Sing My Soul, His Wondrous Love
Musical Musings for Ordinary Time
by Sharon Downey
Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Summer is usually a time for lightening up from our normal weekly routines and rhythms. In the church world that can mean simpler, shorter worship services. Choirs do not rehearse for several hours each week or sing as a full group each Sunday. And perhaps some of us might take a break from attending worship and opt for a bike ride, a round of golf or just staying at home. We, of course, are not in any kind of any ordinary summer. This season has been dubbed “Coronatide” by many of my clergy and musician friends. Our routines have changed. We can watch online worship by our Diocesan Partnership as well as from a wide array of places around the country, all from home.

One thing I look forward to each summer is hosting our Pick-Up choirs. I usually schedule a quartet of singers from the Cathedral Choir to serve as the base for our group and invite anyone who would like to join us and serve as the Choir for a Day. No pressure for anyone; no long-term commitments; come as you are and lend your accomplished or squeaky voice for an hour or two! After a brief rehearsal the group had learned how to sing the Psalm of the day to simplified Anglican chant, sung through the hymns and service music for the morning and learned two instant anthems. Familiar words and tunes along with fairly easy arrangements made for a successful and joyful noise!

One piece that almost everyone knows is “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring.” This is probably one of the most performed pieces by J. S. Bach. There are many recordings of this beloved pieces with a variety of voicings and instrumentation:
The first recording is sung by VOCES8, one of the premiere choral ensembles from the UK. This familiar movement, “Jesus bleibet meine Freude” (Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring) is from the Cantata Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben, BWV 147 by J. S. Bach.
The second recording is sung in English and accompanied by strings. It was conducted by Leopold Stokowski and is on the CD entitled, "Bach: Greatest Hits." Feel free to sing along!
The third recording is solely instrumental with Anna Comellas on cello and Rosalind Beall on guitar. They played together as Duo Rosanna from 2009-2018.
“Draw Us in the Spirit’s Tether” is another favorite that our Cathedral Choir sings several times each year and has been sung by the Pick-Up Choir. Here it is sung by the Choir of St. Thomas Fifth Avenue, directed by Gerre Hancock.
Let’s hope that we’ll be able to enjoy a Pick-Up Choir again next summer!