The Choir Corner: Epiphany, Lent and Easter

 David Williamson, Choirmaster and Organist

David Williamson, Choirmaster and Organist

Looking at Hymn 135, “Songs of Thankfulness and Praise” one notices that this is a seasonal hymn addressing the themes of this Epiphany season. The repetition of "manifest" reminds us of the manifestation of Christ to all, not just the descendants of Israel. It covers the Baptism of Christ and the Transfiguration, which are the focus of the first and last Sundays after Epiphany. The wedding at Cana is also alluded to for those years with a longer Epiphany in which we hear in the lectionary Jesus’ first miracle. The tune name is "Salzburg," harmonized by Bach, representing some of the best hymnody in the German/Dutch/Swiss Protestant tradition.

Contrasting to this is Hymn 448, "O Love how deep, how broad, how high," which is used extensively in both the Lenten and Easter seasons, and usually several times in the Season after Pentecost. The allusion to the Love of God is obvious in the title, and regardless of the season, it sometimes is the most cohesive choice for coordinating with the Collect, Old Testament, Psalm, Epistle and Gospel of a given Sunday. The Tune is "Deus tuorum militum," alluding to the original Latin text, "O God of your soldiers." It is French in origin, written just after the death of Bach, and represents the "new school" of Roman Catholic hymnody that emerged as a result of the Counter Reformation.