extra days to get to your doorstep. You can always go down to your local music dealer and see if they'll order music for you.

The Moravian Music Foundation is currently working with a small printing company in Ohio to self-publish a small series of our favorite Moravian anthems, in standard octavo size. We hope to release 3 to 5 new titles each year and keep enough copies in stock to handle typical multi-copy orders from choirs around the country (and world!). The anthems will be old favorites re-edited according to the MMF's editing policies and newly discovered pieces from the MMF's collections. We hope to have some of the old favorites that are now out of print and very hard to find available in our new anthem series. Keep an eye out on our website and newsletter for more information.

The MMF currently has two small collections of anthems available for sale:

Come Then Come, O Flock of Jesus is a collection of nine Moravian athems for the smaller choir. The anthems are arranged for SAB choir with organ/piano accompaniment and the anthems are all in lower keys than they were originally composed. Single copies are $15.00 each and 10 or more are $12.00 each.

Unto the Lamb of God is a set of three anthems by Rev. Francis F. Hagen, composer of the beloved Moravian Christmas hymn Morning Star, O Cheering Sight. These anthems are for SATB choir with organ/piano accompaniment. Copies are $5.00 each.

This music can be ordered through our online catalog at http://www.moravianmusic.org/Sheet%20Music-vocal.php or by calling (336) 725-0651.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Music in the Bethlehem Area

NPR did a segment about the Bach Choir of Bethlehem on All Things Considered last night. The Moravian love of music sparked the love of Bach in the Bethlehem area. The Bach Choir has been singing Bach's music in 1898, and the Bethlehem Bach Festival is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.

You can listen to it at http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=10094368

This past weekend the Unitas Chorale performed at St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Hope, NJ. St. Luke's put a nice blurb about the concert on it's website at http://www.aboutstlukes.com/dynamic.asp?id=concerts.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Of interest to Civil War buffs

The Moravian Music Foundation is the home of the only known complete set of extant Confederate band books from the Civil War. This set belonged to the musicians of the 26th NC regiment band, which was made up of Moravian men from Salem, NC. The MMF has part-books from other bands as well, and researcher Philip Dunnigan is working to identify which bands are represented by these books. Some books are believed to be from the 21st and 33rd NC regiment bands.

Generous donations to the MMF have allowed us, over the last few years, to have replica Civil War horns made by Robb Stewart. Robb creates and restores vintage brass instruments in his California workshop. So far the MMF's replica Civil War Horn collection includes:
  • 2 Eb Cornets
  • 2 Bb Cornets
  • 2 Eb Alto Horns
  • 1 Bb Tenor Horn
  • 1 Eb Bass Horn
We'd like to have an additional Bb Tenor Horn (approx. $4000) and an additional Eb Bass horn (approx. $8000) to round out our band of instruments. We'd also like to have a replica Civil War era drum (approx. $1500). Our hopes are to have musicians regularly perform music from the 26th band on these instruments.

Here are some links of civil war music interest:

Book Review of Johnny Reb Band from Salem by Winston-Salem Journal writer Tom Dillon

Liner notes from "Storm in the Land"

Recreated 26th NC Regimental Band

26th NC Regiment (no mention of the band, only the fife and drum corp)

Civil War Bands

Description of the Lineback papers in the collections at UNC Chapel Hill

Vermont in the Civil War (mentions the 26th NC regiment band)

Civil War Art Print - Maryland, My Maryland (mentions the 26th NC regiment band)

North Carolina History Project's entry about the Salem Brass Band

Friday, April 27, 2007

A Guide to the Moravian Lovefeast

(Condensed from the article of the same title by James Boeringer in the Winter 1981 issue of the Moravian Music Journal)

We receive many inquiries from members of many different denominations about how to carry out a lovefeast. Dr. James Boeringer, director of the MMF from 1980-84, put together this information as a guide to those who are interested in holding a lovefeast.

The requisites for all lovefeasts are traditional simplicity and coherence. It is not a time for musical showing off, but for musical devotion, excellently and sensitively performed, with all of the texts strung together so as to deliver a message about God. Thoughtfully planned and carried out without self-consciousness, the Lovefeast can be one of the warmest communal experiences available to people. So here follow some plain and easy instructions about how to make one. Plan carefully, prepare and practice assiduously, and then relax and let the Spirit take over.

Words and Music
The Moravian lovefeast is a service of song at which a simple meal is severed to the congregation. This meal, usually a bun and coffee, is an act of fellowship. It is not a sacrament, nor a substitute for Communion.

The Lovefeast, begun by the Moravians in 1727, is a revival of the Agape of the early Christian Church. The service spread with the church throughout the world, and remains an important part of Moravian religious ritual.

Almost any special occasion is appropriate for a lovefeast. In the 18th and 19th centuries, they were held as many as fifty or more times a year to celebrate important festival days, to honor distinguished guests, to recognize milestones, to bid a last farewell to neighbors moving away, or to bind the church community into a spiritual unity when this need was felt. Today the Moravian Church holds fewer lovefeasts, but they were presented on similar occasions.

The ode, or text, of the lovefeast consists of individual stanzas or whole hymns chosen to carry forward a particular idea. For example, if the purpose of the lovefeast is to recognize the work of missionaries, hymns relating to mission work are coherently arranged. The hymn stanzas to be sung by the congregation are compiled and printed in a special leaflet which is given to each person. If the tunes are not well-known, the tunes are also printed.

The organist assures a continuous succession of hymns, moving smoothly from one to the other.

The choir sings at least one anthem of sufficient length to last during the time it takes for the congregation to eat a bun and drink a mug of coffee, i.e., five to ten minutes. Anthems may be used at other places during the service. The words to the anthems in the ode may also be printed so that the congregation can read them as the choir sings them. (Make sure you have the proper copyright permissions before printing words to any hymns or anthems!)

Ideally, to be a Moravian lovefeast, the hymns, chorales, and anthems should be Moravian, but other churches adapt their characteristic music to the framework. The key to fostering the appropriate spirit is simplicity.

In the Moravian Church there is a special corps of servers called "Dieners" (German for serve), whose responsibility it is to distribute the buns and mugs of coffee, prepared well in advance so that there is no interruption to the flow of service.

Buns are passed along the pews in baskets, each person taking a bun and passing the basket on. The mugs of coffee are carried on a tray and passed hand to hand by the occupants of the pews. Usually men carry the trays while women take care of passing the mugs to the pew occupants.

All of the serving activity, and the collecting of the mugs after the partaking, take place while the hymns are being sung. In a well-run lovefeast, the buns and coffee are distributed almost without being noticed by most of the congregation.

When the whole congregation has been served, a grace is prayed in unison. Traditionally the American Moravian Church prays "the Moravian grace":

"Come, Lord Jesus, our guest to be
And bless these gifts bestowed by Thee. Amen"

While the choir sings an anthem, the congregation partakes of the lovefeast. This is done reverently, without hurry, and with an understanding on the part of the congregation of the significance of the activity: that in breaking bread together, we share a spiritual fellowship.

When the meal has been finished, the members of the congregation pass the mugs from hand to hand to the aisle, where the servers collect them, and carry them without interrupting the service to an anteroom. Then the servers may again join the congregation. The song service may continue after the meal for any length of time determined beforehand. If there is to be a collection, an address, or other activity, it usually occurs after the meal. At Christmas in most Moravian churches, lighted candles are distributed to the congregation after the meal. If this is done, this distribution is similar to the passing of the mugs of coffee.

Supplies and Accessories
The lovefeast meal is simple, and elaborate trappings are not needed. The usual food is a sweetened bun, sometimes placed on a paper napkin. Although any kind of pastry can be used if it does not produce dust, crumbs, or stickiness.

Coffee is now used as the drink at lovefeasts, but tea used to be served (an is still used in some places in Europe), and many other drinks can be used, from water to sangaree (a mixture of red wine or vinegar and water with sugar and spices).

Trays and baskets are used to serve the coffee and buns, and the Dieners sometimes wear special uniforms, the women in white with a white doily on the head, and the men with a long white apron wrapped about them.

The lovefeast is a simple, devout service which has had a great significance for Moravian for over two and a half centuries. In recent years other denominations have presented lovefeasts with success, many members of these churches discovering that the service can be deeply rewarding and meaningful. Much of the success of the lovefeast depends upon establishing and maintaining the air of devotion and dignity, which makes the unusual activity of "eating in church" not only acceptable but also significant. This is done through the choir of music; by the example set by the minister, choir members, servers, and leaders of the congregation; by the quiet efficient serving of the meal; and by impressing upon the congregation that the lovefeast is as much an act of worship as the regular Sunday service. If the lovefeast is entered into in such a spirit, it cannot fail to move the participant with its solemn dignity and spirit of fellowship.

We welcome inquiries concerning the lovefeast and Moravian music, and appreciates receiving copies of new lovefeast odes. Moravian anthems are available for loan from the Southern Province Lending Library, which is searchable through the "Library" page on our website.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Single Sisters House and Ohio Moravian Choirs

On Thursday, April 12, Gwynne Taylor delighted lunch lecture attendees with the inside scoop on Salem Academy and College's restoration of the Single Sisters House. Gwynne is an Alumna Trustee for the college. She brought in copies of the Our State magazine article about the Single Sisters House; copies of Salem College librarian Susan Taylor's booklet on the history of the Sisters House; copies of the children's book "Sister Maus" by Salem college professor John Hutton, which is a fictional story of a little mouse who lived in the Sisters House; as well as a slideshow and printed photographs of the restoration and personal items found during work, such as a broken Nat King Cole record from the 1950s when the building was still in use as a dormitory and pieces of pottery from the House's early years.

For more information about the Single Sisters House restoration, visit http://www.salem.edu/old/SingleSisters/.

Also on Thursday, Nola attended the annual Ohio Moravian Choirs banquet. The choirs of the Ohio Moravian churches have been gathering annually for over 50 years. This year the choirs, led Nola, joined together for a reading session of music provided by the Moravian Music Foundation. Selections included:
  • Hearken! Stay Close to Jesus Christ by David Moritz Michael
  • Blessed Are They by Johann Sorensen
  • God Is My Rock by Johann Friedrich Peter
  • Enter his Gates by Ernst Willhelm Wolf
  • Till At Last My LIfe Shall End by Francis Florentine Hagen
We hope the 2008 Ohio Moravian Choirs Banquet will feature another reading session of new Moravian anthems and long-time favorites.

For more information about what's going on in Ohio for the 550th Anniversary of the Moravian Church, visit http://www.mcnp.org/articles.asp?ID=5.

For more information about and resources for the 550th Anniversary, visit http://www.moravian.org/news/2007/070115_550th_resources.phtml.

Our pre-publication discount on the "Sing O Ye Heavens" CD has been extended through May 6 (Moravian Music Sunday). Click HERE to download the order form. Orders must be postmarked by May 6 to receive the special discounted price of $14, which includes shipping and applicable sales tax.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Easter time...Moravian style

All around the country people are preparing for their Easter celebrations. For many that includes attending a service, some new clothes, an egg hunt, and a family dinner. For a few, Easter includes a trip to God's Acre to clean and decorate family headstones. For some, Easter includes hauling a tuba around town to play by the headlights of a bus or a lone streetlight in the wee hours of Easter Sunday morning.

In Winston-Salem, the Moravian Easter Sunrise service has been held with its conclusion in God's Acre since 1771. (Note: In 1772, rain prevented the conclusion of the service in the graveyard). As written on the back of the April 7, 1996 Service program "[i]t is in no sense one of spectacular appeal or pageantry, but is held as a service of true worship, centering attention on the great underlying fact of the Christian Faith, the Resurrection of Jesus Christ". The service is sponsored by the Churches of the Salem Congregation, which includes Ardmore, Bethesda, Calvary, Christ, Fairview, Fries Memorial, Home, Immanuel-New Eden, Konnoak Hills, Messiah, Pine Chapel, and Trinity.

The service traces its roots back to Herrnhut. In 1732, on the Saturday evening before Easter during a young men's devotional meeting, one young man suggested going to the graveyard at dawn on Easter Sunday to sing hymns and to meditate on Christ's death and resurrection. The next morning after acting on the suggestion, the group of young men came to a deeper appreciation of the resurrection truth. They reported back to the congregation the strengthening of spirit that had come from the simple sunrise service and suggested that the entire congregation do likewise on the next Easter.

For most folks in attendance, the Winston-Salem service begins at 6am just outside of Home Moravian Church on Salem Square and includes spoken reaffirmations of the Christian faith and hymn singing. For band members, however, their service begins several weeks prior to Easter with Sunday afternoon rehearsals of the program. On Easter Sunday, their service begins around 1:30am. There are, currently on roll, 302 members of the Winston-Salem Easter band -- an attendance up from the 6 members participating in the early years. Participation is not limited to musicians from Winston-Salem area Moravian churches, nor is it limited strictly to Moravians. Many members of the Easter band are from outside of Winston-Salem, and even outside of North Carolina. There are six separate bands at Easter and each plays at a different location around town. At each location, the first chorale played is "Sleepers, Wake!" The first chorale played at the 6am service is Covenant (185 A) with the congregation singing Hail, All Hail, Victorious Lord and Savior.

At about 4:30am, before the start of the service, the six individual bands gather back at Home Moravian Church after their rounds around town to sit down for a hot breakfast together and to share stories of their early morning adventures.

The band plays regardless of the weather, whether it is fair or foul. Band member Bart Collins recalls his first Easter with the band in 1975. He says that was the coldest he had ever been. On top of the cold was a pouring, drenching rain. After every chorale, he had to tip his tuba over to dump the rainwater out of it. This year's weather looks to be neither the best nor the worst. The forecast calls for temperatures to be just above freezing on Sunday morning, but clear with very little chance for rain. The late-March/early-April weather in the South allows for outdoors Sunrise Services, but snow and freezing conditions keep that from happening in other locales. Not every Moravian church has a Sunrise Service at its graveyard.

Two-thirds through the liturgy, the service at the steps of Home Moravian Church is concluded and all present walk down to God's Acre for the sunrise. The bands, scattered between Salem Square and the entrance to God's Acre, continue to play chorales. Some tunes are played antiphonally ("call and answer"). With today's technology, the coordination of this is done via headset between the leaders of each band. The bands then join together to form one large band of musicians the conclusion of the service. After those gathered sing the last hymn, Sing Hallelujah, Praise the Lord, the band plays the final chorale of the service, Worship (159 A), We in One Covenant Are Joined.

Some band members return to their home churches to play for their 11am services. Some band members drag themselves home to recover and nap for the rest of the day. Everyone looks forward to the next year when they'll do it all over again as they have been for 235 years in Salem.