Mount Calvary Church

A Roman Catholic Parish

The Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter

Baltimore, Maryland

Rev. Albert Scharbach, Pastor

Dr. Allen Buskirk, Choir Director and Cantor

Midori Tanaka, Organist

Ascension Thursday

May 21, 2020

Noon. Livestreamed on YouTube



Organ Prelude

Llanfair, setting by Alfred Fedak

Organ Postlude

Voluntary by Maurice Greene (1696-1755)

Dr Maurice Greene was one of England’s leading composers and musicians in a period that was dominated by Handel. His output of large and small scale choral works along with his organ voluntaries are some of the finest examples of music by English composers of the Georgian period and deserve a much wider audience.

The voluntary here is No I in a set of 12 published in 1780, some 25 years after his death. With its use of the cornet stop in the second movement, and the trumpet stop in the fourth, this could have been written for any of the three principle organs in the London churches and cathedral for which Maurice Greene was at various times the organist, namely, St Dunstan’s-in-the-West, St Andrew’s, Holborn, and St Paul’s Cathedral.



Missa de S. Maria Magdalena, H. Willan



O clap your hands, Orlando Gibbons (1583-1625)

O clap your hands together, all ye people, O sing unto God with a voice of melody. For the Lord is high, and to be feared, he is the great King of all the earth. He shall subdue the people under us, and the nations under our feet. He shall choose out an heritage for us, ev’n the worship of Jacob, whom he loved. God is gone up with a merry noise, and the Lord with the sound of the trumpet. O sing praises, sing praises unto our God, O sing praises, sing praises unto the Lord our King. For God is the King of all the earth, sing ye praises with understanding. God reigneth over the heathen, God sitteth upon his holy seat. For God, which is highly exalted, doth defend the earth, as it were with a shield. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Orlando Gibbons is acknowledged as one of the foremost composers of his period; he wrote some 40 anthems, a variety of other church music, a book of madrigals, and a large quantity of keyboard and instrumental consort music. He was born in Oxford of a musical family, and sang as a boy in the choir of King’s College, Cambridge, where later, in 1599, he became a student. In about 1603 he moved to London to become a Gentleman of the Chapel Royal. By the time of his death he was senior organist there, and also organist of Westminster Abbey. O clap your hands is one of the largest and most festive of Gibbons’ anthems, making vivid use of its eight-voice double choir layout. It was first performed in 1622 at a ceremony in Oxford when Gibbons and his friend William Heyther received the degree of Doctor of Music; one source states that Gibbons wrote the piece as a qualifying exercise for the degree. The music certainly offers convincing evidence of Gibbons’ impressive compositional skill, and it contains examples of such ‘learned devices’ as canon which would no doubt have gratified the examiners.


Ascendit Dominus, Peter Philips (1560-1628)

Ascendit Deus in jubilatione, et Dominus in voce tubae. Dedit dona hominibus. Alleluia. Dominus in caelo paravit sedem suam. Alleluia.

God is gone up with a merry noise, and the Lord with the sound of the trumpet. He gave gifts to men. Alleluia. The Lord hath prepared his seat in heaven. Alleluia.

Philips was born in 1560 or 1561, possibly in Devonshire or London. From 1572 to 1578 he began his career as a boy chorister at St Paul’s Cathedral in London, under the aegis of the Catholic master of choristers, Sebastian Westcott (died 1582), who had also trained the young William Byrd some twenty years earlier. Philips must have had a close relationship with his master, as he lodged in his house up to the time of Westcote’s death, and was a beneficiary of his will.

In the same year (1582), Philips left England for good, like so many others for reasons of his Catholicism, and stayed briefly in Flanders before travelling to Rome where he entered the service of Alessandro Farnese (1520–1589), with whom he stayed for three years, and was also engaged as organist at the English Jesuit College. It was here that in February 1585 he met a fellow Catholic exile, Thomas, third Baron Paget (c. 1544–1590). Philips entered Paget’s service as a musician, and the two left Rome in March 1585, travelling over several years to Genoa, Madrid, Paris, Brussels and finally Antwerp, where Philips settled in 1590 and where Paget died the same year.

After settling, Philips married and gained a precarious living by teaching the virginals to children. In 1593 he went to Amsterdam “to sie and heare an excellent man of his faculties”, doubtless Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck, whose reputation had by then long been made. On his way back, Philips was denounced by a compatriot for complicity in a plot on Queen Elizabeth’s life, and he was temporarily imprisoned at the Hague, where he probably composed the pavan and galliard Doloroso (Fitzwilliam Virginal Book nos. LXXX and LXXXI). Philips himself translated the accusations made against him during his trial, revealing that he could by then speak Dutch. He was acquitted and released without further charges.

In 1597 Philips was appointed organist to the chapel of Albert VII, Archduke of Austria at the Coudenberg Palace in Brussels
Philips’ fortunes took a turn for the better on his return, and in 1597 he was employed in Brussels as organist to the chapel of Albert VII, Archduke of Austria who had been appointed governor of the Low Countries in 1595. Here, after his wife – and child’s – deaths, he was ordained a priest in either 1601 or 1609 – opinions differ; in any case, he received a canonry at Soignies in 1610, and another at Béthune in 1622 or 1623. In his position at court, Philips was able to meet the best musicians of the time, including Girolamo Frescobaldi, who visited the Low Countries in 1607–1608, and his fellow-countryman John Bull, who had fled England on a charge of adultery. His nearest colleague, however, was Peeter Cornet (c. 1575–1633), organist to Archduchess Isabella, wife of Philips’ employer the archduke.

Philips died in 1628, probably in Brussels, where he was buried.



Hail the day that sees Him rise (LLANFAIR) by Charles Wesley (1707-1788) was published in 1739 in Hymns and Sacred Poems under the title “Hymn for Ascension-Day.”

The first and second stanzas employ apostrophe, a rhetorical device in which the poet addresses an absent or inanimate object. The first addresses the day of Jesus’ ascension, the second the gates of heaven which accept Christ in glory. The third emphasizes the true humanity of Jesus and his continued investment in the lives of those on earth, in comparison to his heavenly inheritance described in the previous lines. He is the continuous intercessor for mankind, imploring his assistance in the efforts of all to follow him in the ascent to the presence of God, leading finally to the beatific vision and eternal union with God.

LLANFAIR is usually attributed to Welsh singer Robert Williams (b. Mynydd Ithel, Anglesey, Wales, 1781; d. Mynydd Ithel, 1821), whose manuscript, dated July 14, 1817, included the tune. Williams lived on the island of Anglesey. A basket weaver with great innate musical ability, Williams, who was blind, could write out a tune after hearing it just once. A rounded bar form (AABA) tune, LLANFAIR features the common Welsh device of building a melody on the tones of the tonic triad. The tune is in a major key. The melismas give fitting shape to the “alleluias.”

See the conqueror mounts in triumph (IN BABILONE) was written Christopher Wordsworth (1807-1885), the nephew of the poet William Wordsworth. Christopher Wordsworth was an athlete, classicist, poet, and Anglican bishop of Lincoln.

The text views the ascending Lord being sung to by angels at heaven’s gates, recalls Christ’s suffering, death, resurrection, and ascension, and looks forward to our reign with Christ in glory. The text emphasizes not only the event of the Ascension but also its meaning for us: in Christ’s ascension, “we by faith can see” our own. Our shared destiny is to be raised with Jesus: “Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, ‘I believed, and so I spoke,’ we also believe, and so we also speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence”(2 Cor 4:13-14).

IN BABILONE is a traditional Dutch melody that appeared in Oude en Nieuwe Hollantse Boerenlities en Contradansen (Old and New Dutch Peasant Songs and Country Dances), c. 1710. Ralph Vaughan Williams  discovered this tune as arranged by Julius Rontgen (b. Leipzig, Germany, 1855; d. Utrecht, the Netherlands, 1932) and included it in The English Hymnal (1906), from which it gained widespread use. It is a rounded barform tune (AABA).

An important Dutch pianist, composer, conductor, scholar, and editor, Rontgen studied music in Leipzig with well-known German teachers. In 1877 he moved to Amsterdam, where he first taught at the Amsterdam Conservatory. In 1886 he became conductor of the Society for the Advancement of Musical Art. He returned to the Conservatory as director in 1918, and then retired in 1924 to devote himself to composition. He was a friend of leading composers of his day, including Liszt, Brahms, and Grieg, and wrote a biography of Grieg. Rontgen’s compositions include symphonies, chamber works, operas, and film scores.


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