Music This Sunday


Music This Sunday

The hymn O filii et filiæ celebrates the mystery of Easter. Written by an eloquent preacher, Jean Tisserand (d. 1494), as an elaboration on a shorter prayer, the poem beautifully recounts the Easter story. Though originally plainsong, the hymn has become well-known in the form heard today, sung in triple meter with a threefold Alleluia refrain.

The composer of this Sunday’s prelude, Théodore Dubois, first gained notoriety when he won the Paris Conservatoire’s esteemed Prix de Rome in 1861. He went on to become an influential figure in musical Paris of the 19th century, interacting with many of France’s greatest musicians. During his career as an organist, he succeeded Franck at Ste. Clothilde and Saint-Saëns at La Madeleine. He taught at the Conservatoire, and served as its director until he denied the Prix de Rome to Maurice Ravel and public outcry forced his resignation. Nonetheless, he had many important students and wrote a variety of music, including operas, three symphonies, and his best known work, The Seven Last Words of Christ. His Alleluia was dedicated to his fellow organist, Charles-Marie Widor, and is based upon the much-loved hymn O filii et filiæ.

Lynwood Farnham's Toccata on O filii et filiæ sets the tune in the pedal, under quick figurations that run up and down the span of the organ manuals. Farnham was born in Canada, studied in the UK, and eventually made his way to New York where he served his organist of Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church and Church of the Holy Communion. He was a musician of exceptional ability who made a distinguished reputation as a recitalist and as organ professor at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia.

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