Tag: St. Thomas Church New York

In consideration of Labor Day, I am reminded of the old hymn “Come Labor On” (Ora Labora). The hymn tune was composed by T. Tertius Noble (1867 – 1953). Below is a recording of the late Gerre Hancock (1934-2012) giving a farewell improvisation on this hymn in 2004, as he was retiring from his post as organist and choirmaster at St. Thomas Church Fifth Avenue in New York City. The performance was recorded by Dr. Alan van Poznak, and posted to YouTube by a YouTube community member named “contratromba858”. The words to the hymn are below.

Come, labor on.
Who dares stand idle on the harvest plain,
while all around us waves the golden grain?
And to each servant does the Master say,
“Go work today.”

Come, labor on.
The enemy is watching night and day,
to sow the tares, to snatch the seed away;
while we in sleep our duty have forgot,
he slumbered not.

Come, labor on.
Away with gloomy doubts and faithless fear!
No arm so weak but may do service here:
by feeblest agents may our God fulfill
his righteous will.

Come, labor on.
Claim the high calling angels cannot share–
to young and old the Gospel gladness bear;
redeem the time; its hours too swiftly fly.
The night draws nigh.

Come, labor on.
No time for rest, till glows the western sky,
till the long shadows o’er our pathway lie,
and a glad sound comes with the setting sun.
“Servants, well done.”

For a limited time, you may listen free to a veritable feast of gorgeous liturgical music, performed in an appropriate setting.  Those who follow my postings closely will know that I am a fan of the webcasts of Saint Thomas Church, Fifth Avenue. They are in the midst of their “2016 Orchestral and Organ Mass Series featuring the Saint Thomas Choir of Men and Boys and Saint Thomas Chamber Orchestra”. Already on demand are webcasts of recent services featuring the Mass in C, op. 169 by Josef Rhineburger, and the Mass in G major by Franz Schubert. This coming Sunday, June 6, will feature the Missa Solennelle by Louis Vierne.

These webcasts can be found at: http://www.saintthomaschurch.org/webcasts

“Alone to God be glory”, reads the text above. This phrase adorned every manuscript penned by the great master, Johann Sebastian Bach. This phrase will be carved into the case of a great organ being built in New York, at the insistence of a modern master, who has recently and unexpectedly passed away.

John Scott was the most recent organist and choirmaster at St Thomas Church, New York, a grand place which can be fairly described as the pinnacle of the Anglican music tradition in the U.S. Prior to this he was organist and choirmaster at St Paul’s cathedral in London. His compositions include music performed at the Queen’s “Golden Jubilee”, and Margaret Thatcher’s funeral.

My own connection with his recordings occurred early in my teens when, as a rebel from the low musical tastes of my generation, I began listening to sacred choral music by the likes of Byrd and Tallis. Also, I will make no secret of the fact that I am currently a huge fan of the webcasts of St Thomas Church, New York. I have loved the music, and applaud that they have so far upheld doctrinal orthodoxy (if of a sacerdotal bent) in their theology and practice, against great odds.

For more information on John Scott, consider tuning in to this tribute program on the public radio program
Pipe Dreams”. Also, more information about him can be found at the websites for St Thomas Church and St. Paul’s Cathedral.

Our condolences to Dr. Scott’s family, church, and those whom his life impacted. As I scan tributes to him, I have seen over and over that “Soli Deo Gloria” was an important theme in his life and work. May it be so in our lives also.