Spring 2021 is upon us and we are thrilled that summer services will resume beginning with the first service on Sunday July 4 at 11:00AM. Please stay tuned for the full schedule. We are currently taking reservations for event rentals through 2022.
Sunday July 26, 2020
Tunes and texts: Women in the Chapel Hymnal
The chapel hymnal is unique in that is not published as a denominational hymn book. It contains tunes from a variety of faiths: Episcopalian, Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterian and Catholic. It has a table of contents which lists the numerous hymn indexes, a sample order of service, chants and prayers. Studying the index of authors, I discovered there are many women who wrote hymn poetry but less than a half a dozen who composed the tunes. This week I’m featuring one of these tunes written by a woman.
There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy (Hymn #80) is one of twelve hymns in The Love of God section. In 1875, Lizzie Tourjee was only a high school senior from Newton, Massachusetts when she wrote this tune for her high school graduation. Her father, Eben Tourjee, the founder of New England Conservatory and first dean of the college of music at Boston University, named the hymn tune Wellesley after the college, Lizzie’s destination after high school, and included it in the Methodist hymnal of 1878. Lizzie married a Boston industrialist, raised two sons and spent her life as a music teacher and organist until she died in 1913. Lizzie chose the text for her tune from a 13-stanza poem by Frederick Faber. Born in Yorkshire England into a Calvinist family, Faber became an Anglican minister then later converted to Roman Catholicism. He understood the power of hymn singing and encouraged the practice in the Catholic services he officiated. Faber’s poem, written in 1854, has been set to more familiar tunes including In Babilone and Beecher, both usually rather grand and triumphant. Wellesley has a gentle and inward looking quality especially in this piano rendition by Hannah Ray. This arrangement would make a wonderful prelude to a Sunday morning service at the chapel. I look forward to hearing our talented pianists (two of the five pictured above) play each Sunday next summer. Thinking of them!
Sunday July 19, 2020
Golden Crowns Around the Glassy Sea – The Chapel’s Most Popular Hymn. As I mentioned last week, the chapel hymnal focuses on great hymns of the Victorian era, many of which are not published in modern or even 20th century hymnals. Also, the hymnal is not affiliated with any particular denomination – a perfect fit for an un-denominational chapel!
The hymn most often selected by guest ministers is Hymn # 5, Holy, Holy, Holy (Hymn tune Nicaea). It is one of nine in the Morning Song section and one of the great hymns of the 19th century. John Dykes wrote this rousing tune and Reginald Heber wrote the text. Heber, an Oxford-educated curate in England, dreamed of writing hymns for the Anglican church. At that time, hymn singing was not allowed and as much as Heber tried to gain acceptance for the practice, he was denied by the authorities. He became Bishop of Calcutta in India and died after preaching to large crowd in 1826. His wife found his hymn texts in a trunk and had them published the following year. Many decades later, someone brought the text to John Dykes, also English, educated at Cambridge and minor canon of Durham Cathedral. It is reported that Dykes was so inspired by the text that he wrote the tune in 30 minutes! Dykes wrote more than 300 hymn tunes throughout his career. Thirty-five of Dykes’s tunes are in the chapel hymnal, more than any other composer represented.
Here is a beautiful a contemporary a cappella version, all parts sung by Sam Robson, a UK singer.
Sunday, July 5, 2020
Although we aren’t together at Little Harbor Chapel this summer I wanted to keep in touch with a series about our chapel hymnal and the stories behind the hymns we sing every summer.
The hymnal was published in 1925 and reprinted in 1934 when it became the chapel hymnal. The inscription on the inside of each cover was handwritten by Louise Pridham, a neighbor and friend of the Carey family. I hope to discover more about the editor of the hymnal and how it came to be the chapel hymnal.
The chapel summer season always begins around the Fourth of July. The late Rev. David Kerr, a long-time guest preacher, often included O beautiful for spacious skies (hymn tune Materna below) as part of his Sunday service. This familiar tune is one of nine hymns in The Nation section of the hymnal. The text ( Katherine Bates) and music ( Samuel Ward) were written separately in the late 1800’s and put together in 1910. The composer and lyricist never met yet both were inspired by the beauty of nature. This NPR article about the hymn includes a classic performance by the legendary Ray Charles. Click here for an opportunity to sing the hymn yourself this holiday weekend. Enjoy a safe and pleasant Sunday!
Sunday July 12, 2020
Hymn Inspiration from the Rhondda Valley. Milton S. Littlefield, the editor of the chapel hymnal, was a Presbyterian minister who near the end of his life became a Congregationalist minister. He preached, published and edited hymnals and wrote Sunday school teaching manuals. He was the president of the Hymn Society of America and died in the same year the hymnal chapel was reprinted, 1934. The hymnal is an eclectic collection, primarily of English and American hymns from the 19th century.
The late Rev. Gordon Allen, former minister at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Portsmouth and long-time guest preacher at the chapel, hailed from England and often preached on the second Sunday of the chapel season. Each year he treated the congregation to a verse of Guide me O thou Great Jehovah sung in Welsh. This tune is not in the chapel hymnal but the English words are, set to an older, less familiar tune. It is one of nine hymns for Light and Guidance. The text was written originally in Welsh by poet William Williams in 1745. The tune that Rev. Allen sang was Cwm Rhondda, written by John Hughes in 1907. Hughes named the hymn tune for the Rhondda Valley in Wales.
To make matters even more complicated, the Welsh usually sing this tune with yet another set of Welsh words by Anne Griffiths, another Welsh poet from the 18th century. No matter the language, no matter the text, this hymn tune is spiritually uplifting especially when sung by the contemporary Welsh men’s choir, Only Men Aloud! The text is sung primarily in English but listen carefully and you’ll hear the Welsh in the background.
The LHC is gearing up for an exciting addition ahead of the 2020 season! Plans are underway to install air conditioning which will make the summer season more comfortable on the hottest days and heat which will greatly extend our wedding and event calendar into the cooler months!
Sunday August 25 11AM, Please join Reverend Robert H. Thompson for the last service of the 2019 season.
Sunday August 18 11AM, Please join Pastor DeWitt of Bethany Evangelical Covenant Church in Bedford NH
Sunday August 11, 11AM, Please join Rev. Dr. Lombard is the former Sr. Minister of North Church in Portsmouth, NH
Sunday August 4 11AM, Please join Rev. Dr. Peter Lovett, Christ Church United, UCC Lowell, MA