Easter Anthem

Edward Bairstow's Sing Ye to the Lord

by Dr. Derek Nickles, Director of Music

This year's Easter anthem was written by one of England's most gifted musicians and composers of choral music, Sir Edward Cuthbert Bairstow (1874-1946). Bairstow was Organist and Master of Music at York Minster, the largest gothic cathedral in Northern Europe, from 1913 until his death, writing a multitude of works for both organ and choir. He served as Professor of Music at the University of Durham (his alma mater) and, in 1926, was with first person to record any portion of J. S. Bach's B-Minor Mass at a Royal Albert Hall concert with the Royal Choral Society. Bairstow's Easter anthem, Sing ye to the Lord, was written in 1911 and is based upon the stirring and triumphant text from Exodus 15:21 and Robert Campbell (1814-1868), a Scottish theologian and translator of many Latin hymns including At the Lamb's high feast we sing (Hymn 174) in Hymnal 1982.

After a season of no postludes during Lent, the Easter Vigil service concludes with the famous Toccata from Charles-Marie Widor's Fifth Organ Symphony. Widor was the Professor of Organ and Composition at the Paris Conservatory and served as organist of the monumental Cavaillé-Coll organ at St. Sulpice in Paris for a legendary 64 years. While he wrote a total of nine other organ symphonies, Widor's Toccata has always commanded a great deal of attention at graduations, weddings, and other regal ceremonies. On Easter Day, we will hear the Grand Choeur Dialogue for organ and brass by Eugene Gigout (1844-1925). This famous piece appears in a variety of arrangements: one of the earliest is a version for two organs that may have been first performed at the Barcelona City Hall which had an organ on either end of that grand space. The version we will hear is for organ and brass quartet.