At tomorrow’s 10:30 am service, the LCH choir will be singing a “chestnut,” Ralph Vaughan Williams’ exquisite O taste and see, a beautiful motet based on Psalm 34. Apparently the piece was composed for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II at Westminster Abbey in 1953. There are a number of performances on YouTube, but I like the one that I’ve embedded here:
O taste and see, how gracious the Lord. Blessed is the man who trusteth in him.
Years ago, so as to be gender-neutral and politically correct, we changed this to “Blessed is the one who trusteth in him,” so when the choir got to that part of the piece, some people sang “one” instead of “man.” Others, though, sang “man” as written, so what came out was a composite of the two words (Mahn?). Miguel Felipe settled the question by saying that the choir would sing the word as written, so in the service tomorrow, it will be “man.”
Miguel also tried out different sopranos for the solo at the end, and said he wouldn’t decide who will sing it until Sunday. That reminds me of the way that the boy soloist is chosen for King’s College annual Christmas Eve carol service opening, “Once in royal David’s city.” No one knows who will sing the solo until the broadcast microphones are turned on, and the director (for the last 25 years, Stephen Cleobury) just points to someone.
The other anthem the choir will be singing will be “Rejoice in the Lord alway,” by everyone’s favorite composer, Anonymous. I’ll be playing two chorale preludes by Bach, “Schmücke dich, o liebe Seele (BWV 654),” and “Was Gott tut (BWV 1116).” The postlude will be the “Prelude and Fugue in G major” (from the 8 Little Preludes and Fugues) once attributed to Bach, but now thought to be composed by his student, Johann Ludwig Krebs.